Charmed at Meedhoo’s Charming Holiday Lodge

Almost a thousand years ago, travellers journeyed across vast oceans to the tiny island of Meedhoo in Addu atoll, bringing a new way of life that would forever change the mysterious Maldives archipelago; or so the story goes.

With little evidence of the Maldives’ ancient origins surviving, clues to the countries past are few and far between. But not in Meedhoo. Here lie the men who were among the first to bring Islam to the islands in the early 12th century.

Just yards away from their charming and historic place of rest amid swaying palms and coral walls is the Charming Holiday Lodge. It is from here that you can truly appreciate the rich culture of island life – past and present.

With the country’s recent conversion to guesthouse tourism just beginning to make an impact in the atoll, Meedhoo is still largely untouched by today’s travellers. Visitors to the Charming Holiday Lodge, however, can explore in comfort, returning to spacious and air-conditioned rooms at the end of each day’s discoveries.

Photography: Naj
Photography: Naj
Photography: Naj
Photography: Naj

All rooms are supplied with luxurious furnishings, flat screen televisions and wi-fi, giving a comfortable base from which to dip into island life (guests in the deluxe suite can do this more literally, with an outdoor shower and bathtub). The property’s four rooms, communal area and kitchen can also be rented for private groups – accommodating up to eight people.

Local culture is something those at the Charming Holiday Lodge are particularly proud of, with guided island tours – and bicycles – provided free of charge. Your visit to Koagannu – the oldest cemetery in the country – will live long in the memory, while nearby gun mounts places by the British during the second world war hint at the island’s more recent place in history.

The wide variety of locally-grown fruit and vegetables are a must if you are to attempt to copy some of Addu’s recipes, lovingly collected by your hosts. The fully stocked kitchen ensures you’ll have plenty of time to perfect Boafolhi (a sort of coconut pancake), Geshi Bankeu (indescribable!!) and many more.

Photography: Naj
Photography: Naj
Photography: Naj
Photography: Naj

Despite its busy history, Meedhoo is a quiet place with a population of just under 2000. A further 1,200 people live on the same island, although the southern district of Hulhudhu is regarded as a separate island. References to ‘Hulhu-meedhoo’ are bound to leave you confused for the first few days, though asking locals for the answer to this mystery is often a good way to return the favour (count the different explanations you hear).

Large parts of the island are still covered with thick tropical foliage, the perfect home for fruit bats and the atoll’s famous white tern (known locally as the dhondheeni), who glide lazily over the sleepy island throughout the day.

Photography: Naj
Photography: Naj

The usual pleasures of the atolls are also available to guests, taking to the ocean to spot dolphins and to fish, while the lodge can also arrange beach barbecues and trips to nearby uninhabited islands. The Canareef resort – connected to Hulhu-meedhoo by a small bridge to the south – can also be accessed for day-trippers looking to use its facilities, including pool, spa, gym, and bars.  

But perhaps the best way to succumb to the timeless tropical trance is order a coffee in a local cafe (lodge staff can recommend the best places) and let the island show you its charmed life. Watching islanders saunter over the sand to gather and gossip outside their homes, interrupted only by the call to prayer drifting over the towering palms.

Meedhoo’s gentle sway is sure to leave you hypnotised during your stay at the Charming Holiday Lodge.

Meedhoo can be reached by flying to Addu’s Gan International Airport from the capital Male’ or Colombo. From Gan, a five minute car ride will take you to Feydhoo ferry terminal from where regular ferries travel across the lagoon to Meedhoo. Alternatively, the Charming Holiday Lodge can arrange speedboat transfers from Gan.

Maldives’ First Guesthouse Conference a Success

The Maldives’ first ever guesthouse conference has been described as a great triumph by its organisers.

“We believe it was a successful event with the support of a lot of tourism stakeholders, especially the hardworking guesthouses owners, whom we cannot come this far without their heartfelt commitment,” explained Maldives Getaways’ Director of Business Development Dr Hussain Sunny Umar.

He added that the conference formed part of a campaign that would aim to attract 500,000 tourists to guesthouses by 2020, noting that the aim of the growing sector was to empower local communities, focussing in particular on women and youth.

The event, held in Male’s Dharubaaruge convention centre last weekend, brought together stakeholders from the booming sector for the unique occasion. In addition to the conference’s 15 business partners, the event was endorsed by numerous local tourism organisations as well as the UNWTO.

Guesthouse conference

Renowned the world over as the home of luxury island tourism, the Maldives has strived to develop a reputation for decadence over the past 40 years. This brand now brings over one million visitors to the country each year, with 80 percent still heading directly to one of over 100 single island resorts spread across the atolls.

In recent years, however, budget guesthouses have been springing up across the country at a phenomenal pace. From 23 registered properties in 2010, there are now more than 300 guesthouses situated on around half the country’s inhabited islands.

More than 160 of these were invited to network with travel agents while premium partners STO, Allied Insurance and Dhiraagu used the opportunity to unveil new products. Dr Sunny Umar noted the benefits for those in attendance:

“We got some positive feedback from the participants and they were really excited and happy to have such an event in the first place, and for the first time with the involvement of international representatives from renowned organisations such as Booking.com, Expedia, Vista Rooms and American Express.”

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Other guest speakers included BML CEO Andrew Healy and President of MATATO Abdulla Ghiyas, while the conference was inaugurated by finance minister Ahmed Munawar. Presentations given covered topics such as new markets, health and safety, and tax requirements.

After the presentations, lunch and ample opportunity to exchange business cards, invitees were asked to add theirs to the the pot for a lucky prize draw.

Maldives Getaways’ ‘Guesthouses Maldives’ brand aims to provide essential services to the guesthouse sector, producing the only print magazine dedicated solely to this burgeoning market.

The company will soon launch its own diving magazine – dive.mv – with the first issue to be distributed at London’s World Travel Market in November. The same month is set to see Maldives Getaways publish the first ‘Gold 100’ list of Maldivian companies.

Additional plans also include plans for a Maldivian travel trade show, and a food forum built on the success of the website eat.mv.

Message from the Managing Director of MWSRP Richard Rees

November 2014, this month we welcomed our festival director Chloe Osborne – along with Malé based artists Nadee and Kareen – to South Ari. In a very busy week they were able to carry out planning workshops on Dhangethi, Dhigurah, Dhidhoo, Mandhoo and Maamigili.

 

We’re delighted to report that all of the local islands are excited to be attending the festival and embraced the concept of representing their island by creating and parading their very own colours and mascot during the carnival style procession. These giant ‘marine life mascots’ will be judged by a special panel on the day, and the winner of this ‘best creation’ competition will host next year’s festival!

China’s Sailing Capital Seals Deal With Soneva Group

Soneva group has attracted the Chinese private equity fund Sailing Capital to invest in Soneva Groups’ resort development projects in the Maldives.

Aerial, Soneva Fushi
Soneva Fushi

The deal signed by Soneva Holdings Pte Ltd and the Chinese private equity firm Sailing Capital Overseas Investment Fund LP will see Sailing Capital become a significant investor in Soneva to support the expansion of the company’s portfolio of resorts across the Maldives. This investment by a Sailing Capital represents the largest Chinese private investment to date in the Maldives.

Sonu Shivdasani, chairman and CEO of Soneva said “The investment by Sailing Capital marks a new chapter in the development of Soneva.”

Adding “Soneva pioneered luxury hospitality in the region almost 20 years ago and our brand is now synonymous with the Maldives.”

“We have exciting plans to develop new resorts in the area, and the scale of this investment demonstrates our confidence in the future of the Maldivian economy. Our relationship with Sailing Capital will allow us to accelerate these plans for growth.”

Soneva is a resort, luxury residences, spa management and development company established in 1995, with all of its resorts managed under the brand name Soneva. Soneva Fushi in Baa atoll Maldives, a UNESCO biosphere atoll is the first Soneva resort in the world.

SLOW LIFE experiences are the hallmark of all the operations and developments under the Soneva brand. Soneva takes environmental and social responsibility very seriously and are known to have used sustainable materials, recycling of waste materials and conservation of water during development of their resorts as well as preserving the ecosystem in its operations.

Sustainable-Local-Organic-Wellness Learning-Inspiring-Fun-Experiences or SLOW LIFE explains the Soneva philosophy. t’s about illuminating lives whilst treading lightly on the earth.

Soneva’s preferred charity is The SLOW LIFE Foundation. The SLOW LIFE Foundation is a UK charity which supports the development of innovative and imaginative projects whose impacts directly address social and environmental challenges around the world. www.slowlifefoundation.org

Soneva Fushi resort offers Maldives’ first beach cinema – Cinema Paradiso.

Ayada Maldives — 2014 Indian Ocean’s Leading Villa & Leading Luxury Resort

Ayada Maldives yet again grabs the awards for Indian Ocean’s Leading Villa Resort & Spa 2014 and Indian Ocean’s Leading Luxury Resort 2014.

Aerial view, Ayada Maldives
Aerial view, Ayada Maldives

They also won awards in previous years for:

The Seven Star Global Luxury Award 2013
World Travel Awards Maldives’ Leading Spa Resort 2013
Indian Ocean’s Leading Villa Resort & Spa 2013

International Star Diamond Award from The American Academy of Hospitality Sciences in 2011 & 2012
World Travel Awards Indian Ocean’s Leading New Resort 2011
Maldives Leading New Resort 2011
World’s Leading New Villa Resort 2011

World Travel Awards Europe’s Leading Tourism Development Company 2010
Asia’s Leading Inward Tourism Development Company 2010

About Ayada Maldives

Ayada Maldives is a brand new luxury resort located amidst a pristine reef within the southern rim of the Gaafu Dhaalu Atoll in the southern Maldives, 268 miles south of the capital Male. The island based resort occupies approximately 15 hectares of undisturbed and indigenous vegetation and offers uninterrupted views of the breath taking Maldivian landscape. Ayada Maldives is committed to providing all visitors an authentically luxurious journey of the very finest on offer in the Southern Maldives.

Nestled within the lush vegetation of the island, guests can avail themselves to a variety of dining experiences found in the seven restaurants; each offering a unique culinary experience, an extensive 3500 sqm AySpa & Health Club by ESPA, a renowned dive and watersports center managed by Dive Kingdom, Kids Club and tailor made experiences that will showcase the destination highlights of the Southern Maldives.

Given Ayada Maldives unique location within the central region of the reef, the island is surrounded by long stretches of white sandy beaches and a crystal clear shallow lagoon; an ideal setting to simply relish the uninterrupted views of the Indian Ocean or to discover an myriad of exceptional and abundant marine life. Proximity to the southern tail of the reef makes this a perfect destination for diving and surfing enthusiasts who are keen to explore a unique and undisturbed seascape.

An unforgettable and indulgent journey of luxurious pampering awaits you at Ayada Maldives. Savor the infinite viewsof the spectacular sunsets,delight in the magnificent coral reef, unwind with rejuvenating spa treatments, revel in the long stretches of pristine beach, partake in authentic Maldivian experiences or simply relax with the impeccable personalized service by your Butler.

AYADA MALDIVES HAS BEEN DEVELOPED BY THE AYDENIZ GROUP FROM TURKEY, AND HAS BEEN RECOGNIZED BY THE WORLD TRAVEL AWARDS AS EUROPE’S LEADING TOURISM DEVELOPMENT COMPANY AND ASIA’S LEADING INWARD TOURISM DEVELOPMENT COMPANY.

“Founded in 1975 by civil engineer Ahmet Aydeniz, the Aydeniz Group’s primary focus was to be a leading player within Turkey’s construction and contracting sector. With the sheer perseverance and dedication of its valued employees since inception, coupled with the working discipline guided by the company principles set out by Ahmet Aydeniz, the group has consistently progressed through the decades and has expanded its operations immensely. Today, the Aydeniz Group is honored to have become a global organization with over 1500 dedicated individuals and numerous investments in the construction, tourism, food & agriculture and stockbreeding sectors.”