Coir rope and thatch weaving in Raa Atoll

Coir rope making or Roanu Veshun (in Dhivehi) is one of the traditional handicrafts in the Maldives. Coconut trees are found on every island of the Maldives. Maldivians use different parts of the coconut palm to produce items for their daily needs. Coir rope was most importantly used in boats and construction of traditional houses.

Cleaning the husk, Preparation stages of Roanu Veshun, Raa Atoll Kinolhas Island
Taking the collection of husks to sea to soften the husks and they are kept in the seashore for 3 months, Bo’nbi Faakurun the preparatory stages of Roanu Veshun, Raa Atoll Kinolhas Island

The coir rope making process is a lengthy process lasting as long as two months or more to produce a single batch of ropes. Coir comes from the husk of the coconut. First, a piece of ironwood (Kuredhi), sharpened at both ends is stuck to the ground and is used to separate the coconut from its husk. This Is locally known as ‘Kaashi Hehun’. The coconut is used for food and other purposes.

The husks separated from the coconut are first made tender by burying them in water. The raw husk of the coconut is buried in where the waves break at the shore to ensure the husks remain wet all the time. In some islands, where swamps are present, these areas are preferred. This is locally known as ‘Bo’nbi Faakurun’. The length of the coir rope making process depends on how long it takes for the coconut husks to become tender. They are kept buried until they become tender enough. Sticks are used to mark the area where the husks are buried.

After about one to two months, the husks are dug up. It is then placed on a hard wooden surface such as that of a log and beaten with a wooden club. This locally known as ‘Bo’nbi Thelhun’. This is done to loosen the fibrous coir strands from the rest of the husk. The coir fibres are then washed with seawater to remove dust and spread in the sun to dry them.  

Once they are completely dry, they are ready to be spin into ropes. To make coir rope, a handful of coir is pulled at both ends by hands to separate strands of coir from the coir fibres. Depending on the desired thickness of the coir rope, few strands are taken into the palms and the ends of these strands are joined to the ends of another few strands by spinning between the palms. This method is continued to produce a bundle of coir rope of a determined length. The making of Roanu or coir rope is locally known as ‘Roanu Veshun’. It is the women folks that are mostly involved in Roanu Veshun.

Coir rope was not limited to its use in boats and during construction of traditional houses. It was extensively used to make the traditional hammock or ‘Joali’, doormats and also used to make the framework in bed for placing the mattress.

Nowadays coir rope is used for decorative purposes and the production of Maldivian souvenirs. The designs of some buildings such as restaurants come with ostentatiously decorated columns and support wrapped by coir rope, and coconut thatching. Maldivians still use coir rope to make ‘joali’. It is found commonly in the households of islanders.

In the olden days, this was a means of earning a living as coir rope was in high demand and exported to foreign countries. Maldivians exported coir rope to China, Yemen and the Persian Gulf.

Coir rope, which the Maldivians produce in a unique style was highly priced and credited for its beauty and slenderness.

Fangi, Roanu Veshun, Raa Atoll Kinolhas Island
The final product – Coir rope is used for various purposes

Fangi Viyun

Thatch or ‘Fangi’ are panels of plaited cadjan or palm fronds, traditionally used for fences, walls and roofing of houses in islands. Coir rope or Roanu is used to plait the palm fronds. At present, fungi are mainly used for roofing in resorts.

HPL appoints IHG to manage InterContinental Maldives Maamunagau Resort

Singapore-based Hotel Properties Limited (HPL) has inked a management agreement with InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) to manage an 83-room resort that will be open in Maldives in three to five years’ time.

This will be the third resort that IHG will be managing for HPL. It will mark the first time that IHG will bring its global luxury brand, InterContinental Hotels & Resorts, to the Maldives, said Jan Smits, IHG’s chief executive for Asia, Middle East and Africa (AMEA).

The management contract for the upcoming InterContinental Maldives Maamunagau Resort with HPL was inked on Monday. Construction has yet to begin, and neither HPL nor IHG would provide a number on the project’s development value.

The other two existing HPL resorts managed by IHG are: Holiday Inn Resort Kandooma Maldives, comprising 160 villas, which opened in December 2009; and the 148-room Holiday Inn Resort Vanuatu which opened in March 2010.

Holiday Inn Resort® Kandooma Maldives
Holiday Inn Resort® Kandooma Maldives

The latest Maldives signing brings IHG’s resort development pipeline to 13 across the AMEA region, reflecting a significant expansion programme, said Mr Smits.

Currently, the hotel and resort management chain operates 37 existing resorts across three brands (InterContinental, Holiday Inn and Crowne Plaza) in the AMEA region.

HPL’s new resort will be located on Maamunagau island, at the southern point of Raa Atoll (also known as the North Maalhosmadulu Atoll). International travellers can take a seaplane directly to the resort from Malé’s Ibrahim Nasir International Airport.

Besides enjoying the clear lagoon and pristine white beach, guests will have a range of food and beverage offerings to choose from at the resort’s bar and restaurants.

“Young travellers may indulge in specially tailored meals from the InterContinental Planet Trekkers Menu before going off for an afternoon of fun at the Planet Trekkers Kids Club,” IHG said.

InterContinental Maldives Maamunagau Resort will also feature a Club Lounge, pool and spa where guests can lounge and relax. The range of water sports include snorkeling, canoeing and jet skiing at the nearby sea sports centre.

Stephen Lau, chairman, HPL Hotels & Resorts, said: “We see huge potential to grow our resorts business in the Maldives, and Maamunagau island is the perfect setting to develop a luxury InterContinental resort.”

As part of HPL’s growth strategy, “we continuously seek the right opportunity to expand our portfolio across the Asia-Pacific and Indian Ocean region”, he added.

Mr Smits of IHG noted that tourism contributed more than 40 per cent of Maldives’ gross domestic product last year, and that “sentiments are positive as the country continues to be one of the world’s most highly sought after travel destinations”.

Another hotelier who has a presence in Maldives told The Business Times that room rates for Maldives resorts have generally fallen over the past year on the back of weaker demand.

Patronage by Chinese visitors, the number one market, has softened this year amid a weakening economy back home and slight fall in the yuan, among other factors. “Demand from Russia continues to be depressed due to the weak economy and rouble.

On a more positive note, demand from some other European countries has improved but resorts are coming up with more competitive packages to adjust for the weakness in the euro.” Room rates in the Maldives are denominated in US dollars.

“That said, this is still a market that a lot of operators want to go to. The ‘one resort, one island’ policy in Maldives makes resorts here very exclusive compared to say Bali and Mauritius, where you have one big island and many resorts scattered over acres and acres of coastline.”

Adaaran Select Meedhupparu

With the promise of an incomparable holiday in the tropics, Adaaran Select Meedhupparu one of the best Maldives resorts offers blissful accommodation for the discerning traveller to the Maldives. Bask under the healing sunshine and soak up the alluring sights and sounds of a truly enchanting island in the tropics. Among the finest resorts, Adaaran Select Meedhupparu offers tranquil settings brimming with luxury. Surrender your senses to the soothing atmosphere and experience opulence redefined. Settle into a holiday full of breathtaking experiences that will leave you with memories to last a lifetime.

Loama Resort Maldives at Maamigili

Dawn rises and a stunning vista of sun-kissed lagoons and palm-fringed beaches slowly unfolds. Loama Resort Maldives at Maamigili, welcomes you to where tranquility and flawless beauty is imbued with the legacy of Maldivian heritage. Located in the midst of the Maldives oldest historical Raa Atoll, the Resort weaves cultural heritage, natural wonders and an idyllic island lifestyle into a rich tapestry of unforgettable experiences.

Spread over 100 hectares of pristine coral reef, this teardrop paradise island features 105 elegantly appointed beachfront and over-water guest rooms including 5 luxurious suites, each one commanding spectacular views of the shimmering Indian Ocean.

The 6 gastronomic venues at Loama Resort Maldives at Maamigili offer a smorgasbord of flavours from around the world, whilst Loama Spa provides the ultimate pampering experience for a complete rejuvenation of the senses. The Resort’s Business Centre & Library coupled with the state-of-the-art Fitness Centre; Pilates, meditation and yoga classes; and 30-metre beachfront infinity pool will revitalize mind and body in a paradise setting.

Whether it is relaxation, adventure or cultural appreciation, Loama Resort Maldives at Maamigili has a plethora of leisure activities to suit the young and young at heart. Wander along a picturesque walking trail to ancient bath and wells at the heart of the Resort. Experience Maldivian culture through cooking classes, local village trips by traditional Dhoni and at Loama Museum and Loama Art Gallery. Sample fresh harvest from the organic vegetable farm and go sunset fishing the Maldivian way.

From scuba diving amongst rare coral and manta rays, fun at the Dhondhooni Kids Club to bespoke dining on a private island, every exquisite moment is touched with the impeccable hospitality and authenticity that is unique to the Resort.

Maldives’ First Resort Museum – Loama

Loama Resort Maldives, a brand new resort on the Maamigili island in Raa Atoll, has opened for visitors. The resort is spread over 100 hectares of virgin coral reefs surrounding the island and is a 45 minute seaplane ride from Ibrahim Nasir International airport or a 10 minute ride from Ifuru Domestic airport.

Unlike any other resort in the Maldives, Loama comes with an in-house Museum. “We are creating a place of hospitality… but we add art, culture and heritage to the mix” said veteran hotelier and general manager of Loama resorts, Andres Rubio. “We have established the Maldives’ first gallery of contemporary Maldivian art, Loama Art Gallery, in an overwater pavilion near the resort’s main arrival pier and with the blessing of the National Art Gallery of Maldives in Malé.”

Loama Museum
Loama Museum

Loama Museum has an important collection of artefacts from key periods of Maldivian history, from an extensive collection of 15th century Chinese porcelain to a pair of 11th Century sunken baths found on the island. These are part of an on-going process of excavation where other ancient artefacts have also been found and put into the museum’s collection.

Maamigili Island was once thought to be the holiday playground for royalty; in fact, Maa means Grand, large and ‘Kingly’ in the local Dhivehi language. In keeping up with the meaning of the word Maa, accommodations at Loama Resort are truly fit for kings (and queens).

Loama Resort boasts 38 beach villas, each spanning 67 sqm, nestled amidst lush natural foliage with private outdoor bath tubs, each room bearing its own Maldivian name that reflects heritage and the history of the Maldives. Loama Resort’s five spacious twin and connecting family villas, at 134 sqm each, are perfect for a getaway with your loved ones. The resorts also comes with two beach suites which are spacious 155 sqm sanctuaries with separate dining and living areas. Maldivian artistry such as Kuna (mat) weavings and handcrafted Run’ba pottery, and accentuated by sophisticated contemporary nuances such as open-air showers and spa-like amenities.The main draw are the resort’s overwater 52 Ocean Villas perched on poles above the shallows of the lagoon.

Loama Resort Maldives, Maamigili Island, Raa Atoll
Loama Resort Maldives, Maamigili Island, Raa Atoll

The resort features six dining options. They include a Thai fine dining restaurant, a Japanese restaurant with Sushi bar and Teppanyaki at the open-air lounge. Fazaa is an all-day dining restaurant offering Western, Asian and Mediterranean cuisine and for barbecue enthusiasts there is the Athiri Club. At poolside, Iru Café offers Italian cuisine.

Rubio added that the resort’s spa experience would also be special by blending best practices from traditional and contemporary wellness.

Sri Lankan Firms Invest In A New Maldives Resort

Sri Lanka’s Brown Investments along with partners, Palm Garden and Eden Hotel have jointly bought Bodufaru Beach Resort Private Limited. Bodufaru Beach Resort Private Limited is a limited liability company in the Maldives who holds a 50 year head lease for the island of Bodufaru Finolhu in Raa Atoll of the Maldives to develop a tourist resort.

Raa Atoll is a Northern Atoll of the Maldives and to-date very few islands have been developed as tourist resorts in this atoll. ‘Bodufaru Finolhu’ directly translates to big reef sand bank in the local language (Dhivehi). It is a tiny island, in fact a sandbank with sparse vegetation located on a huge lagoon and a large house reef. This provides an opportunity to build several overwater bungalows which is one the favorite types of accommodations in Maldives resorts.

In a stock exchange filing the three companies Brown Investments, Palm Garden Hotel and Eden Hotel revealed that they have jointly invested 1.5 million US dollars to acquire the Maldives company and subsequently the rights to develop the resort. Each company invested 500,000 US dollars for a 33.33% of the equity.

Bodufaru Beach Resort Pvt Ltd will now be an associate of Eden Hotel Lanka PLC and a subsidiary of Palm Garden Hotels PLC and Browns Investments PLC. The companies have not yet given a schedule for the start of the construction and opening of the proposed resort.