Resort islands basically are of two types when it comes to the beach. There are the natural beauties and those who can use a little bit of “makeup” to call itself a resort. Resorts like Baros, Angaga, Dhonimigili, Holiday island, Ihuru are true natural beauties where the real meaning of the description “powdery white sand” stands. Resorts like Ellaidhoo, Gangehi, kuda rah, lily beach, Moofushi on the other hand are protected by a concrete ring of sea wall which looks terrible from above the island but ok on close up. Our “resorts page” has an aerial picture of most resorts and is a good guide to beach conditions of a resort from above the island.
One thing the “natural islands” will not have to worry about is sweeping the beach for “akiri” or corals once in a while, which is a pain for those who undertake to this task on less fortunate islands. Most resorts do employ the general laborer force for such works but with the belt tightening process of recent times, its not uncommon for the whole resort team to be called up to clean the beach.
Beach cleaning is physically demanding work and with the blazing sun overhead, perspiration levels rising all the time, the personal preparations for appearing agreeable is ruined after a one hour’s stint. For staff who are in contact with guests, a one hour stint of beach cleaning is followed by another one hour of rest to freshen up and return to the camp.. on the double..
For islands requiring “Make-up”, it is required to dredge sand once every few weeks to compensate for the loss of fine sand by the waves. This is carried out by electric powered submersible pumps which may or may not be supported by a floating platform equipped with a sound-proofed generator. In some islands this process is carried out in precarious situations with empty barrels bound to make a makeshift platform to support the weight of the apparatus to lower the pump and the operators aloft. Pumping alone is an option for lagoons which does not have much gravel or corals contained but where the conditions are different, filtering the discharged sand with sieves are the better choice. Most resorts cannot handle big machinery for these processes although there are some resorts which have had their complete beach sieved by mechanical sieve machines when the resort was being build.
The environmental effects of sand dredging are indeed harmful to the corals if the water and sand pumped out into the beach are not contained properly. Left unconstrained, fine sediments which are scooped from seabed by the pump float to large areas of lagoon killing growing corals.
Our sources in Villa Hotels tells us that the Villa Group of hotels, Sun Island, Paradise island, Holiday Island and Royal Island are to resume paying service charges to staff effective from this month. Initially service charge is expected to be fixed at 1000rf per staff (service charge “fixing” is illegal under the law!) per month and the resort is said to be in talks with tour operators to levy the service charge from accommodation which would significantly increase the service charge value. Villa Group resorts have sold blocks of rooms on allocations to various many tour operators under contract and renegotiating the contract according to the resort is not an option. So the group is reported to be trying to insert this issue whenever new contracts are signed with room allocation arrangements.
However as the group tries to induct new competent talent in to the resort, they are finding it increasingly difficult because of the service charge issue. Currently Villa group resorts are said to be in the budget holiday category hence life is hectic on these resorts with guests coming in sizable hordes and leaving in a similar fashion each day. The advantage for resort staff in these islands seems to be proximity to Male’ and ease of transportation which is one key demand of local staff who have families in Male’ and in neighboring islands. Staff retention rates are high in Villa Group resorts exactly for causes like this despite the hiatus in service charge, closer to a year now.
The service charge issue has been taken up by a thread in a tripadvisor forum and here is the link: http://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/ShowTopic-g293953-i7445-k3462287-10_Service_charge_update-Maldives.html
Although the intro of the thread has been deleted by tripadvisor police, the issue is quite obvious and those of us who are in the know, know this is a real McCoy of a true issue. The thread includes a list of ‘bad employers’ who ‘steal’ (for lack of a better word) from staff service charge in an attempt (a commendable one) to name and shame them. The list of resorts is:
The Chaaya group
Sun island island
Of the islands listed above the resorts run by Villa group (Sun island, Paradise island, Holiday island,Fun island, Royal Island) have not been giving any service charge to the staff for the past many months possibly for a year now. To evade the new labour rules which obliges employers to pay 99% of any service charge collected, they are reported to have added the 10% to pricing and maintains they are not charging service charge from guests now.
Adaaran and John Keels resorts have had workers strike over this issue and where there is a good case for a resort boycott, these resorts perhaps deserve such a boycott.
Filitheyo, Medufishi, Eriyadhoo, Vilamendhoo and the brand Zitahli are all in the lower end of caring for staff and its a good thing that big websites like tripadvisor are taking these issues on workers behalf. A few lines of comment asking the management to reconsider their policies towards staff by guests would go a long way to address these issues.
One surprise name in the list is Anantara which is somewhat comparable to Four Seasons Kuda Huraa and Landaagiraavaru where service charge is compared in the higher end. By far the best resort when it comes to service charge is W Maldives at Fesdu.
One important omission from the list is Kurumba Village and Universal Group resorts which will fit somewhere in between the lower and middle portion of a worker care scale.