By Katherine Anthony
Katherine is the PR Manager for Conrad Maldives for the past two years, Katherine took her first steps in hotel life in her adopted home town of London back when lunches lasted two hours and the workweek ended on Fridays at 3pm. Since then, her career in hospitality PR has spanned three continents (Europe, the Middle East and Asia), much longer working hours and has included five star and luxury brands such as InterContinental, Waldorf Astoria and Mandarin Oriental. She found it hard to stop at only 10 things.
1. The people: Maldivians tend to be reserved when you first meet them but when they get to know you, they’re the warmest, friendliest people whose smiles come from the heart. 75% of the team members at Conrad Maldives are Maldivians so this is a great place to get to know the people, the history and the culture as well as share in celebrations and festivals.
2. 50 Shades of blue: mother nature was at her most inspired when she painted this country. All those different shades of blue are a treasure trove of beauty that you can never tire of. I love watching the colours of the ocean shimmer and change as the day goes by, reflecting the moods of the sky above. If you go to Ithaa undersea restaurant in the afternoon on a sunny day, the intense turquoise of the ocean outside the windows is like a jewel.
3. Short eats: when you live in the Maldives you soon learn to love the chilli pepper! While I like the spicy Maldivian curries, I really love short eats. It always amazes me the creativity with which Maldivian cooks came up with so many different – and delicious! – ways of producing these snacks.
4. The wildlife: The wildlife in this country is a source of constant amazement and fascination for me. Every time I snorkel or dive, I’m astounded by the sight of all those incredible fish in the ocean, not to mention the corals. We have manta rays at Conrad Maldives almost every night who perform a graceful ballet for us as they search for food. And there’s nothing more incredible than swimming alongside a whale shark. We’ve been lucky enough at the resort to see dolphins, mantas, turtles whale sharks and orcas on or near our house reef which makes working here an absolute pleasure. There are plenty of animals on land too; I love the fruitbats and their furry little faces as they peer at you from the top of palm trees. I love the thousands of little hermit crabs on the beach: from their eyes on stalks to the distinctive tracks they make in the sand as they drag their house with them, I just find them adorable. Where else on this planet can you lie on a beach and watch the seashells stroll past you? I’m also rather fond of the geckos in my room but less excited about anything with more than four legs!
5. The weather. Come rain or shine, it’s always wonderfully warm in this country. Being warm and not having to wear layers and layers of clothes makes such a difference to your life. It’s usually sunny so you automatically feel well and happy just living here. I haven’t looked at a weather forecast in two years and I find it comforting to wake up every day knowing that the temperature is going to be more or less 29 degrees.
6. Not wearing shoes. This really is a barefoot paradise and I love the look on our guests’ faces when they realise we’re serious when we say there’s no need to wear shoes anywhere. Conrad Maldives still has a very natural style, with sand floors in our reception and even some of our restaurants. Even in the office we all go barefoot.
7. The art of doing nothing: we lead an isolated existence on the resort, with no malls, cinemas or other big entertainments to distract us. That’s actually a good thing because it gives us a chance to rediscover inner peace again. I believe it’s good to slow down and learn to enjoy life as it happens. This is a country where, if you want to, you can find an empty stretch of beach at sunset and just sit and breathe. In a busy city life you forget how important this is.
8. Bodu beru: there’s something absolutely incredible about the traditional Maldivian drumming. Even though I don’t understand the words, I love listening to the chanting of the performers and the rhythm of the drumming which seems to touch your soul in some inexplicable way. It’s an experience I recommend every visitor to the country to try at least once. If you’re brave, you can even get up and join in the dancing!
9. Diving. The underwater world of the Maldives is rightfully considered one of the best on this planet and it’s a privilege to be part of this and to interact with all these incredible tropical fish. Being based in South Ari Atoll, we have access to some of the best dive sites in the country, from manta cleaning stations to some incredible sites teeming with fish and corals. Each dive is like a visit to a different world, populated with the most beautiful and incredible creatures. If you’ve ever dreamt you can fly, you’ll understand why I love diving because it’s the closest we’ll ever come to flying. When you’ve got your buoyancy right you just float weightless in the water, surrounded by a myriad of fish or a passing manta, feeling completely relaxed in a place where no mobile phones can reach you. It’s just you and the fish.
10. Seaplanes: there’s no better way to travel between the islands than by seaplane. Skimming over the water looking down on these tiny islands and sandbars, watching the turquoise ocean dotted with emerald green islands slip away below you is a memory you treasure forever. There are certain magical weather conditions when the horizon just disappears into the sky and you can’t tell if you’re looking at islands in the sky or clouds in the ocean. Just breathtaking.