How does an abandoned island look after 22 years? Here are some pics of Tholhendhoo which was abandoned in 1992 and the people of the island moved to nearby Kendhidulhudhoo. The island itself was a small beautiful island which didn’t have a calm safe lagoon which made it very difficult for the islanders to engage in fishing or sea transport.
Its autumn in Tholhendhoo. The haunting image of the main road of the island after 22 years of quietness.
Here is the island now; trees have grown up and erased all signs of past human habitation. Only a small area with a few roofs remains to show the history of the island.
Tholhendhoo (right) people migrated to their much big brother island nearby which is kendhikulhudhoo
The biggest tree in the island.
The ruins of the island pre-school.
The island office, once symbol of authority,
One last pic a villager took of his home before emigrating to new life in Kendhikulhudhoo
The farewell ceremony of the island was attended by by the then president Maumoon.
From a distance the beaches of the island are the same as any other island, but Tholhendhoo has a history.
Local workers of Sheraton have stopped work and are on strike citing service unbelievably low charge, discrimination against workers and nepotism. According to one worker in the island, the service charge has been around an unimpressive 600$ for most of the year including in the high season. This is in contrast to $2k and above in Kihaava Villas and other top resorts in the country. It’s strange that big brands like Sheraton could have got things so wrong in the middle of high season when everywhere resort workers are expected to earn substantial incomes. One worker opined that the resort feels immune from pressure because of the strong connections to the resort owners (Universal Group) with the ruling class.
The resort being developed by ADK group is about 70% complete and will be the newest and the biggest in Maldives. Once complete Gaakoshibee will have 673 rooms and would have cost 170 million dollars to the main investor Caprice Gold of Turkey. The project for the island has started in 2007 and gone through several plans and investors and this hopefully will be the last twist in the story till the island opens. The island is located in Shaviyani atoll in the north and will be 50 minutes from sea plane from Male airport. The resort will have an Islamic concept of tourism with separate secluded beach for ladies only, pool villas for couples and certified halal buffet from all the restaurants. The island will not sell any alcohol and will be family friendly.
Although we have several middle eastern tourists arriving in Maldives including royalties from Gulf states, a resort island for the Muslim tourist has been wanting for some time.
A workers strike has been going on in one and only Reethi Rah for more than one day and it appears that the employer has again taken the weary route of resorting to ask help from ‘higher’ authorities rather than engaging with the workers. A report on Mvyouth claims that as of 0300 today, the resort has refused to meet with the representatives of the workers to negotiate their demands. Police teams have been send to dissuade the staff from protesting and it appears that staff have been given ultimatum to stop the demo as of today. The demands are as usual about salary, discrimination, poor accommodation etc. The number of workers who joined the protest is about 200.
It’s amazing how big employers like One and Only cannot manage simple demands like better food and accommodation and every so often strikes springs up in Reethi Rah.
Dusit Thani Maldives
One of the newest brands to Maldives, Dusit Thani Maldives is a popular resort according to many reviews in TripAdvisor. Among the many endearing terms used in the review these terms stand out. Helpful people, eco-friendly resort, top notch service, prestigious resort… After every review in TripAdvisor there appears a thanking little message by GM of the resort thanking for the review.
For lack of a similar service where staff can rate their employer, we had to ask about from our friends in the resort to give us an honest, heart to heart review of the resort, and what we got is not amusing at all. Here is one review by a trustworthy source about the resort:
The resort has recently decided to drastically cut down on benefits for staff and is currently in the process for terminating 60 local staff. That’s almost half of the total employees whose agreements will not be renewed. While most of the resorts goes to great lengths to keep their longer serving staff in the island, this looks like a departure from that trend. RNR (Rest and Relax 1 or 2 week extra paid leaves given to manager level persons) will be restricted only to a handful top managers. Around 70 local regular staff has been kept in limbo without permanent work agreements (used as casual workers; mostly this is the case for expatriate laborers in other resorts). Laundry, stewarding, gardening and landscaping, powerhouse, pest control, and public area cleaning services are going to be outsourced. Staff will not be able to plan their holidays or accumulate pending off days or lieu days for public holidays when going on annual vacation. This is allowed and hassle-free in most resorts. Most of the staff who worked in the pre-opening team are being terminated for flimsy and sometimes made-up reasons by their superiors who joined later. The resort Financial Controller is reported to have said that service charge for local staff shall be capped at 250$ per month irrespective of occupancy. Many local staff have been threatened with summary dismissal for minor reasons. There are only 3 locals in management level which is very low compared to other resorts. It seems the management is not willing to listen to any complaints or suggestions; and staffs have been dismissed for revealing these grievances in meetings with GM. Despite these negatives, the staff believe it has more to do with the individual temperaments of the managers themselves than company policy, which is making the resorts appeal less to local talent.
Our assessment: overall this is a good employer which has to do some serious housekeeping work to make sure from the management side, things are as it should be. Frequently what would happen is resorts are part of bigger chain of hotels and local management is assumed to be in order from corporate office if the monthly figures look ok. But there is always room for improvement and if half of those on the payroll are to be replaced in a year, then there indeed is cause for alarm. As for employing local workers wherever possible, this should be included in the Corporate Social Responsibility agenda and followed through to execution especially considering the high level of unemployment in the host country and the potential for conflict which will ensue.
Madoogali Resort and Spa, and Velidhoo Island Resorts have been fined 1000000 Rf and given a month’s notice to resolve health and safety problems.
A letter from the Ministry of Tourism states that resort does not have a proper garbage disposal mechanism, lacks can crushers, glass crushers, balers and shredders. The letter also states that the accommodation and catering facilities provided to the resort staffs are below regulation standards.
A Ministry official stated that the resort operator has been repeatedly asked to resolve health and safety issues since 2011.
Also, the official stated that they are currently investigation allegations against the resort management regarding Service Charge Taxes.
The Tourism Ministry has reportedly forwarded the case to the Prosecutor General’s office.
On reflection it can be said that it’s just stupid to run high end resorts and not spend on upkeep of the hotel. Another point is that although the law mandates resorts to have incinerators, compactors, bottle crushers; one very crucial element of the recycling idea is missing. It’s the buyers who will take the compacted cans, paper bales and use them to actually recycle something out of it. As long as we are burning or throwing things which can be recycled, we are just wasting resources.
On the positive side, it’s a good thing that the ministry appears to be getting tough on standards.
The picture depicts S. Meedhoo residents praying Eid prayer yesterday. The whole island men, women, children, strangers all gathered to pray eid in the beautiful morning in the island football ground. The prayer is a simple sermon admonishing people to do good and avoid evil. This is a welcome break from months of politicking and everyone enjoys a communal day of well wishing and befriending again after being glued to tv for some time. After the prayer, usually the youths will participate in a football match and girls will do a bashi (like tennis) match. The younger ones also get their own function with kiddies games arranged usually by everyone. Usually on Eid the senior folks walk from house to house chit chatting and enjoying each other’s hospitality till sunset. Its times like this when people realize how beautiful island life can be.