Sometimes resorts are distinguished not by what they have, but by what they don’t have. Especially, in the “get away from it all” remoteness of the Maldives, people are often on an escape from civilization. While so many properties have striven to provide all the creature comforts of home and then some, some times a few well chosen omissions are lauded by guests. One particular area is refuge from technology that has engulfed our modern lives. One of the most popular “back to basics” design features are those villas with no televisions in their rooms.
Dhigali has gone whole hog at least for the younger generation (arguably most at risk from digital drowning). Their kids club offers an “Electronic Detox”. It has no TV, but also no electronics of any kind no are any allowed in (and if you try to smuggle in that iPhone, the wifi is disabled there). Just analogue, real-world games and activities to thrill and distract.
While still many “not seen yet” possibilities, my research is uncovering “finally seen” features I’ve proposed ages ago. Like Carpe Diem’s (also at the Raa atoll but didn’t get a chance to stop by this tour), house reef VR (which I proposed in Haven’t Seen #11 post, #4 a couple of years ago). The resort is doing more than just providing a sexy view of its underwater seascape, but is actually using the footage to assist with its reef conservation efforts:
“Carpe Diem Maldives is excited to expand on the Dive with a Purpose marine conservation programme this September in collaboration with Scripps Institution of Oceanography in the United States of America…Using innovative imaging and data technologies to archive reefs digitally and watch how populations change through time. Recreational divers joining the cruise will learn how to take their own reef images to recreate a virtual reality of the dive using special software. During the Dive with a Purpose week on Carpe Vita from September 9th – 16th Dr Brian Zgliczynski, Project Director of the 100 Island Challenge will present to Carpe Diem’s guest divers the research work involved in the project and go diving with the Carpe Diem Maldives team and guests to lesser-known dive sites in Raa Atoll as they accomplish conservation tasks.”
There are “Best of the Maldives” features…and then there are like “soul mate” features. Features that I just adore. Not everyone will have the same effusive reaction I had to Dhigali’s “Buggy Tracker” application, but for me it was one of the highlights of the 2019 Tour.
The Buggy Tracker is an app that is both part of the resort’s own “Digalhi Maldives” app which you can download onto your smartphone (for iPhone’s, see the AppStore or you cann scan the QR code which is on every room key) – see photo below. It is also supported with an array of monitors dotted around the island at each buggy stop. The app/screen shows a map of the island as well as an icon for the constantly circling buggy so you can see how far away it is from you (see video clip at bottom).
Why a Buggy Tracker? Because Dhigali is sort of a middle sized island. We can and did walk around it, but a complete circumparaumbulation (yes, I love that word) takes nearly half an hour. If you are on the opposite end of the island to where you want to go, you might prefer to forego the stroll and just take the buggy ride. Maybe you are particularly relaxed, maybe you refreshed or it is especially toasty and you don’t want to sweat, maybe you need to be somewhere and are running behind (eg. excursion departing). On tiny island, you just walk everywhere because you are always a couple minutes away from anywhere. On big islands, you have to call for (or wait for) a buggy. When you call, you still have to wait which can be a while if they have other pickups scheduled. On a middle sized island like Dhigali, you can find yourself constantly debating “Should we walk or should we wait for the buggy?” And if you want to take the buggy and it is an on-call service, you sometimes feel a bit lazy and guilty ringing it up for a relatively short journey.
The Buggy Tracker takes all the questioning away. You look at your app or look at the screen and you can see exactly how close the buggy is. If you see if is coming round the bend, you might pop out that minute faster to grab it rather than miss it and wait for it to come around again. If it is on the other side of the island, you might choose to just hoof it. Or if you do decide to wait, it is reassuring to know exactly how far away your ride is and not have to wonder if you are going to be there forever.
Why do I love it so much?
Innovation – The whole spirit of “Best of the Maldives” is really about innovation. Sure, a property might be able to be the biggest or the blingest by just spending the most on some feature, but more of my pieces are about creative touches and distinctive aspects that no one has done in quite the same way in the Maldives.
Technology – As a software guy for my day job, I have a special appreciation for cool applications in this area. I have a particular software soft-spot for geo-location apps. Snorkel Spotter, Dive Site Database and the Admiralty Map DeepZoom all essentially mapping apps.
Utility – The system is so simple and so useful. I love innovations that truly enhance the customer experience.
Maldivian – I always enjoy meeting the fascinating people behind the scenes of the Maldives resort operations especially the local Maldivians to bring this paradise to life. Many have such distinctive talents and contributions. The entire project was the initiative of Mohamed Furuqan, the resort’s IT manager (see photo top). We got to meet up during my stay and geek out a bit about tech. It’s also especially inspiring to see the innovation stem from a homegrown initiative supported wholeheartedly by the management.
More of a spoken word rendition is a feature of Cocoon’s rooms. “Talking Furniture” in particular. Each of the Lago designed pieces comes with a smart tag for takemehome.cocoonmaldives.com :
“An experience out of the ordinary is what LAGO has transformed here at Cocoon Maldives, notwithstanding the unique design and the LAGO TALKING FURNITURE project that powers interaction with the furniture. Connecting to each guests’ Smartphone device through a wired chip in the furniture, to activate a direct interaction with the resort, to learn about themed evenings or indeed to share images and reviews of the experience.”
One resort who has a high bar (literally) for videos is Dreamland with their ceiling mounted television (thanks Paola). The set up allows for supine lounging while catching a bit of TV. It also means that one can glance at the TV (above) or the scenery (below) which might be useful if you were following a news event or a big sports match.
Friday the 13th! Day of bad luck. According to List 25, keys and amulets have been good luck charms for centuries. At the soon to open resort Kandima, you room key is also an amulet…with a bit of its own magic charm (according to Clarke’s Third Law at least)…
“RFID wrist bands that allow guests full freedom to roam the island without needing to worry about a key… A key concept at Kandima is being tree friendly. That means that we have chosen to use digital signature capture technology where ever possible. Guests can sign with a stylus and see their signature captured at the same time. Our systems will have the ability to retrieve the captured signature at any time a guest would like to review a transaction… Some of the other initiatives that are driving the Kandima experience include the ability to have a range of services at all times of the day, technology enables this via APPS, in-room ordering, vending machines which will react to you at the wave of your arm band…We will have kiosk and app drive “build your own burger/pizza/omelets’ options…Our technology alignments will provide on demand video streaming which can also be ‘flicked’ to your mobile device, allowing you to continue watching a movie or TV program from the comfort of your porch, while your significant other lazes in bed surfing the net or updating their social media wall.”
We keep all our stuff in your room when we good for a walk, swim, etc. But you have to take your room key. Our swimsuits don’t have pockets so keeping up with the key is always a bit of an aggro. A stylish and fun bracelet is a great solution. Or is can wrap around anything like a beach bag or snorkel bag handle. Or you can just keep them on your “handily” (yes, I intended that) on your wrist as you swim or snorkel as they are water resistant.
Kandima also provides slap bracelet USB stick with resort information and material. For those who didn’t enjoy the slap bracelets of the eighties, see mini-video below for a demonstration below.
Just when you thought iPads were the peak of villa technology, Athuruga and Thudufushi go one step further with your room’s very own 17 inch iMac. Impressive in its own right, but an absolutely godsend on our tour as I had hit major PC problems with my own machine. So we were a bit backed up in downloading our camera and GoPro as well as getting down some notes and just general email and social media catch up. The big bright screen was great to sit and watch our undersea videos and select some prime clips to share with Friends on Facebook. Sometimes you just want to escape from all of the techno-clutter of the modern world…but sometimes it is the most welcome relief as a tool to help you relax and get the most out of your holiday.
Golf seasons kicks off with the US Open this week. Lori and I have gotten our clubs out this week and I shot my best ever round. If I want to improve further, it seems like the modern game has become as much science as any art or athleticism. Weight training, nutritionists, sports psychologists. And an entire armamentarium of gadgets to dissect every nuance.
No surprises that the titan of the tees in the Maldives, Velaa resort, has some of the most space age technology available to help with your game. Among their tools is a Science and Motion (SAM) Putt Lab, but the centrepiece is their Flight Scope Doppler Radar. A $50,000 piece of kit. Velaa Golf Pro Frank Murray took me through a few pointers on my swing during my Velaa visit see below) so hats off to him and his armoury or arm analysis for whatever contribution he made to my progress.
One of the top joys of the Maldives – throw on your swimsuit, grab your snorkeling gear and head out to the house reef.
Oh wait, don’t forget the villa key. Now where to put it (swimsuits don’t really have many secure pockets). Instead of the typical credit-card style proximity keys, NIYAMA has key band for guests. It’s completely waterproof so they can wear it in the pool, on the housereef or wherever. (thanks again Paola)
Particularly good for people who wouldn’t remember their own head if it wasn’t attached to them.
Some resort gizmos don’t just help you control your villa, but they actually control it for your automatically. One of our favourite eco-innovations is featured by One & Only Reethi Rah’s climate control. When either front door or deck door is open, the AC automatically cuts off. That way you can invite the outdoors into your villa where you are relaxing or getting ready without having to remember to turn the air conditioning off.