The 14th anniversary of Maldives Complete and time for my customary look at the site numbers and share a few perspectives informed by another year of Maldives fanboying…
- Post COVID Catch-up: Our July trip represented the first time we have ever visited the Maldives twice in a 12-month period (being on the heels of our November 2021 visit). The trips gave us a chance to re-stock our “Best of the Maldives” larder for posts and generally keep packing the database with material.
- Lowest Resort Increase: 4 new active resorts is consistent with the previous two years in being quite low and likely reflective of the post-COVID impact on development plans with both financing and construction logistics impacted.
- No dives: Lori and I had just the month before taken a 7 day live-aboard trip in the Galapagos diving 4 times a day and seeing the some of the most astonishing underwater sights on the planet (eg. while we never saw any hammerheads at Hammerhead Point off Kuramathi, a school of 300 hammerhead sharks swam by us at Darwin Island). So we decided to just enjoy the snorkeling and the sunshine in July.
- Twitter twilight?: This past year my Twitter engagement completely dropped off. This was not a big surprise as Twitter has been increasingly becoming simply a broadcast medium for very high profile individuals. In fact, the Musk acquisition might just be the final straw for me to depart this increasingly disfunctional and toxic platform.
Happy 13th Anniversary to Maldives Complete! The past year was a good-news and bad-news year. The good news was that travel has crawled back from the depth of the pandemic. Since my last year’s annual review, we have been to the Maldives twice. The bad news is that such progress has been fitful and often frustrating. Our 2020 trip had to be postponed from its original plan of November to a narrow pre-Christmas window at the last minute when the UK government imposed a late autumn lock-down. Our 2021 trip was optimistically scheduled for our tradition period of July, but had to be shifted to November when the surge of the Delta variant put the Maldives onto the “Red list”. Even then, when we finally got to the Maldives last month, our original itinerary was thrown up in the air when one of our resorts was hit with “monitoring” (when a resort identifies a case of COVID on the island which then imposes major constraints on inter-island movement from that island).
The fits-and-starts nature of the year meant that the Complete-ness of Maldives Complete dipped due to surge of new properties. Also, my research was constrained by COVID (no WTM, limited tours) resulting in the lowest post rate for over a decade. The good news is that our recent trip included Amilla Maldives and Soneva Jani which we both packed with distinctions to add to the 2022 slate for “Best of the Maldives”. Still, the site continued to move forward with new highs in the material and we look forward to resuming more regular service in 2022.
What a year! (not sure which emoji to put with that)
Count our blessings if we are healthy. Unfortunately, the Maldives have taken an especially hard blow on top of the medical blow with their country so economically concentrated on tourism. Maldives Complete has reflected this downturn in many ways. For starters, we couldn’t do our annual research trip. That’s meant pretty flat numbers (relative to other years) in new material (eg. blog posts, photos, visits). Added resorts, room types, etc. were on hold as openings stalled. And, obviously, traffic has dropped significantly as fewer people are research holidays.
There does seem to be the light of dawn peering over the horizon. The world including the Maldives have gotten sophisticated in preventative protocols which can allow more of life to carry on while minimizing the spread of infection. Testing, sanitising, social distancing, face masking and a range of other techniques are getting the R0 factor down. The arrival so various approved vaccines should provide a major improvement in the pandemic around the world.
Already, I am seeing a noticeable uptick in the past few days (not least of which from the UK who has exited its Lockdown II). In fact, we have arranged a bit of an impromptu to trip to take advantage of some of the great deals out there and burn some of our outstanding holiday time (stay tuned this week…fingers crossed. And the site did hit a few social media milestones in 2020 crossing 2000 Facebook Followers and 1000 Twitter Followers.
Let’s hope 2021 brings a smooth (and safe!) return to enjoying paradise (and helping people to do so).
Happy 11th Anniversary to Maldives Complete. Time for another taking stock of where we have been.
The big milestone of the year was being the first people ever to stay at 100 Maldives resorts. We have also visited every atoll which has more than 2 resorts (the resort atolls that we have not yet hit are Vaavu, Shaviyani, Thaa and Laamu).
In many ways, it is the culmination of years of striving for a complete compendium of useful and accessible information about the Maldives resorts underpinned by before assiduous regular research as well as expansive first hand experience.
Another year has passed without the addition of any significant functionality. That implies to me that the site is pretty “feature complete” (as they say in the software sector). On one hand, I haven’t had to dig into major overhaul work of new capability. On the other hand, more resorts than ever (and opening faster than ever with a record 13 new openings) which means more details to keep up with. Also, having written 1,574 “Best of the Maldives” posts, it is a bit harder identifying distinctive, new features (though with 283 of my “Not Yet Seens” still not yet seen, there’s plenty of possibilities and still the innovation keeps flowing bringing more and more creative aspects to this destination of superlatives).
The first decade of Maldives fandom completed. The 10th anniversary of the Maldives Complete website today.
And, in keeping with its original mission, it has continued to get more and more complete now achieving the high water mark of 99.56% completeness. That’s 16 pieces of information missing out of a potential 3,600 from the profiles of 143 active resorts (not counting all the added information about 61 inactive properties – ie. not yet opened or closed). 6 of those missing pieces are dive charts from the relatively newly developed atolls (ie. Raa, Thaa, Shaviyani). 5 of those are from 2 relatively recent openings – Miriandhoo and Sangeli – for whom photography is not yet complete.
This past year was the first one that I have not added a major feature or component to the site and this year I didn’t really add any new significant data fields or design changes for the first time ever (last year I added “Name Meaning” and the new logo and palette). So maybe the site functionality itself if becoming more “Complete”.
Another year of Maldives fandom completed. The 9th anniversary of the Maldives Complete website.
The Resort Profile data is inching forward in completeness with Resort Profiles up to 98.9%. The primary issue causing remaining holes has been the addition of new resorts at new atolls, like Raa and Thaa, where I have less dive site information so Dive Charts and Dive Maps are missing from the profiles. The completeness of the Room Type profiles dropped a tad with a record number of new resort launches (room type material is hard to obtain and takes longer to collect).
This is probably the first year that I have not added a major feature or component to the site. So maybe not just the Profile data, but the even the functionality of the site is growing more “Complete”.
All that said, the site hasn’t stood still. In addition to the ongoing research, responding, updating, and other refining and polishing, I made a few significant changes:
- New Logo – The look of the website got refresh a bit with its new logo by Maldivian artist and designer Aima Musthafa. The new branding added an local Dhivehi dimension. In the process, Aima provided some superb input as we cleaned up the look a bit with her more coherent colour palette. She has proposed some more dramatic change to the home page which I am working on (stay tuned).
- Name Meaning – I actually cleared down a number of unused fields in the database, but I did add a fun one which took a fair amount of research populate further extended the Dhivehi dimension of the site – “Name Meaning”. And I learned a bit more Dhivehi in the process.
The Fashionista features keep growing in popularity and are fuelled by even more Instragramming than ever providing lots of shard photos to curate for the Maldives aficionado crowd. Below is sort of a ‘leader board’ of the top social media fashionistas to visit the destination…
Another year for Maldives Complete! 8 in total and what a year it has been. While the traffic stays level (possibly maxed out my niche), the content has spiked up in quantity and quality more than just about any year since its launch. To underscore the leap of the year, I’ve segregated out the annual change for a number of the site stats in the tables above.
A few numbers that stand out…
- % Complete on Resort Profiles – Completeness was blunted by lack of Dive Charts for new resorts in new atolls – Raa, Thaa and Dhaalu, but still inched closer by a sliver to just a whisker under 99%.
- % Complete on Room Profiles – Good to finally get to the >80% level in this area I added a few years ago.
- # Posts – Nearly doubled this year to practically daily posting compared to recent years where the pace was more like every other day. Resorts and website fans are sending me lots of stuff making my job a lot easier.
- Resort Profile Photos – The resort pix leapt up by much more than previous years with the addition of “Arrival Jetty” and “Model” to the profiles.
The Instagram revolution barrels along. Now by far the dominant social media platform for Maldives posts. Twitter has waned into near insignificance. Facebook is solid, but more so for personal posts than celebrity ones. Since I added the fashionista dimension, I’ve posted 1,025. And the fashionista database has another 1,721 in its troves. If you’re curious (I was), the top fashioinistas to hit the Laccadive shores are a listed by social medium below (dominated by USA and India).
From what we can determine, polling various industry experts and Maldives aficionados, Lori and I have stayed in more Maldives resorts than any one on the planet. We certainly have snorkelled more house reefs than anyone (we make a point to snorkel every house reef, where it is possible to snorkel including some lagoons). We stay at about 10 resorts each year, but last year, the net new active resorts open has increased by 8 so we are struggling to keep up!
7th Anniversary for Maldives Complete. Another year and a bit more “complete”. Not only do I get more and more data for the databases as well as a flurry of new “Best of the Maldives” pieces, 2015 introduced even more major additions to the site…
- Dive Site Database – Biggest collection of Maldives dive sites on the Internet.
- Beauty Database – A comprehensive catalogue of the celebrities, models, pageant queens, and lifestyle bloggers with their photogenic portrayals of paradise in the increasingly Instagrammer age. 105 resorts of the 118 active (89%) now feature a fashion beauty who has graced their property.
I also was able to find time and resources to overhaul some long outstanding issues. The biggest was migrating off the Microsoft Community Server (Telligent) blog platform to the more capable and up-to-date WordPress platform. All the changes hit the visitor numbers a bit due to the chopping and changing, but I am hoping the upward growth continues (mind you, the profile has risen to the point that most of the regular Maldives aficionados follow the site around the world and not sure how many more there are). I am currently in the middle of doing a similar migration getting off Microsoft’s obsolete Silverlight platform and moving to HTML5 for the “Snorkel Spotter”. I’ve also tidied up a number of cosmetic and technical issues and am working on some more design improvements in the coming year.
Thanks to everyone for all their support. It seems to just get easier (and more fun) with more resort management, resort staff, guests and other Maldives aficionados forwarding material on a daily basis.
Maldives Complete’s sexennial…6 years on and even more complete than ever. Well, a 0.1% more complete (from 98.4% last year to 98.5% this year). The challenge is the new resorts coming online. While I am able to track down missing material for some longer standing resorts, new resorts opening presents a whole new slate of things I need to find for a complete profile.
I am once again marking the milestone in true business review fashion with a look at a Harpers Index sampling of stats which tell its progress…
- Resort Numbers – Despite a surge of newly announced resorts, the number of active resorts has stayed stable with as many resorts going out of commission for refurb as came on line.
- Room Types – Big surge in .
- Best of the Maldives – Resort with most Best Of’s Published – One & Only Reethi Rah 30 (2013 = LUX Maldives 30). Resort with most Best Of’s Drafted – Soneva Fushi 69 (2013 = One & Only Reethi Rah 55).
- Visitors – The top search terms are specific names of resorts (“Kurumba” – especially “day trip to Kurumba” and “Amilla Fushi” top the list), but topical searches have once again risen to the top such as “bed decoration” and “best house reef in the Maldives”.
This year has not seen any particularly significant new features or addtions to the site. I have focused on Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) for once to make it easier for people to find the website. I get lots of emails of people saying “Thank goodness I finally found your website.” The money at stake for expensive Maldives holidays mean that lots of travel sites invest heavily to appear at the top of search results crowding out smaller sites like Maldives Complete with less money to spend on such techniques. I’ve cleaned up a few fundamentals like proper tagging and the like, but the biggest impact on ranking are inbound links. So if ay fans of the site out there want to help out, if they can arrange any links to MaldivesComplete.com, that would be the most gratefully received contribution. I’ve also cleaned up a few cosmetic details (cross-browser font compatibility especially on Mac browsers has been a headache).
As it happens, I have a number of exciting bigger developments in the works for 2015…
- Turtle Database collaboration with MarineSavers at Four Seasons.
- Dive Site Database
- Snorkel Safari Treasure Hunt (!)
Maldives Complete’s semidecennial. 5 years on and more complete than ever.
I am again marking the milestone in true business review fashion with a look at a Harpers Index sampling of stats which tell its progress…
- Resort Numbers – The array of options steadily climbs with another 4 more resorts announced, but a full 12 additional resort newly operational.
- Room Types – Being a new feature last year, this area has grown the most (363 new profile photos and 6.2% gain in completion rate).
- Best of the Maldives – Resort with most Best Of’s Published – LUX Maldives 30 (2012 = W Retreat 21). Resort with most Best Of’s Drafted – One & Only Reethi Rah 55 (2012 = LUX Maldives 31).
- Visitors – More of the top search terms are specific names of resorts (“Kuramathi” and “Bathala” top the list) pushing down last year’s top terms – “maldives water temperature” and “whale shark”. But the latter remained them most popular post – “Whale Sharks – LUX* Maldives” being the first Maldives Complete post to top 100,000 views.