Maldives Social Media Campaign Backfires

When the Maldives Tourism Board urged fans of the islands to help make their tourism slogan, “The Sunny Side of Life,” a global trend on Thursday, the campaign backfired. Instead of spreading positive words about the tropical paradise, tweets about police brutality and political illegitimacy spread like wildfire.

The social media campaign, which aimed to make the hashtag #SunnySideofLife a global trend, kicked off on the tourism board’s Twitter account, @myvisitmaldives, with this simple tweet: “Maldives has been awarded as the Most Romantic Destination in the World #SunnySideofLife.”

Readers, most of whom seem to be Maldivian citizens, shot back with some words of their own. Here is a sampling of some of the choice words they had:

  • #SunnySideofLife where a resort owner withhold staff salary, but spends millions to BUY a seat in parliament!!
  • Evening plans? I’m joining the protest after work.. can’t stand to watch fellow citizens being beaten by the police #SunnySideofLife
  • #Maldives not paradise for its people. Brutal coup regime suppressing our rights to freedom of expression & assembly. #SunnySideofLife
  • ThankU Coup Government of Maldives for #SunnySideofLife event. We’ll make sure to pass your acts of brutality to Twittersphere.
  • #SunnySideOfLife: Pristine white sandy beaches, crystal clear lagoons filled with blood of its citizens who are fighting for democracy
  • Visit the only place where ur tourism dollar will facilitate coup makers to persecute its people in the #sunnysideoflife

Other tweets included pictures of alleged victims of police brutality, participants in political protests and more. Most of the tweets were aimed at the current government, which was installed after President Mohamed Nasheed was ousted last February. Nasheed, one of the founders of the Maldivian Democratic Party who is well respected by the people of the Maldives, claims he was forced to resign at gunpoint and is calling on his successor, Mohamed Waheed, to resign immediately and hold elections.

When all is said and done, the tourism board did reach their goal of making #SunnySideofLife a global trend. Tweets featuring the hashtag are still filtering in, but few of them actually boast about the redeeming qualities of the islands. What’s more, the campaign just-so-happens to coincide with a United Nations hearing that centers on the status of human rights in the Maldives.

Readers, weigh in; do you think the tourism board should have thought out the timing of the campaign’s launch a little more? And does anyone who has been to the Maldives recently have something to share?

[Photo by muha…, Flickr]

Hotel News We Noted: July 6, 2012


niyama per aqqum maldives


Greetings, friends. Here’s to hoping that everyone in a hotel tonight is there because they are enjoying an extended Fourth of July vacation, and not because they’re still without power from last weekend’s storms or Colorado’s devastating wildfires. It seems like the end of the world might be nigh after all – so this week, in addition to your standard Hotel News We Noted on openings, trends and new developments, we’ve got a special Mayan package at one of our favorite resorts.

If you have news, tips or comments, please feel free to drop us a line via email.

Resort We Want to Visit: NIYAMA Per AQUUM
Dying for a trip to the Maldives? Sure, so are we. If you suddenly find yourself on the other side of the world, be sure to check out NIYAMA, the area’s newest resort, featuring the world’s first underwater music club, a 24-hour spa, a coral adoption program, tribal cooking over hot rock grills and in-room delis for midnight snacking. Sounds amazing, right? If any of those perks aren’t your thing, the Per AQUUM brand also has a polo estate in Dubai and another property in the Maldives, Huvafen Fushi.Hotel Opening: Dorset Square, London
We’ve seen a whole slew of London openings over the past few months as the city scurries to ready itself for the upcoming Olympics. The latest luxury hotel is Dorset Square, part of the same ownership team that brought us the Convent Garden Hotel in London and also New York’s Crosby Street hotel. Officially opened as of June 18, the totally renovated property has 38 individually designed rooms and suites, many of which look over a private garden that was originally the site of a cricket field. Rooms start at just 150 euro, which means we’re definitely putting this new property on our list of hotels to explore next time we’re across the pond.

Cool Perks, Hot Days: Trump SoHo
In addition to chic interiors designed by Ivana and a spa we can’t help but love (it has New York City’s first authentic Hammam), Trump SoHo has raised the bar yet again with cool summer amenities for its pool goers. Lounge at the Bar d’Eau with one of the hotel’s Kindle Touch devices, which feature a glare-proof screen and come stocked with books and magazines like Forbes and Shape. Hmm, we wonder if “50 Shades of Grey” is on there too. While you’re lounging, cool off with a glass of the new Moet Ice Imperial, the first Champagne designed to be enjoyed over ice and a new European import.

It’s the End of the World As We Know It: Mayan Spa Rituals at Rosewood Mayakoba
Rosewood Mayakoba in Riviera Maya, Mexico, is celebrating the planned Mayan calendar end on December 21, 2012, with new spa treatments. The Mayan Equinox Ritual starts with a traditional Mexican sauna experience called the Temazcal, followed by burning incense and a wrap and mask using jade, gold and silver. They are also offering a New Moon Treatment for new mothers, using ingredients like rose, apricot and honey, as well a Garden Detoxifying Ritual, said to help purify the body, mind and soul. It’s basically a high-end mud wrap, but it does sound quite decadent. The best part? All of these treatments come with a silver pendant with your name engraved in Mayan. Just watch out – these treatments start at $400, so while it may not be the end of the world after December 21, it might be the end of the money in your wallet.


Want to know about more Mayan-themed specials? Jessica Festa wrote a great roundup earlier this year.

Photo Of The Day: Maldives Fishmonger

Photo of the day - Maldives fish
Not sure who is scarier in this photo: the enormous fish or the intimidating fishmonger. The deep saturated colors and sparse backdrop add to the intense scene. Remove the fish and it could be a set from a “Hostel horror movie. Today’s Photo Of The Day was taken by Flickr user Mark Fischer in Male, Maldives. Although it may not be thought of as a major urban center, Male is one of the most densely populated islands of the world, even greater than Manhattan or Hong Kong. The island nation has been in the news frequently in the past year for environment and political issues, as well as a short-lived (but much hyped) spa ban. Luxury resorts without massages? Now that could be really terrifying to some travelers.

Have a scary travel photo you want to share? Add it to the Gadling Flickr pool for another Photo Of The Day.

10 Extraordinary Islands To Visit On Your Next Vacation

vacation islands

Summer is the time of island vacations. It is time to put as much distance between you and the real world as possible. It is time to stand outside of your everyday life and to see how it all looks from a paradise perspective. Here is a collection of islands for escape – places to recharge, gain perspective and explore. From an island in the land of the gods to a tropical Amsterdam at the edge of an ocean trench, each of these ten destinations provides something extraordinary.

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vacation islands

Santorini (Greece)
Abstract: As legends change hands, the stories transform. Storytellers take liberties, moving to impress wide-eyed audiences with tales of glorious antiquity. With each telling, they speak of monsters that grow stronger, of men who grow bolder, of explosions that tear apart the earth and take along with them civilizations that grow greater. These stories come from places like Santorini – a Greek paradise perched on the thin edge of a circular archipelago where the earth once swallowed a city whole.

Maybe that city was Plato’s Atlantis and maybe it was not, but what it is today is one of the most stunningly gorgeous and unique places on earth. Whitewashed villas adorned with oceanic blue domes cling to volcanic rock mountainsides in the most romantic of settings. Greece is the land of old gods, and Santorini is where those gods likely vacationed.

Highlights: Sailing to Volcano Island, hiking from Fira to Oia, and visiting Red Beach
High end lodging: Oia Castle Hotel
Mid-range lodging: Zorzis Hotel
Get there: Fly to Santorini for cheap on Easyjet from London or Milan. Flying from Athens is also a simple and inexpensive way to reach Santorini.


vacation islands

Gili Trawanagan (Indonesia)
Abstract: Gili T feels like the last party at the edge of the world. And it could be so, perched on the precipice of a trench that tears over 5 miles into the ocean floor, the Gilis are an outpost at the edge of a tectonic plate that tore away from Asia eons ago.

Gili Trawanagan is one of three islands in the Gili island chain. Gili T is known for dawdling sea turtles, plush white sand beaches, reggae jams, and mushroom shakes. Reached by just a short boat ride from the eastern coast of Bali, each island is governed by village elders substituting for a proper Indonesian Police force. An Amsterdamian party scene has developed and thrived in the absence of these formal police forces. The Tropical Amsterdam is like an upstart Ibiza with all-night parties and hung-over beach rehab. After partying all night, catch a ride home via horse taxi as no motorized vehicles are allowed on the islands.

High end lodging: Luce d’Alma or Marta’s
Mid-range lodging: Rumah Kundun
Get there: Take a boat from the eastern coast of Bali over across the Lombok strait with Gili Cat or one of the other transfer services.

vacation islands

Borneo
Abstract: Borneo is an ancient land of wild beasts and peculiar flora. It is one of the largest islands in the world and stocked with mysteries hidden deep within its ancient rain forests. It covers three countries: Malaysia, Indonesia and tiny Brunei. There are mysterious cultures like the ex-headhunting Dayak, massive orangutans and some of the best dive sites in the world. It is also one of Asia’s top budget destinations.

Beyond dusk boat rides in search of Proboscis monkeys or long jeep safaris into the heart of the lost world, Borneo also has some unexpectedly nice beaches. Off the coast of Kota Kinabalu, several islands bask in tropical waters with great reefs and nice sandy shores. For orangutan sightings, head to Sepilok nature reserve near Sandakan. The orangutans in Borneo grow to much larger sizes than their Sumatran brethren. This is supposedly due to the evolutionary effect of an absence of tigers in Borneo. In Sumatra, the orangs must take to the trees to stay safe, but in Borneo, the “orange men of the forest” have no need for tree-dwelling. Sadly, nothing can protect them from encroaching humanity.

Highlights: Climbing Mt Kinabalu, diving Sipidan, exploring the lost world of Danum Valley
High end lodging: Bunga Raya Island Resort near Kota Kinabalu
Mid-range lodging: Hotel Eden 54 in Kota Kinabalu
Get there: Flights to Kota Kinabalu are cheap from Hong Kong, Singapore, or Kuala Lumpur on AirAsia.

vacation islands

Perhentian Islands (Malaysia)
Abstract: These sun soaked islands in Malaysia once served as a stopping off point for Malaysian traders bound for Thailand. Today, The Perhentians are a jewel in the crown of otherworldly Malaysian beaches. It is the kind of place where you could misplace an entire lifetime, bound to the gravity of simple island life.

The islands are surrounded by seas rich with biodiversity and corals, and it is one of the least expensive places to learn how to scuba dive. The snorkeling here is also top notch and some attest to its superiority over diving. Be sure to visit between April and October, when the monsoons are away. Accommodation is pretty inexpensive across the board, and it is easy to get a room for under $25 a night.

Highlights: Snorkeling with sharks, jungle trekking, and finding an appropriate stretch of white sand to waste a day or three
High end lodging: Perhentian Tuna Bay Island Resort
Mid-range lodging: Abdul’s Chalet (book early as they fill up way in advance)
Get there: Take a speed boat from Kuala Besut, which can be reached by bus from Kuala Lumpur


vacation islands

Tasmania (Australia)
Abstract: One of the last stops before Antarctica, Tassie is Australia’s wild frontier island. With about 40 percent of land being national parkland, Tasmania is a well-protected gem boasting fascinating wine regions, gigantic kelp forests and some of the most perfect beaches in the world.

While visiting, rent a car and explore the Tasmanian countryside. Be sure to spend a few days checking out the Bay of Fires on Tasmania’s northeastern coast. While it is winter down under from June to August, it is possible to enjoy off-season rates. But, if you really want to enjoy the beaches, wait until winter hits the northern hemisphere. After all, the Bay of Fires sandy curves have recently been named one of the best beaches in the world. The crystalline turquoise waters and pillow-soft sand beaches welcome travelers with their unencumbered magnificence and laid back vibe. Inland, waterfalls, mountains and Tasmanian devils await intrepid travelers.

Highlights: Bay of Fires, Tasmanian Devils, and road trips through old forests
High end lodging: Islington Hotel (Hobart) or Saffire Freycinet (Wineglass bay)
Mid-range lodging: Fountainside Hotel (Hobart)
Get there: Fly to Hobart non-stop from Melbourne, Sydney, or Brisbane


vacation islands

The Maldives
Abstract:
An ethereal water-nation where the highest point is less than 8 feet, the Maldives defy imagination, budgets and reality with their perfect islands and hyper-luxury resorts equipped with private yachts and planes. The islands are the kind of place where work seems unimaginable, and the “real world” feels as though it must, too, be on hold somewhere out there thousands of miles from these sun-bathed atolls.

Few places deserve a distinguished “The” prior to their name, and the Maldives are almost never uttered without the obligatory distinction. This is because they are a place unlike anywhere else. They are THE Maldives.

Highlights: Snorkeling with sea turtles, diving with Manta Rays, exploring Maldivian villages and finding the perfect beach
High end lodging: Cocoa Island Resort
Mid-range lodging: Kurumba Maldives
Get there: Flights are possible from Dubai, Colombo, Kuala Lumpur and London (Gatwick)

Galapagos (Ecuador)
Abstract: Great thinkers and artists throughout time have all had their muses. Darwin had these islands in the Pacific Ocean. Filled with giant tortoises, swimming iguanas and warm weather penguins, the Galapagos are a last bastion of wilderness smack dab in the middle of nowhere.

With new restrictions year after year, the Galapagos will continue to become less accessible and more expensive. As one of the top eco-locations globally, these wild islands hold natural treasures that can be found nowhere else on earth.

Highlights: Cruising around the islands, swimming with sea lions and bird watching
High end lodging: Red Mangrove Aventura Lodge or book a live-aboard tour with Cheeseman’s
Mid-range lodging: Book a cheap live-aboard cruise by arranging a tour locally, though the available boats are generally sub par. Organizing a trip through tour companies in Quito is a good middle ground for value.
Get there: Flights can be arranged from Quito or Guayaquil

vacation islands

Corsica (France)
Abstract: This French island is Europe’s sleeper destination. With snow-capped mountains, white sand beaches, old world citadels and the legendary GR 20 hiking trail, Corsica does many things at once and does them all incredibly well. Known as the island of beauty, it holds up this moniker with particular strength from its sandy shores to the almost 9,000-foot-high Monte Cinto.

The GR 20 hiking trail is a 15-day-long distance trail that takes travelers through some of Europe’s most stunning vistas. Walk through clouds along the backbone of Corsica, passing small refuges and bonding with other travelers. At the seaside, Corsica’s aquamarine waters do not disappoint and boast some of the best shores in Europe, including the beaches of Plage de Saleccia, Palombaggia and Santa Giulia.

Highlights: Calanche Cliffs, the perfect little island of Iles Lavezzi, trekking the island’s interior, and beaches – lots of beaches
High end lodging: Demeure Loredana
Mid-range lodging: Rocca Rossa
Get there: Take a ferry from Nice or Marseilles. In the air, Easyjet flies to Corsica from Geneva, London and Paris.

vacation islands

Palau
Abstract: With more than 250 islands and roughly 20,000 inhabitants, Palau is a sparsely populated gem of an island chain. While places like Bora Bora and Fiji get all the airtime, Palau idles by humbly, welcoming well-informed travelers to its cerulean waters and sandy beaches perched under dark limestone outcroppings.

Thousands of years ago, a bay on the island of Eil Malk slowly closed off to the surrounding ocean. As a result, the jellyfish in the lake changed. Due to a lack of natural predators in their paradisiacal enclave, the golden and moon Jellyfish of the “fifth lake” abandoned millennia of evolutionary adaptation. The translucent beings lost their ability to sting and as a result, you can swim through armies of bobbing jellyfish as though you just ate an invincibility star.

Highlights: Swimming with friendly jellyfish in Jellyfish Lake, basking on a sun soaked beach, and buying ornately carved wooden storyboards
High end lodging: Palau Pacific Resort
Mid-range lodging: Caroline’s Resort
Get there: Reach Koror, Palau by plane from Tokyo, Manila, Seoul and Guam

vacation islands

St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands
Abstract: The largest of the Virgin Islands, St. Croix beckons travelers with tales of swashbucklers, golden beaches and old, Dutch charms. Since St. Croix is part of the United States, there is no need for a U.S. passport, and getting in is as simple as flying into Christiansted and finding the nearest beach, in which there are plenty. Beaches along Cane Bay and Buck Island are prototypes for paradise.

St. Croix has a number of old world Dutch Forts and much of the Christiansted area is stocked with preserved colonial gems and abandoned sugar mills. At dusk, take to Salt River Bay in clear kayaks not far from where the Columbus expedition ran ashore in 1493. Due to bioluminescent sea creatures, the clear kayaks become fringed with color as the water glows beneath. It feels like rowing through a microgalaxy. Dive into the dark waters and your entire body glows in the dark.

Highlights: Night swimming in the Bioluminescence of Salt River, visiting Buck Island, and exploring abandoned Dutch forts
High end lodging: Palms at Pelican Cove and The Buccaneer
Mid-range lodging: Hibiscus Beach Resort
Get there: Fly in from Puerto Rico, Miami and Atlanta

[All unattributed photos by the author]

‘Guam: The New Maldives’ and other Chinese tourism trends

guam chinese tourismIn 2012, trips originating from China will comprise an estimated 8 percent of total world travel. The China Tourism Academy estimates that 80 million Chinese residents will travel overseas, spending an estimated US$80 billion. That’s a significant chunk of the market.

In a recent article, CNNGo’s Shanghai editor Tracy You set out to demystify the Chinese traveler and predict the future of Chinese outbound tourism. Among her observations:

Many of the newer Chinese tourists are middle class. Travel is no longer reserved for the wealthy; more students and people from the working class are now venturing abroad. You predicts packed economy-class hotels in major tourism markets during traditional Chinese holidays like Spring Festival, summer vacations and early October.

Shopping is important, but so is nature. While Chinese tourists have a reputation for being shopaholics, most actually express a desire to explore natural settings and island escapes.

Cameras and Chinese menus are must-haves. A top priority for Chinese travelers is to photograph and be photographed, You reports. And while many stick to food they’re familiar with, many are willing to try local food if given ordering advice and menus in Chinese.

More Chinese are traveling independently. While tour groups are still the most convenient and common way for Chinese people to travel, more people are venturing out on their own or in small groups. You predicts that more Chinese will join the traditional backpacking routes of Europe, the United States and Southeast Asia.

Guam is the next big Chinese tourism destination. The United States island territory is already a popular getaway for Japanese and Korean tourists, and it has the natural beauty, shopping and island atmosphere that many Chinese tourists crave. You says that with the right infrastructure, it could join the Maldives as a top destination in the coming years.

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