COMO Hotels & Resorts opens its Second Resort in the Maldives

COMO Hotels and Resorts has officially launched Maalifushi by COMO, their newest property in the Maldives. Officially opened this June, the 20-acre secluded retreat and private island is the company’s second resort in the Maldives, and it is the first resort in the untouched Thaa atoll. Cocoa Island by COMO, its sister property, is located further north in the South Malé atoll, and was opened in 2002.

The family friendly property features 66 rooms of overwater and garden accommodation. The island is surrounded by several small uninhabited islands which includes another small island belonging to the resort that can be booked for castaway picnics and romantic private dinners.

The islands lush tropical vegetation are a home for exotic birds and acts as a curtain for private rooms, suites, villas and its “Madi” restaurant (Stingray) featuring all-day international, Maldivian, and healthful COMO Shambhala Cuisine and Thila pool bar and lounge on the island. Tai’ restaurant, can be found on the west of the island.

Water Villa, Maalifushi by COMO
Water Villa, Maalifushi by COMO

The over water accommodations come with private plunge pools, three of them are expansive two bedroom villas and COMO Shambhala Retreat spa comes with gym, eight overwater treatment rooms, and yoga pavilion with an uninterrupted view of the ocean. Japanese designer Koichiro Ikebuchi is behind all the interior decor bearing COMO’s signature paired back style, natural light and open vistas.

Diving at Maalifushi will be a dream come true as Thaa atoll features a range of untouched coral reefs with an abundance of colourful reef fish and offers an opportunity to spot hammerhead sharks. An on-island Dive Center and guided diving excursions led by a Marine Biologist and certified PADI instructors are offered. Other activities such as dolphin cruises, fishing, snorkelling, and sailing are available for the adventure seekers.

Two new luxury properties to open in Maldives this year and in 2015

The Small Maldives Island Company is set to open two new luxury island properties with Amilla Fushi opening in November and Finolhu opening late 2015.

Amilla Fushi which is made up of a range of purpose-built island homes, including one and two bed Beach and Lagoon Houses, two bed Tree Houses, Ocean Reef Houses and 12 Beach Residences with three to six bedrooms.

Lagoon Houses, Amilla Fushi
Amilla Fushi

Finolhu will include 126 rooms; 88 of which would be over water bungalows and a further 40 villa suites will be situated on a private island.

Both properties will be located in Baa Atoll and can be reached via scheduled flights from the new Baa Atoll airport.

Australian Celebrity Chef Luke Mangan will open eight restaurants in the Maldives

Luke Mangan, one of the leading Australian Chefs, also highly regarded internationally as the shining symbol of Australia’s culinary culture has signed a multi million dollar hotel deal to open eight restaurants in two new resorts being developed by a team of Australians.

Mangan will be in charge of food and beverages at “Amilla” and “Finolhu”, two new luxury resorts in the Maldives, due to open over the next 12 months. Amilla which is a Maldives language Dhivehi word, meaning private or own is due to open in November this year and Finolhu meaning sand bank in Dhivehi is due to launch in mid 2015.

Luke Mangan, Amilla Fushi
Luke Mangan, Amilla Fushi

This will be an addition to Mangan’s existing glass brasserie at Hilton Sydney, plus Salt grills/bars in Surfers Paradise, Jakarta, Singapore, Bali and Tokyo. Salt grill is also on board three P&O liners and two more liners due to be added to the P&O fleet in November 2015, will have the signature restaurant installed. Mangan is also a consulting chef for Virgin Australia.

“It is a fantastic opportunity and a great challenge” said Mangan speaking of the new venture in Maldives as he will be offering everything from a variety of restaurants a crab shack and even room service in the luxury properties.

Lonu by Luke Mangan, Amilla Fushi
Lonu by Luke Mangan, Amilla Fushi

“We will have eight different restaurants across the two islands and we will be responsible for everything from Lonu, the main restaurant on Amilla, down to room service and barbecue hampers. And just so you know, Lonu is Maldivian for salt, which keeps it part of the family.”

The Small Maldives Island Co. who are the developers of these projects is run by Australians Michael Flynn and Tom McLoughlin, along with German-born Carsten Schieck. Mangan came to know them during his holidays there.

Lonu by Luke Mangan, Amilla Fushi
Lonu by Luke Mangan, Amilla Fushi

“They know the Maldives inside out” Mangan says. “It’s going to be cool. We are not going to be pretentious about it. You might be paying a lot of money for a room but sometimes you just want to eat simple (food). You don’t want foam, foie gras, truffles, you just want a nice bit of grilled fish or a bucket of prawns that you’ll peel yourself and have with a beer and aioli”.

His signature sashimi of kingfish with ginger and shallot, Persian feta and rocket plus local produce, including reef fish, and Asian-influenced cuisine are some of the expected dishes offered at Lonu.

Lonu by Luke Mangan, Amilla Fushi
Lonu by Luke Mangan, Amilla Fushi

Talking about the venture Mangan said, “We’re blessed with local seafood. Fishermen will deliver straight from their boats to us and the lobster tank will actually be in the ocean under Lonu. My goal is to deliver the opposite of overcomplicated and stuffy food; it’s all about fabulous fresh produce”. It is also known that local Maldivians will be growing fresh ingredients for the restaurants.

Park Hyatt Maldives Hadahaa celebrates World Oceans Day 2014

Park Hyatt Maldives Hadahaa showing its passion in the protection of the ocean, made World Ocean Day a significant date in the Hadahaa calendar.

From 1-8th June 2014 the Hadahaa Hyatt Thrive (Hyatt’s global corporate responsibility platform) Team commenced a week long activity plan designed to raise awareness and funds for marine conservation and sustainability.

The feature activity is a 30km kayak paddle relay between Hadahaa’s three nearby islands: Dhaandhoo, Kondey and Gemanafushi.

Park Hyatt Maldives Hadahaa World Oceans Week were held as follow:

1, 3, 5th June – Marine conservation and sustainability workshops in 3 local schools
2, 4, 6th June – Marine conservation and sustainability presentations to guests of Park Hyatt Maldives
7th June – Complete and underwater reef cleans of two neighbouring reefs
8th June – 30km kayak paddle relay

Reef Clean up on Gemanafushi Channel, World Oceans Day 2014, Park Hyatt Maldives Hadahaa
Reef Clean up on Gemanafushi Channel, World Oceans Day 2014, Park Hyatt Maldives Hadahaa

It is a well-known fact that the world’s oceans generate most of the oxygen we breathe, regulate our climate, purifies our drinking water, offer a diverse range of potential medicines and provides unlimited ways to use it from leisure to life.
Park Hyatt Maldives Hadahaa has created a fund raising page for anyone wishing to support our efforts for World Oceans Day with all donations going to The Coral Reef Alliance.

From 1st – 7th June 2014, a marine conservation and sustainability workshops held in 3 local schools

Hyatt Thrive committee visited three local island to discuss ways in which we can protect our oceans for the future. It was interactive workshop with a focus of engaging school children in promoting marine conservation. The workshop being specific to Maldives focussed on marine debris and waste management. Within each school a poster competition was held with winning students were awarded a prize to join an exclusive Hadahaa “Journey to Island Creation” with the resident marine biologist.

Reef Clean up on Gemanafushi Channel, World Oceans Day 2014, Park Hyatt Maldives Hadahaa
Reef Clean up on Gemanafushi Channel, World Oceans Day 2014, Park Hyatt Maldives Hadahaa

The small coral island of Hadahaa – an isolated island located in the Indian Ocean sheltered from oceanographic conditions and wave forces by the Gaafu Alifu Atoll is accessible to the island by a 60 minute boat transfer across turquoise blue seas.

Sitting near the equator, Hadahaa enjoys a tropical climate that is with two regional monsoon periods do occur annually. Lush vegetation covers the island and the coral gardens of the surrounding lagoon attract rich marine life, making it ideal for snorkelling and diving.

Park Hyatt Maldives, Hadahaa (previously known as Alila Villas Hadahaa) was the first property in the world to use the EarthCheck Planning & Design Standard. Managed by Hyatt Hotels & Resorts, one of the primary objectives when developed, was to ensure that the resort was planned, designed and constructed in an environmentally conscious manner.

Guaranteeing that the resort delivered ongoing ecological performance outcomes in environmental, social and economic terms.

Hadahaa’s recent accolades include:

1. 2014 World Travel Awards: Nominated for Indian Ocean’s Leading Green Resort
2. 2013 Leading Dive Resort in the Maldives
3. 2013 International Hotel Awards: Best Sustainable Hotel in Asia Pacific
4. 2013 TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence Award
5. 2012 TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence Award
6. 2012 Silver EarthCheck Certification
7. 2012 Green GOOD DESIGN Award
8. 2012 Qualified member of Ecoluxury

Reef Clean up on Gemanafushi Channel, World Oceans Day 2014, Park Hyatt Maldives Hadahaa
Reef Clean up on Gemanafushi Channel, World Oceans Day 2014, Park Hyatt Maldives Hadahaa

Park Hyatt Maldives has also been nominated in the prestigious World Travel Awards in the category of Indian Ocean’s Leading Green Award and remains open for votes.

Coco Spa awarded Best Luxury Destination Spa in the Maldives

The prestigious World Luxury Spa Awards 2014, has honoured the Coco Spa at Coco Bodu Hithi with the Best Luxury Destination Spa in Maldives, adding to the impressive list of credentials the Coco Spa has received. Launched in 2006 as a division of Coco Collection, Coco Spa at Coco Bodu Hithi is set on stilts in the serene lagoon, giving a breathtaking view of the majestic Indian Ocean.

Coco Spa, Coco Bodu Hithi
Coco Spa, Coco Bodu Hithi

This Spa comprises of eight treatment spaces, some coming with private Jacuzzi baths, Yoga and Thai Chi deck, and a Relaxation area with plunge pool. The facility is enhanced with pedicure and manicure rooms, sauna and steam rooms and a retail boutique offering virgin Maldivian coconut oil as well as professional spa products from “Comfort Zone” and THEMAE.

“We are overjoyed that Coco Spa at Coco Bodu Hithi has been awarded the Best Luxury Destination Spa in Maldives by the World Luxury Spa Awards! Our entire team is very pleased to be a part of Coco Spa, an ideal destination for a rewarding spa journey with our professional therapists. As a team, we have always been committed to provide the best spa experience to each and every one of our guests. Our aim is to create a lasting impression among our guests and to provide them with a feeling of ultimate luxury and comfort” comments Saliani Ninyoman, Cluster Spa Manager at Coco Collection.

<a href=”//www.maldives.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/Coco-Spa-Coco-Bodu-Hithi.jpg”><img class=”wp-image-7983″ src=”//www.maldives.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/Coco-Spa-Coco-Bodu-Hithi.jpg” alt=”Coco Spa, Coco Bodu Hithi” width=”800″ height=”515″ /></a> Coco Spa, Coco Bodu Hithi

The World Luxury Spa Awards is one of the highly respected and popular industry accolades, which recognize the outstanding services of Spas in Hotels and Resorts worldwide.

A winner of World Luxury Hotel Awards 2013 and a nominee of World Luxury Spa Awards 2014, Coco Collection is a eminent hotel group, also a subsidiary of Sunland Hotels. Since opening the hotel in July 2007, the company continued to grow and developed its reputation as a stylish, sophisticated with sustainable hospitality.

Exclusive Yoga Retreat at Coco Palm Dhuni Kolhu by Birgit Feliz Carrasco

Starting this June, this exclusive Yoga retreat will combine Hatha Yoga movements with breathing exercises and meditation. Hatha movements are a great way to build strength and improve form as they cover particular body alignment exercises with thorough instructions.

Regarding the upcoming yoga retreat in Coco Palm Dhuni Kolhu, Birgit Feliz Carrasco commented “I am thrilled to lead this yoga retreat and am looking forward to set foot on the beautiful beaches of Coco Palm Dhuni Kolhu once again. The island holds special memories for me, as I have visited many times before to free my mind and let the serenity of nature envelop my whole being. The peaceful atmosphere of the island will surely aid guests participating in my retreat to attain balance of mind, body and soul, and return home refreshed and energized”.

Birgit Feliz Carrasco, Yoga Guru, Coco Palm Dhuni Kolhu
Birgit Feliz Carrasco, Yoga Guru, Coco Palm Dhuni Kolhu

A winner of World Luxury Hotel Awards 2013 and a nominee of World Luxury Spa Awards 2014, Coco Collection is a eminent hotel group, also a subsidiary of Sunland Hotels. Since opening the hotel in July 2007, the company continued to grow and developed its reputation as a stylish, sophisticated with sustainable hospitality.

Coco Collection’s comes with three unique brands, Coco Resorts – Retreats, Coco Privé and Coco Palm.

The Retreats includes the luxury resort Coco Bodu Hithi; Coco Palm features the environmentally conscious getaway Coco Palm Dhuni Kolhu; and Coco Privé consists: the private and exclusive Coco Privé Kuda Hithi Island.

W Retreat & Spa Maldives named 2014 Best Beach & Island Retreat

Starwood Preferred Guest, the award-winning loyalty program from Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide Inc., has unveiled the Starwood hotels and resorts voted the best beyond compare by SPG members from around the globe with the release of its 2014 SPG Member Favourite Hotels & Resorts list. W Maldives was named to the list of Best Beach & Island Retreats.

The choice list is known to have featured 67 of Starwood’s close to 1,200 hotels and resorts ranging from the cobalt waters of Greece to the golf tees in Arizona. The following are the categories that members selected as their favourite hotels worldwide: Best Small Luxuries, Best Beach & Island Retreats, Best Winter Escapes, Best Family Adventures, Best City Experiences, Best Exotic Excursions, Best Golf Getaways, Top 10 USA Resorts, Top 10 China, New & Noteworthy and the last Top 10.

“We are thrilled to be named the Best Beach & Island Resort,” said Jean-Marc Ma-Poon, General Manager at W Maldives. “With its white sand beaches, turquoise lagoons, breathtaking reefs, 3 restaurants, 78 over-water and beachside retreats; W Maldives is a luxury playground, offering exceptional services to guests and truly memorable experiences.”

“Each of Starwood’s hotels around the world offers our guests an experience like no other, whether their stay is for business or pleasure,” says Chris Holdren, Senior Vice President of Starwood Preferred Guest. “Member Favourites allows our most frequent travelers to share their personal experiences at these elite hotels and truly celebrate the best of the best. Using our new methodology, this year’s list was generated from feedback from more than 1.1 million members worldwide who contributed SPG Ratings & Reviews and hotel surveys.”

Fire Restaurant, W Retreat & Spa Maldives
Beach, W Retreat & Spa Maldives

In a survey of all 9 Starwood brands across 11 different categories, SPG members have voted for their favourite Starwood hotels and resorts, finding “the best” Starwood needs to offer. This year SPG renewed its style by adding new categories including: The Ultimate 10, Top 10 USA Resorts, Top 10 China, New & Noteworthy and Best City Experiences, in consideration of its members and current travel trends

The 2014 SPG Member Favourite Hotels & Resorts were known to have been chosen using a brand new methodology allowing feedback from more members and measured hotels on several data points that are significant to making a better overall experience for Starwood guests.

The winners were chosen using a special combination of guest survey results and SPG Ratings and Reviews scores.
The approach allows input from more members and more detail concerning each hotel and resort provides a better experience resulting with surveys of over 1.1 million members.

Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc. is one of the renowned leading hotel and leisure companies in the world with almost 1,200 properties in 100 countries and 181,400 staff.

Starwood is a fully incorporated owner, operator and franchisor of resorts, hotels and residences with internationally prominent brands such as Le Méridien, St. Regis, The Luxury Collection, Sheraton, Westin, Aloft, W, Four Points by Sheraton and Element.

The Company asserts themselves to be one of the industry’s leading loyalty programs – Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG), letting members to earn and redeem points, do room and flight upgrades. Starwood also owns Starwood Vacation Ownership, Inc., a leading provider of world-class vacation experiences through villa-type resorts and privileged access to Starwood brands.

Vivanta by Taj offers ‘Maldives Unlimited’

Since a lot of five-star tourists look for ‘heaven with no hidden charges’, Vivanta by Taj Coral Reef Maldives has launched ‘Maldives Unlimited’, an all-inclusive plan and a first for the Taj Group.

Starting from this month guests who are staying at Vivanta by Taj Coral Reef, which is located in the North Malé Atoll, will be able to enjoy the new all-inclusive plan, which consist of all meals on an a la carte ‘dine around’ basis at the hotel’s three restaurants, signature cocktails, premium spirits, juices and sparkling wines at the Reef Bar (serves till midnight), as well as Wireless Internet and mini bar service.

To make sure that the guests enjoy the resort’s very own house reef, is found simply metres off-shore, a guided snorkelling trip is also included with the price, as is a sunset champagne cruise in a traditional Dhoni boat and a daily Stingray feeding session.

Aerial, Vivanta By Taj Coral Reef
Aerial, Vivanta By Taj Coral Reef

Rates for the newly enhanced all-inclusive plan is said to start at US $1450 per room per night, on a double occupancy basis. Other services such as Jiva Spa treatments, diving, motorised water sports, boutique, signature experiences and laundry, are subject to Service Charge and GST.

Taj Hotels Resorts and Palaces consist of 93 hotels in 55 locations across India and also 16 hotels in the Maldives, Malaysia, Australia, UK, USA, Bhutan, Sri Lanka, Africa and the Middle East.

The name ‘Vivanta’ is a blend of the words vividness, vivacity and ‘bon vivant,’ a French term meaning an appreciation for the good things in life.

Exclusively for the diverse Globetrotter and the Bon vivant – Vivanta by Taj Hotels &amp; Resorts is designed to create experiences that promises to delight, relax, enthuse and poised to challenge you of your expectations of a hotel with its new signature in hospitality – Vivanta by Taj.

The Taj strengthened its presence in the Indian Ocean with its Exotic Brand. The Taj Exotica was evolved as part of Taj Hotels Resorts and Palaces set on to position it as a brand that is visibly differentiated by its product philosophy and service design.

Taj Exotica Resort and Spa Maldives is majorly focused on high-end accommodation with intimacy and an environment that allows its guest’s incomparable luxury and seclusion.

Manta Trust to educate on Manta Ray in Coco Palm Dhuni Kolhu

With the intention to raise awareness about Manta Ray Research in the Maldives, Coco Collection will be welcoming Manta Trust to Coco Palm Dhuni Kolhu to interact with guests and associates.

The Maldivian Manta Ray Project was established in 2005 by British Marine Biologist and the Manta Trust founder Guy Stevens. Guy started working in the Maldives in 2003 and spent his first 18 months in the country on a dive liveaboard. During this time Guy was seeing Mantas all around the country and his curiosity about these amazing creatures grew.

Desperate to know more about why and where these sea creatures were found Guy looked to other marine biologists in the Maldives and around the world and found a shocking scarcity of information and research being done on these creatures. In 2005 the MMRP was founded and became one of very first Manta research projects around the world and the project of the Manta Trust.

The aims of the Maldivian Manta Ray Project (MMRP) when it was created were to characterise the population of Manta Rays in the Maldives. Not much data is available on the Maldives manta population and little research have been carried out on the life cycle and population dynamics. To achieve the objectives the project has worked closely with the Government of Maldives, tourists, local groups, volunteers, students and tour operators to create greater awareness and protection for the peaceful rays and their habitat.

coco-collection-Manta-TrustThe resort’s programme:

On 21 June 2014, Coco Palm Dhuni Kolhu will give a warm welcome to Marine Biologists from Manta Trust that includes Niv Froman, the Project Manager of Manta Trust Maldives, as well as Annie Murray, the Operations Manager of Manta Trust Maldives who will be spending 2 days at the resort, engaging guests in interactive presentations and inviting them to join a spectacular snorkeling excursion in South Baa Atoll, where they hope to encounter some Manta Rays gliding through the deep blue.

The team will start the program with an interactive presentation for the associates of Coco Palm Dhuni Kolhu, to which the resort has invited students of schools from surrounding local islands.

In the evening, the visiting scientists along with Chiara Fumagalli, the resort’s own resident Marine Biologist, will hold an educational presentation for the resort’s guests at Conch Bar focusing on Manta Trust’s work alongside Coco Palm Dhuni Kolhu.

It is said that both presentations will focus mainly on the work that Manta Trust has been contributing to the Maldivian Manta Ray Project and offer guests and students also a chance to enrich their knowledge regarding these creatures.

On the morning of 22 June 2014, Coco Collection’s Resident Marine Biologist, Chiara Fumagalli, along with the group from Manta Trust will lead guests and associates on an adventurous snorkeling excursion that will hopefully include the extraordinary opportunity to swim with these mysterious creatures. Afterwards, Chiara will blend with guests at Coco Palm Dhuni Kolhu to share photos of the expedition.

Coco Palm Dhuni Kolhu is offering a “Stay Longer and Pay Less” deal for guest who wants to experience the Manta Ray expedition where a 5 night’s stay will receive a discount of 25% while a 3 night’s stay will receive a discount of 10% from room rates. Also, guests can book their stay with Coco Palm Dhuni Kolhu now to enjoy discounts of up to 7% from room rates.

Chiara Fumagalli, the Resident Marine Biologist at Coco Collection commented “This exciting expedition with the fellow Marine Biologists from Manta Trust is truly an amazing opportunity to experience these marvelous creatures gliding through the ocean. It is my absolute pleasure to welcome guests of Coco Palm Dhuni Kolhu to join us in this snorkeling excursion for a once in a lifetime chance to swim alongside Manta Rays while witnessing their natural behavior in person”.

Findings shows that the Maldives hosts the largest population of reef Manta Rays (Manta alfredi) in the world, however there is no local law that prohibits fishing or harming these increasingly defenseless creatures. In many countries direct fishing of manta rays and their similar species, driven by the huge grown demand of gill plates in Eastern Asia, decimates regional populations. Increased pressures from tourism is also known to have damaging impacts on these species which national legislation can help to control.

Research shows that Manta rays give birth to only one live born pup on average just once every 3-5 years and have one of the longest gestation periods of any creature. Their highly conservative reproductive strategy, combined with a slow growth rate and late maturity makes Manta Rays immensely susceptible to exploitation. Based on these reasons many countries are acting quickly to protect their regional population of Mantas. Like the Maldives, Indonesia, is known to have one of the world’s leading Manta tourism destinations, recently established the largest Manta Ray sanctuary in the world.

Manta rays are an important resource in the Maldives to promote Manta ecotourism. The Maldives has already showed its commitment to marine conservation by protecting all species of sharks and establishing several Marine Protected Areas throughout the archipelago.

The contribution and support of Coco Palm Dhuni Kolhu and Coco Bodu Hithi has been recently recognized by Manta Trust by ranking Coco Collection as the top submitter of newly identified Manta Ray sightings and the second top submitter of overall Manta Ray sightings for the year 2013. It is known that Coco Collection is thrilled to be a part of such initiatives and during the event hopes to educate guests and associates regarding the population and behavior of Maldivian Manta Rays, also aiding the research objectives of Manta Trust.

A winner of World Luxury Hotel Awards 2013 and a nominee of World Luxury Spa Awards 2014, Coco Collection is a eminent hotel group, also a subsidiary of Sunland Hotels. Since opening the hotel in July 2007, the company continued to grow and developed its reputation as a stylish, sophisticated with sustainable hospitality.

Coco Collection’s comes with three unique brands, Coco Resorts – Retreats, Coco Privé and Coco Palm.

The Retreats includes the luxury resort Coco Bodu Hithi; Coco Palm features the environmentally conscious getaway Coco Palm Dhuni Kolhu; and Coco Privé consists: the private and exclusive Coco Privé Kuda Hithi Island.

Marine Biologist Joseph Lassus from French Caribbean Joins Anantara Kihavah Villas

Joseph Lassus is said to have been involved involved with a WWF project at the Banco Chinchorro Biosphere Reserve, in Mexico before coming to Maldives.

“This opportunity to be the Marine Biologist at Anantara Kihavah Villas provides me with a perfect combination of teaching to dive and snorkel, which I love to share with guests, as well as continuing my research in exciting new fields of exploration and behavior associations of aquatic life. Here, I encounter completely different species to those I am familiar with from my native home in the French Caribbean, such as the Napoleon Wrasse, Clown Fish, and different coral. They all exist in a fragile community – one cannot survive without the other.”

Joseph Lassus, Marine Biologist, Anantara Kihavah Villas
Joseph Lassus, Marine Biologist

Maldives consists of 1,192 coral islands, approximately 200 of which are inhabited. Spread out over 26 natural atolls, each island is no more than 2m (7ft) above sea level. Baa Atoll, home to Anantara Kihavah Villas, is situated on the west of the Maldives’ atoll chain and comprises 75 islands. Located only 35 minutes by seaplane from Malé International Airport.

The coral reefs of the Maldives were first badly damaged in 1998, when shifting ocean patterns associated with El Niño raised sea level temps above 90 degrees. The result then was that 70 to 90 percent of the reefs surrounding the Maldives 26 atolls were badly “bleached,” the warm temperatures killing off the symbiotic algae that lives within the coral and gives it color. While since then many of the reefs have been recovering, according to a report by the Maldives-based Marine Research Center, another warming last year (2010) estimated that “10-15 percent of shallow reef coral is now completely white, while 50-70 percent has begun to pale.”

463 square miles of aquamarine Indian Ocean was recently named a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve.

Ever since Anantara Kihavah Villas’ opening in 2012, they have been dedicated to supporting the recovery, operating as an eco-conscious resort.

The arrival of marine biologist Joseph Lassus to Anantara Kihavah, means that guests can draw on his expert knowledge as they go into the depths of the ocean and discover the underwater world that lies underneath. Hosting presentations for guests in the mesmerizing surrounds of ‘Sea’ – the resort’s signature underwater restaurant, Joseph describes the natural aquarium through the glass walls as it envelopes the restaurant to provide a breathtaking 180 degree view of fish, turtles, sea eels with all their friends at play.

Guests can join Joseph on diving, snorkeling, dolphin discovery, turtle quest and manta excursions, or participate in coral transplanting and essential research snorkeling adventures, taking identification images of larger animals.

Coral reefs support a vast array of marine life and contribute to the livelihood of millions of people worldwide. As a nursery, home and supermarket for fish of all shapes and sizes, reefs are an important resource to protect for the future health of the ocean. These living barriers also act as a natural defence against beach erosion and wave destruction. Without reefs, island archipelagos like the Baa Atoll would eventually disappear.

Anantara is hugely committed to conserving the environment and is a Green Globe certified member. Green Globe is the global certification for sustainable tourism. It is the worldwide sustainability system based on internationally accepted criteria for sustainable operation and management of travel and tourism businesses. Operating under a worldwide license, Green Globe is based in California, USA and is represented in over 83 countries. Green Globe is recognized by the Global Sustainable Tourism Council, supported by the United Nations World Tourism Organization.

The Green Globe Certification Standard consists of 41 criteria and 337 indicators. The main areas are:

Sustainable Management (Implement a Sustainability Management System, Legal Compliance, Employee Training, Customer Satisfaction, Accuracy of Promotional Materials, Local Zoning, Interpretation, Communications Strategy, Health & Safety)

Social / Economic (Community Development, Local Employment, Fair Trade, Support Local Entrepreneurs, Respect Local Communities, Exploitation, Equitable Hiring, Employee Protection, Basic Services)

Cultural Heritage (Code of Behaviour, Historical Artifacts, Protection of Sites, Incorporation of Culture)

Environmental (Conserving Resources, Reducing Pollution, Conserving Biodiversity, Ecosystems and Landscapes)

To date (Q4 2013), 16 resorts have been awarded Green Globe Certification:

Maldives:

Anantara Kihavah Villas
Anantara Dhigu Resort & Spa
Anantara Veli Resort & Spa

Other countries include Thailand, Indonesia and United Arab Emirates.

Anantara projects:

Anantara is currently undergoing a huge expansion programme that will take the number of its properties up to around 50 by 2015. The range of Anantara Hotels, Resorts and Spas locations are in Thailand, Bali, UAE, Indian Ocean and China – means many different cultures, wildlife and environments. One thing that all of these places has in common, is the need to ensure that tourism is operated in a way that is sustainable for the people that live there and for future generations of residents and travellers.

Some of the projects to help the communities Anantara Hotels, Resorts and Spas belongs in:

– Anantara’s 365 Days of Good Deeds
– Golden Triangle Asian Elephant Foundation
– The King’s Cup Elephant Polo Tournament
– Roy E. Heinecke Foundation

The Coral Adoption Programme

In its commitment to protect the environment, Anantara Kihavah Villas has initiated the Coral Adoption Programme, a long-term plan designed to share learning experiences with guests, accelerate the regeneration of coral growth in the atoll reef, and ultimately ensure the future of this unique Maldivian destination.

To experience the rich biodiversity of these undersea habitats with a visit to Anantara Kihavah Villas.