I visited the Marina last month with my colleagues, twice. It’s not that we love the place that’s why we went twice. We just had to.
For those who don’t know, The Crossroads is a ground breaking project on the island nation, metaphorically and most suitably, literally. Two resorts opened recently, in which one is Hard Rock Hotel and I believe there’s another one on the pipeline. It has a Marina where yachts can dock and a lot of restaurants including the world famous Hardrock Café and Sri Lanka’s signature crab restaurant, the Ministry of Crab.
This project is the biggest in the Maldives so far and the first of its kind. A pride to some Maldivians but also maybe not to others. There are two ways of looking at this project. For one, internationally, this gives an impression that Maldives is progressing quickly and this development will surely bring more employment opportunities, and two it can also be the nation’s destruction.
My colleagues and I took the ferry from Male’ and paid about 160 Maldivian Rufiyaa each (if I remember it correctly, I’m terrible with numbers) and it took us about 20 minutes to reach the Marina.
The area is not yet ready and there are still a lot of construction going on which, well, I could understand since it’s on its pre-opening phase. I felt like I was in Dubai instead of Maldives. It’s so surreal and I don’t know how to feel. It’s so fake, I feel like I am Alice, walking in wonderland. I mean it’s fake anyway, the whole place is artificial, the island is reclaimed and I was even making fun of the palm trees that looked like they were just planted the day before we arrived. Each of the palm trees looks like they have just 3 to 4 branches and some even look like they were about to die.
I work in a resort and an opening of two resorts with 200+ beds will affect not only us but the rest of the resorts in the Maldives. Hearing about this project for years, we wanted to see what the talk is about and if this is something we also need to take in consideration when making our business plan but after seeing it, we know already that it’s not of our kind.
Another reason for visiting is that me and my colleagues are PG (patay-gutom, can be literally translated to dead-hungry and this is supposed to be funny, but anyway) and since Male’ is so small and we feel like we have eaten in most of the cafes and restaurants there and we want something new, we were in all honesty, excited to dine in Hardrock Café and Ministry of Crab.
The food in Hardrock was a hit and miss. The service was good. The ambience, lively. Just what you would expect from a Hardrock Café. The price, is fair I guess depending on how one would see it. We paid about 130 U.S. dollars for 4 dishes and 3 drinks. For Maldives which is a very expensive place, I think this price is fair given that the service and ambience is good. And of course, a side trip to the Hardrock Shop is a must. A Hardrock shirt costs 25 dollars. A Hardrock keychain also costs 25 dollars. You be the judge.
Ministry of Crab is really expensive. I didn’t see the total amount because our Boss paid for it but she said that we could get more dishes for the amount we paid for, if we dined in a Crab Restaurant in Singapore. The food was ok, but I think, it’s just not my taste. I think I won’t be eating crab for a long time after that meal and I don’t think I would come back to this place anytime soon unless necessary.
Once the Marina is fully operational, I believe it’s going to be a good place for expats to take a break from Male’ or their resort life, which is a good thing. Locals might also go for meals occasionally, again a break from their usual island life or from the concrete jungle of Male’.
In this way, this development is good.
But how about looking at the environmental side of things.
A colleague of mine, a Marine Biologist, showed me a drone shot they took years ago of a boat dredging sand some hundred meters away from our resort. She said this dredging went on for months and it affected the visibility of the water and the corals in the nearby islands were covered with sand.
We have been experiencing strong currents more this year than before and she mentioned that, she might be wrong, but this could be because this reclaimed island has blocked the flow of water and is creating these changes.
The Crossroads is not the only reclaimed island in the Maldives and for me, whenever I read news about these fake island resorts carrying out Marine Conservation programmes like planting corals is a big fat joke. Like, seriously? They destroyed beautiful lagoons by turning it into an islands and now they are proudly planting corals on small frames to show that they care for the environment. Corals that they stole from other islands anyway. As if planting small coral frames is enough to cover all the damages they have created.
This development has good and bad sides to it, just like any other. I just hope that there’s more of the first than the latter.