In an evolving political dispute heating up between the ruling MDP and the opposition coalition, the latest victims seems to be Villa Group of hotels and their own airline Flyme. Apparently responding to calls to close down prostitution centres in the big demonstration held on Friday, the administration responded by sending police and tourism officials to Paradise island to check on the spas in the island. Embroiling in an increasingly political battle, the tourism ministry sent orders to close the spa operation in Villa’s 5 resorts which the resort politely declined citing legal inconsistencies. Villa’s own Flyme airline which ferries tourists and locals to the area around Maamigili island airport has also been grounded yesterday by order from civil aviation authority citing safety concerns. This is in contrast to the fact that other local airlines have never been similarly grounded following major incidents.
Its unfortunate that political scores are being settled against critical infrastructure and tourism facilities which are the mainstay of economy of the country. It is in the interest of the country to keep tourism industry in firm stable footing and to insulate the industry from political infighting as tourism industry is critical for the economy.
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.