In the second of a series of regular blogs, Tim Simond, Dive in Style author and founder, explains exactly what is meant by Dive in Style.
Over the years, I have visited some 100 countries, most of them with a coastline, and so I already had a good yardstick being familiar with some of the resorts featured in the book, having stayed there in my non-diving days, let alone countless other hotels around the world. I also realised that I could use this knowledge married to my now extensive diving experience to start the search for resorts that met all my revised criteria. So just what were these criteria and just what is Dive in Style?
A luxury and preferably stylish resort suitable for families and couples
Activities for all outside of diving including such facilities as a spa where possible
Fantastic diving and snorkelling
A dive shop on site - taxis or buses in wet gear would not do
An efficient diving system including, if possible a wash down service so you are free to enjoy your holiday rather than washing up
A minimum number of dive sites within 20 minutes and more further afield if wanted
Appropriate boats and equipment for the numbers and conditions
Small groups so that you were not crowded underwater
In short the diving and the entire operation should be a reflection of the quality of the hotel.
So next it was a question of reducing well over a hundred potential resorts to a definitive short list which we then had to visit (I know, I can hear you saying poor me). This involved sending out a comprehensive questionnaire to all, seeking to find out more about their diving, their dive facilities, their staff etc etc. and then somehow reducing this to just thirty, further reduced after our visits turned up that some of them simply did not fit the criteria despite appearing to do so on paper.
Over an eighteen month period I visited some thirty resorts narrowing this down to the final 26 destinations which made up the first edition of Dive in Style, and difficult though you will find to believe, this was an exhausting process as I only had a very short window at each resort to capture all the images and information, and many times mother nature just refused to cooperate - the most often heard comment from hotel managers being 'this is the worst weather we have ever had at this time of year'. Consequently a few resorts we actually had to revisit.
Amazingly, all the underwater shots were captured during our brief visits which suggests that if I saw it, so too will you.
The second edition of the book, which has just been released, further reviewed and updated these 26 hotels as well as adding new discoveries and dropping a few of the old ones either because they no longer met the criteria (only one so far) or because there was simply no room in the new book - they are however all are featured on our website.
It was quite a task trying to ensure all things to all men (and women and children), whether you dived or not, and clearly some resorts achieve these goals better than others and this is picked up in more detail in both the book and on the website under the appropriate hotels. So out of all these resorts I have visited, which are my top picks? That will be the subject of my next blog.