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SONU : the ‘dream maker’ redefining luxury

Striking a balance between mass tourism & ecotourism


A walk through Addu Nature Park

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SIX SENSES LAAMU : Championing Sustainable Tourism


How to Keep Good Staff from Leaving Dhivehi Insurance: Insurance Made Simple Baa Atoll Summer Festival Latest Happenings Appointments Awards Hotel and Supplier Directory


SENDI : A Life beneath the waves

CREDITS Publisher Ismail Faseeh Publishing Director Ibrahim Mahudhee Content Director Ali Naafiz Writers Ali Naafiz Ali Rafeeq Mohamed Visham Daniel Bosley James Roberts Layout and Design Moobeen Jaleel Sales and Marketing Ismail Faseeh Ibrahim Mahudhee Moobeen Jaleel Ali Naafiz Photography Aishath Naj Ibrahim Asad Resort photos: courtesy of the respective resort Cover Photo Ibrahim Asad Contributors Nasrulla Adnan Abdulla Saaid Moosa Rameez Ahmed Hameed




Maldives Promotion House Pvt Ltd Unit 1B, H. Meedhoo, Finihiya Goalhi Male’ 20066, Maldives Tel: (960) 3000760 mail:

w / b @maldives

From the Team Dear readers, Welcome to the second issue of Maldives Insider Travel & Tourism. We hope you enjoyed our very first issue, which gave an in-depth look into yet another challenging year in the Maldives tourism industry. As the industry expands at a rate faster than ever, we feel like it’s the ideal moment to touch upon an often overlooked area – ecotourism. A combination of Maldives’ ever-increasing popularity and its desire to meet tourist demand could have potentially damaging consequences to the archipelago’s delicate ecosystem if the clean and green environment that is such a top selling point is not maintained. While several islands remain untouched, many play host to luxurious holiday resorts and palatial accommodations – the impact of which must increasingly be a concern. In light of these developments, the second issue of Travel & Tourism revisits the founding of worldleading ecotourism brand Soneva, told through its legendary founder Sonu Shivdasani who pioneered a trend for back-to-nature luxury holidays with the opening of Soneva Fushi in 1995. We also travelled to Six Senses Laamu to explore a range of sustainable practices and initiatives undertaken by the only resort in Laamu atoll. For some light reading, we take you on a walk through the soon to be launched Nature Park in the southernmost atoll of Addu. With the second issue, we are also introducing a Suppliers Directory. This comprehensive list includes companies from a diverse range of sectors related to the hospitality industry, including F&B and equipment suppliers. For your convenience, we have added their addresses and contact details. We hope this new addition will help expand your business ties. Enjoy reading. — Team

@MaldivesInsider Page








Ecotourism: very well placed for the Maldives. PHOTO: HOLIDAY ISLAND RESORT


erhaps cartographers must be very busy, these days, updating our maps, as shallow lagoons and sandbanks are forming into islands in months, dramatically faster than a thousand or more years that might take in the natural process. Thanks to tourism development. With an international tourist arrival figure of 1,000 in 1972, today visitor numbers are at a million or more and a steady growth rate of nearly 10 percent between 2002 and 2011 expected to push for more developments in the years ahead. Many resorts, hotels and guesthouses, some in remote corners of the country, are under construction.

By Ali Rafeeq



review Marine life: Main attraction for tourists. Photo: Ozen




This fast-paced development, some believe, may impact our fragile and vulnerable environment and ecology. However, there are those who also argue that economic benefits of tourism – which contributes 34 percent to the national economy – outweigh environmental and social costs. Whatever the speed of development, planning and priorities, we have to keep close with the environment. Our archipelago of 1,200 islands are fragile given their vulnerability to natural disasters, global warming, and pollution (solid waste, local and global flow of plastic). It was 20 years ago that El Nino warmed waters of the Indian Ocean damaging our coral reefs which are home to over a 1000 species of fish. Any long-term damages to the reefs, marine life, and ecology will negatively impact tourism given that the main attraction for tourists in the Maldives is its natural environment – marine life, sea, sand and the beaches as the cliché goes. 1,400,000 1,250,000 1,100,000 950,000 800,000 650,000 500,000 2009 2010 2011 Tourist Arrivals







For a sustainable tourism, perhaps we need to look for a balance by prioritising ecotourism. Instead of moving towards mass tourism, giving a little more consideration to environment and ecology would bring greater good for the people. Ecotourism is very well placed for the Maldives. I realised the importance of environmental and ecological consideration in tourism development 16 years ago when I attended, as a reporter, a regional tourism conference in the Maldives that discussed issues related to ecotourism. The WTO Asia-Pacific Ministerial Conference on Sustainable Development of Ecotourism placed environmental conservation at the core of development while taking a holistic approach to development. While nature tourism is a huge component, cultural heritage and cultural experiences can also be areas of focus in sustainable development of tourism. Note: Ali Rafeeq is the former editor of Haveeru and Haveeru Online. The first Maldivian to acquire a PhD in journalism, Rafeeq currently serves as an Assistant Professor at the Department of Mass Communication, United Arab Emirates University. Page










a publication by





SONU SHIVDASANI the ‘dream maker’ redefining luxury by: Ali Naafiz




Sonu: Founder & CEO of Soneva Group. Photo: ibrahim Asad




Sonu Shivdasani: the ‘dream maker’ redefining luxury


t was 1986, and a 21-year-old Sonu Shivdasani was reading for an MA in English Literature at Oxford University when he met his future wife Eva Malmström. After their initial encounter, the Swedish fashion model introduced her British Indian partner to a patch of paradise in the Indian Ocean that she had visited a few years back on a photo shoot. She told him of the breath-taking natural beauty of the islands. She said they had to go there someday. A year later, the couple arrived in Maldives for winter holidays. They stayed at Nakatchafushi (now Huvafen Fushi Maldives). Like Eva, Sonu was instantly drawn to the natural beauty of the Maldives. “I think we had lived here in a past life. It was definitely a strong affinity to being in the Maldives. We loved the geography,” Sonu recalls his first impressions of the Maldives. A few years later, Sonu and Eva returned to the Maldives, this time staying at Cocoa Island (now COMO Cocoa Island), which was then operated by German photographer Erik Klemm. But the standards of hospitality offered by the handful of resorts operating at the time were a major turn-off. Coral walls, white tiled floors, plastic chairs, neon lights, salt water in the toilet and shower, and tinned fruits and vegetables didn’t appeal Sonu, son of a well-known Indian merchant and banker. That’s when it occurred to him, why not lease an island and build a house here?

Sonu & Eva : The brains behind Soneva’s unique take on luxury. Page



Selling the unsellable In 1988, Sonu approached the government, but was told that an island could only be leased for tourism. It wasn’t something he had thought of. He had no knowledge and experience of building and running a hotel. But Sonu took on the challenge. When the government began auctioning off islands in Ari Atoll in the early 1990s, Sonu bid for Athuruga, Thudufushi and Angaga – now three very successful resort islands. But the bids failed largely because Sonu didn’t have a bed contract with a tour operator. “Those days Maldivian tourism was run by German and Italian tour operators. They went to a local who was farming coconuts and said, ‘Will you build a resort for us? We will give a 10-year contract, allinclusive, a very low fixed price and a three-year deposit to finance the development’,” he explains. “The government wanted to see a tour operator bed contract, but we didn’t want to do that. We wanted to create something luxurious, and we couldn’t work with just one operator, especially at those low rates. We put very nice bids together. We also offered much more lease rental, but fewer number of rooms. But we failed.” Then Sonu had a stroke of luck. He was introduced to an uninhabited island in Baa atoll that had been abandoned after a failed attempt by local businessman Ahmed Jaleel to operate a resort. After Jaleel offloaded the island, it had passed onto various developers. But no one wanted to develop and run it. Everyone thought the island was, as Sonu put it, jinxed! Even so, Sonu acquired the lease on the island from Veyne Reed, Chairman of Australian travel company Treasure Island Enterprise. And with their family money, Sonu and Eva started building their dream house on the deserted island of Kunfunadhoo.

But to keep construction going and to complete the resort, they needed funds. They turned to local banks, but it proved to be a difficult task. “The local banks didn’t believe in luxury tourism. We showed them our numbers; we were projecting an average net rate of 200 dollars per night. We went to the state bank [State Bank of India], and they said it was impossible. Even Kurumba, which was the best resort at the time, was doing 100 dollars per night. They didn’t understand the concept at all,” Sonu shares the initial frustrations he had to deal with. Sonu was once again lucky. He discovered that the Thai government was mandating its banks to lend abroad. And so, he seized the opportunity and approached a Thai bank. Sonu’s proposal was amongst 20 loans – and the most successful of all – given out at the time by the bank’s newly formed division for international lending. But there was a catch! “They said, you know nothing about hotels. So, you need a hotel company to manage your hotel,” Sonu says. He began looking around for a suitable management company. He wrote to legendary South African hotelier Sol Kerzner, who was running the Le Saint Géran hotel in the Indian Ocean island nation of Mauritius, as well as Regent Hotels Group, Four Seasons and Taj Hotels. But they – all of them would later come to open luxury resorts in the Maldives – then believed that the Maldives lacked the potential to be a luxury destination. Hilton and Sheraton expressed interest, but Sonu and Eva felt that both the corporate chains were completely opposite of what they had in mind. Finally, Sonu had the opportunity to take an equity stake in a small hotel management company based in Thailand. It would later become known as Six Senses Hotels Resorts Spas.




Turning around a business After resolving the issue of funds and management, Sonu now had to take care of the make or break challenge of guest transfer. Jaleel’s resort operation on Kunfunadhoo in the 1970s failed because bad weather often made it impossible for dhonis to travel. Guests from Europe, who took nine-hour flights to reach the Maldives, had to spend four days from their week-long packaged holiday in Male. Transfer issues forced Jaleel’s successors to abandon their plans as well. Sonu realised that the only way to resolve the issue was to transport guests by air. Since there was no domestic airport anywhere close to the island, he turned to Hummingbird Helicopters, which was about to close its business after about two years in operation. Their use of western-built helicopters with limited seating capacity and high rates didn’t appeal guests who had paid just 500 pounds for a one-week holiday, including international flights. “We decided to take over the business. That was the time when communism collapsed all around the world. So, we went to Bulgaria and hired four helicopters from the Bulgarian state helicopter agency. The western helicopters went and these Russian helicopters came instead. They were better; they had 24 seats and a more solid build. They could carry 50 percent more people, were more suited to an environment like the Maldives and operating costs were dramatically lower,” Sonu says about the helicopter business, which he sold to his brother in 1997. “From being impossible to transfer packaged tourists, we now could and make a profit. The rates dropped from USD 250 to USD 140 for a return trip. It was almost cheaper than going by boat.”




Challenging status quo With everything in place, Sonu and Eva finished building their island home and opened it to visitors in 1995. Soneva Fushi became the first ‘castaway’ resort in the Maldives, pioneering a trend for back-to-nature luxury holidays – an experience Sonu calls ‘intelligent luxury’. The couple’s intensely personal vision of a locally crafted villa and environmentally responsible lifestyle challenged the long-held view of what luxury is. “Luxury is a word that’s so often misused and misrepresented. When it comes to luxury, people often talk about marbles or golden gates and chandeliers. But luxury is not about objects. It’s a concept; a philosophy. Luxury is all about that which is rare, that which you don’t get every day, that which is new but is still true. It’s got to strike a chord in your heart,” Sonu explains. For Sonu, luxury is packing for one’s own self; snorkelling gear, books and videos instead of suitcases full of suites, ties and dinner jackets to impress those they meet during their stay. It’s being able to walk barefoot, taking a shower and seeing the full moon, looking at the stars with the largest telescope in the Indian Ocean, watching a movie at Cinema Paradiso where the stars are in the sky as much as they are on the screen, eating a fresh salad from the garden, or the restaurant being just a natural sandbank. “Those are things however wealthy you are, you can’t do or get in an urban environment. That’s what becomes luxury,” he says. With its “no news, no shoes” slogan and authentic experiences that disconnect guests from the noisy world out there and reconnect them with nature, Soneva Fushi became an instant hit. It sent shockwaves through the hospitality industry, and kick-started a wave of new developments that transformed the

Luxury is a word that’s so often misused and ‘‘misrepresented. When it comes to luxury, people often

talk about marbles or golden gates and chandeliers. But luxury is not about objects. It’s a concept; a philosophy. Luxury is all about that which is rare, that which you don’t get every day, that which is new but is still true. It’s got to strike a chord in your heart Sonu


The‘Fresh in the Garden’ dining experience of Soneva Fushi. PHOTO: SONEVA




Maldives from a three-star diving destination to the ultra-luxury island paradise that it is today. And Sonu, from being called “stupid” even by established local developers, became a visionary. “We spoke to a lot of local developers who were involved in mass market offerings and they all thought our concept wouldn’t work. But now they too have upscale offerings. I think it’s kind of a vindication that those who thought it was a joke are now doing luxury developments,” Sonu says. “I think people build hotels they want to be in and live in themselves. We didn’t come from the hotel industry. So, we were able to think from a consumer’s perspective, not from the operator’s perspective. Eva and I loved being on the water, we loved being on boats. We loved the fact that when you’re on a boat, you don’t wear shoes. It was something that really appealed to us; creating a luxury experience where there’s a lot of sand and a much more casual environment where people don’t have to dress up.” Sonu didn’t just revolutionise Maldives tourism, but he also set an example of how it should be done. Soneva established a blueprint for barefoot luxury holidays around the world, with several firsts to its name: Maldives’ first

A private reserve at Soneva Fushi.


integrated waste management centre, first Art and Glass Studio, and first to introduce a two percent carbon levy to offset carbon emissions. With buildings made from ethically-sourced highest quality sustainable materials, home-grown produce used in the kitchens, and comprehensive waste management and recycling programmes, Sonu and Eva has since amassed two decades of knowledge and experience in coining the concepts of SLOW LIFE, which recognises the ability for luxury holidaymaking and care for the environment to co-exist with perfect ease. “Preserving the environment is an ongoing challenge, and I think we need to be very careful about that. The Maldives and its tourism industry exists because of the natural environment. If the corals don’t stay alive, the islands will eventually sink even if the sea level doesn’t rise. That’s what keeps the destination afloat, quite literally,” Sonu explains. “It’s a very fragile environment and people are coming for that; for the diving, corals and natural beauty. If you’ve too many tourists, that will be a challenge. There’s certainly a carrying capacity in the Maldives, and I think it’s not more than four to five million tourists a year.”

Making his mark Following the success of Soneva Fushi, Sonu began receiving proposals from developers and owners from the world over to manage their hotels and resorts. And just like that, Six Senses – a company formed just to manage Sonu’s own resort – evolved into a multi-million-dollar global hotel empire, which at its peak had 26 resorts and 41 spas across Asia, the Middle East and Europe. A more economical brand, Evason was also launched to complement Six Senses. In between the exponential global growth and perfecting the experiences at Soneva Fushi, Sonu developed Soneva Gili in the Male atoll as a transit point for guests arriving in the night. Instead of staying in Banyan Tree Vabbinfaru or the Four Seasons Resort Maldives at Kuda Huraa – the only two luxury resorts in Male atoll at the time – Asian guests with night flights could stay at Soneva Gili before taking out a seaplane to Soneva Fushi the following morning. Soneva brand itself also expanded beyond the shores of the Maldives, with the opening of the spectacular Soneva Kiri on the unspoilt Thai island of Koh Kood in 2009. But in 2012, Six Senses and Evason were sold to US-based Pegasus Capital for USD 175 million. Soneva Gili (now called Gili Lankanfushi, and managed by Singapore based HPL Hotels and Resorts) was also offloaded after the opening of a domestic airport in Baa atoll opened access to night flights and Male atoll became too crowded with a plethora of new developments. “We wanted to be both the owner and operator of our hotels,” Sonu says. “When you’re a hotel management company, you’re spending a lot of your energy and time on establishing standards, making sure the next property is not worse than the previous one rather than seeing whether you can improve on it. I think that’s a big challenge because a lot of hospitality is now very institutional. Fewer and fewer companies own more and more brands, and they’re growing through managing other people’s hotels. So, a lot of their time is spent on manging compromises between their brand and the owners.”

‘No News, No Shoes’ : Soneva’s brand philosophy. Page SONEVA PHOTO: 19

cover story

Returning to roots Now focused on the Soneva Group, with its “One Owner, One Operator, One Philosophy, One Brand” strategy, Sonu no longer has to spend all his time at hotel conferences, and meeting investors and developers. This allows him to be creative; to introduce fresh concepts as well as new evolutions to what he is already doing. With his newfound freedom, Sonu along with his wife Eva, who serves as the Creative Director of Soneva, is back shaking up the hospitality industry. Since the sale of their management companies, they have launched Soneva in Aqua, a luxury cruise, and Soneva Jani in the northern Noonu atoll, a collection of overwater villas situated in a large lagoon and encircled by five islands. Two more concepts that “don’t exist in the Maldives today” will be introduced over the next three years to complement the jungle and beach experience of Soneva Fushi, and the lagoon experience of Soneva Jani. Next is taking the company public and expanding the philosophies of SLOWLIFE and ‘intelligent luxury’ they have perfected in remote locations to an urban environment like London.


The idea of continuously improving and being creative, adding value and helping people – all these things keep me going. I can never just stop and stay in one place. I’ve to go backwards or forwards, Sonu


Only time will tell which direction he will go. But it sure seems that even after two decades of shaping one-of-a-kind holistic holiday experiences that are inspired by nature – and perhaps by his admiration for the novel of Robinson Crusoe back in university – the literary graduate turned hotelier is unstoppable!

Sonu: He plans to launch two more concepts in the Maldives. PHOTO: IBRAHIM ASAD Page














Eastern Grey Heron, Eidhigali Kilhi


ello there, welcome to the Hithadhoo Protected Area, soon to be known as Addu Nature Park, in the capital island of the Maldives’ southernmost atoll. Are you ready to take a tour of the country’s first island nature park? Have you got your binoculars? Snorkel? Sun tan lotion? It’s okay, you can borrow some of mine. Let’s get started.





ere we find ourselves, on the grand new platform overlooking the brackish lake known as Eidhigali Kilhi, which is one of the largest of its kind in the archipelago. Look over to the northwest across the shallow water, past a thick barrier of shrubs and rocky beach, and you can see the crest of envious waves arriving from across the Indian Ocean to share our wonderful view. The lake itself was named after the Eid stone (gau) used by the area’s first imams, to give sermons to the island’s Muslim community more than 800 years ago. In fact, while the whole of the area is now environmentally protected due to its diverse habitats and notable bird populations, there’s ample evidence of human history in the area too. Let’s go and take a look (don’t forget your sunglasses). East we go along Eidhigali Magu, past the new visitor centre – part of the Climate Change Adaptation Project (CCAP), which has transformed

this area over the past few years. We’ll take a left here and enter the park properly, walking through the jungle pathway of Koattey Magu alongside the towering palms and forests that border the kilhi. Three hundred metres later, along paths kept spotless by a team of park rangers in the day, and an army of black-backed crabs at night, we find another platform jutting out over the mudflats and the shallow waters of the lake. Shhh, if we’re very quiet we can make it to the bird hide at the end without disturbing the locals. Peering through the opening, we can see a gathering of Eastern Grey Heron by the stand of Black Mangrove in the middle of lake. Look up there! A whiskered tern making a dive for the small tilapia fish which sustain the plentiful bird community. Nearly two dozen different species have been identified in this area. Quick, grab the binoculars. Is that a Marsh Sandpiper or a Huvadhu Raabondhi over there tip-toeing across the mud? The total number of birds to be found here still isn’t known. Nestled at the base of the Central Asian Flyway, this is a top winter destination for migrating bird species, who have been travelling from as far as Siberia since way before Addu airport started taking international flights. But, there’s lots more to see. Shall we?




Eidhigalhi Kilhi from Central Viewing Platform

Red Mangrove stand in Bedhi area

North along the Koattey Magu, we take a left at the ranger station and find ourselves heading towards Vehere Fannu, under the cooling shade of the Kin’bi trees. The name ‘Vehere’ is thought to have come from the Sanskrit word for a Buddhist monastery, suggesting Maldivians had lived in this part of the island prior to the 12th century conversion to Islam, though no remains have yet been reported in the area. No time to look now though, there’s a lot more to see. Heading back towards Koattey Magu we pass a solitary grave by the path, and there are two more further east. Even after the islanders migrated further down Hithadhoo, they still came here to fish; and those who happened to drown in the area were laid to rest on the nearest dry land. But where did they live before they migrated? You want to see?

Ducking into the undergrowth to our right, past prickly pandanus, beach hibiscus and the odd Funa tree, we stumble upon what is thought to be the former village. Around a dozen graves are visible around old foundation stones, and the tomb known locally as the Fenheyo Ziyaaraiy. These sites are still found in many islands – places where islanders would visit the graves of holy men to say nadhuru and ask for favours. Little is known about the people who lived here, though historical sources indicate they abandoned the area around 400 years ago. Time for us to go too. Heading back east along Koattey Magu, next we see the famous Ranin Hanaa Fengandha, that long green pond down to your right. Some say this was where former noblewomen would bathe, though most say that specific area is actually a little further east, and that this green pond is actually Dhivva Fengandha, and was once used for ancient rituals. I say, with the soaring palms above the dusty path, the serene pool to our right and the crisp ocean waves breaking to our left, that this is my favourite place in the park. Let’s take a little rest here.

As the road forks ahead of us we take a right down the yellow trail, along the shallow bay area known as the Bedhi, which is home to seagrass beds and fringed with red mangrove on the outer isles. These slightly creepy plants – with aerial roots that look like spider legs – are crucial in the island’s constant battle against erosion and inundation by menacing waves. Did you know their seedlings can survive and sprout after floating in the water for up to a year? Wait, did that one just move? Let’s push on.

Graves by Fenheyo Ziyaaraiy Page



...okay, are you ready to keep going? Need to top up your sunscreen? Now we’re entering the actual ‘Koattey’ area for which the north of Hithadhoo is perhaps best known. Craning itself out into the Equatorial Channel, this area has long been utilised as a point of access and of defence. A powerful chief named Kalhu Ibrahim Thakurufaanu built himself a fort here sometime in the 1500s, and its remains were visible until the last century, when some even more powerful chiefs – better known as the British army – came along and levelled the whole area as part of their secret World War II military base, known as ‘Port T’. Unsurprisingly, the word koattey actually means ‘fort’ in Dhivehi. The leftovers of the British camp can still be seen peeking out from under the Ironwood forest to the right of Koattey Magu, and off

HPA showing Dhivva Fengandha and Koattey




the tip of Koattey Gondhu you can still see their concrete jetty. Huge guns were mounted here and also back over on the other side of Eidhigali Kilhi to fend off the Japanese navy. British troops reclaimed a four-mile road from the wetlands in 1941, from here to the south of the island, in order to operate the base. What do you think we’ve been walking on this whole time? But that’s enough talking for now. The reef surrounding the park is one of the best in the country, rounding off the wide variety of habitats and history that make up this completely unique area of the Maldives. As the park’s facilities near completion, many more visitors to Addu city are going to be following in your footsteps. But for now...still got that snorkel? Note: Daniel Bosley and Aishath Naj are co-founders of the Two Thousand Isles blog, seeking to re-discover the history and culture of the Maldives.






six senses Laamu

Championing sustainable tourism, protecting paradise by: Ali Naafiz


ncompassing almost 2,000 islands in the heart of the Indian Ocean, Maldives is famous for its clear blue skies, turquoise waters and powder soft white sand beaches. With an abundance of dive sites featuring a unique underwater beauty to explore, the country has also become known as one of the world’s best scuba diving destinations. This tranquil natural beauty of the Maldives still remains unmatched anywhere else in the world. More than a million tourists from around the world come to the Maldives every year to savour this in-explicably impeccable beauty. While several islands remain untouched, many play host to luxurious holiday resorts and palatial accommodations.




An overwater villa at Six Senses Laamu. PHOTO: SIX SENSES Page



With tourism growing rapidly, there is an urgent need to preserve the Maldives’ delicate environment and ecosystem — the top selling point of a country with no other natural resources to depend on. A lot is being done to adopt and maintain a sustainable tourism approach. Resorts are also taking it upon themselves to find new ways to use renewable sources for energy and to cut down on their carbon footprint. But there is one in particular that has perfected sustainable tourism like no other in the Maldives. Six Senses Laamu, the only resort in the relatively unexplored Laamu atoll, takes sustainable tourism to a whole new level, with environment-friendly practices and conservation efforts deeply embedded in every aspect of the resort — from design, build and service experience. The 97 award-winning accommodations are a combination of on-land and overwater villas constructed from sustainable materials. Weathered timber jetties lead to the overwater havens secluded by high wooden enclosures. Lush forest surrounds the stylish beach villas in utmost privacy. They all offer the ultimate island lifestyle, with one or two bedrooms, private leisure and dining decks, and many well thought out features for guest comfort. Sea breezes drift amongst the rustic wood under high palmthatched roofs at the villas and dining venues as well. Many of the mouthwatering dishes prepared by chefs from East and West are created using produce grown on the island. Leaf is a wonderful dining experience perched above the organic garden, while Zen offers Japanese style dining for just 12 guests. International cuisine is featured at the two-level overwater Longitude alongside the one-of-a kind glass wine cellar. Sip Sip at poolside offers a casual dining alternative with beach classics throughout the day whereas Chill Bar, open all day and night, features an authentic Vietnamese menu for lunch and a varied international menu for lunch and dinner. True to the Six Senses’ philosophy of marrying sustainable practices with uncompromising high-end facilities, Six Senses Laamu has taken standard-setting steps and initiatives to preserve the natural environment.




“Sustainability is definitely one of our pillars, and here at this location we are committed to doing all possible to try and maintain and improve on our sustainability and marine conservation efforts,” General Manager Marteyne van Well says. The sustainability efforts began well before the construction of the resort and continues to this day, with buildings designed to minimise the damage to the island and lagoon. Branches were cut in a controlled way, old plant matter was left to decompose, and only fallen flowers were used for decoration. From early stages in the design, energy conservation was given a top priority. All villas have been designed to take advantage of passive cooling, while overhanging roofs create shade for the windows, reducing the need for air-conditioning. Where air-conditioning is required, only low energy consuming units are used. To further reduce the power demand, Six Senses Laamu has installed heat and pressure recovery systems in the production of hot water and freshwater. Through the heat recovery (cogeneration) system installed in the generators, heat is prevented from escaping and being wasted during power generation. Instead, it heats the cooling agent of the generator, gets passed onto a heat exchanger attached to the generator’s radiator and is transferred to the cold freshwater from the desalination plant via stainless steel plates. To reduce energy consumption in producing freshwater from reverse osmosis, an innovative energy recovery system (ERI) has also been installed in the desalination plant; it uses the brine’s energy to pressurise seawater to the same pressure as the brine. Six Senses Laamu is also actively looking for ways to reduce the waste generated and to dispose of it properly. The resort works with suppliers to reduce packaging; purchases are made in bulk to avoid unnecessary packaging. To reduce the use of plastic bags as much as possible, bins that can be washed or jute bags are used. While no bottled water is imported by the resort, both guests and hosts are provided with re-usable glass water bottles that are bottled on the island. The resort also reuses several materials, including office paper, kitchen oil, candle wax and waste wood.

A dining destination at Six Senses Laamu.

Photo: Six Senses Page



Six Senses Laamu has created its own Earth Lab, which serves as a central waste management and recycling hub. Here, waste is separated into paper, plastic, metal, glass, organic waste and toxic waste. A compactor reduces the space required to store the waste before it is sent for recycling and proper handling, while a machine is used for crushing glass into ‘glass sand’, which is mixed with cement to make plant pots and light covers, and garden waste, which is re-used in the garden, pathways and for composting. A composting site has been built at the Earth Lab where food waste from the kitchen and restaurants is composted together with garden waste, which is shredded using a chipping machine. To make composting as effective and odourless as possible, waste is separated in the kitchen where all the food, except meat and seafood, is collected for composting. Meat and seafood is excluded as these items decompose slower as well as to avoid attracting rodents. The composting soil generated from this activity is re-used in landscaping and gardening. Six Senses Laamu also features an organic garden where 40 different herbs, vegetables, salad leaves and micro-herbs are grown. Items grown here are used to prepare dishes served at the Leaf restaurant, while the Executive Chef and his culinary team have also teamed u p with the gardeners to create a dailychanging menu, entirely based on fresh and organic ingredients, served by the pool at Sip Sip. The menu features a different starter, salad, pizza and dessert every day for guests to choose from.




On the marine c o n s e r va t i o n front too, Six Senses Laamu has set an example. In addition to becoming the first resort in the Maldives to establish and implement codes of conduct for dolphin watching and turtle interaction, the resort enforces a strict no-take stance on the purchase of endangered or vulnerable fish from local fishermen. Reef check, fish watch, shark watch, barnacle studies and biodiversity surveys are conducted all year round, with data submitted to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), Maldives Marine Research Centre and the Olive Ridley Project. “We make substantial financial contributions to Blue Marine and Manta Trust. We have six marine biologists in that setup; two resident, and two each from Blue Marine and Manta Trust. We also have interns in sustainability and a Sustainability Manager,” Marteyne explains. “There are many resorts doing several good things, but maybe not with this kind of manpower behind an effort.”

Six Senses Laamu also demonstrates operational sustainability through the practice of local sensitivity and support of local communities. The resort engages the talent of locals, with over 50 percent of its staff comprising of Maldivians, especially those from the vicinity of the resort. Additionally, fresh produce such as local fish, fruit and vegetables, and services (eg. for construction or repair work) are from the surrounding area, benefiting the local economy and communities. Throughout the year, various contributions are made to local sustainability projects. These activities utilise the resort’s human and financial resources, and are primarily funded through Six Senses Laamu Sustainability Fund, which collects 0.5 percent of revenues to be exclusively used for the support of social and environmental projects and initiatives in the Maldives. As such, the resort provides marine education to youth in all 13 schools in the Laamu atoll, and has laid the foundation with an aim to be the first plastic-free atoll in the Maldives by 2020. “Over time, we will continue to grow and make marine conservation one of the key pillars of the resort, especially in how we share it with our staff and guests, and how we contribute to the local community,” Marteyne says. “Four Seasons Resort Maldives Apprenticeship Programme is an outstanding vocational training scheme for young and dynamic Maldivians looking to enter the hospitality industry. I would love Six Senses to be that same educator, but in sustainability and marine conservation, so that we can create the next generation of Maldivians who

are able to contribute to their communities and to their environment in making it more sustainable.” A place with inspiring equatorial sunrises above the translucent lagoon and romantic sunsets that dissolve into the evening sea, Six Senses Laamu offers the best of a Maldivian holiday experience. With simple, yet exciting additions such as free homemade ice-creams and personalised bicycles, this palm-fringed island paradise has perfected the concept of “barefoot luxury”, giving you a sense of stepping into a different kind of reality. But what makes Six Senses Laamu truly stand out is its deep-rooted commitment to sustainability that is interwoven with every aspect of the resort — an example where hosts and guests come together to protect the island paradise for generations to come.


Field of ‘sea grapes’ in Baa Atoll .




Sendi with friends. MALDIVES INSIDER TRAVEL & TOURISM | may - june 2018


Sendi with his cat


SENDI a life beneath the waves by Mohamed Visham


or most kids in the tiny island nation sprinkled across the middle of the Indian Ocean, playtime was rather mundane. But for Hussain Rasheed, more commonly known as Sendi, his ‘playground’ was infinite and his playmates diverse, vibrant and ‘amphibious.’




Sharing Knowledge with aspiring divers is Sendi’s greatest satisfaction.


“My earliest memories are with my father adorned with the salty ocean breeze, sound of the crashing waves and the mesmeric glittering sea,” Sendi says. The journey from a young boy tagging along with his ocean loving father to the archipelago’s first PADI Dive Course Director – he still remains amongst the two course directors in the Maldives – was pretty much preordained. In the 1970s, when tourism first graced the pristine shores of the Maldives, Sendi’s father on his modified small boat used to take out the few tourists who holidayed in the archipelago on excursions. For the young Sendi, this was when he first glimpsed the magnificence that lay masked beneath the turquoise blue waters the country is now globally renowned for. “Snorkelling gear like masks or fins weren’t common at the time. The tourists that came brought such things with them which I used to borrow. And I begged one to leave a mask behind,” Sendi recalls his initial struggle which would later go on to define his destiny. Despite his undisputed love for the ocean, Sendi made a surprising career choice by joining the then national radio, Voice of Maldives. But in 1986, Sendi got the chance to partake in a United Nations funded diving course which he gleefully grabbed with both hands.

– an Australian commercial diver. And he has not looked back since, gradually climbing to become one of the most revered divers, not only in the Maldives but in the whole of Asia. Sendi’s career path shows a deep romance with the ocean. But for him, sharing his knowledge with aspiring young men and women remains the ultimate satisfaction. A decade after his first dive to the Victory Wreck – a mere three days after it sank near the capital in 1981 – Sendi embarked on his journey as a teacher, with more than 600 local and foreign divers to have benefited under his extensive tutelage to date. Spending a lifetime beneath the waves has offered a unique perspective and a profound understanding of the fragile eco-system that lies hidden beneath the turquoise waters. Sendi, during his glittering career, has spearheaded multiple events – chief amongst them is the now globally revered underwater cabinet

“My first paying job was photographing sharks which we spotted near Thilafushi island,” Sendi details how he got into documenting marine life for the tourism industry, which he would take up for the next three decades of his life. Sendi’s introduction to diving was to the Victory Ship, which sank near capital Male, on borrowed gear, mainly from his brother-in-law Sendi: one of the two PADI Course Directors in Maldives. Page




meeting, which was carried out in order to raise awareness about the dire need to protect the world underneath. It was surprising the way Sendi described himself as an ‘activist’, which he insists one needs to be in order to make people believe what only few like him have or will ever see. “I literally saw the aftermath of El-Nino and the profound effect it had on the reefs. It was astounding. It changed me, and shook me to a whole new reality,” Sendi describes his experience vividly.

grass. He has been trying to create awareness about these issues for quite some time. So, it would be rather hard to fathom, that for a man who has spent nearly five decades basking in the magnificence beneath the waves to be surprised and excited by a new discovery. However, as late as early March this year, Sendi stumbled upon a never before seen field of what is commonly known as ‘sea grapes’ in Baa atoll. “I’ve seen it washed up in [the southernmost atoll of] Addu before. But I’ve never met anyone who has seen this on such a scale,” an excited Sendi exclaims. The reason for such excitement may elude most of us, but his dive had yielded another

Field of ‘sea grapes’ found in Baa Atoll.


“The beauty of the ocean cannot be overstated, especially the stunning world hidden away. But if you think of it, how many of us have actually seen the magnificence beneath the turquoise blue? And you can’t appreciate what you don’t see now, can you? That’s in fact the sad reality of it all.”

discovery. Corals bloomed like flowers covering an area the size of a football field.

In the most recent years, Sendi has been on a mission to monitor coral bleaching and sea

“I’ve never seen corals like those before,” Sendi enthuses. This recent discovery gives further weight to what he has struggled to convey for decades; the pressing need for marine conservation, protection and research. After all, there’s no greater lesson Sendi has learned in his lifetime beneath the waves – that our survival literally depends on these fragile ecosystems.




Retaining your best employees is key. Photo: Coco Collection

by: James Roberts





ur friend at Ryanair appears to be in hot water again. Having narrowly averted a strike over the busy festive season, the airline now faces a parliamentary probe into allegations of unfair employee working conditions. Since it’s clear Michael O’Leary doesn’t know how to keep good staff from leaving, I thought I would give him, and you of course, a couple of tips on how to retain your best employees.

Respect them


reat your employees with dignity and respect, and communicate with them in a mature, professional way. That means no flying off the handle unnecessarily, belittling them in front of their colleagues or instilling fear in the workplace.

Let them get on with job


ou have hired staff because you believed at the time they could do the job. So, respect their ability and let them get on with the job. There are a few things more demotivating than being micro-managed. Provided your hiring and training processes are sound, they should be more than capable to get on with the job themselves without your constant interference.

Don’t move the goalposts


e consistent about your expectations and clear about what success looks like. Try not to change the goals constantly as it’s confusing for staff and frankly, quite unfair. If you do need to change the goalposts, communicate properly why this is the case and enlist their support for the changed goals.

Praise, praise and praise again


s important as it is to give constructive criticism, so too is it important to praise. Your staff need to know how they’re performing and what they can do better. Publicly recognise good service, innovation and hard work.






Be flexible


f you can be flexible within the realms of what is required in the role, extend that flexibility to your staff; whether that be working from home or flexible working hours. Your travel staff will reward your flexibility with loyalty and enthusiasm.

Ask them for their views


our staff have on-the-ground knowledge of processes, the environment and their customers. To keep good staff, ask them for their views on potential improvements not only in the workplace, but in the product or service you offer. This makes them feel valued and respected.

A more meaningful travel role


ommunicate your vision and values so that staff understand what their role is within that and whether their personal values align with that of the organisation. Staff who understand their greater purpose within the company are more likely to be innovative and proactive – not just another number on the payroll, but a meaningful contributor to the company’s success and the happiness of the travel company’s customers. To keep good staff happy is easier than you think. In the case of O’Leary, a little humility and respect would go a long way to retaining airline employees who want to leave. And who could blame them…

Note: James Roberts spent four years working for British Airways and its subsidiary British Regional Airlines, ending up as a Regional Business Manager. He completed a six-month consultancy contract with Siemens as Travel Manager for their business worldwide, and spent four years with a UK-based travel recruitment consultancy before establishing Progressive Travel Recruitment in 2005. Photo: Anantara Kihavah Villas



INSURANCE made simple Page




t can be said that in bad times, all one needs is a supportive family, loyal friends, and of course a good insurance policy. But insurance, especially in the Maldives, remains a rather alien concept. It’s often seen as a luxury for the rich and powerful. Most people who are at higher risks don’t understand the complex policies. For a layman, it could all very well be Latin. But one insurance provider has set out to change all that! Founded in 2016, the 100 percent locally-owned Dhivehi Insurance Company has at long last taken it upon themselves to make insurance simpler. Much simpler.

Dhivehi Insurance: offers a wide variety of insurance policies. Page



According to the seasoned insurance executive, that’s what sets Dhivehi Insurance apart in the presently competitive insurance market in the archipelago. The fifth insurance company to launch operations in the Maldives, Dhivehi Insurance offers a wide array of products, including marine, fire, theft, construction and liability insurance. Along with this impressive line-up of products, the company has in a short span of time made significant strides in the market to offer simple solutions to customers across a wide spectrum of sectors.

Abdul Wahid Thowfeeg : Managing Director of Dhivehi Insurance.


“The policies and the terminologies can be very technical and hard to understand. Most of the time, the customer won’t know what he or she needs. It’s up to us to customise the policies to best suit their needs,” Managing Director Abdul Wahid Thowfeeg explained.




“We identified the need for simplicity. So, we don’t just make policies for customers. We also customise them, package them, group them to fit the needs of individual customers or companies,” Wahid detailed the mission of the fast-growing company. “For example, someone might come to us to get a fire insurance policy for his house. So, it’s up to us to get him covered for theft and liability too. Customers may not understand the risks, but we have the expertise. So, we must take up the responsibility to ensure that our customers are protected against all possible risks.” Dhivehi Insurance can certainly be described as a company closer to its customers. And it has a deeper understanding of the fact that its

own growth and success are parallel to the satisfaction of its customers. The company has targeted Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) to offer assistance and solutions specifically for expansion. It acts as a loyal facilitator and friend for small companies to grow.

on expansion, one thing Dhivehi Insurance would not compromise is its unrelenting commitment to offer simple yet total solutions to all its customers, regardless of their size. For Wahid and his team, their mission is simple: to ensure that their customers understand every possible risk involved and are protected against them. Dhivehi Insurance – a friend, a guardian to be with you during your time of need.

For Wahid, that is the biggest achievement of Dhivehi Insurance in the highly competitive insurance market. Understanding the needs of the locals. Considerate of the local cultural aspects. Bringing standardized and customized products closer to the customer. Wahid believes that with the huge influx of local and foreign investments in the Maldives in recent years, the market for insurance will only keep flourishing, especially in the tourism sector, where major international hotel chains continue to establish new properties in the premier luxury tropical island destination. Dhivehi Insurance promises to provide tailor-made and customercentric insurance solutions to everyone involved in the tourism industry, be it developers or operators. As the company sets its sight




six resorts 14 days one event Page



Six resorts in Baa Atoll join hands to promote the atoll as a destination.


Summer Festival Baa Atoll


ix resorts, all located in the central Baa atoll, have come together ahead of summer holidays to host a joint promotional event to promote the atoll as a single destination.

Soneva Fushi, Four Seasons Resort Maldives at Landaa Giraavaru, Dusit Thani Maldives, Amilla Fushi, Finolhu Maldives and Vakkaru Maldives have joined hands to celebrate the Summer Festival with a bang in Baa atoll, calling it the “Baa Atoll Summer Festival 2018�.




This first ever and one-of-its-kind festival will be held from July 20 to August 3, bringing the best each resort has to offer in the dining scene. Guests from each resort will have the opportunity to experience the varied cuisines Baa atoll has to offer as a destination, on dedicated nights. This will give them a taste of the creativity and service of their resort of choice, with a chance to explore other islands during their stay. On May 9, all participating resorts came together at Soneva Fushi sandbank to bring this festival to light with an official announcement during a gathering with chefs, marine biologists and the leaders. The Baa Atoll Summer Festival will officially launch on July 20, with a cocktail event in each of the resorts where the teams will celebrate with their guests the opening night. From the following day, each resort will welcome the guests from other resorts with a special

set menu for dinner in their featured dining restaurant, for two consecutive weeks on a designated night. This gives the resort the opportunity to showcase its dining scene to the guests of the resort itself and those visiting from the other islands for dinner. Transportation will be organised by the respective resorts to the featured resort on a daily basis, for a minimum charge of USD 25++ per person. If the guests would like to repeat their experience in a specific resort, then special arrangements will be made to accommodate the same. Each resort will present a set menu for USD 120++ per person on food, with a special menu for kids. The price of the menu in each featured restaurant will remain the same. This is compiled with an aim to create an experience for the guests as the talented chefs unveil their dishes.

Schedule for the festival: • • • • • •

Feeling Koi at Aamilla Fushi.

July 21 and 28: Amilla Fushi July 22 and 29: Four Seasons Landaa Giraavaru July 23 and 30: Finolhu July 24 and 31: Dusit Thani July 25 and August 1: Soneva Fushi July 26 and August 2: Vakkaru


Participating restaurants: Out of the Blue (Soneva Fushi): Once Upon a Table, which opened in May 2018, is one of the five new outlets in Soneva Fushi’s ‘Out of the Blue’ dining complex; a two-storey overwater structure with beautiful views of the sunset. A culinary theatre showcasing some of the biggest names in fine dining, Once Upon a Table’s horseshoe shaped table seats just eight diners for an intimate dining experience. In 2018, more than 30 of the world’s top chefs, most with one or two Michelin stars, will cook at the outlet. Blu (Four Seasons Landaa Giraavaru): Overlooking a 1.2 mile lagoon, Blu embraces the essence of the Maldives as the place where the ocean meets the sky. This contemporary Italian restaurant serves light Mediterranean fare during the day and offers a fine dining experience in the evening, serving up vibrant dishes with a Southern Italian accent. Benjarong (Duist Thani): Benjarong, the signature overwater Thai restaurant, takes diners to the Land of Smiles with authentic delicacies bringing Royal Thai cuisine to Baa atoll. Feeling Koi (Amilla Fushi): Crystal waters lap below Amilla Fushi’s signature restaurant. Japanese minimalism on an open deck, chefs performing in a theatre kitchen – culinary magic with exquisite presentation. Izakaya-style dining comes to life with openhearted service and shared ‘tapas’ plates. Umami works of art in a spectacular setting. Downstairs, a lounge bar for post-dinner drinks. Smooth sounds from the DJ, moon reflecting off the seas. Kanusan (Finolhu): Kanusan’s deck dips you into a dazzling dining experience. Whet your whistle on classic favourites such as Mandarin roasted duck and larb gai — with a refreshing Kanusan twist. Kanusan features a totally fresh overwater bar area and two dining areas. There is a chilled indoor dining space, and an open lower deck which provides the archetypal Maldivian experience of being surrounded by the sights and sounds of the sea. ONU (Vakkaru): ONU means Bamboo in local Dhivehi language. An elegant bamboo fashioned culinary theatre within a tropical plantation offering a dining experience inside and out, seasoned with a tropical ambiance, idolising the finest from our organic farm. A designed space with showcase kitchen, counter dining, garden pavilions and lounge areas.

“This destination dining concept aims to tantalise the taste buds of our guests in all participating resorts and make Baa Atoll location in Maldives a ‘must visit’ Atoll during summer. Moreover, during this summer festival, each resort will offer a calendar of activities to keep the entire family entertained, from water sports to kids’ activities and more. It is fun time for all,” a joint statement read. “The team have come together to show the strength in the form of a dedicated website

and social media account that will be constantly updated with beach activities, events and water experiences. With this first ever event, Baa Atoll destination has created a benchmark for itself and aims to be more creative in the years to come with the support of Maldives Media.” The Baa Atoll Summer Festival closing ceremony will once again bring the teams together in celebration, on a sandbank for a Catamaran Regatta competition on August 3.



Latest Happenings Hondaafushi opens as first resort in Haa Dhaal atoll Hondaafushi Island Resort opened in March, making it the first resort to open in the northern Haa Dhaal atoll. The island, which measures two kilometres in length and 500 metres in width, is accessible by a 55-minute domestic flight from the main Velana International Airport to the Hanimaadhoo airport followed by 10-minute speedboat trip. Hondaafushi opened its to guests with 80 rooms categories: Superior Bungalows and Deluxe Bungalows.

The modernly outfitted Superior Beach Bungalows measure 75 square metres, while the spacious Deluxe Beach Bungalows measure 89 square metres. Both villa categories have semi-open bathrooms, and are furnished with air-conditioning, digital TV, phone, hair dryer, tea/coffee making facilities, mini bar and an in-room safe. The furnished terrace faces the ocean and serves as an immaculate place to relax.

Hondaafushi has 80 rooms. PHOTO: AAA HOTELS

shores in two Beach Beach

The island will add some 100 rooms every year, with plans to have at least 400 villas over the next five years.

Offering a main restaurant which serves daily breakfast, lunch and dinner, the four-star resort features a shared lounge and a bar. The outdoor swimming pool comes with a separate poolside bar. In addition to a spa and wellness centre, guests can choose from a variety of activities; from sailboat cruising and windsurfing to snorkelling and diving. In the event that you would rather remain dry, billiards, table tennis, beach volleyball and a fitness centre are accessible for your pleasure. Hondaafushi is owned and operated by AAA Hotels and Resorts, which already runs Filitheyo Island Resort in Faafu atoll, Medhufushi Island Resort in Meemu atoll, and Bathala Island Resort in South Ari Atoll.




Ranveli set to reopen as Zazz Island Resort in 2019 Hong Kong based Asia Prestige Management (APM) has acquired Ranveli Island Resort and is set to reopen the resort as Zazz Island Resort in 2019. In a statement, APM said the property was acquired in December. "This acquisition is in line with APM's strategy to expand strategically into key Asian markets and to further strengthen the presence of its Zazz brand," the statement read. Ranveli is strategically located in South Ari Atoll, and is accessible by a 25-minute seaplane flight from the main airport. South Ari Atoll offers one of Maldives' most sought-after resort destinations. With its location near Mamigili, it is close to the marine wildlife protected area where whale sharks can be spotted all year round. A seaplane ride transports guests to the island, surrounded by some of the world's finest diving sites. APM will partner with Unicorn Hotels and Resorts to manage the 100 villas resort, which is scheduled to be opened in the second quarter of 2019. Unicorn Hotels and Resorts is a smart, new-thinking hospitality management company based in Bangkok, specialising in full hotel management, as well as offering a full range of management, operational, technical and development consulting services for hotels, restaurants, bars, clubs and beyond.

MTCC to develop new domestic airport in Gaafu Dhaal Government has contracted Maldives Transport and Contracting Company (MTCC) to develop a domestic airport in the island of Maavarulu in the southern Gaafu Dhaal atoll. Tourism minister Moosa Zameer and MTCC CEO Ibrahim Ziyath signed an agreement to hand over the project to the public company. Ziyath told journalists that the project, which involves developing a 1,200-metre runway, taxiway, apron and a jetty, will be completed within five months. Equipment needed for the project have already been mobilised, he added. Minister Zameer said domestic airports are also being developed in Kulhudhuffushi in Haa Dhaal atoll, Funadhoo in Shaviyani atoll and Maafaru in Noonu atoll. Government will also develop airports in the island of Fares-Maathoda in Gaafu Dhaal atoll, and in Faau and Lhaviyani atoll, he added. "These new developments will help expand our tourism industry," the minister said.

MTCC will develop a 1,200 metre runway. PHOTO: MTCC



LATEST HAPPENINGS Evgeni Plushenko opened the ice rink. PHOTO: JUMEIRAH

Jumeirah Vittaveli opens Maldives’ first ice rink Jumeirah Vittaveli has officially opened Maldives' first ice rink. Olympic Gold Medalist Evgeni Plushenko inaugurated the ice rink, named Ice Ice Maybe…, at a sneak preview event on March 22, to which local media and resort partners were invited. During the sunset cocktail event, invitees were treated to ice-themed snacks such as snow cones and a molecular food station, while they were entertained by a live band followed by a breathtaking ‘Art of Poi’ fire dance. Plushenko's performance on the newly opened ice rink wrapped up the event. The 87 sqm ice rink at Jumeirah Vittaveli has been manufactured using Glice, a novel material from Switzerland that allows for eco-friendly ice rinks, eliminating the need to keep the ice rink cold. This enables guests to experience a world-first at Jumeirah Vittaveli when they go for a swim in the crystal-clear waters of the Indian Ocean, followed by a quick stroll across the beach to put on their ice skates and glide along the picturesque backdrop of a tropical winter wonderland. The ice rink will be open for guests everyday 12-6pm. First access to Ice Ice Maybe… is priced at USD 75, which includes two hours of ice skating with protective gear. Ice-cream sundae and a host of custom giveaways and souvenirs will also be provided. All following entries to Ice Ice Maybe… will cost USD 50 for two hours, including ice skating with protective gear and icecream sundae. Located a short 20-minute ride on board a luxurious motorised catamaran from capital, Jumeirah Vittaveli offers unmatched diversity, subtle luxury and personalised exploration, whether you are seeking a romantic getaway or an exotic destination for your family.

Manufactured using Glice material from Switzerland.




Qatar Airways to increase Maldives frequency to triple daily flights Qatar Airways has announced plans to increase its frequency to the Maldives to triple daily flights for 2018-2019. Qatar Airways operates twice daily flights to Maldives.

The announcement was made by Qatar Airways Group Chief Executive Akbar Al Baker, at ITB Berlin, the world’s largest travel trade show. However, no specifics were given.


Qatar Airways currently operates twice daily direct flights to and from the Maldives. It recently deployed the brand new A350 jet on its Doha-Male route, making it the first airline to deploy an A350 jet to a South Asian country. The airline used a 280-seater A350 jet to fly between Qatar and Maldives until the end of March. Qatar Airways is popular amongst travellers from Europe who often transit in Doha before flying to the Maldives.

Nominations for SATA 2018 close with 500 plus applicants Nominations for the South Asian Travel Awards (SATA) 2018 have closed with a record number of over 500 nominations. Nominations for the third edition of SATA, which consists of 36 categories in 10 segments, opened on January 15. During the two-month period, major hotel brands from India, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Bhutan and Maldives filed their nominations. In a statement, SATA said evaluation of nominees by a jury would be carried in June and July. Online voting would take place from March 25 to June 30, it added. This year’s edition of SATA is scheduled to take place in India’s commercial capital Mumbai in September. SATA 2018 will take place in Mumbai, India.





Maldives Travel Awards 2018 launched with three editions At a ceremony held at Coco Bodu Hithi resort on March 20, Maldives Association of Travel Agents and Tour Operators (MATATO) signed agreements with sponsors and partners for the seventh edition of the prestigious awards. The partners include:

Platinum partner Gold partner Silver partner Printing partner Photography partner Videography Partner Exclusive travel media partner Online media partner Digital partner Advertising partner

Ooredoo Maldives Maldives Airports Company Limited Allied Insurance Print Lab Digital Studio NERN Private Limited Maldives Insider Sun Online Kodefly Blak

Initiated in 2012 MATATO, Maldives Travel Awards celebrate and honour the best tourism and hospitality products in the Maldives, while fostering relationships with suppliers and local travel agents. From 20 categories in 2012, the awards have now expanded into three editions totalling 55 categories. Like last year, MATATO will host three editions: the People’s Edition, which recognises successful pioneers and long serving individuals in the tourism industry, a Guesthouse Edition, which celebrates the outstanding performance of the up and coming guesthouse sector, and the Grand Gala, which is exclusive for winners in the categories for resorts, airlines and liveaboards. MATATO will also combine the grand gala with the travel conference happening a day before, bringing an international audience of industry experts. Ooredoo Maldives signed as the Platinum Partner. PHOTO: MATATO





Tel: (960) 300 7799 | Fax: (960) 301 7788 E-mail:



Appointments Lily Beach promotes Resident Manager Patrice Aira as General Manager Patrice joined the team at Lily Beach Resort and Spa Maldives last year, and has worked tirelessly to help the resort cement itself as one of the Maldives top properties, offering excellence in both its facilities and service provided. “The stunning natural beauty around the island helps make any stay at Lily Beach special, however it is often the outstanding quality of the service, combined with the genuine warmth shown by our team members towards guests that create the longest lasting memories, and keeps attracting our guests back year after year,” Lily Beach said, in a statement. “Recognising this, Patrice has worked tirelessly to help continue to build on the excellent service offered, and to keep the welcoming and friendly atmosphere that defines the resort ever present.” Originally from France, Patrice started his career in hospitality in Seattle, US. Working as a busboy, he knew he was capable of offering much more to the industry, and quickly worked his way up through the F&B departments of a number of large hotels, up until he was made Resident Manager of a luxury resort in Mauritius. This experience helped make him the natural leader he is today, understanding the hard work and commitment to excellence that is required to make guests’ stay at Lily Beach so incredible.

Jumeirah Vittaveli appoints Ramesh Moorthy as Finance Director, Natwar Patel as Engineering Director An Indian national, Ramesh Moorthy started his career in finance in his native Chennai in 1996, from which he moved on to Goa, and then joined Starwood in Mauritius. After returning back home to India to work for Leela Hotels and then Hilton Worldwide, Ramesh ventured to the Maldives to join St Regis, his most recent position before becoming part of the Jumeirah family. Ramesh’s strengths are pre-opening operations including setting up of all financial policies and procedures, and the balancing of budgetary control with a maximisation of high quality purchasing. He is a pro-active visionary with a drive for real time results with experience in all aspects of accounting, finance, and audit matters. A professional engineer with 30 years’ experience, Natwar Patel hails from Fiji, so he is intimately familiar with the challenges and benefits of living and working in an island destination. He has had broad exposure in the electrical field, with the largest sugar mill in Fiji, as well as extensive experience in senior management roles in the hotel industry. Having held single property as well as cluster Director of Engineering positions in resorts and hotels in Fiji, Australia, Asia, the United Kingdom and Maldives, Natwar brings a host of experience in project management, hotel pre-opening and maintenance projects.




Kurumba Maldives appoints Ali Farooq as Operations Manager Prior to the appointment, Ali was serving as the resort’s Food and Beverage Manager. Ali joined Kurumba in 2001 as a waiter under a six-month internship programme, after completing a course from Hotel School (now Faculty of Hospitality and Tourism Studies of The Maldives National University). Since then, Ali quickly began climbing up the ranks; from a waiter to becoming one of the butlers in the Maldives. He continued his success, taking up the positions of Assistant Restaurant Manager, Bar and Restaurant Manager, Assistant Food and Beverage Manager, and most recently the Food and Beverage Manager. The young executive in his early 30s has also played a key role in leading the constant evolution of the first resort to open in the island nation.

Gili Lankanfushi appoints Aldo Cadau as new Executive Chef Chef Aldo joins the Gili Lankanfushi team in an exciting phase of the island’s gastronomic journey, as he spearheads developments in the resort’s restaurants. In addition to running the resort’s restaurants, he will also be in charge of the island’s imaginative evening dining experiences, including Passage through India and Mediterranean Spice Souk, as well as the Gili Tasting Journey, a unique experiential introduction to the Gili Wine and Dine offering. Hailing from Sardinia, Chef Aldo’s culinary passion started in his mother’s kitchen, helping her make fresh pasta, pastries and bread. His father reared pigs and sheep and taught him how to make prosciutto sausages and cheese, instilling the importance of food’s provenance from a very early age. Inspired by his upbringing, Chef Aldo continued his culinary journey and trained at the Hotel Institute in Arzachena, Italy. From there, he quickly moved up the ranks in some of the world’s finest restaurants from Hotel Cervo, Restaurant La Mola, Baia-Blu and Aqua in his homeland, and subsequently trained at Four Seasons Hotel Milan, Italy. From Italy, he went further afield to Japan, the UK and Russia, followed by his first two years in the Maldives at Four Seasons Resort Maldives at Landaa Giraavaru. After his first stint in the Maldives, he travelled to the Middle East for two years, working at the Four Seasons Hotel Doha, Qatar and assisting with the opening of the Four Seasons Hotel in Saint Petersburg and Qasr Al Sarab Resort by Anantara in Abu Dhabi. Prior to joining Gili Lankanfushi, Chef Aldo was Executive Chef at Jumeirah Dhevanafushi (now rebranded as Dhevanafushi Maldives Luxury Resort Managed by AccorHotels) in the Maldives.



AWARD WARD S ATMOSPHERE KANIFUSHI defends TEZ WORLDBERRY AWARD for BEST ALL-INCLUSIVE RESORT The resort was given the TEZ WORLDBERRY Award for the Best All-Inclusive Resort last year as well. Now in its 12th year, TEZ WORLDBERRY is given out annually to the Best TEZ TOUR partners. The hotels are nominated with accordance to the year’s performance and customer satisfaction feedback. Launched in 1994, TEZ is one of the most popular tour operators in Russia. The award-winning travel agency controls the outbound tourism markets from Russia, Bulgaria, Romania, Ukraine, Latvia, Lithuania, Belarus, Estonia, Moldova, Kazakhstan, Armenia and Georgia. While TEZ features more than 20 international hotel brands as their partner destinations, they also have one of the most modern fleets for air transport.

OZEN BY ATMOSPHERE crowned SCHAUINSLAND REISEN’S 2017 TOP HOTEL PARTNER The award was presented to the resort by German tour operator Schauinsland Reisen at the ITB Berlin fair in Germany. Amidst the exotic turquoise hues of South Male Atoll lies the tranquil island of Maadhoo; home to the first luxury all-inclusive resort in the Maldives, OZEN by Atmosphere at Maadhoo. Having opened its shores to the world in 2016, OZEN by Atmosphere offers the discerning traveller a uniquely exclusive holiday plan, the Atmosphere Indulgence where guests will experience the ultimate hassle-free beach holiday in the Maldives. Schauinsland Reisen, one of the leading tour operators in Germany, was founded in 1918 as a transport company. The company now employs more than 300 people, and turnover amounted to 1.1 billion euros in the financial year 2015/16. A total of 1.37 million customers travelled with the Duisburg tour operator in 2015/16.




AWARD WARD S VAKKARU MALDIVES wins HIDEAWAYS MAGAZINE’S NEWCOMER OF THE YEAR AWARD In conjunction with ITB 2018, which concluded in March, Hideaways Publication House organised their Annual Awards ceremony in Berlin. Attended by the elite of the travel trade industry in Germany and worldwide, along with high net-worth customers, Hideaways awarded Vakkaru Maldives with the “Newcomer of the Year” award for 2018. This prestigious award comes less than two months after the opening of Vakkaru Maldives. Located in the UNESCO Biosphere Reserve of Baa atoll and accessible by a 25-minute seaplane flight from the main Velana International Airport, Vakkaru welcomed the first group of guests late December.

AMAYA KUDA RAH named VILLA RESORT OF THE YEAR at TRAVEL AND HOSPITALITY AWARDS Located in the South Ari Atoll, Amaya Kuda Rah Maldives is accessible by a 25-minute seaplane flight from the main Velana International Airport. Situated in close proximity to the popular Kudarah Thila dive site, the resort offers luxury and utmost privacy with its 51 villas and suites, a pristine beach as well as a variety of culinary experiences and recreational activities for which the Maldives is renowned. Travel and Hospitality Awards is a uniquely distributed guide to the best hotels and tour companies around the world. It carries out five programmes every year, picking the best in each continent: Asia, Americas, Europe, and Australasia. The awarding process is designed so that hotels and tour companies are awarded and recognised on merit with a fair and transparent judging process. The publication’s travel experts along with a panel of trusted judges travel the globe in order to introduce readers to the best hotels, spas, restaurants and tour operators. Page




Kuramathi Maldives has won three awards conferred by popular travel organisation TUI and a ‘Gold Award’ by leading German travel website HolidayCheck. TUI Holly 2018 award is a premium prize awarded for the 100 most popular TUI hotels globally that excel in consistent quality and customer satisfaction. While the TUI Top Quality Hotel 2018 is a worthy accolade for TUI’s best hotels, earning this means unyielding positive reviews with a score band of 8.7 out of 10 possible points. The HolidayCheck award is also given to the most popular hotels for travellers each year in January. Every hotel that fulfils the criteria can be nominated for the award. The Gold Award status for Kuramathi comes after consecutive titles for the past five years. Kuramathi’s many eco-friendly practices, multi-award-winning Eco Centre, conservation programmes of botanic to the aquatic, and the efforts made to recycle water and waste, all contribute to the triumphant attainment of the TUI Environmental Champion Award 2018, which focuses on the sustainable side of operating a resort hotel.




Reethi Beach Resort

Meeru Island Resort & Spa

Kuramathi Island Resort


Kuredu Island Resort & Spa




Veligandu Island Resort and Spa

Robinson Club Maldives




OBLU by Atmosphere at Helengeli


Vilamendhoo Island Resort & Spa

Summer Island Maldives

Fihalhohi Island Resort

Embudu Village


Holiday Island Resort



Hotel & Resort Supplier Directory Food & Beverage ADK General Trading

Happy Market

59’, Boduthakurufaanu Magu, Male +960 333 5063

M. Newplot, Ameenee Magu, Male +960 331 3523

Best Buy Maldives

Lily International

Aagé, 2nd Floor, Boduthakurufaanu Magu, Male +960 332 0850

H. Coal Field, 2nd Floor, Kalhuhuraa Magu, Male +960 333 2882 / +960 331 4747 +960 333 7803 / +960 333 2840

Cosmopolitan Omadu Fannu Building, 4th Floor, Haveeree Hingun, Male +960 331 0477

Euro Marketing Ma. Favorite, Chandhanee Magu, Male +960 331 5115 / +960 331 6116

Fantasy M. Velaaluge, 1st Floor, Fareedhee Magu, Male +960 332 4668

Grape Expectations H. Coal Field, 3rd Floor, Kalhuhuraa Magu, Male +960 300 6714 / +960 300 6715




Male’ Aerated Water Company Sifa Building, 6th Floor, Boduthakurufaanu Magu, Male +960 332 6701

Maldives Industrial Fisheries Co. Ltd 389, Hilaalee Magu, Male +960 332 3923

Nams Private Limited Filaa Building, 5th Floor, Koli Umar Manik Goalhi, Male +960 333 7987

Seagull Group Chaandhanee Magu, Male +960 332 3617


United Food Suppliers

H. Casia, Kasinjee Magu, Male +960 333 4483

M. Alia Building, 5th Floor, Gandhakoalhi Magu, Male +960 330 0777

SIMDI Bev G. Manaam Building, 8th Floor, Neeloafaru Magu, Male +960 333 4430

Equipment ALIA Investments

Citadel Hospitality

M. ALIA Building, 8th Floor, Gandhakoalhi Magu, Male +960 332 3564

STO Trade Centre, 1st Floor, Orchid Magu, Male +960 334 6821

Aqua Chrome

Damas Resort Supplies

H. Merry Side, Ground Floor, Boduthakurufaanu Magu, Male +960 330 3734

M. Dhaleena Building, 5th Floor, Orchid Magu, Male +960 333 3000

Astrabon Maldives


Orchid Magu, Male +960 331 6594

M. IMD Building, 2nd Floor, Boduthakurufaanu Magu, Male +960 332 9151




Hotel & Resort Supplier Directory


Maldives Gas

M. Chandhaneege, 2nd Floor, AlhivilaaMagu, Male +960 334 1816

No. 02-21 STO Trade Centre, Orchid Magu, Male +960 333 5614


Sonee Hardware

H. Ivy, Ameer Ahmed Magu, Male +960 799 6116

181, Boduthakurufaanu Magu, Male +960 333 6699


The SCENE by Sonee Hardware

Ma. Favourite, Chandhanee Magu, Male +960 334 1616

H. Nereen, Majeedhee Magu, Male +960 330 6370

ILAA Maldives Lot No: 10637, Zone: M2-24, Onugas Magu, Hulhumale +960 335 5751










Maldives Insider - Travel & Tourism : May June 2018