Best of the Maldives: All You Can Stay – Anantara Veli

Anantara Veli - al you can stay

Not only are the Maldives leading the way with their own vaccinations, but they are also investigating extending that effort to guests themselves:

  • “The Maldives is contemplating the introduction of vaccine tourism across its collection of over 200 resort islands, as tourist arrivals begin to grow in the post-pandemic era… He added that the currently available Covid-19 vaccines require two doses of the vaccine to be received within a 10-week period – meaning, there is a significant window of time between the inoculation of the two doses in which tourists could stay in the Maldives. According to Mausoom, the Maldives is likely to become one of the first countries to have vaccinated its entire population, making it one of the safest destinations to visit.”

The best part is the name – “vaxication”.

As the pandemic has not just made remote working more acceptable, but in many cases, downright preferable, some executives are thinking that if you are going to be stuck somewhere, why not make it paradise? Whether you want to have an extended stay (and I mean exteeeeeeended) either to wait for your vaccine second dose, or just to luxuriate in the best workplace on the planet, then Anantara Veli is offering a rate to cover the entire YEAR:

  • Imagine escaping to your very own over-water home retreat in the Maldives at the drop of a hat. Now with Anantara Veli Maldives Resort’s ‘Unlimited Stays in Paradise’ package, you can book unlimited nights at the resort for a one-time fee and make this island paradise your bolthole for the duration of 2021.”

“All You can Sleep” Buffet!

Best of the Maldives: Staff Community – Rihiveli

Rihiveliu staff quarters

From a vibrant online ‘tribe’ to one of the most distinctive resort communities – Rihiveli Beach. Another gem from Francisco (from the same email as the sandbank) also highlights the spirit of openness. In this case, the Rihiveli staff quarters.

“Staff quarters are open to the guests and make a sort of real maldivian villages (only men though) that you can actually go to and interact with the maldivian staff. Like having a local island visit on your resort island.”

We do enjoy the abundant hospitality that flows effortlessly from the Maldivian staff who work tirelessly to make our visits memorable and flawless. We enjoy our chats with them to appreciate more about their lives and their community. Rihiveli’s approach of opening up their quarters would seem to make a subtle but significant difference to the resort ambience where everyone on the island is together.

Best of the Maldives: No Shoes Commute – LUX* Maldives

LUX Maldives sandbank

At LUX* Maldives, the streets are paved with silky sand. Not just the pathways, but the major intra-island thoroughfares…across the ocean.

During low tide, one of the longest sandbanks in the Maldives connects LUX* to the neighbouring local island of Dhigurah (the sandbank is in the middle of the bottom of the picture above and Dhigurah would be further down below the edge of the picture). Guests actually need to avoid temptation of crossing it (there is a sign asking guest not to pass) because the local island is Muslim and things like women in bikinis are preferred kept in the resorts. Also, if guest loses track of the tide, then they can be stranded. But, a number of workers are from the island and walk across the isthmus land bridge to work at times.

Best commuter line ever.

Best of the Maldives: Job Title – W Retreat

W Retreat Insider Mijung Kim

Best job ever. Well, at least the best job title. “W Insider” is the title for W Retreat’s service special agent whose mission is to target the very best experiences tailored to each guest. To some extent, it is a fancy name for a ‘Concierge’, but W positions the role as a bit more…

“You are the soul behind the brand and you bring it to life. We don’t call W employees ‘Talent’ for nothing. Creative. Exciting. Innovative. W Talent are naturally attracted to the Brand and they ‘get it’. W Talent are as unique as the Brand itself, and cultivate the witty, whimsical, cool W environment.”

The title is a standard position at W Hotels around the world, but Mijung Kim (see above) is the first appointee in the Maldives.

I put Mijung to the test to find me some real hidden gems about the W Retreat. I sort of fancy Maldives Complete as a ‘Maldives Insider’ for all the resorts. W Retreat is one of the resorts that I have been fortunate enough to stay so I have already ferreted out a league-leading 21 ‘Best of the Maldives’ pieces about the W. So I was curious to see what she came up with. Her first stab was a collection of fine recommendations that would have been ideal for a Maldives neophyte, but as a veteran I wanted something a bit deeper. So she shared some more hidden (and fun) tidbitsof the island including [bird] security, pro snapper, natural medicine and ‘Angelina & Marilyn’.

Best of the Maldives: Apprenticeships – Four Seasons Landaa Giraavaru

Sir Alan Sugar The Apprentice

“You’re hired!”

Sir Alan is not the only one appointing new apprentices.  Four Seasons, both Landaa Giraavaru and Kuda Huraa properties, sponsor an ambitious programme of Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) certified apprenticeships

39 Maldivians are enrolled in the Class of 2011 aged 16-20 years with O-Level certifications. The programme was founded in in 2009 by Armando Kraenzlin, GM Landa Giraavaru who commented…

“Apprentices are paid a stipend and given room and board while in the programme. Instructors come from the management team, as well as from out side the resort. For instance, the Boat Mechanics module is taught by someone from Maritime College in Colombo, and is intense hand-on course. Other topics outside of operations include English and Math. Regular resort employees are mixed in with the apprentices so that the spirit of camaraderie and collaboration so critical to Four Seasons has an opportunity to flourish and grow. The programme works: one 2003 graduate is now an assistant department head, a position that would have seemed unattainable at one time.”

When I visited in November, a number of staff at both resorts proudly commented about the programme unsolicited.  My wife and I remember that when we first came over a decade ago, many staff at resorts were from far away countries and only got to see their families a few times a year.  But, the folks we spoke to in November recounted going home nearly every week on their days off and spending time with family having picnics, and playing beach football with friends.   But to top it off, Landaa Giraavaru also sponsors a couple of work experience student/researchers in marine biology and its top class research and visitor centre.

Four Seasons Apprenticeship programme

Best of the Maldives: Company – Sun Island

Sun Island lounge

Maldives Complete has highlighted the most ‘exclusive’ island with the fewest guests accommodated, but what it you are a social animal who craves the teeming company of hordes at the other end of the spectrum. Then Sun Island is the place for you with its 350 rooms. That said, you don’t get the sensation of ‘crowding’ per se because the island is so big at 600k square/metres (11th largest of the Maldive resorts). The size put Sun Island in the lowest quartile of ‘Population Density’ with one guest per 2779 square metres. That fact was underscored when I looked through nearly a thousand visitor snaps of Sun looking for one which showed lots of people and struggled to find one.  Another advantage is that it is a good resort to target for last minute availability and deals since with so many rooms there is a greater chance that there is unsold inventory.

Best of the Maldives: Employer – W Resort

W Resort

A common refrain in the chorus of praises sung about the Maldives spotlight the wonderful warm people that welcome them and make the stay delightful. A great resort is a one which nurtures this natural resource of human warmth and hospitality by treating its resort employees as respectfully as the guests would hope to be treated. The resort which stands out in this regard according to the Maldives jobs website Jobs Maldives is the W Resort

  • “’Talents’ are what the W Hotels call their employees. This not only encompasses the skill set needed to work at a luxury hotel, but it also speaks of the individual personalities that portray the “Warmth of Cool”…Though the island is small there are several opportunities provided for the talent: W Lifestyle and Language training, Talent-of-the-Month award ceremonies, Trips to Male, Cultural excursions, fishing trips, BBQs, sport competitions with other islands, monthly birthday parties and a newly finished sport court for soccer, basketball, badminton and volleyball. Says guest Gina Johnson from Dubai, ‘You can just tell how happy, genuine and informed the staff are. You see that they take a lot of pride in their work.’”