There are some areas of the world, notably in the Middle East and Indian Ocean, where luxury hotels have to house all their staff. There is a joke, says the gal, about a question asked on a cruise ship – where do all the crew live? Well, just as crew obviously live aboard, but out of sight, so those who make luxury hotels work, in some destinations, live there too.
In the Middle East, staff housing can be quite far from the main hotel, but on island resorts their quarters are generally in close proximity to where visitors stay – the one exception I have come across recently is Banana Island Resort Doha by Anantara, where 740 of the island resort’s 840-strong team commute to the mainland, by a 25-minute boat shuttle.
It is fair to say, however, that, wherever, since the ratio of staff to guests is so high at a luxury resort, their ‘hotel’, or staff village, often has more beds than the main property. Invariably the staff villages at resorts in the Maldives have great facilities, always including a dirt cricket pitch, a football field, and a gym, and beach and watersports. The staff restaurant at Soneva Jani is absolutely gorgeous, just as good-looking as the guests’ Gathering Place (and there the staff bedroom blocks are painted in lovely icecream shades, blueberry, pistachio and strawberry). At some resorts up to five entry-staff share rooms but at COMO Maalifushi no-one shares with more than one other, with a near-complete divider between beds.
I was also impressed, at COMO Maalifushi, by the fact that the staff village is reached via the main herb and salad garden above. Management also, this health-conscious young lady dares to say it, thinks about staff who smoke: the smoking area has a row of monkey chairs, as above. I tried out a chair, found it impossible to get out of unaided. I will not become addicted to monkey chairs and I am NOT about to take up smoking.