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E XC LUS I V E I NT E RV I E WS B UZ Z A L D R I N

F RO M TH E M O O N TO TH E M A LD IV E S

M R S O N G H O I - S EE

C EO O F P L A Z A P RE M IU M G RO U P

N EI L JACO B S

C EO O F S IX S E N S E S H OTE L S RE S O RTS S PA

F E ATURE S FO U R S EAS O NS P RI VAT E J E T

LUX URY A FLOAT S O NEVA IN AQ UA

POLITE LUXURY & PRIVATE MOMENTS V EL A A IS LAND RE SORT & SPA

C an M al d ives Dream of 0 5 m illion tourists ?


BATMAN V SUPERMAN: DAWN OF JUSTICE and all related characters and elements © & ™ DC Comics and Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.

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GOT H A M CI T Y # F LY T O G O T H A M


WELCOME ABOAR D

WELCOME

ABOARD First of all, allow me to offer a huge thanks to all of our readers. After the publication of the first issue of The Asian Story, TAS we’ve been overwhelmed by positive feedback. Online too, the magazine proved to be a hit. Your support has given us a big confidence boost and helped drive us to continue our work. And so, we strive to provide you with another exotic journey through the world of tourism. In this issue we blast into outer space thanks to a brilliant interview with a personal hero of mine, Buzz Aldrin, the moon walker himself, who recently visited Maldives for a scuba diving holiday. The journey continues closer to earth as we visit OBLU resort for a first glimpse. We climb aboard the Four Seasons private jet and then take a cruise on Soneva’s luxury yacht. We have an inside look at the industry with some interviews with high profile figures and we ask whether the dream of five million visitors to Maldives can come true. I must also take this opportunity to thank our team at MVHOTELS and the Partnerships for bringing this issue to fruition. I do hope you will enjoy their offerings, and will continue to revisit us time and again. Happy travels! Andrew Carruth

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UNITED KINGDOM

TAIWAN HONGKONG ABU DHABI DUBAI

CAMBODIA

MALDIVES

MALAYSIA SINGAPORE

THEASIANSTORY.COM


TEAM

team Managing Editor Andrew Carruth

Contributing Writers Hussain Ali Ahmed Ijaz Jean Carmela Lim

Executive Editors

Ali Abdul Raheem

Mohamed Aryf Fathmath Asna Sasha Arms

Contributors

Advertising - Maldives Mohamed Aryf MVHOTELS aryf@mvhotelsonline.com

International Representatives INDIA MediaStar www.mediastar.com.in HONGKONG Publicitas www.publicitas.com

Turkish Airlines Taj Hotels Resorts & Palaces Atmosphere Hotels & Resorts Trans Maldivian Airways Island Aviation / Maldivian Hotel Jen Male’ Maldives Plaza Premium Group Gilli LankanFushi Four Seasons Hotel and Resorts Six Senses Hotel Resorts & Spas Dhiraagu SubMerge Ibrahim Nasir International Airport Soneva in Aqua The Sun Siyam Irufushi Maldives Furaveri Island Resort & Spa Velaa Private Island

Wake up to a new romantic experience. Surrounded by the pristine cerulean waters of the Indian Ocean, we can have total tranquility and privacy, right at Velaa Private Island, located at the heart of the Maldives. Let’s enjoy each other’s presence, dreaming about the things that lie ahead of us.

PUBLISHED BY MVHOTELS PVT. LTD Published by MVHOTELS Private Limited. All rights, including the title of the production “The Asian Story” is owned by MVHOTELS Private Limited. No part of this publication or its contents may be reproduced without prior permission. MVHOTELS do not represent or endorse the accuracy or reliability of any information, advertisement, opinions and articles or its contents expressed or presented by the writers, contributors and advertising partners.

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CON TEN TS

contentS 10 FIRS T LOOK S ERENIT Y WRA PPED I N BLUE OBLU BY ATMOSPHE RE AT HE L E NGE L I

16 EDITO R’S PICK T HE S TORY ABOUT SEA PLA NES

24 ADVERTORIA L LIVING THE T ROPICA L BLI SSFUL DREA M HOTEL JEN MAL E ’ MAL DIVE S

28 INTERV IEW BUZZ A LDRI N F ROM THE MOON TO THE E ARTH

38 LUXU RY FOUR SEASONS PRIVATE JE T

46 INTERV IEW NEIL JACOBS CEO, SIX SENSES H OTE L S AND RE SORTS SPAS

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CON TEN TS

contentS 60 ADVERTORIA L D HIRA AGU HIGH SPEED CON NECTIVITY AIDS WORK .. .

62 CELEBRITY TRAV EL L ER NIKHIL CHI NA PPA ENTREPRENEU R , DISC JOCK E Y, TE LE VISION P E RSONAL ITY

68 LUXU RY LUXURY A FLOAT

76 INTERV IEW MR S ONG HOI -SEE TH E FOUNDER & CEO OF P L AZA P RE MIUM GROUP

82 FO R ECAST INVES TING IN THE F UT URE OF MA LDI V ES TOURI SM

86 LUXU RY POLITE LUXURY & PRI VATE MOMENTS V ELA A PR I VATE ISLAN D IS A TRUE TE STAME NT OF A DRE AM COME TRUE

96 EDITO R’S PICK THE S TORY OF CHA MPAGNE WHY WE CELEBRATE WITH B UB B L E S

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FI RST LO O K

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FI RST LO O K

The paragon of a tranquility, there

by ensuring all guests are able to

the wonderful staff will cater your

is no scarcity of beauty through-

enjoy a hassle-free holiday in the

every need with a smile. The re-

out the 26 atolls in the necklace of

stunning Maldives.

sort is spread over 20 acres of

pearls of the Maldives. And beyond

immense natural beauty with lush

the spectacular marine life and oth-

While the first property being At-

vegetation, the island is incredibly

erworldly dive sites, travelers can

mosphere Kanifushi Maldives in

beautiful and you’ll love exploring

steal away to a paradise that offers

Lhaviyani Atoll – a entry level 5-star

every inch of it.

total solitude without compromis-

Premium All-Inclusive Resort, as

ing on life’s greatest desires. This is

well as the 3rd upcoming OZEN by

All the frills of a wonderful island

where OBLU, the second property

Atmosphere at Maadhoo – a Life-

residency are in place: indoor and

under the very new Indian Ocean

style Luxury Resort in South Male’

outdoor spas, yoga sessions, sun-

Resort brand, Atmosphere Hotels

Atoll.

set fishing, and snorkeling with

& Resorts at Helengeli Island, a

sweet lips fish. OBLU understands

four-star superior resort offering

The sleek and chic island, situat-

its foodie fans even better, this hip,

the ultimate tropical experience

ed in the eastern rim of the North

trendy & cool island resort is rapid-

for those serious about an all-in-

Male’ atoll is 45 minutes by speed-

ly earning its reputation as an au-

clusive vacation, comes in. OBLU

boat from Ibrahim Nasir Interna-

thentic food destination, the lunch

follows the core philosophy of the

tional airport – and from the mo-

and dinner buffet has more on of-

brand; the Joy of Giving – where-

ment you set foot on the island,

fer than anyone could ever dream

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FI RST LO O K

of trying in one trip. Add to that memorable gastronomic experiences, such as Lobsters and Champagne at Just Grill, the A la carte beach grill. Each of Helengeli’s 116 beach and water accommodations have been constructed by skilled craftsmen using natural materials and techniques reflecting contemporary style with subtle Maldivian influences. The resort features four categories of accommodations: the Beach Villas and Deluxe Beach Villas have their own outdoor veranda and open-air bathrooms, while Lagoon Villas have a 5.2 square metre plunge pool with sundeck and direct access to the sparkling lagoon, and the very exclusive 2 bedroom Beach Suites with private 20 square meter lap pool and spacious outdoor area for the picturesque island atmosphere in luxury. The guest only has to decide whether to opt for beach or water – the spectacular sunsets come as a standard. For most guests arriving at OBLU, the first impressions are made at Helen’s Bar, where thatched-palm roofs soar above guests enjoying a glass of rose, relax by the beachfront swimming pool accompanied by the gentle sound of rolling tide and gaze at the fabulous sunset. The party doesn’t end at Helen’s when the sun goes down with weekly themed nights and evening entertainment. A typical day in this island begins at the SPICE with abundance of baked goodies, eggs anyway you prefer, a galore of fresh fruits… luscious water melon, papaya, banana, passion fruits and more. Live cooking stations are through breakfast, lunch and even during dinner with the very fascinating live curry station where guests get to select

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their own ingredients and mains for their very own freshly prepared curry in front of their eyes. Other live stations include, grills, pizza station, pasta station, and also various other live cooking done on theme nights that circulate throughout the week from far easters, to Maldivian etc. For lunch or dinner, choose from a heavenly buffet comprising of sushi and Italian pasta with a sophisticated twist, organic salads, grilled fish, and appetizing tandoori. For a sweet finish, homemade scrumptious ice creams and sorbets await. The COOEE Bistro lounge around the front office pier serves fresh coffee, ice cool milkshakes, smoothies and delicious snacks - it is a whimsical spot overlooking the ocean and the stunning panoramic views. Between lounging at the pool, or adventuring into the sea to catch a wave or glimpse of marine life, there’s the spa that every guest considers a must-experience: Elena Spa, the inspiring indoor and outdoor spa – an inspired menu based on its “Five Elements” theory: air (energising), fire (detoxifying), earth (nourishing), water (relaxing) and plant (fortifying). The spa also addresses Ayuvedic treatments, Swedish and Thai massages, reflexology, Reiki, and even yoga. These treatments will rejuvenate body, mind and soul, particularly with all the tempting food and cocktails around to stay fit and in good shape, also to stretch out those muscles after a day lounging by the pool. Speaking to the Resort General Manager Mr.Rein van Zandvoort, who credits the surrounding environment as his inspiration, I’m won over by the enthusiasm and dedication of my staff for transforming the services from

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FI RST LO O K

a newly opened four-star property to the standards of a five-star property. We will and already are standing out among all the four star properties in the country. Which other resorts in the Maldives boasts confirmed bookings up to November with a super-selling all-inclusive plan and we are here in our fifth month, even as we speak this very moment - our resort is running full. There are endless ways to spend your days on the island, the many activities and experiences at Helengeli invite you to explore the adventures on the turquoise waters of the Indian Ocean. The resort provides private island picnics, shopping excursions to nearby islands, dolphin-watching and sunset fishing. More energetic activities include workout at the resort’s pool-view gymnasium, beach-volleyball, badminton and watersports including diving, parasailing, snorkelling, canoeing and stand-up-paddling are just a selection of the options open to you, and OBLU will not only win over your heart – you can actually eat your heart out Words by: AHMED IJAZ

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EDI TOR’ S PICK

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EDI TOR’ S PICK

They say that necessity is the mother of invention,

From necessity came the invention, and from inven-

and this couldn’t be truer for the birth of seaplanes

tion came competition - all in a span of 4 years.

in the Maldives. The seaplane became the most practical way of ferJust ask Lars Erik Neilsen, who was travelling to Kure-

rying passengers from airport to resorts. The other

du Resort by boat in 1991, back when the only way

option by air was via helicopter, with Hummingbird

to reach the island resorts was by boat or helicop-

Island Helicopters.

ter. Neilsen recalls that many passengers were sick during the voyage - there simply had to be a better

While a chopper is still faster than travel by boat it

way to travel.

can’t carry as many passengers as a seaplane. Hence in 1997, the helicopter company was rebranded as

And so the Danish man who has a fondness for sea-

Hummingbird Island Airways (which, a year later was

planes did indeed find a better way: he founded Mal-

renamed as Trans Maldivian Airways or TMA).

divian Air Taxi (MAT). Starting with just two aircraft in 1993 demand was soon so high that MAT were doing

Phasing out all helicopters and having an all-seaplane

500 flights per week during the peak season.

fleet, they were now directly competing with MAT.

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EDI TOR’ S PICK

“If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” African Proverb

Once the business is established, one is bound to think about longevity and continuity. And so in 2013, MAT and TMA partnered with the American multinational private equity firm, The Blackstone Group. The two competitors were merged into one. The combined fleet of 44 seaplanes created the one of the largest seaplane fleets in the world. The new company retained the TMA name and brand but incorporated MAT’s distinct colours in their new logo.

The Present Trans Maldivian Airways now has a fleet of 46 De Havilland Twin Otters, each of which can carry 15 passengers. Currently, TMA operates 120,000 flights annually and transports over 960,000 passengers to over 60 resorts in the Maldives per year. At present, the company has over 1,000 employees of 21 different nationalities. There are currently 181 seaplane pilots, 8 of whom are female. And while the service of resort transfers are always in demand due to in-

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EDI TOR’ S PICK

creased arrivals to the Maldives, TMA also offers other services, including photo flights in which you can take a trip over the most photogenic atolls. For VIP guests or those who require custom departure times and destinations TMA also offers private charter flights. As long as there’s 1,200 feet of water for takeoff and landings they’ll get you where you need to be, and you can do it in style with one of their luxury configurations. For those seeking to explore beyond the resort house reef, TMA is also available for the ultimate exclusive getaway. You can book a flight for full day and half day excursions to uninhabited islands or sandbanks. And should your holiday not go according to plan then you’ll be pleased to know that TMA is available for medical evacuation flights (MEDEVAC). Things are looking bright and sunny for Trans Maldivian Airways. The company recently won two titles in the 22nd World Travel Awards: World’s Leading Seaplane Operator 2015 and Indian Ocean’s Leading Seaplane Operator 2015. Dubbed by Wall Street Journal as the “Oscars of the travel industry”, the World Travel Awards is an organisation that serves to reward excellence across all sectors of the global travel and tourism industry.

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EDI TOR’ S PICK

MALDIVIAN

cities, with Fuzhou being the latest destination, beginning February 2016.

The Maldives is made up of more than 1,000 small islands and atolls. Not all of these can be reached by

Other international cities it flies to are: Chittagong

seaplane.

and Dhaka (Bangladesh), Changsha, Chongqing, Nanjing, Wuhan, Xian and Fuzhou (China), Chennai

Some require longer journeys, and due to the fact

and Thiruvananthapuram (India), and Bangkok in Thai-

that seaplanes can only fly between sunrise and sun-

land.

set, there’s another option for those Maldivian islands that are more far-flung: Maldivian.

Within the Maldives, Maldivian flies to 8 domestic airports: Male (Ibrahim Nasir International Airport), Haa

Maldivian is the national airline of the Maldives. Op-

Dhaalu Atoll (Hanimaadhoo International Airport), Baa

erated by Island Aviation Services Ltd, the airline is

Atoll (Dharavandhoo Airport), Thaa Atoll (Thimarafus-

100 percent owned by the Government of Maldives.

hi Airport), Laamu Atoll (Kadhdhoo Airport), Gaafu Alif Atoll (Kooddoo Airport), Gaafu Dhaalu Atoll (Kaaded-

Maldivian started with just 3 aircraft , but now have a

hdhoo Airport), Gnaviyani Atoll (Fuvahmulah Airport),

fleet size of 16, with the latest aircraft, an Airbus 321,

and Addu Atoll (Gan International Airport).

joining the company in January 2015.

Effective Branding Initially serving only domestic airports within the Mal-

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dives, Maldivian commenced its international flights

As far as airline branding goes, Maldivian is a prime

on January 2008. It now flies to over 10 international

example of strength in simplicity. In choosing their


EDI TO R’ S PICK

company slogan of “Flying Made Simple” they took into consideration what their passengers value the

They also have Maldivian Holidays, a specialised trav-

most in travelling: convenience. Even the company

el agency delivering inbound and outbound travel

name provides the airline with immediate recogni-

packages.

tion with its simplicity and effectiveness. The latest and most exciting venture for Maldivian is The charming dolphin in their livery, while giving the

their seaplane service. Maldivian seaplane operations

airline character and branding that’s hard to miss,

began in 2014 and they currently fly to Baa, Thaa and

was also deliberately chosen as Maldivian prides its

Dhaalu Atoll. They also provide photo flights upon

corporate vision being “the friendliest airline with un-

request.

paralleled excellence.” Together the Maldives’ increasing tourism and both

Growing Business

companies’ dedication and commitment to creating a seamless and enjoyable experience to their passen-

On top of their scheduled commercial flights, Mal-

gers are what lie ahead for TMA and Maldivian looks

divian also operates charter flights, special freighter,

bright and spectacular indeed, very much like the

and medical evacuation flights.

breathtaking views one gets on a seaplane journey.

Maldivian also provides various business services such as engineering and maintenance services, airport lounge services (they have 3 across the Maldives), airport management and cargo operations.

Words by: JEAN CARMELA LIM

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A DV ERTO R IAL

Living the Tropical blissful Dream

Hotel Jen Male’ Maldives

What better way to start your tropical blissful dream at Mal-

and bathtub, also featuring a separate sitting and dining

dives greeted in style by the staffs from arrival at Ibrahim

area that comes equipped with a pantry which can be con-

Nasir International Airport and then starts the three minutes

nected to a Deluxe Ocean view room for family or additional

spectacular ride in Jen’s special speedboat on the crystal

company if need to, while the Executive Rooms are spa-

clear waters of Maldives all the way from airport to the cap-

cious with added balcony and the higher the floor the bet-

ital city Male’ and a short one or two minutes’ walk from the

ter the view you get of the Indian Ocean, additionally with

jetty straight to Hotel Jen Male’ Maldives.

Deluxe Ocean view rooms, you get a modern and smart design with a spacious bathroom which are located from 8th

Located at the capital city the heart of Maldives Hotel

-12th floors with partial to full view of the Indian ocean, last

Jen Male’ Maldives captures the travel-savvy persona very

but not the least the Deluxe room is a simple chic room with

much, previously known as Traders Hotel. It is almost im-

modern interior and a well-spaced bathroom.

possible to get lost when you’re looking for Hotel Jen as it is situated at such a convenient location and being the only

A pervasive youthful vibe runs through the hall and walk way

International City Hotel in the Capital. It is located amidst

of the hotel Jen Male’ Maldives. Once we stepped into the

the bustling government, business and shopping precinct

large and spacious deluxe suite there were cut fruits in cups

with easy access to the city’s main commercial center.

kept to welcome us, compliments from Hotel Jen, which we felt was very thoughtful. Also on this level, the glass win-

Upon arrival to the Hotel the check in process was fast and

dows surrounding the bedroom provide you with a com-

seamless as Hotel Jen Male’ Maldives uses paperless check

manding breathtaking view of the Indian Ocean.

in and check outs. The rooms starting from Deluxe suite

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which is spacious and luxurious which separate the bed-

The en-suite bathroom is very spacious as well; it features

room with walk-in closet, en-suite bathroom with shower

a separate shower from the bathtub. Depending on wheth-


A DV ERTO R IAL

er you want a quick shower or to laze in the bathtub, Hotel Jen really knows how to pamper its guests. The room is equipped with the usual coffee, tea and bottled water. What surprised us was that we also had free access to a Nespresso machine churning out delicious tasting coffee. A directory of daily events, buffets and excursions are provided upon check in which includes walking tour within the capital city that one can complete a walk around Male’ city within an hour, and excursions like Island hopping , snorkeling ,night fishing day visit to resorts, BBQ evenings and many more which are easily available upon request.

Breakfast at Lime Breakfast is served daily, buffet style from 0600-1030 at Lime Restaurant, located on the 1st floor. The breakfast spread is one of the widest we’ve come across and apart from local food like Mas huni and Roti, there is also your usual breadbasket with pastries and a cheese platter. Other cuisines such as Asian, Western and even a salad bar are also offered during the breakfast buffet. There are live stations available, where Chefs are assigned to different stations like the egg station for you to choose how you want your eggs to be done (sunny side up or omelet style) and the ingredients you want to have it with. During different evening of the week, Lime restaurant takes on changed theme buffet specials in which live action stations from Sri Lankan, Indian, and Malaysian to Chinese are featured depending on the theme of the night. The selection is incredible and definitely has something for everyone with the quality of the food being absolutely great.

Azur Rooftop Restaurant / Infinity pool The Hotel is equipped with a well maintained high tech gym at the rooftop along with an infinity pool looking out over the Indian Ocean and after a few laps in the pool you can relax on the sunbeds on the dry deck of the Rooftop infinity pool. The ambience on the Rooftop Restaurant Azur was much more relaxing during the evening hours where you can enjoy an amazing sunset with the best mocktails on this tropical island with a spectacular view overlooking the capital city. Azur Restaurant serves contemporary Western and Japanese fusion cuisine with Ocean views therefore

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A DV ERTO R IAL

brace yourself for the best experience in dining on the high-

simply breath-taking, although octopus and white-tip reefs

est peak in the Maldives, they also have the weekly theme

competed closely for my attention!

BBQ buffets every Thursday with live performance by Local artists where you get to enjoy scrumptious well marinated

Girifushi Thila is one of the best-rated sites. With swathes of

meat & seafood over masterpiece grillmanship to this bit

soft corals welcoming schools of multi-coloured fish, I see

of heaven.

how the site earned its nickname – Rainbow Reef – imme-

Jen’s Kitchen on the Go

diately. Close to the airport, Banana Reef is just as well established and was one of the earliest discovered sites here

The Jen’s Kitchen on the Go at the ground floor is a great

that has retained its aquatic attractions. Groupers, lobsters

place to unwind and I ended up spending a good part of

and angel fish shimmy through the waves and a school of

my afternoons there. It has a deli counter allowing guests

bannerfish make their home in some rocky waters with cur-

to purchase snacks, pastries, Sub9 sandwiches, the famous

rents strong enough to make your heart race. The coral here

Jen’s Fried Chicken and many more right before you step

is absolutely beautiful, but it’s a site for confident divers.

out to go exploring the city. This place has the vibe of a slightly hipster cafe’.

Exploring while at Jen Try heading over to the artificial beach on Male’ eastern side or the newly built one located at the Western side of the

For easy convenience, approach the front office team at Hotel Jen Male’ Maldives and the team there will provide you with all that you need to gear you up for all kinds of fun activities during your stay at Hotel Jen Male’ Maldives.

city. The manmade beach is a welcome breather from city

That Jen Feeling

life for the locals and many mingle there on the beach and

It’s great to know that there are hand phone chargers con-

at the small cafe’s.

veniently placed at the public areas. This includes one at the reception area all the outlets also the gym and pool

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If you’re a water baby or a nature lover try one of Male’ most

area which comes in handy in case one forgets to bring

popular activities which is diving and it’s easy to see why

one’s charger during a stay. I love the revamp that they’ve

with its pristine corals, sharks, manta rays and even a few

done with the adding of nuances here and there to give it

underwater wrecks all within easy reach.

character and warmth.

Paradise Island in Male’s North Atoll is about 10 minutes

Being a property belonging to a well-known chain, Hotel

from Manta Point, and you may guess from its name what

Jen Male’ Maldives is the ultimate destination for business

divers come to view. Swarms of manta rays up to two me-

or pleasure and an ideal place to relax and revive before an

tres long are known to inhabit the site and I found them

onward journey to the exotic islands in the Maldives.


myaerotel.com Level 3, Departure / Transit Lounge, Terminal 1, Singapore Changi Airport (near Gate D41) T +65 6808 2388

E hello@myaerotel.com


I NT ERVIEW

Buzz Aldrin from the moon to the Maldives

For mer astronaut and one o f t h e f i rs t m e n to wal k on t h e moon Buz z Aldrin, we speak ab ou t s p ace to u ri s m , Mars a nd the new Private Reserve i n G i l i L an kan fu s h i i n t h e Maldi ve s .

How do you explain our fascination

Earth.

The scientific advance-

There’s a lot of talk about Mars

with space?

ments and innovations that come

at the moment. Is inhabiting

from space-based research create

Mars a good idea?

We are explorers. We are destined

products and technology that we

to go beyond our normal bound-

use in our daily lives, for example

It’s humanity’s mission to continue

aries. Why do we climb the high-

cell phones, television, GPS and

the human race as a two planet

est mountain? Why did we learn to

medical advances. Many of these

species. It’s a habitable place and

fly? Why did we go to the moon

advances wouldn’t

been

I envision thousands of perma-

six times? I believe we will eventu-

possible or as successful without

nent settlers there. I call them hu-

ally have interstellar travel. I wrote

investments in the space pro-

man Martians because that’s what

about that in my book, Encounter

gramme. Professor Stephen Hawk-

they’ll be when we eventually colo-

with Tiber. We’ve been writing

ing recently said, and I quote,

nise and settle there. The President

have

about it for centuries. We are curious creatures. Tell us about why space is so important? By venturing into space we improve life for everyone here on

26

who makes the commitment to a

“We have made remarkable progress in the last hundred years, but if we want to continue, our future is in space.”

permanent presence on Mars will go down as the most important leader in human history. I think that would be a much more important achievement than our moon landings. I believe we can do it and I hope the next President will make


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I NT ERVIEW

this commitment. The USA should be the leader in missions to Mars. We have the most knowledge and expertise, but Mars missions will be an international endeavour. No one nation can do it alone. This will involve cooperation with China and other nations. The kids book I wrote, Welcome to Mars: Making a Home on the Red Planet, published by National Geographic, teaches kids of all ages about Mars and what it would take to do a mission to Mars. Teaching kids of today about Mars is important because they are the generation that will be carrying out Mars missions in the 2030s and 2040s. What do you think about space tourism? I have been a space tourism advocate since 1985. I feel space is for everyone, not just governments or the wealthy who can afford to pay for suborbital flights or trips to the International Space Station. Three years ago I was asked to be the AXE Apollo Space Ambassador for their competition to give away 22 flights to people from all over the world, which I was happy to be involved in. I don’t think space tourism is a gimmick. It’s reality and will happen. I started my ShareSpace Foundation with the idea of sharing space with everyone. Originally the ShareSpace Foundation was about giving average people the a chance to go to space, but now that many companies are offering ways for people to do suborbital flights, ShareSpace is about inspiring children to realise their passion for science, technology, engineering, art and maths. You accomplished a lot during your space years, which includes Gemini and Apollo missions and being one of the very first men to walk on the Moon. Is there anything you regret about your space career? I regret that I didn’t speak up about the manoeuvring unit I trained on for my Gemini mission. They cancelled that part of my mission because they felt it

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was too dangerous. This unit is like the one you saw George Clooney zooming around on in the movie Gravity. I was supposed to be the first to use that and I was very confident in my ability. Where have you gained inspiration during your life? I was inspired by my father who was an aviation pioneer, and another aviation pioneer Jimmy Doolittle became a sort of mentor to me, especially after my father passed away. More than anything I’ve been inspired by service to my country, both as a fighter pilot in the Korean War and in the Gemini and Apollo space programmes. What has your life been like since you retired from NASA? I took an oath to serve my country at West Point at the age of 17. I still live my life by those principals of ‘duty, honour and country’ today. After returning from the moon I wrote a biography, Return to Earth, because what was difficult for me was not going to the moon, but figuring out what to do with my life after I’d achieved what most people would consider the pinnacle of my career. My marriage and family life struggled and I was suffering from depression and alcoholism. But I got some help and figured out what I needed to do to keep myself moving forward. I quit drinking, and today I have 37 years of sobriety. I focused on my passion — space — and began putting my energy and efforts into the future and turned my life back around. Did my space experienc-

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es give me financial wealth? Not really. I wasn’t paid anything extra to go to the moon, only my standard military pay. But I have my family, my friends and my team and they help me to live the life today that I do, working on my passion of space and doing my favourite thing on this planet: scuba diving. So I guess you could say I’m a wealthy guy in terms of living the life I want and keeping myself active. Are there any parallels with scuba diving and being in space? Since I was already a scuba diver when I became an astronaut, I became the first to train underwater, to simulate the weightlessness of space to train for my Gemini 12 mission. The astronauts who had already done spacewalks were having trouble, getting overheated and trying to force things, but I knew that it would be just like being in the water, where it’s more like floating. Scuba diving in the ocean has a similar freedom to being in space. Where are your favourite places in the world to dive? I still have a few places in the world I’d like to dive, such as Costa Rica and Fiji. I’ve dived many places around the world and I particularly like the Cayman Islands, although my favourite for now is a spot in the Maldives. We hear you stayed at the world’s largest overwater villa in the Maldives. What was your experience like?

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It’s always wonderful coming to the Maldives, but staying in the private reserve at Gili Lankanfushi is an extra special experience. We’re lucky and get to stay in Gili Lankanfushi’s ‘jewel in the crown’ — their 1,700 square metre Private Reserve villa. It’s so incredibly huge, I even get peace and quiet from my family, as and when that’s needed too! You couldn’t ask for more privacy and the service is exceptional. I like that my family can stay in one place all together, but have private areas too. The resort is the perfect family setting. You’re far away from distractions and you get to enjoy this beautiful place; it’s a unique place to build long lasting memories. I’ve dived a few times at Gili Lankanfushi and think it has the most schools of fish I’ve seen anywhere. You also get to see mantas and sharks and don’t have to go down deep. What do you want to be remembered for? I want to be remembered for more than kicking up dust on the moon. I want people to know that this lucky tow head kid, who grew up in New Jersey and who was lucky enough to walk on the moon, is still here planning Mars missions! I believe it will happen. I may not be around to see the first Mars landing, but I want to lay the groundwork to make it happen. You ain’t seen nothing yet!

W o r d s b y : Sa s ha A r m s

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KANIFUSHI

MALDIVES

A Premium All-Inclusive Holiday P lan!

Stand-alone Beach villas spreading idyllically along a mesmeric two kilometre long turquoise lagoon, showcasing vast living spaces with accentuating Maldivian interiors, offers a hassle-free five star resort experience with a premium All-inclusive holiday plan – Platinum Plus. Platinum Plus offers a fine collection of premium wines & spirits, a combination of buffet, fine dining & theme night dining options, clubbed with an array of activities ranging from excursions, sunset fishing, snorkelling & non-motorized water sports! ALL INCLUDED in ONE price! TEL: +960 662 00 66 | FAX: +960 662 00 77| EMAIL: SALES@ATMOSPHERE-KANIFUSHI.COM

A T M O S P H E R E - K A N I F U S H I . C O M


LUXURY

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LUXURY

In 2015, Four Seasons launched the hotel industry’s

modified to create extra space, around five times

first branded private jet experience. Offering luxuri-

more than usual.

ous trips for discerning travellers the Four Seasons Private Jet carries just 52 passengers. With prices starting from $106,000 per person the experience

“In our hotels, spaces are

is for those with deep pockets, so just what do trav-

conceived as settings for great

ellers get on a Four Seasons Private Jet experience?

experiences,”

The journey begins on the Boeing 757-200ER jet which usually seats 233 passengers but has been

says Dana Kalczak, Four Season’s Vice President.

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“The same is true for the Four Seasons Private Jet. Along with the core objectives of comfort and functionality – and adherence to strict aircraft safety standards – we wanted to create an exceptionally luxurious ambiance.”

The engines are by Rolls Royce, while the interiors are by Lacobucci, the Italian designers who are world renowned for ergonomic and luxurious comfort on aircrafts. Seating is on 6.5 foot long hand-crafted flatbeds, allowing passengers to lie fully flat if they wish. As well as a flight crew consisting of three pilots, two engineers, a dispatcher and an eight-strong cabin crew team, the Four Seasons jet also comes with several ‘journey staff’ including a concierge, a guest services manager, a medic and a photographer to capture the many unbelievable moments the travellers will certainly experience. Of course, there’s also a chef and sous chef on-board. Chef Kerry Sear explains:

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LUXURY

“Our aim is to recreate the hotel experience on the Four Seasons Private Jet, which means creating innovative meals using fresh ingredients, served on the finest tableware and linens, all with impeccable Four Seasons service. The only real difference is that occasionally we have to do a little juggling when there’s turbulence!”

Weaving together the high-end traveller’s desire for adventure, discovery and luxury, the Four Seasons Private Jet makes traversing the world incredibly easy for cash-rich time-poor holidaymakers. With Four Seasons taking on every element of planning for the trips, travellers simply have to turn up at the airport in the departure city, sit back and drink Dom Perignon while they’re whisked around the world.

“Taking our legendary service to the skies is a natural extension of what we’ve been doing in our hotels for more than 50 years,”

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says Susan Helstab, Executive Vice President Marketing, Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts.

“The Four Seasons Jet showcases the unforgettable people and experiences that make Four Seasons unique. It speaks to our pioneering spirit and the aspirations of today’s modern luxury traveller in an imaginative new way.”

Travellers can choose from an array of journeys taking in cities and landscapes, history and culture, adventure and exploration. This year, the ‘international intrigue’ journey visits Seattle, Boston, Tokyo, Beijing, the Maldives, Istanbul, the Serengeti in Tanzania, St Petersburg and Marrakech. During the 24-day journey, travellers can have a lesson with a Samurai sword, catch a baseball match in Tokyo, wander past snake charmers and browse luxury Berber carpets in Morocco. They can also enjoy a private dinner on the Great Wall of China, relax on the private island of Kuda Huraa in the Maldives and visit the ancient palaces of Turkey and Russia.

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The 25-day ‘extraordinary adventures’ trip involves rainforest zip-lining and hot springs in Costa Rica’s national parks, kayaking through Malaysian mangroves and sailing around the Southern Islands, hiking Australia’s Jenolan Caves and going behind the scenes at the Sydney Opera House. Travellers can also dive among dolphins and hike the Garden of the Gods in Hawaii, go horse-riding and visit the Bois Cheri Tea Factory in Mauritius, and take a Big Five safari in Tanzania. The ‘cultural escape’ journey visits London, Moscow, Dubai, the Seychelles, Tanzania’s Serengeti and Florence over 19 days. Travellers dine in the world’s highest restaurant and enjoy a sunset cruise in Dubai, enjoy a mountaintop yoga lesson and enjoy a traditional Creole dinner in the Seychelles, and take a morning hot air balloon rid over the Serengeti. They also visit Saint Basil’s Cathedral and enjoy a ballet performance in Russia, explore the galleries and enjoy the food and wine of Tuscany, and enjoy Hyde Park and Primrose Hill in London. Wherever the private jet stops around the world, travellers can expect to stay in Four Seasons hotels and resorts, and have all their meals and activities arranged in advance. And with even more innovative itineraries set to be developed for 2017 and beyond, the Four Seasons Private Jet is taking the high-end travel experience to new heights. Find out more about the Four Seasons Private Jet at: www.fourseasons.com/aroundtheworld W o r d s b y : Sa s ha A r m s

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Neil Jacobs Chief Executive Officer, Six Senses Hotels Resorts Spas T h e g l o b e - t r o tt i n g C E O o f o n e o f t h e m o s t i n n ov a t i v e l u x u r y h o s p i t a l i t y p r ov i d e r s i n t h e w o r l d .

You’ve spent more than three de-

when the Six Senses opportunity

Maldives. We think that our resorts

cades in the travel and hospitali-

was presented, was that this was

and spas represent a refreshing re-

ty industry. Tell us your story and

not just another great hotel com-

interpretation of five star travel for

how it led to you becoming the

pany built on traditional standards

today’s sophisticated traveller and

CEO of Six Senses.

of luxury. What was compelling

spa-goer.

combined

was that the potential existed,

with ethical responsibility for the

I feel blessed to have lived and

through our wellness and sus-

world we live in genuinely forms

worked in ten or more countries

tainability platforms, to genuinely

the central tenet to the Six Senses

throughout my business career

make a difference and do some

philosophy.

and am lucky enough to have ex-

good. That may sound corny, but

perienced many different aspects

we are focused on our resort and

The company was purchased in

of our fascinating industry in this

spa guests finding the space to

2012 by Pegasus Capital Advisors,

time, having operated, developed,

participate in experiences and ac-

L.P. a private equity fund man-

built, financed and owned upscale

tivities that touch them and leave

ager in New York. Pegasus part-

hotels in different places at differ-

them in a better place.

ners with management teams of

ent times. It has been fantastic and enriching every step of the way. What was clear to me in 2011

44

Wellbeing

growth companies, with a focus Six Senses Hotels Resorts Spas was

on those that benefit from the

established in 1995 with the open-

business implications of global re-

ing of the group’s first resort in the

source scarcity. Sectors where this


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trend is most pronounced are food, water, energy, health and wellness, and security. Through ownership, we are working with a variety of innovative companies and experts to elevate the offerings we present at our spas and resorts. A large part of my motivation to work at Six Senses was the values portrayed by Pegasus, and the alignment of their corporate goals with my own personal direction. What kind of experience do visitors to Six Senses resorts and spas get? Customers at Six Senses are seeking experiences that are unique and authentic. Sustainability and wellness are at the heart of the brand and as such, key initiatives are focused on these areas. We believe that guests want an understanding of where they visit and have pride and satisfaction in travel — for business, work, relaxation and enjoyment. Six Senses takes an active role in the local community with respect to design, environmental and social responsibility, incorporating sustainable construction and operating practices. Our architecture and construction standards establish a consistent quality for all Six Senses locations worldwide, without being formulaic. . What is one of the most exciting developments at Six Senses recently? Last year we opened Six Senses Douro Valley, situated in a UNESCO World Heritage site in Portugal. We took over a historic quinta (wine estate) with a rich history that dates back to 1464. Unusual for the Douro Valley, this property was blessed with plenty of water, and earlier in its history a small water dam and an energy generator were installed. The house was the first to be electrified in the valley, and was wired with bells in most rooms and even had central heat-

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ing, which was unheard of at the time. The original energy generator is currently at the Museu da Electricidade in Lisbon. In the 18th and 19th centuries, the estate’s park was extended with more forest, paths, a secret tunnel, staircases and niches with viewpoints. An ingenious irrigation system was also added, allowing a waterfall, fountains and ponds to be built. In 2014, Six Senses took over the management, and following a multimonth refurbishment, the property reopened in July 2015. Clodagh Design from New York City was brought in to transform the interiors and bring an artful touch to the property. Extensive use of local woods, metals and fabrics was employed in the design. One highlight of the property is the Wine Library which houses the 700 reference wine list, an oversized wine tasting table, wine shop, comfortable seating and dining options both inside the tasting room, or outside on the terrace. The Wine Library features touch screens with information about the wines of the valley, fun art installations made from recycled local materials. It is also a pre-dining rendezvous, where daily tastings are held, many presented by the wine-makers themselves, paired with a tempting selection of local cheeses and smoked delicacies. Self-service wine dispensers, with some truly rare wines and ports being offered by the glass, are available 24 hours a day with a special card. Here guests meet with the Wine Manager or Wine GEM (guest

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experience maker) to plan excursions, tastings and activities for the day. The room extends onto a covered stone terrace with comfortable armchairs, a fire pit and an open air cinema. Six Senses Douro Valley features 57 guest accommodations and a generously proportioned Six Senses spa with indoor pool and 10 treatment rooms. In addition to the Wine Library, the restaurant, Vale Abraao, features an open kitchen design with wood-fired ovens, oversize fireplaces and several informal spaces where guests can sample locally-sourced, regional specialties with a healthy twist. An exciting variety of activities including wine and dine river cruises, visits to nearby wineries, tree climbing, kayaking, cycling, hiking and bird watching are also offered. What has been the most notable change in the travel industry from your perspective since you first started working in it? So much has changed since I started at my first hotel in the UK in the 1970s, but the biggest shifts have been in technology, health and wellness. The world has become more global and travel is easily accessible not only to the wealthy, but to the average person. Travellers have become very sophisticated in their choice of hotels, restaurants and quest for cultural exploration and understanding. As mentioned, a major shift has taken place in the world of wellness. When

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I first started out, resorts were just starting to con-

Today more than ever there’s a greater conscious-

vert unused hotel space into massage rooms. Today,

ness and considerable interest around wellness in

a city hotel or resort cannot open without a well-ap-

general, and Six Senses continues to develop inno-

pointed spa. People are obsessed with getting fit

vative and relevant programmes around fitness, nu-

and healthy, but the population in general has be-

trition, yoga, general education and much more that

come more unhealthy. Six Senses Spas offer a wide

are enhancing in so many ways.

range of holistic wellness, rejuvenation and beauty treatments administered under the guidance of ex-

How do you stay abreast of the latest trends and in-

pert therapists. We incorporate local healing tradi-

novations in wellness travel, and how do you decide

tions together with a menu of specialist and signa-

what should be rolled out at Six Senses locations?

ture therapies in each location. Pioneering wellness by constantly exploring, learning and rethinking the

I am an avid reader and read a lot to stay ahead of

typical spa model, Six Senses Spas understand that

trends. I also glean a lot of information from websites

before connecting with the world around us, we

and social media.

need to reconnect with ourselves. Some of the trends that we are starting to see in the

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world of sustainability and travel include an increas-

ates a number of different and important bio-markers.

ing amount of transparency, accountability and re-

Results allow us to determine behavioural and life-

porting on sustainable metrics; a growing awareness

style change and create a personalised programme

among travellers on the issues around and impor-

based on the needs of the guest. Created by the

tance of sustainable tourism; an increased demand

Six Senses Spas team along with respected medical

to stay with green and/or sustainable hotels; and

doctors: Dr Michael Breus for sleep, Dr Steven Gun-

greater interest in growing local and organic fruits

dry for nutrition and Dr Mehmet Oz for overall health,

and vegetables directly on the property, not only to

each guest’s personalised programme may include

reduce food costs, but to enhance the quality, fresh-

spa treatments, exercise, yoga, meditation and sleep

ness and nutritional value of the food.

tips and guidance. The four programmes are called: Sleep & Resilience, Trim & Fit, Cleanse & Detox and

Six Senses Spas has a global following due to the

Full Potential.

group’s ability to consistently pioneer new standards and innovate. We recently launched Six Senses Inte-

The wellness assessment has launched at Six Sens-

grated Wellness. The multi-dimensional wellness pro-

es Douro Valley, Six Senses Laamu, Six Senses Yao

gramme starts with a wellness assessment that evalu-

Noi and Six Senses Zighy Bay. In addition, it is avail-

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able at third party Six Senses spas in Koh Kood, Thailand (Soneva Kiri) and Muscat, Oman at Al Bustan Palace, a Ritz-Carlton Hotel. Additional Six Senses resorts and spas will launch the programme later this year. Sleep with Six Senses is a resort-wide programme that allows guests to receive personalised guidance on improving their sleep experience. The programme is launching at Six Senses Douro Valley in Portugal and will be available at more resorts this autumn. It features two Six Senses sleep ambassadors at each property and in-villa items including: beds by Naturalmat, Beaumont and Brown bed linens, Valley Forge moisture wicking linens, Hanse pillows and duvets plus two sleep machines — one that blocks disruptive ambient noise and another with LED lighting (red awake and blue sleep light that tracks sleep). Each guest receives a sleep bag that contains pyjamas, a sleep journal, sleep mask, ear plugs, neti pot and nose strips. It’s one of the most innovative and in-depth sleep experiences any hotel group has ever launched. Nutritional guidelines are also underway and this includes looking at all menus and improving them so guests can enjoy the same great taste experienced in the past at Six Senses restaurants, but delivering even healthier dishes than before. Chefs are creating low sugar and low sodium items, gluten free and hormone free options, plus offering home grown and organic ingredients where possible.

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What does ‘luxury’ in the modern day really mean? I think the terms ‘luxury’ and ‘luxurious’ are overused. Our vision at Six Senses is to help people reconnect with themselves, others and the world around them. Our resorts and spas are located in some of the most pristine natural environments and feature unique and rich cultures. As the world evolves, we also evolve and strive to operate sustainably and in a manner which conserves and preserves while offering a platform for our guests to experience it. Six Senses has been at the forefront of sustainability even before the buzzword of ecotourism became in vogue. It is in our DNA and something everyone at Six Senses believes in dearly. It goes far beyond the way we build and operate resorts and spas to how we respect and preserve the communities where we are located and how we treat people. Balancing luxury travel with an authentic feeling of geography and local community is what Six Senses believes in and strives to do at every location where we operate. We work hard to balance technology with a personal touch. We know guests want and need to stay connected, but we also want them to disconnect from the stress of everyday life when at our resorts and spas. If I am able to craft the perfect vacation for someone, it would be a time that a guest gets away from it all with someone they love. Time is a pre-

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cious commodity and giving a guest the opportunity to savour moments and simply enjoy the beauty of nature, good design and an activity that makes them feel happy and restored is what’s important to Six Senses. We try to create moments that are crafted and bespoke. From private dinners, challenging hikes, amazing diving experiences to paragliding, yoga and meditation, we want guests to discover a new side of themselves when staying with us or rediscovering an old self that has been lost. Whether someone is 20 or 90, this formula works! What plans have you got for Six Senses this year? Six Senses will open on a private island in the Seychelles in the autumn featuring one of our greatest sustainability stories yet, and next year we’ll open five small resorts in Bhutan. Each resort takes advantage of the land and its geographical site, and the architecture and design celebrate the stunning locations. Our spa division is booming and this year we will add seven new spas: two in Doha, plus Dubai, Mumbai, Pune, Seychelles and Courchevel. We are also looking at several sites in Europe and the Americas and believe we will take over two existing properties in both regions next year. Our eyes are on Africa as well. Beyond 2017, construction is underway on projects in Bali, Taiwan, India, Tunisia and Yangzhou in China.

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Currently regarded as a resort company, we have developed an urban concept and feel confident we will soon enter key city centres. Sustainability and wellness will be at the forefront of design and operational initiatives. And we are confident that our urban projects will set new standards and benchmarks for living that combine a healthy approach to work, leisure time, dining, fitness and entertainment. We envision dining venues focused on organic, healthy cuisine; innovative meeting and function spaces, plus world-class spas that are all about interactivity and wellness exploration — a completely new approach that has never been created before. Six Senses hotels will also feature private members’ clubs for socialising, dining, relaxed business meetings and educational pursuits. And we would love to have another one or two properties in different parts of the beautiful Maldives. Where do you call ‘home’ and what do you like about it? That’s a difficult question. I have homes in Singapore and New York, although I spend most of my time on the road with a minimum of one week per month in Bangkok where our home office is located. My family are in Singapore and London, we have projects on all continents and shareholders in the US, so I suppose there are a variety of hotels and airports that are also home.

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I’ve spent 15 years living in Singapore and love how the country has transformed. It has the best food in Asia, it’s a cultural melting pot, it has spectacular architecture today, is international in flavour and something critical to me: a world-class airport and an amazing airline. Where are your favourite places to go in the Maldives? I enjoy the occasional trip to Male’ to visit the market and experience the colour and vibrancy of the capital. The seaplane ride to the northern atolls is fantastic, swimming with the mantas is an emotional experience, surfing near Six Senses Laamu is amazing, and a dinner for two on a picnic island is great. I also enjoy flying yoga at our spa, plus spending a day or two on a live-aboard boat just cruising around and diving. There’s so much to see and do that is active and rejuvenating. Where is on your bucket list for your own personal travels, and why? One of my favourite quotes is by Ralph Waldo Emerson: “Do not follow where the path may lead. Go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.” There are still so many places I would love to see: high on the list are Rajah Empat and Sumba in Indonesia, Tibet and Mongolia, Patagonia and wait for it, a cruise through Alaska.

W o r d s b y : Sa s ha A r m s

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A DV ERTO R IAL

Dhiraagu high-speed connectivity aids work and play in the Maldives

The leading and largest telecommunications operator in the Maldives not only connects locals and travellers to trustworthy mobile, internet, data and fixed line services across the Maldives, but forms an integral part of Maldivian life. Dhiraagu is the only operator to date to provide 3G mobile broadband services to all inhabited islands across the country, and has also launched the nation’s largest 4G network, which is a service currently enjoyed by 57% of the population in the Maldives. Achieved via a 1,200km long fibre optic submarine cable installed by the company across the Maldives, this 3G and 4G connectivity has made a big difference to a way of life that was previously very isolated. It also marks a significant achievement in providing connectivity in a country that has more geographical barriers than most, given the number of atolls and remote islands forming the para-

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disiacal country. While transforming the way the Maldives can communicate and do business, Dhiraagu’s advancements make the world of difference to visitors to the Maldives, particularly those from the corporate world who rely on fast internet and mobile connection. The telecommunications’ company’s services mean visitors can have the best of both worlds: serene, secluded experiences in Maldivian bliss, with the knowledge they can get connected at the drop of a hat. Dhiraagu serves all 199 inhabited islands in the Maldives, all resort islands and all major industrial islands, which have enjoyed 100% mobile phone coverage since 2008. While Dhiraagu serves a broad international range of customers who require a service on a par with that in their home countries, the company remains proudly local, with a 99% Maldivian workforce. People, commu-

nities and the environment is at the heart of Dhiraagu’s operations: a true mark of a sustainable and savvy business. As well as incorporating corporate social responsibility (CSR) values throughout its back-office operations, Dhiraagu is also heavily involved in a number of Maldivian initiatives. These include the Dhiraagu Apprenticeship Programme, enhancing the skills and opportunities for Maldivian youth. The company has also been instrumental in helping vulnerable children, by raising awareness and funds from the Dhiraagu Maldives Road Race, enabling disabled children to take part in the Dhiraagu Special Sports Festival, and sponsoring various initiatives for the children from the Kuda Kudhinge Hiyaa orphanage. In-line with its commitment to environmentally-friendly technological advancement, Dhiraagu is also one of the highest users of renewable energy in the Maldives. The technological advancement of the small nation of the Maldives is, to many spectators, an astounding feat. No other nation has had to face the task of providing first-class technology to hundreds of islands and atolls sitting at around sea level in the middle of the ocean. Yet the Maldives has risen to the challenge, spearheaded by Dhiraagu. This in turn has played a role in developing the tourism industry in the country further. Travellers expect and rely on the ability to connect, wherever they are in the world, and without Dhiraagu, the Maldives may have lost its appeal to some travellers. Dhiraagu is rightly the winner of scores of industry awards, recognising its mobile initiatives and role as a growth engine. Thanks to Dhiraagu, connectivity and kicking back on holiday now go hand-in-hand in the Maldives.


CEL EB RI T Y TR AVELLER

CELEBRITY TRAVELLER

NIKHIL CHINAPPA E n t r e p r e n e u r, D i s c J o c ke y , Te l e v i s i o n p e r s o n a l i t y and one of the most highly regarded face behind the wildly successful Electronic Dance Music (EDM) scene in India.

Born in Bengaluru, India, Nikhil was famed early in his music career

Get-to-know quiz

as an MTV VJ, a youth icon with a ‘cool’ personality, hosting shows, interviewing music legends and travelling across country.

DJ must-have: A good headphone. VJ or DJ, if one to chose: DJ Song on repeat: Damien Rice, The Blower’s Daughter.

Today, as an established DJ and a well-known dance music festival curator, from touring worldwide, to collaborations with most sought after international DJs including Tiesto, Hardwell, Swedish House Mafia and Armin Van Buuren to

Event loved hosting: Vh1 supersonic, India’s got talent and Splitzvilla Worst habit: Never being able to say no to fun. In your opinion, the best DJ right now? John digree. Favourite for long time. Ahead of the game. John deere

name a few, he has done it all. During one of the many trips to Maldives, we catch up with Nikhil at Kurumba Resort while holidaying with his wife DJ Pearl and fami-

Most memorable festival? Submerge parties. Zanziba. Different djs play. Everyday we would shut at 10 oclock. Pearl last set. The vibe was the best. Its goes on. Didn’t close on. Unforgettable moment: Setting eyes on Pearl. The first conversation was pretty amazing too.

ly, to talk about his upcoming gigs, travelling and music confessions. People first started seeing you, as

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Advice to wannabe-DJs: Keep on practicing. You have to be able to find a unique niche for yourself. Next Gig: Dash Berlin Gig, Vh1 Supersonic Festival.


CEL EB RI T Y TR AVELLER

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CEL EB RI T Y TR AVELLER

an MTV VJ but as of recent, DJ or a

called Xpress-to. At that time they

‘Submerge’ the company you

festival director seems to be more

had a massive song called lazy. So

founded was the first and now

appropriate. What would you say

when this song came up, every-

the largest Indian EDM promotion

you are best known for?

body in the club was singing it. I

company co-founding top music

didn’t know it but I wanted it be-

festivals. Tell us the story behind

cause everybody was singing it.

it.

a half, we did radio shows for both

“The next day when I went to the

Pearl (my girlfriend back then), my

Bangalore and Chennai.

I started my career as a Radio Jockey in Bangalore and for a year and From

record store with Pearl, I bought a

best friend and me started Sub-

there I moved to MTV India. The

copy of Lazy and she was like, why

merge in 2003, at a club in Mum-

show that I did was ‘MTV Select’

are you buying it? She has already

bai called Rock Bottom. The name

for 11 years, one of the longest run-

bought a copy. I said I don’t know.

‘Submerge’ is derived from the

ning shows in the history of MTV.

I just want my own copy.”

fact that we started first at Rock Bottom.

When I met my wife Pearl back

How did you meet DJ Pearl?

then, she was already a DJ. I was

Our idea was to provide an alter-

inspired by Pearl and in 2002 I

It was on a blind date. Yes, a

native international standard club-

started DJ as a career. Later on, we

one hundred percent blind date

bing experience to the same old

started developing music festivals

through ‘MTV Select’.

music being played in Indian clubs

and music brands. So I don’t think

back then. We have travelled, we

I’m known for one thing. Its just

Before starting to record an ep-

knew DJs and we knew there was

music is always the thing I do.

isode one day, the producer of

more music out there. We thought

the show, who happened to be

why not call a few friends and or-

What was that moment when you

a really good friend of Pearl, was

ganize a party once a week.

knew you want to be a DJ?

on a personal call on ‘MTV Select’ phone. I came and simply grabbed

What were the problems faced

I partly became a DJ because of

the phone from him and he was

back then as a DJ? How did Sub-

just this love for collecting vinyl re-

like ‘it’s a friend’. I said Hello and I

merge help the EDM Scene?

cords. When my wife was Deejay-

instantly took a liking to her voice

ing, there were no record shops in

on the other end. I then insisted

Early those days in India, as a DJ

India and there were no mp3s and

on her to pretend to be a caller

you hardly earn money. The other

no CDs. All the music was available

on ‘MTV Select’ show. We talked a

issue was that when you become

on vinyl records. Pearl used to go

couple of times through phone be-

a DJ just for the passion of music,

record-shopping trips where on

fore we went out together on an

you are not able to play your mu-

one trip she would buy hundreds

event to Delhi.

sic because of people telling what

of different records, as you do not “I had absolutely no idea how she

when we founded Submerge, we

ing to London for records.

looked. But it never mattered.

wanted to recognize the DJs as a

We went out. We had coffee. We

qualified artist.

In one of those trips to London,

had dinner. Spend an entire night

we went to a club and we heard

talking and fell in love.”

a group of DJs playing, they were

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they want to hear. For that reason,

have the option of constantly go-

The art of deejaying is telling a story with music. If you tell me what


CEL EB RI T Y TR AVELLER

story to tell, then where is my art?

tours you have done? Where have

Any tips to first time travellers to

So we made a rule that nobody

you performed and loved?

Maldive Islands?

I have not played around the

Have conversations with the lo-

can tell a DJ what to play at Submerge parties.

world. What I do is travel, hangout

cals. It will enrich your travel ex-

When we first threw party of 42

and listen to DJs, I have been to

perience. You must scuba dive

people, all close friends, every-

Ibiza, London, Berlin, Amsterdam,

when in Maldives. Yes the spas are

body loved the vibe and we all

Miami, Vegas.

amazing. Everything including the

connected as EDM fans. DJs were

food in all restaurants to interiors

queuing up to play with us. Next

Performed and loved? That should

is amazing. But the best thing you

party 150 people, then 650 and it

be Goa. I believe there is a huge

can do is though scuba diving. I

spread like fire.

market potential is there.

have been doing that since 2004

You have worked with interna-

You played a vital role in bringing

tional DJ’s like Tiesto, Hardwell,

the cutting-edge EDM to India.

Do you have a favourite place to

Swedish House Mafia, Armin Van

Would you say you have accom-

travel to? What is so special about

Buuren. Who are you looking for-

plished what you set out to ac-

that place?

ward to working with next?

complish?

Now the desire is not whom to

Not true. It was actually Pearl’s

Goa, I love the long drives, you feel

work with because I have worked

dream. We both worked in it. It

the breeze and it’s so easy to un-

with all of them. There is really no-

would not happen if not for all

wind. I get the same feeling when

body left.

those people who worked for Sub-

looking at the sea and the beaches

merge.

in Maldives. It’s so calm and peaceful.

with smaller djs in smaller cities.

We just set out to have fun and we

What’s the most impressive/use-

Because what is happening in In-

still are doing that. So yes.

ful phrase you know in a foreign

and I highly recommend.

Goa and the Maldives. When in

What I want to do now is work

dia is that we got a really good

language?

electronic dance music scene. But that scene has become a little too

What makes you keep coming

Salud! (Sah-lud) Spanish version. I

puppet. People go to all Tiesto

back to the Maldives?

think that’s the most useful phrase

events but the proportionate num-

I have learned because it’s an alter-

ber of people is not going to listen

There is a particular shade of blue I

to their local dj at the local club or

call it the ‘impossible blue’, which I

a new but good dj from abroad.

only get from the Maldives’ Islands.

If the scene is going like this, at

native to cheers! Where’s the next big travel experience for you?

some point it is going to fade. We

It’s so easy to disconnect and relax

need a following for smaller but

in here because you simply don’t

To my moms 70th birthday is in

good DJs to keep the scene stable.

have anything else to do. The peo-

May so we are all going to Viet-

ple are friendly, great food and

nam. Halong bay and Hanoi.

You have been a frequent travel-

scuba diving is amazing. So why

ler. Can you tell us a bit about the

not?

In June Pearl and I are going to a

63


CEL EB RI T Y TR AVELLER

music festival in Amsterdam. And

that diving off Durban is definitely

It does not have to be. I believe it’s

maybe another music festival in

on my bucket list.

only a perception. If not resorts,

Croatia

even guesthouse option is there. It The Indian travellers to Maldives

really is just a matter of communi-

What places are left in your buck-

have increased recently. What

cating to the right market.

et list?

would you say to travellers wanting to experience Maldives?

Drift Diving off the coast of Durban.

they want to do things that our

One of my friends did that. You see

It is absolutely recommended.

parents had no opportunity to do.

black tip sharks, tiger sharks and

Even for Indians, you can come for

Diving trips in Maldives would be

even bull sharks that come around.

the weekend.

one of them. So I really think its just

Apparently the photographers al-

64

I know from my group of friends,

a matter of communicating to the

ways get bumped because the

The common perception is its re-

sharks are that close. I’m not inter-

ally expensive and only ideal for

ested in the idea of Cage dive. But

Honeymoon or special occasions.

right market. Words by: FATHMATH ASNA


LUXURY

Luxury,

Afloat 66


LUXURY

Have you ever desired to cruise the picture perfect

while pointing the way to a new era in travel. The at-

panoramas of the Maldives on a private yacht but

tention given to the minute details of the design and

don’t want to miss the luxuries you get on an island

architecture of “Sonveva in Aqua” is bound to leave

resort? Maybe you want the freedom of choosing

you enthralled, craving for more. What’s even better

your next dive sight but don’t want to sacrifice your

is the fact that, “Soneva in Aqua” is the first and only

spa treatments. Well, the innovative and new con-

of its kind in the world – it has taken several years to

cept by Soneva that takes place on a 68ft ultra-luxury

reach the final custom made design.

yacht aims to give you all that and more. The yacht comes with exceptionally spacious rooms “Soneva in Aqua” merges their signature barefoot

capable of lodging four adults and two children,

luxury with the sensation of a private boat charter

which gives a sense of exclusivity. The onboard crew

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LUXURY

consists of a captain, a chef, a masseuse, a private butler, an astronomer, and a diving instructor who are ready to pander to your every whim and make sure you have endless activities. The master suite comes with a glass bottom sunken bath and shower. The second cabin has a king-sized bed and en-suite facilities. You can enjoy romantic dinners beneath the stars on the raised sun deck, or sip a cocktail in the lower level bar with lounge seating, or indulge yourself in the outdoor Jacuzzi. But what’s truly astonishing is that the yacht can be chartered for the same price as a 2 bedroom villa at Soneva Fushi. If staying on a boat sounds too monotonous or dull for you, then worry not. If you have an undeniable love for the crystal waters and the scenic reefs that surround the islands then you are destined to enjoy the dives offered during the day and night, in addition to the incredible sunrise dives. Guests are offered the chance to dive twice a day. With presentations on the underwater ecology and environmental awareness, the snorkeling sessions offered by “Soneva in Aqua� are truly distinct. And for those who are always keen on learning new things, sailing lessons are also offered alongside map reading. If you seek relaxation more than anything else then the spa treatments on the lower level sun deck would best suit you. Spa treatments and wellness activities are attentively administered

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LUXURY

by the highly trained Six Senses Spa therapist. Treatments range from friendly pampering, to exhilarating sensory journeys – whether on the sundeck or secluded on a sand bank! The possibilities are as many as one could imagine. The highly skilled crew offers guests an unmatched level of service, always keeping their needs and satisfaction their highest priority but mindful of their privacy too. The “map of locations” menu offers guests the opportunity to alter the voyage and customize it according to daily weather conditions, diving or snorkeling requirements and cultural interests or just simply their mood! The most invigorating experience – besides dangling your legs over the side and relaxing in the Jacuzzi – is the ability to snooze under the stars on the top sundeck. Or, why not take advantage of the crew’s exceptional knowledge of the night sky and enjoy a unique stargazing experience?

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LUXURY

And for the entertainment enthusiast, the library and the lounge with the dining room will provide more than what you ask for. Good news for the foodies, “Soneva In Aqua” delivers guests a unique and remarkable dining experience both indoors and outdoors. While the breakfast is provided in bed or on deck, pleasant lunch and dinner menus are offered after consulting with the guests – to provide them with their favorite dishes alongside some Maldivian specialties. The menus, designed by Soneva’s executive chefs, focus on using locally sourced produce and the meals are perfectly paired with a custom assortment of international wines and spirits. The pioneering new concept of “Soneva in Aqua” elevates the guest experience by providing guests all the benefits of the iconic resorts services and amenities on a floating boat villa. Crafted with regards to fuel efficiency, the design features natural materials such as rich brown leathers, woods and organic cottons. Managed by the award-winning Soneva, the “Soneva In Aqua” is already on its course to create a new standard and set the stage high for future travel trends for the island destination.

W o r d s b y : H U SS A I N A L I

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LUXURY

71


I NT ERVIEW

Mr Song

Hoi-see

The founder and CEO of Plaza Premium Group, the man behind the modern-day airport lounge.

Tell us your story. Why did you

in Hong Kong International Airport

of the most well-known global

decide to set up Plaza Premium

the same year. The basic concept

brands in airports also gives us a

lounges?

behind Plaza Premium lounges is

responsibility to work with airport

that travellers can enjoy airport

authorities to enhance travellers’

In my earlier life I was an invest-

lounge services, regardless of the

overall airport experiences too.

ment banker, when I used to trav-

airline they’re travelling on or their

Nowadays, travellers generally ex-

el a lot for work. After this, when I

class of travel. It’s changed the

pect quality airport hospitality, an

was starting up my own business, I

perception that airport lounges

enjoyable airport experience, and

realised that flying economy with-

should be reserved for first class

healthier airport dining options.

out airport lounge privileges can

travellers only. We now provide

Airports are destinations in them-

make it a struggle to work effec-

premium services in more than

selves and we see our role as giv-

tively while on-the-go. As well as

120 locations of 35 international

ing travellers more reasons to find

my own personal experiences of

airports, and serve more than 7

enjoyment and comfort during

trying to work while in transit, I

million travellers a year.

their travel experiences.

majority of travellers could enjoy.

How does it feel to be responsible

As a result, we introduced new

This led me to identify a gap in the

for one of the most well-known

business lines in 2015 to bridge

market for airport lounges open

brands in airports across the

the inefficiency gap of these air-

to anyone. I subsequently found-

globe?

port services for travellers, namely

had a desire to do something the

ed the Plaza Premium company in

74

Aerotel and Allways. Aerotel is a

1998, and I launched the world’s

It’s a proud position to be in, but

unique line of airport transit hotels

first independent airport lounge

the notoriety of becoming one

located inside or alongside airport


I NT ERVIEW

75


I NT ERVIEW

terminals, where travellers can enjoy comfortable, flexible and convenient accommodation. Allways offers a meet and greet experience, where travellers can make specialist requests, such as welcome gifts and buggy services, to one-stop pick-ups and limousine transfers to restaurants. Focusing on these details and meticulously planned experiences shows our recognition that the travel experience begins the moment you step into the airport. What has been the most notable change in the travel industry from your perspective since Plaza Premium opened in 1998? Over the past decade, air travel has become a normal and common mode of transportation, since the cost of travel has been substantially lowered. Even more recently we’ve seen the growing impact of low-cost carriers on the aviation market, and these low-cost carriers will certainly continue to experience above-average growth in the coming years. However, it is clear that low-cost carriers and legacy airlines offer very different services, and frequent travellers can spot the difference. Many travellers nowadays, especially frequent travellers, regard air travel as a lifestyle, and the journey is an experience in itself. With this comes an increased expectation of a higher quality of customer service on the ground. What is the modern day airport traveller looking for? Modern travellers are looking for increased comfort during the whole travel experience and seamless airport services. The growth of Plaza Premium lounges demonstrates in itself that travellers are looking for airports and airlines that offer better lounge facilities and services while they are awaiting their flight.

76


I NT ERVIEW

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I NT ERVIEW

What can travellers expect from Plaza Premium

broadly, we aim to have a total of 200 locations by

lounges, and what type of travellers do the lounges

2018, which will encompass the management and

attract?

operation of independent airport and airline lounges, airport transit hotels, airport meet and greet ser-

Travellers can expect comfort, convenience, good

vices, and airport dining facilities.

values, love and care in all the services provided by Plaza Premium. We are open to all travellers regard-

What are your travel trend predictions?

less of their airline or class of travel, although we do see many transit passengers and frequent business

The application of technology is going to become

travellers are particularly attracted to Plaza Premium

increasingly prevalent. This is particularly by airlines,

lounges. In the last couple of years, we have also

who will continue to have a more simplified check-

seen a substantial increase in the number of individ-

in process and raised efficiency by providing online

ual travellers using our airport facilities.

and mobile check-in, self-check-in kiosks and baggage counters at airports. Apart from airlines, trav-

What future plans have you got for Plaza Premium,

ellers will also rely increasingly on e-channels for ef-

both in the Maldives and more generally?

ficient immigration clearance. This all indicates less and less of the human touch in travel. Despite this,

78

In the Maldives, we’ll soon be launching more well-

services with a human touch actually play a funda-

ness facilities in our airport lounge there. More

mental role in the travel hospitality industry. Airports


I NT ERVIEW

around the world are aware of this and are becom-

One of the places I think of immediately is Spain. It’s

ing increasingly customer centric, and with a heavier

one of my favourite places in the world because the

reliance on technology, they’re looking for other op-

weather during the summer is just how I like it, I love

portunities for human interaction. With this in mind,

the food and the locals are very friendly.

it’s not surprising to see an increase in independent airport lounge service requirements from airport au-

Which destinations are on the top of your list to vis-

thorities around the world, as these lounges provide

it this year?

an important touchpoint for the face-to-face servicing of customers.

I’m looking forward to visiting Brisbane, Rio de Janeiro and Taipei for work. And then I will look forward

Where do you call ‘home’?

to a restful visit in Spain for some important leisure time.

Hong Kong is my home, where the headquarters of Plaza Premium Group is. I like it because it’s the

Plaza Premium has airport lounges and services across the

world’s freest economy and has an East meets West

world: www.plaza-network.com

culture. Where is your favourite place to travel to for leisure?

W o r d s b y : Sa s ha A r m s

79


FOR ECAST

Can the dream of 5 million visitors

to Maldives really come true?

Visitor arrivals to Maldives have grown exponentially over the years from just a handful in the 1970s to over a million in 2013. This

Maldives tourism quick facts

year there’s a healthy target of 1.5 million. A recent announcement by the Ministry of Economic Development however is a little more ambitious for the future with a plan to attract five million guests to the tiny island nation.

Tourism began in the Maldives in 1972 with around 1000 visitors in the year In 2015 Maldives welcomes 1.2 million visitors Four out of five visitors to the Maldives stay at a tourist resort

“We have a brand new vision for the Maldives; [we] are going to improve and transform our economy,” President of Maldives, Abdulla Yameen said. Five million is a big number though, and if the target is to be met it’s going to require a little more than mere rhetoric. The big question is, can it be done? And if so, how?

80

The first two tourist resorts in the Maldives , Kurumba and Bandos were built in 1972 with 280 beds Currently there are 108 tourist resort operating in the Maldives with a bed capacity of over 25,000


FOR ECAST

Investing in Infrastructure

A bigger airport and more hotels doesn’t automatically equate to

The main gateway for inbound passengers is the Ibrahim Nasir Interna-

more visitors, however. The Mal-

tional Airport (INIA), but currently it’s at full capacity. This looks set to

dives will still need to broaden its

change. In April 2016 President Yameen unveiled plans for a US$ 800

horizons if it hopes to attain the

million upgrade and expansion project of INIA.

five million dream.

Managing Director of the Maldives Airports Company, Adil Moosa, said

Cruising into diversification

the project will include a brand new terminal to add to the previous three, a new runway and improved cargo and fuel facilities. “After exten-

The core brand of the country is

sion work is completed, the airport will be able to cater for seven million

its ‘sun, sand and sea’ philosophy,

passengers a year,” Moosa said, adding “the new runway will be long

and it’s difficult to see how any di-

enough to receive the Airbus A380.”

versification can be achieved without spoiling the nation’s inherent desirability as a place for rest and relaxation. The Fourth Tourism Masterplan continues to envision the tropical environment as the main attraction. It’s difficult to see any other way. The industry must therefore focus on ways to add value to the core product. Cruise tourism is

Ibrahim Nasir International Airport

one sector that has vast potential. The global cruise market has

Resort capacity will also need to be increased from the current 25,000

been growing fast in recent years,

beds if the five million dream is to be realistic. The good news is that

reaching 22 million passengers in

many new properties have been leased for resort development across

2014 and Asia is one of the fastest

the country, many in areas previously untouched by tourism.

growing destinations for cruisers. Maldives currently taps into just a

Investor appetite for the Maldives is also strong. “With its investor-friend-

fraction of the global market with

ly policies and robust trading fundamentals, we are seeing a surge in

only nine cruise ships calling to

investor interest in Maldives resort assets,” says Nihat Ercan of JLL Hotels

Maldives each year.

& Hospitality Group. Nevertheless, Maldives presents His confidence is echoed by Ahmed Siyam Mohamed of the Sun Siyam

tremendous potential as a regular

Group. “The tropical climate, sun year-round, the crystal clear waters,

port of call for cruise liners. The

the visibility under water are just a few, that makes Maldives the perfect

country is already on internation-

destination to invest. The investment climate is also very favorable now,

al shipping routes while there’s

with more investor confidence.”

already a strong and established tourism sector there. The major

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FOR ECAST

hurdle has been the lack of a dedicated deep water port and the necessary facilities to cater for large vessels. With the proposed development of an international cruise terminal and a yacht marina in the island of Hulhumale’, Maldives would be well placed to tap into this segment. MEGA Maldives “The Yacht Marina and the Cruise Terminal planned across the bay

The establishment of direct flights

Industry experts foresee these

of Hulhumale’, and situated among

from major cities in China certain-

trends to continue as the burgeon-

the outer reefs, will be an oasis for

ly helped boost the figures. Mega

ing Chinese middle class further

visitors. This cruise terminal will be

Maldives Airlines was a pioneer

dominate global consumption for

the very first of its kind in Maldives

in this segment and by reaching

years to come.

and allow cruise ship to come right

into the Chinese market the airline

to the shores Hulhumale’,” Mo-

grew into the Maldives’ biggest

In their report on the future of Chi-

hamed Saiman, Managing Director

carrier, boasting 100,000 passen-

nese tourism, Tourism Economic,

of Housing Development Corpo-

gers per year.

a global advisory firm, forecasts

ration described his vision for the proposed development. Entertaining the dragon

annual Chinese arrivals to be 97 To a large extent these devel-

million globally by 2023, with an-

opments mirror global tourism

nual growth of 5% for the next ten

trends. According to the United

years. Maldives as a leisure desti-

Nations World Tourism Organisa-

nation is ideally placed to take ad-

Europeans have always represent-

tion, since 2004 China has been

vantage of this booming market.

ed the vast majority of guests to

the main source market for glob-

It’s an investment “no-brainer” as

the Maldives, at around 80% of

al outbound travel, with consecu-

they say.

arrivals. All that changed with the

tive years of double digit growth.

onset of the 2007 Global Financial Crisis when visitor numbers from Europe slumped. It was somewhat fortuitous for the Maldives that a surge in Chinese visitors was recorded in the same period. The nation escaped relatively unscathed. Since 2010 China has become the largest source market for Maldives tourism. In 2015 there were over 300,000 Chinese visitors, representing close to 30% of all arrivals.

82

Finolhu


Yet, challenges in adapting to new tastes and demands do exist. Chinese guests have distinct spending patterns when compared to the traditional clientele. “This has been a learning experi-

The St. Regis Maldives Vommuli Resort ence for us,” says Ahmed Siyam Ahmed, Managing Director of Sun Siyam Group. “We have now understood the needs and wants of the Asian market and have adapted ourselves accordingly.” Others in the industry would be wise to follow suit. Chinese investors have already begun showing interest in Maldives. In 2015 the first direct Chinese investment in Maldives was announced, with a planned five start resort in the island of Kunaavashi in Vaavu Atoll, to be developed by CJL Investment. So, in this ever changing market, and with the huge infrastructure developments, is the five million just an overly ambitious pipe dream, or a master stroke of ingenuity? Only time will tell, but with the Maldivian government committed to expanding the capacity of the airport, the creation of a new marina, and increasing awareness of the Chinese spending power it is definitely a dream that can come true.

W o r d s b y : A L I A BD U L R A H E E M

UTIMATE CASTAWAY CHIC EXPERIENCE Surrounded by Furaveri’s unique white beach, it features elegant villas on sites over the beautiful turquoise of the Maldives. A relaxed atmosphere blows on Furaveri with its exceptional Spa, numerous activities and true barefoot experience.

05˚26’25.94”N 72˚54’30.43”E RAA ATO L L , MA L D IVES

+960 658 2718 info@furaveri.com

w w w. f u r a v e r i . c o m


LUXURY

Polite Luxury & Private Moments Velaa Private Island is a true testament of a dream come true in creating the world’s most private place for the most discerning travelers by Czech billionaire Jirí Šmejc and his wife Radka, and architect Petr Kolar.

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LUXURY

Nestled among a string of coral lagoons and crystalline waters in Noonu Atoll, and with the purest of powdery white beaches, the Velaa Private Island is a serene retreat, perfect for those wishing to disconnect from the stresses of everyday life. Designed by Czech architect Petr Kolar, Velaa Private Island comprises a handful of water villas, ocean pool houses, beach residences and the ultra-luxurious pool villas, all built using local materials. The design incorporates intimate and contemporary flourishes with Maldivian inspired nuances such as the turtle shell patterns. Indeed, Velaa means “Turtle” in Dhivehi, the island is also home to generations of sea turtles. From the air Velaa’s exclusive water villas resemble the head of a turtle, the island its body.

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LUXURY

This is intimate luxury at its finest - dotted around a shallow lagoon, your water villa, with its own private plunge pool, is the perfect place to not only relax in the sunshine but also to swim with all manner of marine life, from stingrays to the famous sea turtles. Eighteen of Velaa’s 47 private villas are built over water, alongside the jetty with uninterrupted stunning views of the ocean. The Sunrise and Sunset Water Pool Villa offer wooden sun decks, private pools with staircases leading directly into the emerald waters of the ocean, and living rooms with a glass floor so you can look for sea turtles below. Positioned on the edge of the island for greater privacy is the Ocean Pool House, a two-bedroom overwater residence decorated with traditional timber and thatch with tropical furnishings and comforts. The azure waters of the Indian Ocean is the backdrop from every direction - from the two capacious bathrooms featuring round baths to ultra-modern bedrooms. For honeymooners, the Romantic Pool Residence offers unparalleled privacy and celebrity luxury. Accessible only by boat, this one-bedroom villa boasts a private gymnasium, a spa treatment room, a personal chef and butler. The interior decorations are impeccable with natural materials and neutral colours with occasional tie-dye accents or Cycladic architecture, and all rooms open onto the patio, where the Jacuzzi, pool, sundeck

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LUXURY

and sunken bath tub are. The Velaa Private Residences are two-floor four-bedroom residences offering an expanse of 1,350 square meters of living & entertaining space for ten people, and is secluded on a private beach, facing the ocean. The indoor and outdoor bathrooms are inter-connected via a garden atrium. Velaa’s My Blend Spa by Clarins, the French beauty brand, is your base for holistic wellness. Designed with relaxation and rejuvenation in mind to create a truly paradisiacal retreat the spa comprises six over-water treatment villas in a detached cluster off the 20-hectare island, and an experience zone with a sauna, steam room and an oceanfront Jacuzzi. The spa boasts seven new beauty and wellness programmes tailored over three or seven days to maximize effectiveness and make every moment count, fully restoring mind and body balance for

87


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an unforgettable well-being experience. The Honeymoon treatments are administered in the privacy of a villa overlooking the ocean, a unique and memorable way to celebrate the start of a new life together. Take advantage of the island ambience with the Under The Sun treatment, which allows guests to make the most of the Maldivian sunshine while also protecting and beautifying skin, priming it for a lasting golden glow. Inspired by the natural beauty of the Maldives, Clarins developed two exclusive products as Velaa Signature Ritual treatments; Velaa Island Fantasy and the Island Body Boost, and can only be experienced at Velaa Private Island and nowhere else in the world. A Spa Boutique, juice bar, hair salon and nail studio completes the pampering experience. The Spa also showcases the first ‘snow room’ in the Maldives by Klafs, which improves circulation and skin rejuvenation, Cloud9, a cloud shaped reclining treatment pod by Klafs and Sha - tucked under a duvet - which slowly rocks you into a deep sleep and relaxation as the lights and sounds fluctuate around you, is also featured in the spa. Chef Ghuashan De Silva boasts an exquisite and authentic culinary journey, with organic ingredients sourced from the local islands and the resort’s private herb garden. He oversees the island’s signature restaurant Aragu & Cru - in an elegant over water setting, as well as a multitude of East

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Asian tastes and gastronomic experiences at Tavaru; bringing together a creative blend of Chinese, Korean and Japanese flavors with wellness principles, all the food is created using 100 percent organic produce. Couples will love dining at the tallest tower in any of the country’s resort: the visually appealing creamy-white cylindrical tower where live cooking and Velaa’s extensive wine cellar await. Guests can enjoy a buffet breakfast and an a la carte menu throughout the day at Athiri, and Avi is a befitting pool bar by day and vibrant cocktail bar by night. Golf is a rarity in the Maldives, but here the two-time Masters Champion Jose Maria Olazabal has created an incredible golf course with nine tees, six greens, seven bunkers and a lake, with USGA spec greens and the World’s most expensive grass, the 220 meters by 120 meters facility takes pride in all your golf lessons. A Swing studio featuring today’s cutting edge technology and gadgets, golf enthusiasts will have the chance to refine all aspects of their game in the idyllic surroundings, guests can hit all the shots imaginable, from midirons to wedges and short-game. Guests can return home from their holiday at the island, and Olazabal will e-mail a performance report including tips and how to improve the game, this includes speed, direction and swing and more. Any request is met at Velaa, including setting up a

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LUXURY

tee box even in the ocean or right in front of your villa - if you happen to be too lazy for a five minute buggy ride to the academy. The island is child-friendly with a kids club, a full-fledged gymnasium, tennis and squash courts, a football field and beach volleyball court and a yoga pavilion. The island’s dive centre offers excursions and certification courses. Water activities on offer include exploring the house reef by Sea Bob, windsurfing, kayaking, sailing, wakeboarding, jet-skiing, water-skiing and kite surfing, and offers semi-submarine expeditions around the island. Additionally, the excursions team is readily available to guide guests with fishing techniques. Sailing the reef with the Weta trimaran or Topcat K1 catamaran, sunset cruising, dolphin watching and private boat excursions can all be arranged for guests on board the luxury Prestige yacht or the custom-built traditional Bahtheli boat.

Words by: AHMED IJAZ

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93


EDI TOR’ S PICK

The story of

Champagne Why we celebrate with bubbles

94


EDI TOR’ S PICK

Whether you’ve just won a mil-

to go all the way back to the be-

that distinctive red colour but it

lion dollars or you’re celebrating a

ginning.

didn’t work. Eventually, they de-

special occasion there’s one drink

cided to try to make a white wine

that most of will go to: Cham-

Blasted bubbles

pagne. Nothing says ‘opulence’

In medieval times the people of

quite like a glass of the bubbly

Champagne, a region in France,

They began by cultivating white

stuff, and no celebration is com-

found themselves in a bitter rivalry

grapes and using them to produce

plete without flying corks and

with their neighbours in Burgun-

wine, but the results weren’t that

cascades of bubbles.

dy. The Burgundians were experts

great. The wine lacked flavour.

in making luscious red wines and

They turned to using red grapes,

But here is the question – why

the people of Champagne want-

which in other regions had suc-

Champagne? There are hundreds

ed to produce a wine that could

cessfully

of wines on the market which are

compete.

wine. Again, no luck. Even worse

just as good as Champagne, and

instead.

createdelicious

white

than the lack of flavour were the

some would argue, even better.

Unfortunately, their more northern

bubbles in the wine. Bubbles

Why then do we need this one

climate meant their wine lacked

were a sign of an inferior product.

particular variety above all others?

the colour and richness of Bur-

To answer that question we have

gundian wine. They tried mixing

The problem once again was the

elderberries to give their produce

colder climate of Champagne.

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The chilly winters halted the fermentation process, so the sugar in the grapes hadn’t completely turned into alcohol before being bottled. When warmer weather came the fermentation would begin again, causing Carbon Dioxide bubbles to form inside the bottles. Wine from Champagne was often known as Le Vin Du Diable, “the devil’s wine,” because the bubbles caused such great pressure that the glass bottles would suddenly and violently explode. Who knows how many people were injured or even killed in this way? Then in the 17th century there came unto the scene a humble Benedictine monk, who through enourmous effort and tireless work managed to cultivate and ferment a flavourful white wine in the Champagne region. His name was Dom Perignon. Dom Perignon was a perfectionist, he even demanded that the grapes be transported by donkey instead of horse, because, he felt, the docile donkeys were less likely to damage the produce. Along with other innovations which he introduced the Champagne region was finally able to boast of a good quality white wine. Contrary to popular legend, Dom Perignon did not invent modern Champagne. Indeed, he spent much of his time trying to eliminate those terrible bubbles. His name is remem-

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bered for his stolid work and inspiring innovations that transformed wine making techniques.

The English Influence Across the channel the English were getting a taste for white wine from Champaign. Certain aristocrats began to favour it above others and ordered large shipments of it from across the channel. It was first in England that bubbles were first deigned to be desirable. In 1662 an English scientist discovered that you could produce bubbles by adding sugar to wine and pretty soon English merchants began adding the fizz to Champagne wine before selling it on. The British fell in love with the bubbles. Sparkling Champagne is mention in poetry and plays in the 17th century. It grew so popular that aristocrats across Europe began forming a taste for it. Eventually the craze for bubbles even spread back to France. Philippe II, the Duke of Orleans, who became Regent of France in 1715, was known to have a fondness for sparkling Champagne wine. Fashionable people quickly copied the Duke and soon the winemakers in Champagne cottoned onto this craze and began purposely creatingsparkling Champagne.

Modern Marketing Champagne’s journey from inferior wine to the drink of celebrations

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wouldn’t be complete without a little bit of modern marketing in the form of celebrity endorsement. In 1866 the Champagne maker Moetcommissioned the most famous man in England, a star of the stage, George Leybourne to endorse the tipple. Leybourne was regarded as a highly sophisticated and fashionablegentleman. As part of the deal George agreed to drink only Champagne when out in public. In 1867 he wrote a song called ‘Champagne Charlie,’ with lyrics such as “there’s no drink as good as fizz, fizz, fizz, I’ll drink every drop there is, is, is.” The song became a huge hit. Leybourne’s advertising efforts were successful and people began to associate Champagne with rich, upper-class society. Its reputation as the favoured refreshment of the elite caused its popularity to grow. Fast forward to our times and the reason we use Champagne to celebrate with all comes down to some very good marketing, but it wouldn’t have made it without the work of generations of Champagne wine producers. Somewhere out there the ghosts of the Champagne region are smiling: finally they have bested those Burgundians

W o r d s b y : A N DR E W C A RR U T H

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