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Green Team
Dive In
Photo: Eloise Mundy
centres of excellence
Continuing his search for the best in diving services, photo-journalist
Brendan o’Brien turns his experienced dive punter eye to dive centres
With over three decades of diving experience and fourteen years as Despite my years of experience I still get a bit tense before the
a photojournalist for the diving press fellow divers think I’m in the first days diving. What gets me relaxed though is a well planned
position to answer the question, “where is the best place in the world orientation of the centre’s routine. During the orientation I’ll look for
to dive?” However, despite having visited hundreds of dive centres what I believe to be the key indicators of an efficient and effective
and resorts across the world this question still stumps me. ‘Best’ in my centre: clean and tidy public areas as well as workshops and
book isn’t just about the diving, it’s the whole experience, which for equipment storage areas that are well maintained. How the centre’s
the most part has more to do with the dive centre and resort than the employees conduct themselves always tells me a lot about how good
diving itself. my diving will be. If I’m paying for a service then that’s what I expect
to receive, there’s no room in today’s diving industry for surliness and
So what makes a dive resort the ‘best?’ Well, some good diving close
tales of how late a divemaster stayed up partying the night before.
by is an obvious starting point. However, I believe ‘best’ has more to
do with how a resort manages the customer’s total experience, from I’m always reassured by dive centres who go out of their way to
the moment they start thinking about a trip to the time they leave demonstrate their safety routines with bonus points going to the
the resort. ones that show me the equipment that is there to save my life. This
invariably only takes a few minutes but goes a long way to help
Before deciding on a destination I look for resorts that provide me
convince me I’m diving with professionals.
with a sense of excited anticipation, often as a result of attractive and
well designed marketing material. A website that provides innovative While the Red Sea tends to set the standard with its dive boats,
sneak previews are a must - some of the best ones I’ve seen allow other centres across the world have left me doubting their ability to
you access to virtual tours as well as video footage of the resort and get me in and out of the water safely. Once again, the standards of
its diving. The emergence of blogs as a means of communicating cleanliness and whether everything in is it’s place are the things I look
with past and potential customers is proving to be a very effective for first. Heads that aren’t cleaned on a regular basis and dirt or grime
marketing tool for many of the outstanding resorts across the world on the diving deck are all warning signs I’ve learnt to heed.
as they allow virtual visitors to get a sense of what is to come.
Safety is also paramount, the boat might have all the right equipment
They say initial impressions count and this certainly applies to the to bring it up to the required standard, but is it accesible, in working
diving industry, especially if I’ve just suffered a marathon flight half order and importantly, do the crew know how to use it? On several
way across the world. While a couple of decades ago I was quite occasions I’ve found first aid equipment that is either faulty or out
happy to sit in the back of a resort’s truck for the airport transfer, of date. I’ve also witnessed and been part of emergency situations
these days I’m a tad fussier. To impress me now the resort will need where the crew have been next to hopeless.
to ensure there is a knowledgable representative at the arrivals hall
together with comfortable transportation.
On reflection the ‘best places to dive’ haven’t always been notable
for their dive sites. What I believe makes a location ‘the best’ hasn’t
How a resort welcomes its customers tends to set the tone for the just been accommodation that is up to a high standard, food that is
rest of the trip but I’m amazed at the number of resorts that forget exceptional, a dive centre that is run effectively, boats that are either
the basics starting with an introduction to the resort’s routine and purpose built or have been adapted with diver’s needs in mind,
how to find the dive centre. The resorts that have gone on to provide together with qualified employees who understand what it is to
an amazing service are the ones where I will be shown to my room, provide an amazing service, it’s the synergy of all these factors that
helped with my luggage, allowed time to freshen up, and then be makes the difference.
provided with the opportunity for a tour of the facilities.
Issue 4 January - February ‘10 21
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