By John O’Ceallaigh
Back at the height of the pandemic, resorts the world over introduced remote-working packages to entice long-term guests who had suddenly found they needn’t be physically present in their regular office anymore. But amid the scores of press releases I received from different properties about their own efforts, I don’t think any was nearly as generous or comprehensive as the Work Well offering introduced at Vakkaru Maldives. I’m willing to be accused of bias/arrogance when I say that, however, given it was a concept I developed as a consultant through LUTE in collaboration with the resort’s manager Iain McCormack and director of sales and marketing Janice Tan.
When we discussed our intent to create our own version of the new WFH (Work from Hotel) trend, we felt it was important to deviate from the standard long-stay offering, in a way that would showcase Vakkaru’s USPs and personality.
I’ve stayed in multiple resorts in the Maldives and love holidaying in the country, but with respect to marketing and branding it’s hard to tell many of the properties apart. Independently owned and operated, four-year-old Vakkaru has had to work that bit harder to spread the word about its attributes and amenities than many other luxury launches by big-name global brands, but that necessity has bred a lot of creativity. The team works hard.
Linked to that, when Vakkaru reopened after the initial lockdown in August 2020, the resort introduced ‘Vakkare’. Developed in collaboration with LUTE, the new service standard placed the concept of care at the core of all that property provides for guests and precipitated an enhanced focus on health and wellbeing across the island. For me as a consultant and for the team as a whole, keeping the tenets of Vakkare in mind when developing new concepts allowed us to ensure we maintained focus and consistency. It also made conceiving Vakkaru’s WFH concept so much easier as we knew it would have to show a genuine commitment to not just enhancing guests’ professional opportunities but improving their wellbeing generally.
So, rather than just providing a general discount on room rates for long-term guests and making claims about the efficacy of the Wi-Fi, Vakkaru’s Work Well went a lot further to ensure guests could work productively and live fruitfully.
Still available to book for guests staying 21 days or longer, Vakkaru’s Work Well offering includes a complimentary upgrade to a larger villa with a standalone study already stocked with a printer and office supplies. Guests can avail of the services of a Vacay PA to help with daily tasks such as managing schedules, assisting with the organisation of meetings and confirming flight arrangements, in addition to fulfilling standard butler duties.
But the package also makes a concerted effort to ensure guests live well in addition to working well. Complimentary Brain & Body Fuel pick-me-ups, consisting of healthy snacks and drinks, are served to Work Well guests every work day, and might include mini fruit skewers, oatmeal and peanut butter cookies, homemade granola or vegan smoothies made with berries, banana, coconut milk and honey. Vakkaru’s chefs can also prepare personalised healthy dishes to be served deskside if deadlines are looming.
One of my favourite aspects of the package, however, is that it also allows for a complete wellness overhaul. Guests enjoy a complimentary wellness consultation upon arrival and are, very generously, gifted one hour per day of complimentary personal training, meditation or yoga. So it would be very conceivable for Work Well residents to leave the resort showing off the results of a full-on body transformation as well as the stress-free demeanour that comes from working barefoot by the beach for weeks rather than being confined to a sky-high boardroom.
To that end, the package also encourages its clientele to change their Zoom backdrop on occasion. Tell your Vacay PA that you want an Ocean Office for the day and your desk is moved to a shaded outdoor setting in view of the turquoise ocean (admittedly the view can be quite distracting when you need to get things done); if you’re staying with colleagues meetings can be taken at a Beach Boardroom to encourage genuine blue-sky thinking.
Arranging the accompanying photoshoot was a lot of fun and I was privileged to be one of the very first Work Well arrivals when I spent a few weeks on site shortly after its launch. I remember a baby dolphin and its mother swimming directly below us when I joined morning yoga sessions on an outdoor deck on two different mornings – what an unforgettable way that was to start my Maldives workday.
For more on the resort vist vakkarumaldives.com
LUTE is a luxury-travel consultant and content agency that works with hotel groups, tour operators, tourist boards, airlines and more. You can learn more about LUTE here. For frequent luxury-travel updates, follow LUTE and LUTE founder John O’Ceallaigh on Instagram.