Video Of The Day: Maldives Panettone Reef

Panettone Reef” from Jon Kreider on Vimeo.

Swim through the Panettone Reef in Maldives with schooling bannerfish in this video. These bannerfish are native to areas near Africa and although they are strikingly similar to the Moorish idols, the bannerfish and Moorish idols are only distantly related. The Panettone Reef in Ari Atoll is a popular spot for diving. Not only is Maldives the smallest Asian country in both land area and population, but Maldives is also the world’s lowest country with an average above-ground level just short of 5 feet. With widespread worry over the future of Maldives and whether or not the islands will soon be covered completely with water, this country is on my “URGENT: Travel To Soon” list.

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

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

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.

The Best Island Photos From Instagram

Instagram frequently leaves me with a serious case of travel envy, particularly when my dashboard is filled with photos of islands. There they are: fringed with palms, festooned with colorful fishing fleets and bathed in the gold-pink light of sunset. Then come the rocky, overgrown and uninhabited islands, which poke out of the sea just for a photo op. Do they go back to sleep underwater when no humans are around? Perhaps my favorite island photo porn is the aerial shot so you can see every line, curve and undulation of the isle or isles below.

Following are some of the most awesome photos of islands that have popped up on Instagram recently. For more island inspiration, explore the #islands hashtag within the app or browse, which makes use of Instagram’s API so that users can browse photos on their computer.

Kauai, Hawaii

Koh Phi Phi, Thailand

Zakynthos, Greece

Whitsunday Islands, Australia


Key West, Florida