Viceroy Maldives opens today, April 2nd. Viceroy Maldives is the newest luxury resort in the Maldives and it will soon be known as one of the best! Uday Rao, the General Manager of Viceroy Maldives has been kind enough to take time out of his busy opening day schedule to chat with our President and CEO, Lindsey Wallace.
Uday Rao is one of our favorite General Managers and we are so happy that Uday is in charge of Viceroy Maldives! Uday always makes sure guests are well looked after and knowing that Uday is heading Viceroy Maldives means guests will be in for a treat!
Uday Rao, General Manager of Viceroy Maldives
Here is our conversation:
Lindsey Wallace: If I’m not mistaken, this is your second stint in the Maldives. How have you found the Maldives different now, than a decade ago?
Uday Rao: What has not changed is the sheer natural beauty of this country. It’s truly breathtaking and never seizes to amaze me how clear and blue the water of the Maldives is. What is different now is the source of the business has shifted some from the European countries to China in terms of the total arrivals to the Maldives. The competition is stiffer and customers are looking for deals. It is definitely a destination one cannot pass off once in their lifetime.
Aerial view of Viceroy Maldives
Lindsey Wallace: I have always thought that building a resort on a remote island in the Maldives would be one of the toughest, most frustrating, most complicated, and yet most rewarding experiences. What has it been like? I’m sure it’s been challenging. What have been some of the toughest aspects? And most rewarding?
Uday Rao: It has been everything you mentioned and more. I opened a property in India prior to coming to the Maldives and I thought that was tough. But a resort in the Maldives, takes the cake for me. It’s the logistics that is by far the most challenging and the timeliness of getting materials, customs clearance, deliveries to the island. Given the remote location of the resort by boat it takes 10 to 14 hours each way. Hiring the right skill set to get the job done in such a remote place and much more that makes it difficult. Everything is imported from small nails to marble to concrete mixes to barges to excavators. Weather plays a huge part in the construction since we have 31 villas over the water. Breakdowns in machinery, slows down the construction by days if not by weeks as parts must be ordered. The luxury of going down the street or the closest big city is not an option. However, having said that, what is most rewarding is the sense of accomplishment when it’s done and opened. That goes with any opening no matter where one opens a hotel or resort.
Final instructions given by Uday to the Viceroy Maldives team
prior to the first guests arrival (Uday is in the light blue shirt)
Lindsey Wallace: We had a meeting together about a year ago at a travel conference in Dubai. At that time, you were showing me photos of Viceroy Maldives and you also had a huge model of Viceroy Maldives. How does it feel to be able to look out and see the resort nearly finished in person?
Uday Rao: I can’t believe it that it is all coming together and I can see it come to light. I remember seeing the renderings of the resort, the villas, the public spaces when I was applying for this role and to now physically see it in front of me and walk the spaces daily can be quite emotional. The resort is stunning and the design intent has been integral, the freshness of the product, uniqueness of the architecture and the contemporary feel to the villas without being pretentious is very refreshing. It has been everything I expected and more.
Viceroy Maldives staff welcoming the first guests today.
Lindsey Wallace: So let’s talk more about the details of Viceroy Maldives. Viceroy Maldives is the newest resort in the Maldives and one that we at Linara Travel have been very excited about. What is the concept of Viceroy Maldives?
Uday Rao: Viceroy as a company is a lifestyle brand. If you see our properties in Miami to Anguilla to Santa Monica, they all focus on design, creativity and intuitive service by creating memories for our guests.
Lindsey Wallace: There are a number of luxury resorts in the Maldives, how is Viceroy Maldives different than others? What sorts of things (from rooms, facilities, service, or atmosphere for example) create a unique experience for guests? Basically, what makes Viceroy Maldives awesome?
Uday Rao: To start with, the remoteness of the location. Viceroy Maldives is one of the first luxury resorts in the Maldives located in the northern atolls that is unchartered and undiscovered. There isn’t the traffic or the lights across from the lagoon that are visible in Male. The intimacy of the resort by being a small, hideaway resort makes this place special. Our food and beverage options given the number of villas we have (61) gives our guests the variety in dining during their stay. The architecture is stunning and makes a statement. Someone told me the other day that the shape is like the Sydney Opera House. The shape is that of an inverted hull of a traditional wooden Maldivian fishing boat called “Dhoni”. Finally, the staff and the service. The Maldivians are truly warm, caring and genuine which makes my job a lot easier.
Water Villas with the inverted Dhoni design
View from the island
Lindsey Wallace: Viceroy Maldives opens today, April 2nd. Which facilities and rooms will be open? Which facilities and rooms won’t be open and when do you expect they will open?
Uday Rao: We are opening the resort in phases. April 2nd, we will open with 29 Beach Villas, Spa, Dive & Water sports Center, Library and Boutique, Treehouse restaurant (middle eastern cuisine), Vista (Main restaurant), Anguru (Pool Grill), Kids Club and our Main Pool. The Water Villas are tentatively scheduled to open in June, but it looks like this may happen earlier than expected.
View from Anguru at sunset
Lindsey Wallace: Can you give us some tips about the resort? Which dining venues are you most excited about or which ones are unique?
Uday Rao: My favorite is the Treehouse. It is so unique and completely different to the rest of the resort. It is a perfect place to come for pre-dinner drinks and canapés or post dinner drinks. It is one of the best places to watch the sunset or the sunrise. One of my favorite spots on the entire island, a place where I sometimes go and hide or wish to be alone and gaze out to the horizon is at the Treehouse. Truly a magical place. We serve tapas style, Middle Eastern food along with an array of beverages and cocktails.
Lindsey Wallace: In regards to the villas, I noticed that the Beach Villas and Water Villas have the same amount of interior space. Are the insides of these villas similar in design?
Uday Rao: The design, the look, and feel of the villas are the same. Floor to ceiling windows, high roofs, open spaces, natural bright light into all villas. It makes you want to spend time out on the deck or look out at the natural surroundings. In a place like the Maldives, you either want to look out or be out and that is what the intent is but yet, it gives you comforts of home when you are in the villa.
Lindsey Wallace: One of the questions we’ve already been asked from clients is what are the differences between the Water Villa and the Deluxe Water Villa? I know the Deluxe Water Villa is larger, but what is different about it? Is there a separate loft area for instance…other differences?
Uday Rao: The Deluxe Water Villa has a loft/entertainment lounge area with a daybed overlooking the lagoon with windows that open wide. They are very spacious and perfect for couples with the intimacy of the loft and the stunning views of the lagoon. Most of the Deluxe Water Villas face the sunset, which makes them even more attractive.
Lindsey Wallace: What is the seaplane experience like?
Uday Rao: For me, the experience of coming to the Maldives starts from the seaplane. I love to see the look on the faces of our guests when they are in the seaplane and look down at the waters of the Indian Ocean, the white sandy beaches, the deserted islands scattered everywhere. It’s like one would see in postcards and not believe it’s true. Imagine a string of white pearls dropped in turquoise blue waters that is crystal clear. I can’t even describe how beautiful it is. The experience begins here.
Uday greeting the first guests off of the seaplane.
Lindsey Wallace: Thank you, Uday for taking the time to give our readers a better feel for the resort. It really means a lot to us that you would take time out of your day on the day Viceroy Maldives opens to speak with us! I look forward to seeing you in a few weeks while staying at Viceroy!
Uday Rao: It’s my pleasure and we look forward to welcoming you and your clients to our stunning resort.
Rates and more specific questions:
Contact Linara Travel at email@example.com or on our toll-free number at 800-335-6033.