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VOL 05 | DECEMBER 2016 | www.islandchief.com

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THE SEMI SUBMARINE

photo: habeys

Jumeirah Vittaveli wins ‘Romantic Hotel/Resort of the Year

Kuda Bileh

Bartenders Challenge 2016

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Thomas Cook announces own-brand hotels

P:10 Sri Lanka Announces Eye-Catching Plans For 2017

ISLAND HOPPER 50

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AIRLINE PRESS

Huge Leaps for the Maldivian Aviation Industry With Six New Airports

Sri Lanka Announces EyeCatching Plans For 2017 In the month of November, Sri Lanka introduced a tax for online bookings in addition to increasing its airport embarkation tax. The government also announced plans to launch a local budget carrier in the proposals made during made during the government’s budget speech for the fiscal year 2017, presented by the Finance Minister Mr. Ravi Karunanayake on 10th November 2016. The South East Asian country’s airport embarkation tax was increased to US$50 from the current US$35. Mr. Ravi Karunanayake also stated that a common platform will be established for the country’s hotels to integrate portals like Agoda, Airbnb and Booking.com, through which taxes would be applied per booking. The minister expressed that the move addresses concerns from hoteliers regarding OTAs expanding their operations without paying any tax. Meanwhile, the increased embarkation tax replaces an earlier proposal by the

government to impose a 15 per cent tax on all air tickets. The latter proposal was objected to by local travel agents. However, no schedules were given on the implementation of these tax schemes. The government also stated that a new dome stic airline, formed jointly by the authorities and the private sector, is slated to launch before March 31, 2017. The airline, still unnamed, will operate using Sri Lankan Air Force planes to destinations within the country. An initial investment of 50 million rupees (US$340,000) will be injected for the venture, according to Mr. Karunanayake. Currently, the privately-owned Cinnamon Air operates flights to a few domestic destinations. However, the government is aiming to create a daily and a more affordable LCC to help ease travels from the capital Colombo to popular tourist spots that take a long time to travel to by road.

The aviation industry of the Maldives is set to undergo major developments very soon. The government has planned for six new airports in different areas of the country and the national carrier Maldivian has announced that the company is bringing in more flights next year to strengthen its fleet in preparation for the new airports. The Managing Director of Island Aviation Services, the parent company of the airline, Abdul Haris stated that the incoming flights are of the Dash-8 series, and that these flights are set to operate in the airport being opened in Dhaal Atoll. Mr. Haris also explained that even more flights would be brought in next year as part of the effort to strengthen its fleet. Maldivian already boasts a fleet of 10 seaplanes, two airbuses and eight

aircrafts of the Dash-8 series. “As more and more airports are opening all over the Maldives, our aim has become to increase flights to these locations. We will also be working on bringing even more planes in next year,” Mr. Haris said. The government has planned to start the projects of building four different airports next year. An amount of MVR 629.10 million has been included in the budget as part of this effort. A MVR 846.4 million has been also been planned for upgrading the Ibrahim Nasir International Airport. The new airports have been planned to open in Haa Dhaal, Shaviyani, Gaaf Dhaal and Faaf Atolls

From Australia to the Maldives for $249 Scoot and Tigerair offer cut-price rates to tropical paradise in latest battle of market-share war Crystal clear waters, whiter than white sand, luscious palm trees and long hot days.

midnight on Sunday and will last until one minute before midnight December 4.

If this sounds like your ultimate dream it could become a reality for just $250 after Tigerair and Scoot cut prices to the Maldives from the Gold Coast in the latest round of the airline’s market share war, according to the Gold Coast Bulletin. One way flights to the Maldives are usually anywhere upwards of $700. The one way economy flights will go on sale just after

The flights will be available to travel from February 8 until May 18, 2017. The cost does not include food or baggage and travel during school holidays or other events will not be included. Famed for its pristine waters and unblemished white sand the tiny south Asian island country hosts over 600,000 tourists annually.

Flights from the Gold Coast will see tourists cruise into the countries main airport of Male. With a choice of over 92 hotels and resorts travelers are spoilt for choice when choosing their ideal location. Earlier this month Tigerair offered $9 flights in Australia to mark the 9th anniversary of the airline beginning its first domestic service in Australia.

dailymirror


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Local carrier TMA proposes to purchase Sri Lankan Airlines Private airline Trans Maldivian Airways (TMA) in collaboration with a Singapore firm has proposed to purchase major shares of Sri Lanka’s national airline with an investment of USD 5 billion (MVR 77 billion). The Sunday Times of Sri Lanka cited reliable sources that the joint venture Super Group Partners Company Limited founded by TMA and Singapore firm SATS received the highest points from the ten bidders that proposed to buy shares of Sri Lankan Airlines. The Super Group Partners have offered to buy 80 percent of the airline’s stakes and received total 68 points. According to the Sunday Times, Super Group proposed to make an investment of USD 5 billion in Sri Lanka, to be paid in instalments within a decade. While USD 1 billion of the investment will cover

Sri Lankan Airlines’ debts, the remaining are to be invested in aviation and related projects. Mihaaru understands that TMA’s parental company, the Blackstone Group of the United States, is making the investment to purchase the airline’s shares. The largest investment firm in the world, Blackstone had purchased major stakes of Maldivian Air Taxi and TMA in February 2013 and merged the two to form TMA, thus making it the largest seaplane operator in the world. In the face of debilitating debts and financial troubles, Sri Lankan Airlines had opened the bid to privatise the company until September 23 this year. Under its privatisation efforts, the company has also halted operations of its budget airline Mihin Lanka and put off purchasing new aircrafts.

The Sri Lankan government has tasked teams from state-run National Savings Bank (NSB) and the international audit firm KPMG to evaluate the bid proposals for the airlines. The teams have now forwarded their report to Sri Lanka’s Cabinet Committee on Economic Management for a final decision on the bid winner. While Super Group has proposed to purchase 80 percent of Sri Lankan Airlines, the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO)’s standards stipulate that a foreign company cannot hold over 45 percent shares of a country’s national airline. Thus, should Super Group win the bid, Sri Lankan Airlines will lose its status as the national carrier of Sri Lanka. mihaaru.com

New Generation Of Supersonic Jets by Virgin Galactic Sir Richard Branson on Tuesday heralded the rebirth of supersonic passenger flights with the unveiling of a prototype aircraft promising 3.5-hour flights from London to New York for an “affordable” $5,000 return. The billionaire Virgin Group founder said his Spaceship Company would help the Denver-based startup Boom, build a new generation of supersonic jets and reintroduce transatlantic flights unseen since Concorde was scrapped. The planes will reportedly have 40 seats, and will travel from London to New York in less than three hours and thirty minutes. Tickets will cost around £3,500, the company’s chief executive said earlier this year – and the plane’s first test flights will begin in 2017. ‘I have long been passionate about aerospace innovation and the development of high-speed commercial flights,’ Sir Richard said. ‘As an innovator in the space, Virgin Galactic’s decision to work with Boom was an easy one. ‘Through Virgin Galactic’s manufacturing arm, the Spaceship Company, we will provide engineering and manufacturing services, along with flight test support and operations as part of our shared ambitions.’ Made of lightweight carbon-fibre composites, the plane uses existing technologies – but will be 10% faster than Concorde, with a top speed of 1,451 miles per hour.


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TRAVEL NEWS

GMR settlement funded via sale of USD 140 million State bonds.

Local Newspapers and Medias have been reporting that the State funded the USD 271 million paid in settlement to GMR for cancellation of contract to run the national airport which was in turn funded via sale of State bonds. It has also been reported that the Maldives Airports Company Limited (MACL) bought a USD 140 million State bond from Maldives Monetary Authority, payable within three years with an interest rate of 4.9 percent. Central bank, MMA has said the settlement payment to GMR did not

have any connection with the dollar crisis currently facing the country. The contract between State and GMR to run Ibrahim Nasir International Airport (INIA) was terminated on November 27, 2012 during former Maldivian President Dr. Mohamed Waheed Hassan Manik’s administration over concerns regarding the financial, legal and national security concerns regarding the contract. The issue regarding GMR and the Maldivian government has been dragging on ever since.

Maldives needs marketing budget to match new resorts MATATO

Maldivian Association of Travel Agents and Tour Operators (MATATO) has stressed on the need for a stronger marketing budget to compliment the new resorts opening in the upcoming year. President of MATATO Abdulla Giyas said in an interview that more resorts are being opened this year and the following year compared to the last decade and that the Maldivian marketing needs to improve along with this new development. “More resorts are being opened within these two years then the entire last decade. New guesthouses are also being opened, and this means that the Maldivian marketing really needs to improve. A good budget is needed to accomplish this,” he stressed. He also said that around 8 million dollars was spent annually for the past decade to market the country. “It would be difficult to move forward

now without improving marketing. Opening more resorts is a good thing for tourists. However, it would be hard to sell those places to tourists without a good marketing budget,” he added. Mr. Giyas also stated that he is set to meet the political parties, Parliament leaders to pitch an increased budget, and that the MATATO board has decided to lobby the marketing budget at the parliament debates as it debates the state budget for next year. He said that the Maldives must take part in more fairs, and that the opportunities for Maldivian guesthouses and travel agents must be widened. Current statistics show that there are 34,000 beds in 110 resorts around the Maldives. Many new resorts will be opened the following month and in the coming year.

Duniye Spa introduced Glass-Floored, overwater treatment room at Hurawalhi Maldives Let the guest watch the fish and ocean creatures as they relax. Duniye Spa was founded upon this vision to provide and create this special place to experience holistic well-being. Today Duniye Spa is a leading spa management company in the Maldives and Seychelles. When you visit Duniye Spa you will experience world class spa facilities, in unique, unsurpassed surroundings The 600sq m (6,458sq ft) spa will feature five overwater treatment rooms with outdoor baths and glass floors – designed for clients to watch fish and ocean creatures as they have a treatment, said Renate Hermes, group spa director for Duniye Spas. Treatment rooms have “a spectacular view over the ocean – you enjoy a bath experience sitting in your tub while floating above the ocean,” said Hermes. The spa menu will focus on holistic wellness, including Reiki, sound healing, herbal treatments, yoga and meditation, and will use custom products from HealingEarth Africa. A strong influence from the healing traditions of Asia and Africa can be seen in the menu, including treatments inspired by traditional cultures.

A Tree Top Yoga and Tranquility Lounge overlooks a lagoon and beaches, and fits with Duniye’s focus on creating a connection with self, body and nature. The resort itself, designed by New York architect Yuji Yamazaki, features a contemporary collection of 90 villas. Sixty per cent of the resort will be powered by solar energy, and Yamazaki has used 4,243sq m of solar panels – equivalent to 26 volleyball courts – in the design. Other green initiatives include access to a local water bottling plant to reduce plastic consumption; food and water recycling facilities; a collection of greenhouses, fertilised by food waste, to produce organic produce for guests; a desalination system that filters sea-water and turns it into clean water for drinking and cooking, and supplies rainfall showers in the resort’s villas; and an in-house marine biologist. The centrepiece of the Hurawalhi Island Resort will be anunderwater restaurant, billed as the world’s largest,created by marine design specialists M.J. Murphy.


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RESORT PRESS

Shangri-La’s Villingili Resort & Spa, a Tropical Paradise for Honeymooners

Shangri-La invites newlyweds to the romantic luxury of Villingili Island, a private hideaway, in a world of its own. A haven for couples looking to celebrate their recent nuptials, Shangri-La’s Villingili Honeymoon Offer includes 50% off a luxury villa stay, a complimentary romantic dinner and a couple’s spa treatment. Shangri-La’s Villingili Resort & Spa, Maldives is the perfect setting for newlyweds, with its secluded location, as part of the Maldives southernmost atoll. Not only offering the idyllic Maldivian pristine beaches, the threekilometre long island has 12 hectares of lush foliage, towering banyan trees, coconut palms, and three natural lagoons offering a unique backdrop for an unforgettable honeymoon. Following an exhilarating speedboat transfer and welcome with fresh Coconut Water, couples are shown to one of the resort’s luxurious accommodation. Particularly popular with honeymooners looking for a private island experience are the unique Tree House Villas. Perched on stilts among the emerald green treetops, with marvellous views of the ocean, the Tree House Villas feature private infinity pools and open air terraces with views of the Indian Ocean. For true water babies, the only way to go is a Water Villa, strung along the turquoise shoreline. Perfect for those that can’t resist slipping into the aquamarine waters teeming with tropical marine life, the open and airy Water Villas are positioned over the lagoon, each with overwater hammocks for languorous lounging. Dine by Design is a private dining experience like no other and cited by gourmets and romantics alike as the highlight of a stay at Shangri-La’s Villingili Resort & Spa. Guests are whisked to a secret location for their sumptuous four course Dine by Design experience, be it a memorable lunch on the equator aboard the resort’s luxury yacht, a spa dinner in the privacy of a meditation pavilion overlooking the ocean or a dinner beneath swinging lanterns in the lush tropical jungle. For a blissful escape from the real world, guests will enjoy a Kandu Boli

couple’s spa ritual, a unique signature treatment, combining a Cowrie Shell massage of the body and face to the sound of the traditional Maldivian melodies sang by the therapists. CHI, The Spa at Shangri-La, draws inspiration from the origins of the Shangri-La legend, a place of personal peace, enchantment and wellbeing. It is a secluded sanctuary located in its own spa village, with spacious individual treatment villas boasting private gardens and steam rooms, offering a ‘spa-within-a-spa’ environment, and a unique outdoor hammam at the shore of the Indian Ocean. Sailing aboard Shangri-La’s 21 metre luxury yacht ‘Horizon’ is a must for all romantics. An irresistible experience awaits as couples can enjoy a memorable lunch on the equator with spinner dolphins frolicking beyond. Along with white sand beaches and azure waters, couples can enjoy a range of cultural experiences like no other in Maldives, with guided tours of the neighbouring islands of Addu Atoll, visits of the local farms and sampling Maldivian cuisine. Other activities include diving, golf, deep-sea fishing, snorkelling and cycling around Villingili’s jungle and coastal pathways. Whether guests like to take in the ocean adventure or indulge in tranquillity, it is all possible at Shangri-La. Honeymoon Offer at Shangri-La’s Villingili Resort & Spa, Maldives For a minimum 5 night stay: • 50% off on villa rate inclusive of breakfast • A bottle of sparkling wine upon arrival • Romantic room decoration. • 60-minute Spa massage Minimum 7 night stay: benefits listed above plus a romantic dinner once during the stay Terms & conditions apply. These benefits are only applicable to Honeymooners For more information and reservation, please contact your preferred travel partner.

Sunny Side of Life at WTM 2016

Maldives took part in the 37th edition of the WTM along with partners from the Tourism Industry. Mr. Ahmed Haris, Acting Managing Director of MMPRC headed the Maldivian delegation with 168 representatives from 66 companies of the Industry. The three-day business to business trade event was held from 7th – 9th November 2016. Maldives announced some major tourism developments to kick off the first day of the exhibition, including the launching of the “Official Accommodation Guide of Maldives 2017” and seaplane operations that are set to begin in Addu Atoll was also announced. The introduction of Maldives TV was one of the highlights for the Maldives at the WTM 2016. Inaugurated by His Excellency Mr. Ahmed Shiaan, Ambassador of Maldives to the United Kingdom, the first international TV channel of Maldives will present all of its content in English. However, for convenience, the channel also comes with a multiple language feature as an option. Moreover, the announcement of the completion of Gan International Airport was also announced at the WTM 2016. The project to expand the runway of the second biggest international airport in the country was a massive project with an estimated

investment of $60 million. The project will see the existing runway increased to 3400 meters in length and 59 meters in width. WTM is the second largest travel and trade fair that takes place in the world. Through the network of industry professionals, WTM provides numerous opportunities for businesses. Over 49,000 participants took part in WTM last year which is a record amount, and generated more than £2.5 billion of travel industry contracts. This figure is expected to increase even higher this year. By participating in WTM, Maldives is granted a platform able to reach throughout the world, to market the country as a destination through the slogan of the Sunny Side of Life, and increase the number of arrivals into the country.


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Jumeirah Vittaveli wins ‘Romantic Hotel/Resort of the Year’ at annual AsiaSpa Awards

Jumeirah Vittaveli was awarded ‘Romantic Hotel/Resort of the Year’ at the internationally acclaimed AsiaSpa Awards, in the 12th annual awards gala in Hong Kong. Jumeirah Vittaveli was the only property in the Maldives recognised at the event. Amit Majumder, General Manager, Jumeirah Vittaveli, said: “This is the seventh award the resort has collected this year and reflects its strong commitment to excellence in service and facilities. The awards also underlines our outstanding offerings when it comes to honeymoons and romantic escapes. The Maldives is traditionally a top destination for couple’s holidays, and to have been singled out in such a competitive landscape is a great honour. Couples will find the time and space here at Jumeirah Vittaveli to spend magical moments together, in an environment of astounding natural beauty.” Jumeirah Vittaveli offers one of the most romantic villas in the Maldives with the Ocean Suites which sit majestically in the gentle lagoon, only a heartbeat away from the main island. These double-storey overwater suites are only accessible by boat and provide the ultimate in privacy and seclusion for guests. The resort recently launched a Suite Memories promotion which includes 30% discount from the Best

Available Rate, as well as daily in-villa breakfast and in-villa spa bath for guests – so they never need to leave their romantic retreat until their departure day. The AsiaSpa Awards™ were created by the AsiaSpa magazine in 2005. The prestigious accolades recognise leaders in Asia’s dynamic industry and set the benchmark for quality and innovation for spas in the region. Innovation and quality are integral to the AsiaSpa Awards, whose intent is to give credit to the spas and properties which continue to develop the industry. Now in its 12th year, the AsiaSpa Awards are respected for their uncompromised independence with a reputation for transparency and objectivity. Jumeirah Vittaveli offers romantic escapes in villas and suites that all include private pools. The resort comprises a host of land- and water-based activities, including a PADI Dive base, water sports centre, four restaurants and two bars, and a Talise Spa with overwater and garden treatment rooms. With its focus on cultural connection and organic experiences in a luxurious setting, Jumeirah Vittaveli offers guests a true Maldivian island experience.

Jumeirah Vittaveli colleague wins

Congratulations to Roshan Chaminda Paranagama for winning the Grape Expectations Bartenders Challenge 2016 in May. A total of 12 participants for several hotels and resorts in the Maldives participated in this challenge. The competition was organized by the Association of Bartenders & Sommeliers Singapore (ABSS) which is a member of the International Bartender Association (IBA). For the challenge Roshan created a beverage with a very Maldivian twist, the “Kuda Bileh”. Bileh is the local name for the Betel leaf, an ingredient often used in combination with Areca nuts in Maldives to create an after-meal digestive and breath-freshener. The Kuda Bileh beverage gained popularity in the challenge and gave the judges a refreshing take on local ingredients. As the winner, Roshan received a trophy and a return flight ticket to Singapore with accommodation at Furama Riverfront Hotel and an opportunity to attend the JWC Elite Bartender Course. In addition, Roshan will be representing Maldives in the 25th Asia Pacific Bartender of the Year Cocktail Competition on 26 & 27 July 2016. A big round of applause to Roshan on his great achievement and all the best for the upcoming competition! pic: Jumeirah Vittaveli


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TRAVEL AWARDS

South Asian Travel Awards 2016 At A Glance The annual gala event for the South Asian Travel Awards (SATA) was held on 16th November 2016 at Mount Lavinia Hotel in Sri Lanka. The event was held to announce and celebrate the winners of the prestigious awards this year, and was attended by dignitaries such as HE. John Amarathunga, the Hon. Minister of Tourism of Sri Lanka. A lovely event, the SATA awards this year featured winners from India, Sri Lanka and the Maldives. The Hon. Minister of Tourism , Sri Lanka HE. John Amarathunga stated during his speech that, SATA will benefit the Tourism Industry of the region and he wishes the best for the initiative

while being pleased to have the first event hosted in Sri Lanka. The South Asian Travel Awards is the first ever regional Travel Awards endorsed by Multi National Associations providing the Tourism sector of the South Asian Region with recognition towards their facilities and service excellence. The South Asian Travel Awards aims to encourage and raise service standards within the regions of the Tourism industry. Some of the winners of the awards this year includes Kaani Beach Hotel from the Maldives as the Leading Guest House and Amari Havodda Maldives as the Leading Beach Hotel.

Adaaran Select Meedhupparu Maldives Adaaran Resorts Leading Dive Hotel / Resort South Asia

Cinnamon Dhonveli Maldives of Cinnamon Hotels & Resorts Leading Surf Hotel/ Resort

The Sun Siyam Iru Fushi Maldives Leading Wellness & Spa Hotel / Resort Maldives & South Asia

Scubaspa Maldives Scubaspa Yang Maldives Leading Liveaboard South Asia

Diveoceanus Sun Island Resort & Spa Leading Dive Center South Asia

Amilla Fushi Leading Designer Hotel/ Resort South Asia

Park Hyatt Maldives Hadahaa Leading Eco Hotel / Resort Maldives

Sun Island Resort & Spa Leading Family Resort South Asia

Moodhu Holidays Maldives Leading Tour Operator Maldives

Voyages Maldives Pvt Ltd Leading Travel Agent South Asia

Cyprea Pvt Ltd Leading PSA / GSA Partner South Asia

Kaani Hotels Leading Guest House / Tourist Inn Maldives

Centara Grand Island Resort & Spa Maldives Leading All Inclusive Hotel / Resort Maldives & South Asia

Asia Forwarding The Leading Freight & Logistics Provider in Maldives receiving the Plaque of Appreciation

Paradise Island Resort & Spa Villa Hotels & Resorts Leading Meeting & Conference Hotel / Resort

Watersportspoint Adaaran Club Rannalhi Adaaran Resorts Leading Activity / Water Sports Center South Asia


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NEW OPENINGS

A New Gem In Dhaalu Atoll: St. Regis Vommuli On November 1st, Maldives saw the opening of one of the best new resorts in the country in 2016. The St. Regis brand marked its entry into the Maldives, with the grand opening of St. Regis Vommuli. The St. Regis Vommuli resort has been long awaited by excited travelers waiting to explore the newest venture of the world renowned brand. The resort finally opened its doors to the world on 1st November 2016. Expected to redefine the concept of barefoot luxury the St Regis Vommuli

spans over nine hectares with its 33 on-land villas and 44 overwater villas. The resort is surrounded by an unspoiled environment of natural vegetation and icing sugar white sands combining with the azure waters of the Indian ocean for truly a marvelous sight to behold. The much awaited resort features largest three-bedroom overwater villa in the country. Alongside a private recreational center including a children’s club and a teenager’s socialite club, St. Regis Vommuli also comes with a gymnasium, a yoga

Thomas Cook announces pipeline of new own-brand hotels

studio, a tennis court as well as a hair salon and a library. A water sports center is available for the more adrenaline filled visitors while for the more relaxing guests the signature Iridium Spa with its multiple private couple spa suites, offers Ayurvedic massages and acupuncture services. The exclusive Blue Hole pool is also one of the highlights of the world class new opening in Maldives, being the only heated seawater hydro jet pool in the country. St. Regis Maldives Vommuli resort has several fine dining outlets for

Thomas Cook, one of the world’s leading holiday companies, has today announced it is opening at least 14 more hotels as part of its own-brand portfolio in the next two years. These will include the third Ocean Beach Club by Sunwing in Cyprus to join the successful resorts in Gran Canaria and Crete and two further Casa Cooks in Kos and Mallorca. The new Casa Cooks will build on the success of Casa Cook Rhodes which opened in 2016. Furthermore, the first Thomas Cook own-brand hotel in Italy, SENTIDO Acacia Marina in Sicily, and first hotel in the Maldives, smartline Eriyadu will also launch. As well as a commitment to open new properties in 2017 and 2018, Thomas Cook is making more rooms in its own-brand hotels, especially Sunwing Family Resorts and adult-only Sunprime Hotels, available to sell in more of its markets across Europe. The development of a strong portfolio of own-brand hotels is a key pillar of the Group’s strategy for long-term profitable growth. Thomas Cook is able to provide customers to its own-brand hotels a unique care package that helps differentiate its holiday offering from the competition. This includes its 24-Hour Hotel Satisfaction Promise; access to the 24/7 Connected Service; and enhanced checks on health and safety. Customer satisfaction is significantly higher in these hotels with Net Promoter Score (NPS), the group’s measure of customer satisfaction, better than others in the

guests to choose from. World class restaurants offer a wide range of cuisines, from sea food to pizzas and street food, guests can expect all kinds of culinary wonder to be available from the resort. St. Regis Maldives Vommuli resort is a 45-minute thrilling seaplane journey away from the Ibrahim Nasir International Airport and will bring a spark of joy and excitement to those who have been so patiently waiting for its opening. It will illustrate the true quality of the St. Regis brand that is famous throughout the world.

portfolio. This reflects the greater level of influence that Thomas Cook has over the customer experience at these hotels and resorts. By consistently delivering distinctive holiday experiences, Thomas Cook aims to: increase customer loyalty; generate more customer recommendations to family and friends; and attract a new generation of holidaymakers. The addition of the Casa Cook brand in particular has been a notable achievement. The launch of this boutique concept aimed at modern travellers has introduced a whole new customer segment to the Group. 90% of the customers who booked in the first season were new to Thomas Cook and satisfaction with Casa Cook is even higher than other own-brand hotels. Alongside the new Casa Cooks, Ocean Beach Club and properties in Sicily and the Maldives, there will be an additional 9 new own-brand properties opened over the next two years. In Cape Verde, on the island of Sal, there will be the first ever Sunwing and Sunprime Resort ready for the winter season 2017/18. The second Sunprime hotel in Tenerife — Sunprime Ocean View — has also just opened. There will be new SENTIDOs in Bulgaria, Turkey and Croatia where a new smartline will also be opened and there will be additional SunConnect properties in Spain and Cyprus. Furthermore, SENTIDO Golden Star in Bulgaria has been renamed SENTIDO Marea and will


undergo a complete refurbishment with new management installed. The own-brand portfolio for summer 2017 will total around 190 hotels. Peter Fankhauser, Group Chief Executive, Thomas Cook, said: “Offering people the absolute best holiday experience and turning them into loyal customers is key to our strategy for profitable growth. We are investing heavily in delivering best-in-class service and our ownbrand hotels give us the opportunity to take even more control of the customer experience. The benefits are clear in the satisfaction scores that they achieve and the recent success of Casa Cook also shows the positive impact we have with customers when we try new things. I believe they will love our exciting and expanding range of Thomas Cook hotels.” As well as adding new hotels, there will be greater sharing of capacity

in the existing portfolio across all Thomas Cook markets from summer 2017 so a wider variety of customers will be able to enjoy the high-quality experience. The initial hotels to be sold more widely across the Group from summer 2017 will include the Ocean Beach Club in Gran Canaria, Sunwing Family Resorts in Gran Canaria and Mallorca as well as Sunprime Hotels in Turkey and Mallorca. The Group regularly audits hotels in its portfolio against strict criteria to ensure it can deliver the best experience to its customers. While the aim is to grow the size of the portfolio, at the same time, the focus is on driving up the overall quality of the estate. In addition to the new hotels, existing own-brand properties that do not meet the upgraded quality standards required to be part of the Group’s own brand portfolio will not have their contracts renewed.

Kaani HOTELS

AFFORDABLE MALDIVES

ISLAND HOPPER 50 BY AL SHAALI MARINE “BEST PRODUCTION : FIBER VESSEL” AT MALDIVES BOATING AWARDS 2016 KAANI BEACH HOTEL

KAANI VILLAGE & SPA

KAANI GRAND SEAVIEW

KAANI PRINCESS

A perfect choice for travelers who are looking for a comfortable accommodation with an affordable price. The hotel offers plenty pic: avas.mv

of recreational activities such as shing trips, snorkeling, watersports, scuba diving, dolphin cruises, including airport transfers.

Candle Light Dinner

Al Shaali Marine Maldives wins the title of “Best Production Fiber Vessel” at Maldives Boating Awards 2016. The Island Hopper 50 is a boat designed with the fine art of Maldivian concept built with modern day technology applying it to the perfect ocean excursions in the Maldives. The production of Al Shaali Marine has been well credited by many tourism brands in the Maldives while the production line has maintained a good record of quality and assurance in production and delivery within the customers. Mr. Ismail Shareef , Operations Manager of Al Shaali Marine Maldives received the award on behalf of the company at Maldives Boating Awards 2016 held on 25th November at Champa Central Hotel. Maldives Boating Awards is an annual recognition organized by Liveaboard Association of Maldives and conducted annually. The event is managed by local event management service provider Unica Pvt Ltd.

Snorkeling

Sandbank Trips

Dolphin Cruise

Night Fishing

Picnics

BOOK NOW! Tel, Viber, Whatsapp: +960 9630595, WeChat: +960 7771187 Email: reservations@kaanihotels.com

www.kaanihotels.com


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NEWS & EVENTS

Award winning belly dancer wows the audience at Paradise Island Resort Paradise Island Resort welcomed Ms. Victoria Teel, who is a professional belly dancer to perform at the resort on 19 November 2016. Ms Victoria’s remarkable dance moves were accompanied by a modern pop violin player for an unforgettable night at one of the best resorts in the Maldives. Paradise Island Resort, is an award winning resort lying just 15 minutes away from the Ibrahim Nasir International Airport, and defines itself as a place beyond the reach of stressful modern life and a realm of complete relaxation with bliss to be found amid white sands and azure seas. The resort combines its magnificent rooms with jaw dropping views, the relaxing Spa, Fine Dining outlets on the resort with its various amenities and activities to deliver their guests with a hauntingly extraordinary experience to cherish forever. The resort occasionally invites professionals such as Ms Victoria from different fields to perform their art at the resort. Ms Victoria herself is an award winning

10th annual Dhiraagu Maldives Road Race in Hulhumale’

Telecommunications giant in the Maldives, Dhiraagu concluded it tenth edition of its annual Dhiraagu Road Race. The run, this year was held in Hulhumale’ and was participated by 3000 participants including men, women and children of all ages. This year’s event was participated by people with special needs and contenders from across the world. This is the first time the race dedicated for a social cause was held in Hulhumale’. The theme for this

belly dance performer and instructor. With an insatiable passion for the dance and culture, she has worked with internationally acclaimed artists, directors, and producers throughout her career. In 2010, Victoria was chosen along with 24 other dancers to participate in the first ever belly dance reality show in the world, Project Belly Dance, where she earned a spot in the top six participants. Ms Victoria is an internationally recognized figure in the industry for her unique fluid dance style and effortless execution. Her instruction method focuses on flow and how to create a seamless piece of choreography for any style. She is also the creator of the Teel Fan Method, a dance technique using fans and fan veils incorporating influences from Asian dances. Ms Victoria’s performance at the Paradise Island Resort was surely a one of a kind experience that can be included as one of the most memorable events that took place at the resort.

year’s race was to help protect children, Similar to the past editions, runners were registered under two categories; 5K and 10K, with winners being selected among all runners, students and among people of above 45 years of age. The race is officially registered in AIMS (Association of International Marathons and Distance Races), and is one of the most popular events held in the country.


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INTERVIEW

When luxury meets tourism’s finest The newly opened Soneva Jani in the Maldives is lucky enough to be guided by a woman with two decades of experience in the industry. General Manager, Olivia Richli tells The Island Chief about her inspiring journey to the top and her time in the sunny side of life.

How long have you been working in the tourism industry? I’ve been working in the tourism industry since 1990, when I moved to the north of Scotland with my new husband, to open Ackergill Tower north of Wick in Caithness.

Architecturally the resort looks so different from any other, with such whimsical details. The best of these is the retractable roof over the master bed of almost every villa, allowing the guests to view the extraordinary night sky over the Maldives from their bed, at the push of a button.

When, Where and how did you begin your career? After working in the UK, we moved to Indonesia in December 1995 to work for the inspiring Adrian Zecha at Amanresorts. The amazing creation of Amanjiwo was my first pre-opening experience. It is located in Central Java overlooking the temple of Borobudur. I moved to Sri Lanka in 2001 and opened Amangalla in the historical Galle Fort located on the south eastern coast. I stayed for 10 years, and Galle is where I call home.

Naturally, the Medhufaru lagoon is 5.6 kilometers of calm turquoise waters, home to all manner of rays and turtles, and the most wonderful place to sail, windsurf, kite surf, paddle board, kayak and snorkel.

Where did you work last? Mr Zecha gave me the opportunity to move to Venice to open Aman Venice, a transformation of the 17th century Palazzo Papadopoli on the Grand Canal. In my opinion this is one of the most beautiful hotels in the world and was George and Amal Clooney’s choice of location for their wedding in September 2013. How has your experience in the Maldives been? Turquoise is my favourite colour, and I cannot believe it took me so long to realize what a wonderful feeling it is to live in the middle of a Maldivian lagoon. I have just completed my first year with Soneva, and I have loved every minute of my time in the Medhufaru lagoon. How is Soneva Jani different from other resorts in the Maldives? Soneva Jani is one of the most beautiful and inspiring places I have ever lived. The lagoon fills me with wonder and joy every day. As our Soneva Jani team grows, and I meet more and more Maldivian hosts, I realize from them that there is nothing else like it in the Maldives. What is the best feature of Soneva Jani as an island and as a resort? There are so many, I hope you don’t mind if I choose a few, from different angles:

Responsibly, we have actively recruited female hosts to join us at Soneva Jani to ensure a gender balance within the resort, and have achieved 28% female hosts on board at time of writing. I hope that we can encourage more young women to join the resort, and amongst our team I hope that we are training future female General Managers for the future. What was the idea behind the unique concept of Soneva Jani? Sonu and Eva have spent their lives creating the most unique resorts and guest experiences in the world, following their sustainable philosophies, while ensuring the most luxurious wish or whim is catered for. All this knowledge and expertise has gone into the creation of Soneva Jani, their 21st century version of an over water resort. It is like nothing else here in the Maldives, or for that matter, the world. It appeals to the child in each and every one of us, with delightful touches such as the slides from the villas, the out of this world observatory, and as much ice cream as you can eat. Compared to your previous work what are the challenges working in the Maldives, and what are its the benefits? I am lucky enough to have worked in some extraordinarily beautiful and diverse places, and I seem to thrive on the differences and the challenges. Each of them have their own, but they also have amazing benefits. Living and working in the same place is different to anywhere I worked before, but is very similar to English boarding school, so not too much of a shock. And the benefit is that it is so close to Sri Lanka I can go home often.


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CRUISE LINE

The Beautiful 58 meter Luxury Cruiser “Ritrella” launched by Maldiviana Group

Maldiviana Group ranks among the leading tour operators in Russia who organize trips to the Maldives. The group has commenced with the operations of their 2nd Yacht, a 58 meter luxury cruiser namely “Ritrella”. Ritrella consists of 25 beautiful cabins with air conditioning and all the modern amenities to accommodate up to 50 guests. The luxury “Ritrella” also has a main restaurant, a lobby, home theatre, movie library, a bar, a coffee shop, a spa, a jacuzzi with a multitude of other recreational facilities on board. The boat is also accompanied with a dive vessel during her trips to conduct Padi certified courses and facilitate recreational diving to tourists. Maldiviana group launched its first yacht 15 years ago named as “Maldiviana” which is been the most popular Maldivian cruise yacht among CIS countries.

A Daring Venture Across Maldives: Sail Maldives Yacht Rally Dubbed as one of the most exciting events to be convened in the country, Sail Maldives yacht rally which commences on 20th January 2017 will become the largest mass-participation event to be held in the country. Organizers have been gearing up to welcome participants from all around the world to propel the Maldives into the international yachting scene, which has been somewhat side-lined until now in the Maldives with the event also being covered by the international media. The event is also expected to be involved actively by locals from all around the country as well. The north-to-south rally, which will take over a month to complete, commences will begin at Uligamu in Haa Alif Atoll. Participants will stop at various islands along the way and there will be scheduled stops at checkpoints including in Baa Atoll before the vessels continue south, crossing the equator via the Zero Degree Channel. Each checkpoint the participants stop will host festive celebrations including bodu beru and other cultural shows. The rally will finally conclude in the southernmost Addu Atoll of the Maldives. It is expected to take around 45 days to complete. The CEO & Founder Luxury Collections who are the organizers of the event, Mr. Adeel Ahmed, said: “This is going to be the biggest mass-participation event in the Maldives, involving people from north to south of the Maldives. It’s a unique opportunity for small and medium-sized business owners in the Maldives, as well as larger corporations, to get involved. “People on islands along the route, such as grocery store owners and mechanics; they can all benefit from this. And we’re inviting companies to take the unique opportunity to sponsor us, thereby getting their brand seen by an international audience as well as the local audience. “It will also open a window into a world which most foreigners don’t usually get to see; our rich Maldivian culture. We have a unique culture and identity which we are proud of and happy to share with the rest of the world. Maldivians are known for their friendliness and warmth and we are looking forward to welcoming participants from all around the world.” Sarah Harvey, Director of PR & Marketing, also added “Sail Maldives is an incredibly exciting project for everyone to get involved with. We’ll not only be making history, but also this is a very lucrative sector of the tourism industry which is ripe for development. There are all kinds of new opportunities for all sectors of Maldivian society to get involved, whether as a sponsor, a goods and services supplier, a performer, or as a spectator!”


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INTERNATIONAL TRAVEL NEWS

Football Legends Kick Off Their Business In Asia

Artist impression: The hotel and supporters club at Old Trafford (Photo: MEN) GG Hospitality, the parent company of Hotel Football and Café Football, headed by the ex- Manchester United pair, Gary Neville and Ryan Giggs have announced plans to move into previously unchartered territory for the business. Part of its much bigger expansion plans, which will include new hotels launched in Mainland Europe, will see the GG Hospitality Group team up with Singaporean based Rowsley Limited, which is in turn headed by the owner of the Spanish La Liga club Valencia CF, Mr Peter Lim. The Manchester United legends are planning to build up on the success of their first establishment with Mr Gary Neville stating that now was a good time to look further up the field. The

unique ideas behind the Hotel Football has seen it enjoy a successful first 18 months with its 133 bedroom Hotel, neighboring the iconic Manchester United Stadium, Old Trafford, in Manchester. The hotel, which includes a rooftop football pitch will be taken as a model when designing the planned hotels housing 5,000 new rooms that are expected to spring up globally within the next decade. GG Hospitality, is also expected to launch the UK’s third Cafe Football in central Manchester before the end of the calendar year as part of its partnership with the National Football Museum. While plans for the first overseas restaurant are already underway and will be opened in Singapore in 2017.

Gary Neville, GG Hospitality co-owner, said: “It was very important for us to prove that our brands worked in the UK before considering expansion and, following on from the success of Cafe Football and Hotel Football Old Trafford, we’re now in a strong position to introduce our brands to a global audience. “We have several exciting developments nearing completion in Manchester that we’re looking forward to launching, both later this year and into 2017, but we’ve always said we’re an ambitious team and we’re looking forward to the challenge that launching our Hotel Football and Cafe Football brands in new countries presents.’’

The pair have enjoyed some very promising successes with their flagship hotel in Manchester. Asia has a huge following fan base of football and Manchester United especially, with the club having racked up a huge following throughout Asia. This could be one of the most important reasons as to why Gary Neville and Ryan Giggs chose Asia as part of their expansion plans, and also why the Hotel Football business is expected to boom in Asia. The legendary Manchester United pair have certainly kicked off their business with its huge potential and its expansion plans into Asia can be dubbed as having hit a golden in terms of success.

Maldives Sees an Upsurge of Travelers from the UK “We are extremely pleased to see an increase in visitor figures from the UK, especially as this is a very exciting time for the Maldives as we further enhance our world-class tourism infrastructure with new developments. We will also be expanding our accommodation offering with 10 new resorts opening in late 2016/17 and we look forward to hopefully welcoming even more UK holidaymakers next year.” - Tourism Minister Hon. Moosa Zameer

Numbers released at the World Travel Mart 2016, revealed that there was an increase in the number of visitors to the Maldives from the United Kingdom. The former protectorate of the United Kingdom now seen as a slice of paradise on earth saw an increase of almost 11% in the number of travelers from the UK in the first eight months of the year.

Considered as an extremely promising figure, Tourism minister Moosa Zameer said: “We are extremely pleased to see an increase in visitor figures from the UK, especially as this is a very exciting time for the Maldives as we further enhance our worldclass tourism infrastructure with new developments. “We will also be expanding our accommodation offering with 10 new resorts opening in late 2016/17 and we look forward to hopefully welcoming even more UK holidaymakers next year.” The numbers rose to 76,083 from 68,519 in the same period in 2015. The Tourism Minister’s remarks hint that the Maldives is planning to build up on the strong numbers of growth recorded in this year to generate an even more impressive percentage. Maldives has also unveiled new arrow s in its quiver to attract tourists to the tropical island nation in the form of Maldives TV, which generates contents aimed at enticing English speakers from all over the world, as well as the completion of the $60 million estimated investment of the

redevelopment of Gan International Airport, south of the country. The airport is considered one of the biggest achievements for the Maldives in 2016, as it will be able to handle large international aircrafts with ease and provide an easy access point for the resorts and hotels located south of the country. The country has also seen an increase in the number of resort opening both in quality and quantity for the year 2016. Notable entries into the market include Soneva Jani, St. Regis Vommuli and Finolhu Island Resort. Most of these resorts bringing a previously unseen contemporary style of luxury in a modern manner which is expected to make them more appealing to travelers from the continent of Europe. Resorts and guesthouses from the Maldives have also been on the receiving end of several world class awards that are bound to reach the ears of the travelers eager to explore the world. The latest of these awards was taken home by Jumeirah Vittaveli as the Best Luxury Island Resort at the World Luxury Hotel Awards held in Doha, Qatar. All these factors combined is expected to increase the number of visitors from not only the UK, but globally. The world renowned destination is stepping up its efforts to maintain its place throughout the world as one of the premier destinations for holiday makers.


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Dmitry Richie: Travel Expert Picks Out Three Personal Favorite Resorts From The Maldives Dmitry has been to dozens of incredible, upscale beach resorts over the years, and Maldivian resorts are perennial favorites. Three luxury resorts, in particular, stand out as especially appealing and commodious. Here are the top three resorts that Dmitry Richie believes offer the most magnificent accommodations, amenities and activities.

No. 3: Como Maalifushi Resort

No. 2: One and Only Resort Reethi Rah

No. 1: Cheval Blanc Randheli

It’s nearly impossible to beat the gorgeous southwest Maldives location of Como Maalifushi. Located in the secluded Thaa Atoll, the resort is surrounded by pristine beaches. The resort is known for its luxurious villas and splendid beach suites. Picturesque wooden walkways guide guests to their secluded overwater villas opening to the sea. Guests can also choose from the resort’s garden rooms and beach suites. Beach activities are just steps away, and guests even have the option of a private pool. Like all excellent resorts, Como Maalifushi also houses a fabulous spa to really get guests into relaxation mode. At The Shambhala Retreat, Dmitry recommends to amp up a little in the fitness room, then enjoy a bonemelting massage. From Dead Sea Mud treatments to soothing manicures, Shambhala Retreat pampers whole body. Dining at the resort is equally sumptuous. Chances are good that dinner was swimming in the ocean outside the villa just hours before meal. Aside from the fresh seafood, Dmitry appreciated the resort’s fresh, healthy meals, Sushi and sashimi, salads and pizzas. Well-planned provisions, extremely accommodating staff and pristinely kept grounds make this resort a treasure. It’s not a surprise, then, that it earns so many nods from luxury travel reviews.

Beautifully situated on the north side of the Male Atoll, One and Only Reethi Rah island’s services are so legendary that Conde Nast Traveller recently named the resort as the Best Overseas Hotel Spa and Traveller’s World Awards ranked it the second Most Beautiful Hotel Spas. The all-villa resort’s accommodations are plush and elegant. Beach villas boast quaint thatched roofs and spacious, relaxing verandas and opportunities to laze the day away on a hammock, or explore the adjoining beach. Dmitry says that he especially enjoyed the resort’s mu lti-cultural dining. The blend of French, Italian and Asian flavors in Reethi Restaurant was quite enjoyable for him and recommends dining at least once in Tapasake at sunset. Perhaps the resort’s most unique treat, though, is its beachside dining at Fanditha. Here, guests will relax on sofas in your private cabana to enjoy the Middle Eastern fare. Snorkeling and diving are, of course, one of the first activities for guests to enjoy. The sea life is incredible and the setting could not be more dazzling. Guests can also play Tennis, enjoy the art studio, a towering climbing wall and shopping on site, as well as waterski, paraglide, wakeboard or rent a speedboat in the Water Sports Centre. The One and Only Reethi Rah resort’s spa is the perfect counterpoint to all that activity. The spa incorporates indigenous Ayurvedic principles into its treatments and sessions for an enriching, harmonious experience. If travelers prefer a friendly, welcoming experience that brings in some of the local traditions, One and Only Reethi Rah is perfect resort for that.

Cheval Blanc Randheli is truly the ultimate in luxury resorts. In fact, Dmitry Richie would say “that it’s a super-luxury, heavenly resort”. It’s located on the exotic and exclusive Noonu Atoll in the Maldives’ northwest region. This island is evidence that vivid colors are a part of nature. Guests will find lush tropical greenery, exotic flowers, azure water and a fabulous array of colorful fish and sea life. Guests will arrive at the island aboard the resort’s specially outfitted seaplane. Its door-to-door service on steroids, with plush leather seats, tropical flavored water and “cooling kits” made specifically to help guests to refresh between flights. Chic, contemporary villa furnishings echo the resort’s elegance and comfort. Private terraces with cushy outdoor furniture add extra relaxation and entertainment space. Enjoy taking a private swim throughout the day or night, be sure to book a villa with a private infinity pool. The convenience is unbeatable, and the views are fabulous. Although it seems impossible, the resort ups the ante on elegance in its restaurants and bars. The White is the perfect spot to enjoy a casual meal, whether you want to dine indoors or out. French cuisine is gorgeously executed in Le 1947, the resort’s fine dining experience. The nine-course meals served in the restaurant are sublime. Guests can enjoy outings, from diving the colorful reef to taking an excursion to a nearby island. The resort’s “alchemists” can customize an activity or excursion for guests and their group so they can sit back and enjoy the region hassle-free. Even the tennis courts are special here, built to Australian Open standards and set amid the lush tropical greenery. Guests will board a traditional dhoni to get to Spa Island, crossing the crystal-clear blue water in mere minutes. The resort’s Well-Being Experience menu is extensive. Stretch muscles and spine in tranquil yoga sessions. Soothe body in a traditional hammam bath. Settle back while professional stylists apply make-up and style hair. Without a doubt, Cheval Blanc is the most luxurious resort Dmitry Richie found in Maldives. From the personalized service to the breadth of amenities, Cheval Blanc is unparalleled.

21 DIMITRY RICHIE


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NEWS

The Exclusive Set Of Kicks Made From Ocean Waste Found In The Maldives That’s right! Those bad boys of fashion footwear are made almost entirely from recycled material pick off the beautiful beaches of the Maldives. Classy and overflowing with style, these shoes are produced by the largest sportswear manufacturer in Europe. Adidas first came up with this concept in 2015, which was lauded as a very creative and eco-friendly initiative by the company, but now the shoes are actually available to purchase, although currently only 7000 of the Adidas UltraBOOST Uncaged Parley is available, they are expected to gain a positive response from a market that is currently dominated by the likes of Nike Air Jordans and Converse All Stars as well as the Extraball shoes of Adidas. Adidas has informed that 95% of the UltraBOOST Uncaged Parley shoes are made from recycled material found on the beaches of the Maldives. Adidas has assumed that this whole recycled shoes phenomenon should kick up a bit pretty soon, with plans to recycle 11 million plastic bottles in 2017, coinciding with the one million pairs of UltraBOOSTs they’ll manufacture. The company expects that the revolution of the Recycled Materials to take over the conventional leather based fabric materials of the shoes. Being the biggest footwear manufacturers in Europe, Adidas has adopted a very eco-friendly approach with its products since 2008 with the launch of the green company environmental program. The company has tried to limit its carbon footprint in its operations globally. Furthermore,

Adidas is also introducing a series of Ocean Plastic Jerseys to be used by top football clubs around the world such as Bayern Munich and Real Madrid. The jerseys are expected to be used in fixtures to be played by the two teams in late November 2016. All of this begs the question of why Adidas is trying implement its green initiative so profoundly. It seems that the new ecofriendly approaches taken by huge multinational companies such as Apple and Nike are actually very appealing to the customers who are satisfied with the contribution that are made by the companies in saving the environment. Adidas is one of the many names globally who have taken a huge measures to implement its green initiatives. So there it is, the new Adidas UltraBOOST Uncaged Parley. Not too flashy as others but comfortable, stylish and very ecofriendly. The green wavelike patterns across the upper areas of the shoes are created from recycled gill net, which was dredged from the sea and recycled into the fibre. The rest of the shoe is formed using waste plastic collected from around the Maldives, where the government is collaborating with Parley to rid the island chain of the issue within five years. From a mere concept to a 3D follow up, the shoes have broken into the center stage of footwear and stolen the limelight with its elegant looks and environment friendly materials. Stylish and eloquent with a touch of grace.

Dhivehin here, Dhivehin there - Ahmed Ijaz The inhabitants and the Maldivian people are called Dhivehin, derived from Dhivehi Raa’jeyge Jumhooriyya, also the Republic of Maldives. The Maldives tourism industry first flourished in 1972 with the opening of the first resort, Kurumba Village. It opened doors to the outside world as a small island in the Indian Ocean archipelago entertaining foreign visitors with sunbathing, fishing and swimming. It was also the birth and boom of inbound tourism, which solely continued for a span of 37 years, bringing in prosperity, progress and some of the world-renowned luxury hotel chains and high-end resorts. Tourism, also contributes over 30% to the total GDP of the country, and remains as the primary economic activity in the Maldives. In 2010, an amendment in the guesthouse development policy allowed tourists to stay among the local population, instead of private island resorts, this led to the rapid development of guest-houses all over the country. Unfortunately, before the guest-houses, there has not been any significant movements of locals within the country for tourism purposes, only a handful of wealthy people were able to afford stays at resorts, and friends and family members of resort staff, while a few picnic islands were available for rent and overnight stays. Today, “average” Maldivians are able to take advantage of the emerging domestic tourism sector, they can travel across the country to see and enjoy the sheer beauty of the country, with affordable accommodation. Maldivians twenty years ago recall the famous postcard picture taken by German photographer Michael Friedel of a slanted coconut palm at Bandos Island Resort as their fondest touristic image of the country than. Today, technology has revolutionized everything, a simple search for the Maldives hashtag on Instagram could

generate thousands of stunning photos and videos of the country. While many tourist brochures and guides speak of Maldivians as shy and friendly people, they are socially conservative among the general public. A young couple could walk into a café or restaurant and soon leave upon finding the place a little packed. Taking a look at the densely populated capital, Malé, it’s difficult to impossible to find

a café or restaurant with dining tables set with a distance of more than five feet apart from each, and what even makes it worse is a third of the country’s population living in an area of 1.77 square km, and everybody knows everybody. This is exactly why we often see people walk into cafés or restaurants and soon see them leave, especially during weekends. In recent times, Maldivians have had run into similar experiences in the domestic tourism sector, during holiday periods and festive season when local tour operators, guest-houses and resorts run special offers and packages. A large number of locals take advantage by booking guest-houses and resorts hoping to spend quality time with family, friends and loved ones, to relax and get-away from the busy work life. Unfortunately, they find themselves more disappointed when they see and meet other Maldivians who have had booked the same guesthouses and resorts. They see and meet Maldivians during meal times, at the pool area, the beach and while trying to get themselves engaged in other leisurely activities at an overbooked guest-house or resort flocked with Maldivians. This situation springs up because of certain unsteady lifestyles of Maldivians, and is something that could be easily avoided if holidays could be pre-planned, instead of waiting for last minute vacation deals from tour operators, guest-houses and resorts. Besides, booking a slightly price high resort or guest-house helps overcome the situation of having to spend vacation around people one already knows, giving satisfaction, comfort and the feeling of peace of mind, and the experience worth the price paid for.


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23 ADVERTORIAL

Wellness and Health – New Definition of Luxury and Lifestyle Wheatgrass smoothies, celery juice, green tea, grassfed meats, all-natural skincare, flax & chia seeds, Ayurveda … they’re all cyphers of the new luxury taking over the upper echelon of society: wellness. Vaibhav Garg – Cluster Director of Talent & Culture – AccorHotels represented Maldives and AccorHotels at the Cornell University during a recent International Symposium: Hospitality, Health & Design (October 9 – 11, Ithaca, New York) with over 90 speakers, and 4 high profile keynote panels on hospitality, healthcare, senior living, and design and with over 200 delegates, global industry and academy leaders, executives, top researchers, and fellow participants. Vaibhav shared his research paper on the subject “Wellness & Health – new definition of luxury and lifestyle” Speaking at the symposium, Vaibhav emphasized that rising health related societal concerns linked to today’s modernized lifestyle of convenience eating, increase in workplace stress, depression and sedentary employment have alerted individuals, businesses, and regulations to the importance of promoting positive wellness awareness, heath maintenance and fitness resources – a shift from solely reactive to a more balanced proactive and preventative lifestyle approach to health care. Growth across the wellness, healthcare and fitness industry demonstrates that people are making significant investments into perceived health and wellness solutions. “When it’s about bragging on social media on wellness, health and lifestyle that’s the new luxury statement and that’s what I spoke at Cornell University. There has been a major shift in the way we look at our lives and in “unconventional” way. It’s about personal satisfaction more than just a brag. Today there are many social media and fitness tracking applications that are emerging with a thrust into our lives advocating new gen lifestyle flair. People are following these new trends greatly and widely across age groups and evolved and matured mindsets. My presentation at Cornell University took a look at Gen Z trends as well as global market trends in health + wellness and its implications on the hospitality industry. Wellness at AccorHotels and other industry case studies were also showcased during this event”, briefed Vaibhav. When one spends big on experiences that supposedly are good, there seems to be less guilt than when it is just a physical luxury item. People are realizing they can’t look like a celebrity just by buying similar clothes, they need to embody the whole lifestyle to get that glow plus, it’s a much more trendy to post about morning farm visit and yoga class on social media, than just a selfie on the couch. So when it comes to selfie posts and personal photographs (self posing or check ins) It’s usually a confluence of health, body image, peer affirmation and self-actualization. As millennials craft their social media persona, body image becomes a primary concern. 73% of millennials exercise to enhance their physical appearance. People who posts status updates about their diet and exercise routine or travel diaries appears to be more Narcissistic and they use Facebook and other fitness social networks like H, Pump Up, Instagram and Burn This to share their workout selfies, to broadcast the effort they put into their physical appearance. In my personal view, It’s not simply overexposure but a new way towards an improved quality of life resulting from enhanced physical, social, mental, emotional, spiritual and environmental health. In his presentation remarks, he emphasized that there is an absolute revolution going on involving the “consumerization of fitness and wellness, the very nature of the future fitness opportunity is changing and in hospitality industry wellness needs to be accessible and integrated with the guest experience in the hotel in the most natural way. “At Accor, we believe that our guests need to have “wellness options” to choose from and our wellness strategy is redefined with 4 pillars of health and well-being.” added Vaibhav. Vaibhav has been representing Maldives and his respective organizations at Cornell University since 2012 while showcasing his research case studies and new trends in the area of hospitality, hotel operations, human resources and service excellence. “It was an incredible honor to represent Maldives

and AccorHotels at Cornell University, New York, this October 2016 where academicians, fellow industry professionals and practitioners from across a broad spectrum of the wellness, health, hospitality and design industry gathered for an immersive learning experience into the cultural factors and trends transforming the hospitality, health & design in marketplace.” concludes Vaibhav Garg.

VAIBHAV GARG

CLUSTER DIRECTOR OF TALENT & CULTURE

ACCORHOTELS, MALDIVES

vaibhav.garg@accor.com


The Islandchief - Travel Tabloid 05| December 2017  

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