Four Seasons Resort Maldives At Kuda Huraa Announces Launch of Game-Changing Water Villas

Embrace an evolution in over-water living

Four Seasons Resort Maldives at Kuda Huraa unveils its brand new all-villa water accommodations – the country’s ultimate lagoon sanctuaries – in December 2016.

Completely renovated, refurbished and extended throughout, each vast oceanic haven has its own private 24 square metre (260 square foot) infinity pool, accessible through sliding glass doors from a brand new day bed alcove in the master bedroom.

New Water Villas, Four Seasons Resort Maldives at Kuda Huraa
Four Seasons Resort Maldives at Kuda Huraa

But that’s not all. At the furthermost end of each villa’s vastly extended wooden sun deck – past the loungers and huge over-water sunbathing net – an open-air pavilion takes the notion of overwater living to the very edge with a shaded sofa area, dining table for four, over-lagoon hammocks and steps into the warm crystal lagoon dotted with fish and corals.

Available with one, two or three bedrooms, each ocean-top retreat is spaced widely for privacy along wither the sunset or sunrise side of Kuda Huraa’s long water villa jetty.

New Water Villas, Four Seasons Resort Maldives at Kuda Huraa
Four Seasons Resort Maldives at Kuda Huraa

In addition to the daybed alcove and air-conditioned lounge area, internal highlights include a naturally lit walk-through wardrobe corridor and a huge marble bathroom complete with separate shower cubicle and freestanding ocean-view tub.

Contemporary interiors are inspired by the vibrant garden-fresh colours of Kuda Huraa and complemented by cool timber flooring. A handmade Maldivian thatch roof and distinctive architectural detailing draw on the traditions of generations of local craftsmen to complement the Resort’s sense of place. And upgraded in-room technology includes IPTV, full stereo system and 55-inch screen and espresso machine.

New Water Villas, Four Seasons Resort Maldives at Kuda Huraa
Four Seasons Resort Maldives at Kuda Huraa

“We feel really proud to be putting Kuda Huraa on the map again with these exceptional over-water accommodations,” commented the Resort’s General Manager Randy Shimabuku. “We know guests will love the extra space and innovative touches but when combined with our wonderful surf and dive options, new Island Spa sea sanctuary and baby turtle-rearing pools, we hope to be able to immerse them in the deepest possible marine-inspired experience that the Maldives has to offer.”

To be one of the first to experience Kuda Huraa’s new Water Villas contact the central reservations department of Four Seasons Resorts Maldives at tel: (960) 66 00 888, email: [email protected] or book online.

New Water Villas, Four Seasons Resort Maldives at Kuda Huraa
Four Seasons Resort Maldives at Kuda Huraa

See The Maldives In A New Light At LUX* South Ari Atoll

World-renowned luxury resort and hotel operator LUX* Resorts & Hotels is known for a different style of holidaying – a lighter, brighter way of celebrating life – and its newest resort LUX* South Ari Atoll opened last week in the Maldives.

The brand’s latest five-star resort has been entirely reimagined, with a chic beach-house style. Innovative and trendsetting, it features a contemporary atmosphere while protecting the cocooned tropical island atmosphere. LUX* South Ari Atoll is not just about luxury and aesthetics: it’s a resort with a soul. Playful, fun, modern this is paradise ­­­for travellers looking for a distinctive experience in the Maldives.

Temptation Pool Water Villa, LUX* South Ari Atoll
Temptation Pool Water Villa, LUX* South Ari Atoll

Dotted at the water’s edge along two miles of pure white sand beach and perched on stilts above a crystal-clear lagoon, are 193 super-spacious pavilions and villas designed by P49 Deesign. The seductive flood-lit over-water villas promise freedom, privacy and intimacy. 46 Romantic Pool Villas each have private 7m suspended infinity pools, and three Temptation Pool Water Villas boast a 14m pool and this forms the resort’s adults-only sanctuary. These villas enjoy twin showers, private terraces incorporating a unique couples’ love nest, and a deck with steps down into the sea, perfect for enjoying the turquoise blue waters of the Indian Ocean.

Temptation Pool Water Villa, LUX* South Ari Atoll
Temptation Pool Water Villa, LUX* South Ari Atoll

The spectacular range of eight restaurants and five bars includes a sophisticated take on a bustling night market; guests can head to East Market where they can enjoy flavours from Vietnam, Thailand and Sichuan among others. Umami promises fine dining from the open sushi kitchen, teppanyaki and robata counters as well as the Maldives’ largest selection of sakés and Japanese whiskies. Allegria, Senses and MIXE satisfy international palates with Mediterranean to Maldivian specialities and the new Beach Rouge introduces fresh beach club dining experience to the island. Visit www.luxresorts.com/en/hotel-maldives/luxsouthariatoll for more information.

Umami, LUX* South Ari Atoll
Umami, LUX* South Ari Atoll

The LUX* Me spa and its overwater treatment villas set the tone for a Zen-inspired reboot of its own. The facility incorporates a traditional Chinese teahouse, a dedicated zone for brand new skin and body care experiences and an extended lagoon-view relaxation area. For those in search of the ultimate personalised spa experience, try the once-in-a-lifetime 10 hands massage. A Zen wellness pavilion accommodates a wide range of alternative wellbeing activities including yoga, meditation, pilates, tai chi and qigong, all of which are overseen by an expert wellness concierge. LUX* Me is all about a tailored approach to your wellbeing, whether it be spa, fitness, yoga, meditation, nutrition or a unique combination tailored especially to your needs.

Graced by one of Maldives’ most spectacular lagoon of crystal-clear waters, LUX* South Ari Atoll offers the finest choice of water sports of any Maldives’ five-star resort. LUX* was the first to offer flyboarding and hoverboarding and once again introduced the Maldives’ first: jet-surfboarding. No wonder the resort is referenced as #ThePlacetoBeMaldives.

LUX* South Ari Atoll promises a lighter, brighter, more enlightening holiday experience. Stay tuned for events worth travelling around the world for as Beach Rouge, the East Market, and even a sandbank hosting music and culinary celebrations. Where else can guests dance to a DJ with their toes dipped in the warm ocean or taste the best of South-East Asia in a suspended over-the-water night market?

East Market, LUX* South Ari Atoll
East Market, LUX* South Ari Atoll
Beach Rouge at sunset, LUX* South Ari Atoll
Beach Rouge at sunset, LUX* South Ari Atoll

Paul Jones, CEO of LUX* Resorts & Hotels confides: “The focus around the creation of a new LUX* South Ari Atoll has been as much about the transformation of the property as it has been about the enhancement of the guests’ experiences. For this, our team has worked effortlessly on enriching the moments that matters, and we have created new and exciting Reasons To Go LUX*. I am convinced that places you remember are the ones that inspire you; those that have a soul and caring people. LUX* South Ari Atoll has this magical mix.”

LUX* South Ari Atoll will of course include all of LUX*’s popular features and Reasons To Go LUX* including a LUX* Me Spa, a dive centre with a property marine biologist, a Café LUX*, ICI ice-creams, a gym, a kids’ club, organic gardens, a Tree of Wishes and an outdoor Cinema Paradiso to name a few.

Café LUX*, LUX* South Ari Atoll
Café LUX*, LUX* South Ari Atoll

On top of that, the opening of this new resort was the perfect opportunity for the brand to present a series of more Reasons To Go LUX*. Stay at a conventional resort, and before long you know where everything is. That doesn’t happen at LUX*. Spontaneity and surprises are in our DNA with the new Reasons To Go LUX* making a debut at LUX* South Ari Atoll this month.

  • LUX* Photo Fanatics — LUX* means light, and so it is also in spirit, so it should come as little surprise that LUX* is a brand that loves the art of photography. Introducing Photo Fanatics, a unique image-capturing experience that will help guests seeking to create and capture the moments that matter, using a smartphone or a traditional camera or SLR.
  • Junkart Studio & Gallery — Many regret the lack of time during their everyday lives to learn a new skill or revive a forgotten hobby.       
  • LUX*  believes that a vacation can be the perfect time to explore something new or revisit old skills and passions. Guests at LUX* are invited  to have fun making one-off artworks and sustainable souvenirs from upcycled materials.
  • Wanderlust Library — Make up for that last-minute pre-holiday book buy at the airport or magazine selection limited by how much your hand luggage can take. LUX* understands the desire to try new things, especially on holiday. To encourage this LUX* has curated the ultimate collection of books and magazines, to be enjoyed in a cocooned air-conditioned place which will stimulate your travel senses and expand your horizons.
  • Masterchef — The joy of cooking and the fun of the whole family getting involved is unrivalled. Cook with a professional chef and take home some new tricks.

The remodelling of LUX* South Ari Atoll doesn’t just mean a contemporary, characterful new look; guests can also expect a remarkable and insightful cultural calendar. Entirely new for the Maldives, LUX* South Ari Atoll hosts short expert-led workshops throughout the year, with leading practitioners from diverse, creative and inspiring walks of life. It’s always a privilege to spend time with inspiring individuals who are happy to share their unique wisdom and skills.

The brand vision is to offer our guests different luxury hospitality experience; helping people celebrate life, by making each moment matter. In this context, guests will have the opportunity to enjoy themselves with a series of workshops which could reveal innate talents, hidden talents.

The workshops are as varied as they are numerous. There are painting lessons with Jeannine Platz, a motivation workshop with Ron Kaufman, food art with Samantha Lee and photography with world-renowned travel photographer Michel Freeman. For the ones looking for some healthy and fitness options, this has also been taken care of with masterclasses from fitness guru Anna Victoria, and also the opportunity to explore underwater with the freediving world record holder William Winram. For more information, visit www.luxresorts.com/en/hotel-maldives/luxsouthariatoll

What makes LUX* South Ari Atoll so special is its spirit, team members, and entirely different approach to helping you have the best-ever holiday. LUX* promises a journey for the senses, where – in true LUX* style – you can expect the unexpected.

A Song of Faru and Isle at Angsana Ihuru

You’ve settled in with your book in the shade of a brilliant Maldivian morning, having padded your sandy way back from another sunny breakfast on Angsana Ihuru island resort.

You loved the series, now you finally have time for the book. But you can’t quite relax.

It could be that you’re spoiled for choice, nestled in the secluded garden leading from your cosy villa and onto the beach. You chose the cover of the sheltered daybed in which to get stuck into your bestseller, but the loungers look pretty inviting too – essential if you’re gonna work on your tan. The undhoalhi swing also looks tempting, or perhaps a coffee on the chairs closer to the room is the place for you?

Maybe you’re distracted by the resident water hen strutting in and out of the foliage to enquire for the hundredth time as to what you’re doing on his patch. He snoops around for a while before a colleague calls him back into the undergrowth.

No, it’s not that.

Photo Courtesy of Angsana Ihuru

Trying to concentrate on the pages, on the climactic battle scene taking place in a mythical kingdom, your eyes keep drifting up to the Indian Ocean lapping at the bright beach just yards away.

You were already halfway through a fantastic story, and now you need to finish. Less than fifty feet from where you lie is the Maldives’ very own blockbuster novel – the classic tale of an underwater kingdom told by Ihuru’s famed faru (the Dhivehi word for ‘reef’). Authored by nature; lovingly edited by Angsana.

The book can wait (and if it’s the one I think it is – spoiler alert – your favourite character is about to die anyway!!).

It was just yesterday that you took your complimentary snorkel gear from the marine center and floated out through one of the island’s five designated channels indicated by little divers sticking out above the blue; helpful tropical bookmarks in case you should ever lose your place.

Photograph: Naj
Photograph: Naj

Out there, you circumnavigated the island in just over an hour – a trip that takes just 5 minutes by (sandy) foot. It was done – off your list. Now onto the spa treatments, dolphin cruises, watersports, and the book you’d promised yourself you’d make time for.

But before you know it you’re back out reading the reef, observing the butterfly fish playing in shafts of light streaming through the blue, indifferent to your presence. The live action out here is real, with a host of characters playing their parts, though you’re no more at risk than you were back on your daybed.

Photo courtesy of Angsana Ihuru
Photo courtesy of Angsana Ihuru
Photo courtesy of Angsana Ihuru
Photo courtesy of Angsana Ihuru

There’s nothing any more dangerous than the odd gnashing moray eel and the occasional itchy triggerfish. Your first reef shark may be unnerving – and they can grow over a metre long – but they don’t find you half as interesting as you do them.

The tiny island of Ihuru embodies the conservation philosophy of its parent company, Banyan Tree Hotels, whose Vabbinfaru resort is just a stone’s throw away. Twice-daily marine orientation classes are held at the beachfront ‘Velavani’ bar, while a daily ferry across to Vabbinfaru brings a practical lesson in Stingray feeding.

The island’s marine lab gives regular presentations about the island’s conservation work – which includes hosting two of the country’s three ‘electric reef’ coral growth schemes (the other is on Vabbinfaru) – and invites guests to help with its reef cleaning efforts. They also offer additional snorkelling trips.

Photograph: Naj

With just under 50 fifty rooms perched atop less than a square kilometre of sand, the perfectly formed island resort has managed to reduce its impact on its perfectly formed little reef. It’s beautiful simplicity – as one of the Maldives smallest resorts – is reflected in the island’s facilities, which tell their own tale of intelligent design.

All rooms follow the same design, albeit with some having the added twist of a jet pool in their outdoor bathroom. Colourful and clean, the rooms are reminiscent of the house reef – though a plentiful mini-bar and in-villa dining making it unlikely you’ll be heading out there for snacks.

Most meals are served in the beachside ‘Riveli’ restaurant, though diverse dining can be enjoyed with a more secluded beach BBQ or even a visit to Ihuru’s own private sandbank.

Photograph: Naj
Photograph: Naj

Less simple is the spa menu, with well-trained staff bringing a wide range of treatments from Phuket and Bintang to Ihuru’s pavillions of pleasure tucked away in the heart of the island. Many an afternoon can be lost at these skilled fingertips, with bespoke treatments lasting as long as three blissful hours.

But as you drift away your mind floats back out onto the reef, eager to re-live this fantasy thriller (a bit like reading the book even though you’ve already seen the TV programme).

MATATO Represents Maldives at the First BITB

The Maldives Association of Travel Agents and Tour Operators (MATATO) is representing the Indian Ocean nation in the Bharath International Tourism Bazaar (BITB).

Opening in New Delhi last Monday, the event is the first edition of the Berlin travel trade show that has grown to become the largest in the world. Over 300 tourism products are being displayed at the B2B event, with MATATO bringing around a dozen Maldivian products to the 12,000 square metre Pragati Maidan.

“India is one of the fastest growing and largest travel markets in the world, and MATATO intends to have strong presence in India’s leading travel shows with our members and industry partners,” read a press release from the association.

India is the second fastest outbound tourism market in the world, after China, with arrivals to the Maldives growing by almost 15 percent in 2015, and more than 20 percent up to July this year.

Statistics from the World Bank and India’s tourism ministry show that 18.3 million Indians travelled overseas in 2014, compared to 16 million the year before. The UNWTO believes this could grow to as many as 50 million by 2020.

Maldivian resorts and guest houses exhibiting with MATATO at the event include Amilla Fushi, Cocoon Maldives, Dreams Arena, Furaveri Island Resort, Local Island Inn, Soneva, and Summer Island Maldives as well as the soon to be opened Season Paradise hotel in Thulusdhoo.

Travel agents present were ITAW Travels & Tours along with Traveller Street, while Mega Maldives Airlines were also featured. Copies of the ‘guesthouses maldives’ magazine were available to attendees, while the MATATO exhibit featured scenes of the atolls captured by local photographer Aishath Naj for her ‘Two Thousand Isles’ blog.

Organisers have arranged for those visiting the bazaar to take part in 6 ‘power conclaves’ examining specific tourism areas such as aviation, MICE, hospitality and experiential tourism.

“It is undeniably the most robust growth market globally,” explains the BITB website, describing the event as “tourism under one roof, B2B with a difference that includes new motivations to travel, consolidating what is trending in Indian tourism.”

The event will conclude today, October 6.

Singapore’s Park Hotel Group to open Grand Park Kodhipparu in 2017

Singapore’s Chip Eng Seng Corporation Ltd (CES) and Park Hotel Group announced today that they have entered into a Joint Venture Agreement to invest in a resort project in the Maldives.

Under the Agreement, CEL Development Pte Ltd, a wholly owned subsidiary of CES holds an interest of 70% while Grand Park Maldives Pte Ltd, a member of Park Hotel Group owns the remaining 30%.

The joint venture has entered into a Sales and Purchase Agreement for the Maldives resort with Kodhipparu Investment Private Limited for US$65 million. The transaction was brokered by JLL’s Hotels and Hospitality Group as the exclusive advisor to the vendor.

The joint venture also marks the appointment of Park Hotel Group to manage Grand Park Kodhipparu, Maldives, scheduled to open in the 2nd quarter of 2017. The 120 all-villas Grand Park Kodhipparu, Maldives is Park Hotel Group’s second partnership with CES, following the hotel Management Agreement for Park Hotel Alexandra which opened last year.

Executive Chairman of CES, Mr Raymond Chia said, “We are delighted to acquire Chip Eng Seng’s first resort property in Maldives as part of the Group’s strategy to expand our Hospitality Investment portfolio. We are confident that our partnership with Park Hotel Group, one of the most established and fast expanding Asian hospitality brands, will be a winning formula as we aim to continue our successful partnership following the opening of our first hotel, Park Hotel Alexandra. We believe we will create a new and very special hospitality experience for our guests when the resort opens in 2017.”

Grand Park Kodhipparu, Maldives is located on the North Malé Atoll and 15 minutes’ speedboat ride from the Malé International Airport. Designed by the world-renowned hospitality design firm, Hirsch Bedner Associates, the luxury resort features 120 idyllic villas comprising a range of beachfront pool villas, overwater villas with direct access to the crystal-clear turquoise waters and overwater pool villas that come with a private infinity pool. The resort will offer two restaurants, a harbour beach club and pool bar. Recreational facilities including a swimming pool, gymnasium, sunrise yoga deck, wellness centre with spa and salon treatments, water sports and dive centre, children’s activity centre and speciality shops are also available. This is Park Hotel Group’s second resort property in the portfolio after the opening of Park Hotel Nusa Dua, Bali last year.

“We are committed to growing our brand presence and to be able to fulfil this vision with our trusted partners like CES allows us to access new markets with increased confidence as we seek to combine resources and capabilities to achieve scalability, efficiency and success. Maldives, with its pristine natural landscape and ‘one island, one resort’ concept has established itself as a leading and an exclusive resort destination over the years,” said Mr Allen Law, Chief Executive Officer of Park Hotel Group.

“Ongoing government initiatives such as the 2016 year long marketing campaign, expansion plans for the Malé International Airport backed by a strong destination brand image as well as additional flight options from key feeder markets signal a continued positive tourism outlook for Maldives. This, combined with the rising affluence in Asia, a segment that has shown consistent growth also ensures an anticipated healthy performance in hotel occupancy and average room rates,” added Mr Law.

Park Hotel Group owns and manages 15 properties in 8 countries and 11 cities. Named “Best Regional Hotel Chain” in the TTG Travel Awards for five consecutive years (2012-2016), the Group endeavours to create unique and memorable travel experiences and to bring joy to its guests as it continues to grow its footprint across Asia Pacific. Since August last year, the Group has been expanding into new destinations in Australia, Malaysia and most recently last month, South Korea. In addition to Grand Park Kodhipparu, Maldives, the Group will open two other hotels, Park Hotel Farrer Park in Singapore and Park Hotel Yeongdeungpo, Seoul next year.

END.

About Chip Eng Seng Corporation Ltd

Chip Eng Seng Corporation Ltd (”CES”) is one of Singapore’s leading construction and property groups in Singapore and is listed on the mainboard of the Singapore Exchange Securities Trading Limited since 24 November 1999. CES core businesses are primarily in the area of property development, property investment, construction and hospitality. CES also has a presence in Australia, Malaysia and Vietnam.

CES made its mark by making a successful foray into the public housing market in 1982 after clinching its first Housing and Development Board construction project. Through hard work and dedication, the CES brand grew over the years and received many industry accolades and recognition. Its strong track record is attested by the construction of Singapore’s most iconic public housing project – the Pinnacle @ Duxton.

With more capital and talent at hand post listing, CES ventured into the development of private residential projects, which included landed homes, condominiums as well as executive condominiums since the mids 2000. CES made its foray into hospitality business in 2015 with the opening of its maiden hotel property, Park Hotel Alexandra in Singapore.

Harnessing its position as a leading industry player, CES plans to build on the strength of its property portfolio by strategically growing its presence in new key markets when the right opportunity arises. CES is actively developing new ways of creating synergies amongst the business segments while exploring strategic partnerships to boost its competitiveness in the region and bolster all aspects of its operations.

For more information about Chip Eng Seng Corporation Ltd, please visit www.chipengseng.com

About Park Hotel Group

Park Hotel Group is one of Asia Pacific’s best hospitality groups. The Group manages, owns and develops Park branded hotels around the Asia Pacific. Established since 1961, Park Hotel Group grew rapidly from its first hotel in Hong Kong to the current portfolio of 15 properties across 8 countries and 11 cities in the region, with access to over 4,200 rooms.

Committed to delivering exceptional service with love and passion, the acclaimed Park Hotel Group has established a track record of operating successful hotels. As it strives to be a world-renowned brand in hospitality, Park Hotel Group continues to focus on its footprint expansion through acquisitions and hotel management services.

Park branded hotels include the luxury Grand Park and the upscale Park Hotel.

Grand Park is a luxury hotel and resort brand synonymous with premium accommodation, facilities, service and comfort designed for discerning business and leisure travellers. Grand Park hotels can be found in Singapore, Maldives, China and Japan.

Park Hotel is an upscale hotel and resort brand symbolising utmost convenience, personalised services and high standards of amenities carefully crafted to please business and leisure travellers. Park Hotels can be found in Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Hong Kong, South Korea and Australia.

Park Hotel Group’s portfolio of properties comprises:

Singapore

  • Grand Park Orchard
  • Grand Park City Hall
  • Park Hotel Clarke Quay
  • Park Hotel Alexandra
  • Park Hotel Farrer Park (2017)

Malaysia

  • Park Hotel Melaka (2019)

Indonesia

  • Park Hotel Nusa Dua, Bali

China

  • Grand Park Xian
  • Grand Park Wuxi
  • Grand Park Kunming

Hong Kong

  • Park Hotel Hong Kong

South Korea

  • Park Hotel Yeongdeungpo, Seoul (2017)

Japan

  • Grand Park Otaru

Australia

  • Park Hotel Adelaide (2018)

Maldives

  • Grand Park Kodhipparu, Maldives (2017)

Kodhipparu — once a sand bank, was reclaimed and made to a 3-hectare island by a Maldivian company and later sold to Abdullah Mohamed, owner of Amin Construction one of the largest construction companies in the Maldives, for an undisclosed price.

Permit to develop a resort at Kodhipparu was given to Abdullah Mohamed’s Top Deck Investment in early 2013 as a cross subsidy to his project to develop 100 housing units or 50 luxury villas in Hulhumalé. The resort was supposed to be a joint venture with the government of the Maldives with 250 beds and the contract was signed in September 2013.

Plumeria Boutique Hotel

Situated in Vaavu Atoll, Plumeria Boutique Hotel is the perfect place to experience Maldives Islands and its surroundings. Only 77 km away, this 4-star hotel can be easily accessed from the airport. With its convenient location, the hotel offers easy access to the city’s must-see destinations.

At Plumeria Boutique Hotel, the excellent service and superior facilities make for an unforgettable stay. A selection of top-class facilities such as free Wi-Fi in all rooms, 24-hour front desk, luggage storage, Wi-Fi in public areas, room service can be enjoyed at the hotel.

Plumeria Boutique Hotel is home to 21 bedrooms. All are tastefully furnished and many even provide such comforts as television LCD/plasma screen, internet access – wireless (complimentary), non-smoking rooms, air conditioning, wake-up service. The hotel’s outdoor pool, diving, fishing, water sports (motorized) are ideal places to relax and unwind after a busy day. Whatever your purpose of visit, Plumeria Boutique Hotel is an excellent choice for your stay in the Maldives.

Maldives Travel Awards Judging Begins this Week

The official judging process for the MATATO Maldives Travel Awards 2016 has started this week at Hotel Jen in the capital Male’.

From October 3rd until October 9th, this year’s judging panel will shortlist three nominees for each of the 35 different categories. The finalists will then receive visits from the judges before the overall marks are determined.

These marks will then be added to the online and SMS voting, which have both been open since September 18th and will close on November 15th – shortly before the official awards ceremony.

The final results will be collated by KPMG, the Independent Service Provider of this year’s awards, who will collect the scores and votes directly from the judges and telecoms providers Ooredoo and Dhiraagu.

Award categories included this year cover resorts, hotels and guesthouses, liveaboards/diving/watersports, and transportation & technology. New categories for the 2016 edition include ‘Leading Travel Website’, ‘Leading Guest House Island’, ‘Leading Innovation in Guest-House Design’, ‘Leading F&B Outlet’, and ‘Leading Airport Lounge’.

Big winners in 2015 included Bandos Island Resort (‘Best Dive Resort’ and ‘Most Supportive Resort’), PER AQUUM resorts (‘Most Romantic Resort’ – Per Aquum Huvafenfushi; ‘Leading F & B Resort’ – Per Aquum Niyama), and Anantara resorts (‘Leading Beach Resort in the Maldives’ – Anantara Kihavah Villas; ‘Leading Wellness and Spa Resort’ – Anantara Veli Resort; ‘Leading Spa Brand’ – Anantara Spa; ‘Leading International Hotel & Resort Brand’).

The awards were launched in 2011 to recognise and celebrate the leading lights in the Maldives’ famed tourism industry. They went international for the first time in 2015, when the final event took place in Dubai.

The full list of judges for this year’s awards is as follows:

1- Dr. Hussain Sunny Umar

2- Dr. Mariyam Waseema

3- Mr. Mohamed Areef

4- Mr. Ibrahim Nasreen

5- Ms. Zeenaz Hussain

6- Mr. Ibrahim Asim

7- Ms. Aminath Shaanee

8- Mr. Mohamed Shinaz

9- Mr. Ibrahim Mahudhee

Maldives.com is proud to be an associate partner of this year’s MATATO Maldives Travel Awards.

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TME Retreats Dhigurah

TME Retreats Dhigurah is a hotel that offers the fullest sense of intimacy on the beautiful island of Dhigurah. The property is well-equipped with modern convenience as well as amenities. The hotel is located a little far from the village, but that does not hinder guests from enjoying the unique island lifestyle of the Maldives.

Guests can stroll along the refined, white sandy beach with a length of more than three kilometers. You will feel as though you have the beach all to your own. For divers, the hotel is located in the renowned diving sites such as Manta Point and Kuda Rah Thila. The area is also particularly popular for spotting whale sharks and manta rays.

Jumeirah Vittaveli Unveils 5-Bedroom Royal Residence

The lavish Royal Residence will be the perfect playground for the extraordinary traveller – opens on January 2017

Jumeirah Vittaveli in the Maldives has announced the resort’s much anticipated Royal Residence will open in January 2017. The 5-bedroom / 6 bathroom retreat will cover 3,500 square metres and include a private beach, two pools, and a private arrival jetty.

Amit Majumder, General Manager, Jumeirah Vittaveli, said: “The Royal Residence adds another dimension of luxury to Jumeirah Vittaveli. This completely self-sufficient hideaway includes its own arrival jetty with overwater bar, an open air kitchen, restaurant, private beach, two pools, spa and gym, separate living and dining pavilion as well as separate service quarters. Guests can enjoy unrivalled privacy while still having all the activities and facilities of an award-winning resort at their fingertips. We have put much thought into planning out each little detail of the Royal Residence and I am confident that guests will be amazed by the level of service as well as privacy that they will experience when staying at this new ultimate tropical retreat.”

Entrance, Royal Residence, Jumeirah Vittaveli
Entrance, Jumeirah Vittaveli

The Royal Residence experience will begin as soon as guests arrive in the Maldives. They will receive priority customs service and a personal welcome at the airport, followed by a 20-minute luxury yacht transfer to the island. A traditional Maldivian Bodu Beru reception awaits, comprising a group of drummers and dancers who greet guests at the private jetty. The Royal Residence Manager will take everyone on a brief tour of the luxurious residence.

The journey will lead guests past a sunken lounge surrounded by a fragrant lily pond, to a full sized swimming pool looking out across the private beach. A dining room seating 10 with adjacent living room including Bang & Olufsen™ home theatre system is connected to the pool deck, with an open air Teppanyaki style live kitchen on the far end overlooking the infinite ocean. An indoor fully stocked kitchen and wine cellar by nolte™ is the domain of the personal chef, while separate service quarters house up to four additional personnel.

The Suite Master Bedroom, Jumeirah Vittaveli
The Suite Master Bedroom, Jumeirah Vittaveli

‘The Sanctuary’ (530sqm) includes the Master Bedroom, as well as a separate indoor living area, private spa treatment room and private gym outfitted with state-of-the-art Life Fitness™ equipment. An indoor bathroom with his and hers vanities and oversized stone bathtub by Kelly Hoppen™ is complemented by an outdoor bathing area featuring a Jacuzzi with inbuilt TV. ‘The Villas’ (240 sqm & 195 sqm), one with king-size bed and one with twin bed, flank The Sanctuary and pool to the North and South – both including their own private open air deck as well as walk-in wardrobe and stone bathtub. ‘The Suite’ connects through a portico to the Royal Residence and includes one king-sized and one twin bedded room, as well as separate living room and a 49 square metre private pool.

The Suite Exterior, Jumeirah Vittaveli
The Suite, Jumeirah Vittaveli

Guests of the Royal Residence will enjoy access to all facilities of Jumeirah Vittaveli via dedicated buggy and chauffeur, including a PADI Dive base, water sports centre, four restaurants and two bars, Kuda Koli Kids’ Club with family pool, and a Talise Spa with overwater and garden treatment rooms. With its focus on understated luxury and cultural connection, Jumeirah Vittaveli offers guests a true Maldivian island experience.

Free(dom)-Diving at Anantara Maldives

Ten metres above, the glassy ceiling of the Indian Ocean glints and and shimmers while below the warm turquoise of the Maldives fades into an infinite blue.

Nearby, canoes and snorkellers paddle on the glittering ceiling while scuba-explorers plumb the depths of the archipelago’s coral kingdom. Here, you wait between one world and the other at Anantara in South Male’ atoll.

Having free-dived down, your lungs are squeezed to half of their normal capacity as the weight of paradise brings two bars of pressure (the exact opposite effect of the ones serving cocktails on the resort) – but you feel calm.

Anantara Free Diving

After spending an hour with Mari – your PADI-trained free-diving instructor – by the pool, you understand the physics crucial to this quickly growing sport. She’s been taking guests through their paces since Anantara became one of the first resorts in the Maldives to give free-diving lessons earlier this year.

As your lungs shrink, so your buoyancy reduces the further you get toward the end of the rope attached to the buoy above. Here, at ten metres’ depth, you have neutral buoyancy. A few kicks up and your lungs begin to expand, sending you back up to the surface. A few down and gravity will return, taking you deeper and deeper with minimal effort.

As much a mental as a physical sport, free-diving requires relaxation and control to practice. Tense muscles and a busy brain use a lot of oxygen – but luckily you’ve been relaxing hard since your arrival, and pranayama tuition is available at Anantara’s wellness centre.

Anantara Free Diving

The mammalian dive response kicks in as soon as your face hits the water, reducing your heart rate to 25 percent of its normal level and slowing your metabolism to conserve oxygen. But concentration is needed to ensure you equalise the pressure in your ears and mask during the descent.

Getting down here was the hardest part, and for a few precious moments you’re floating; a tropical spaceman. Up or down is your call, but only for as long as you can hold your breath, and your body is sending strong signals it would like to breath some time soon.

Recalling your induction in the warm and plentiful air of the morning, you know that the oxygen levels in your blood have dipped only a couple of points and remain above 90 percent. But it’s the CO2 levels that are urging you back to the surface.

Anantara Free Diving

The difference between a novice and a pro is their ability to withstand higher levels of CO2, allowing them to hold their their breath for long enough to dive to 25 metres or lower. The world record unassisted free dive is 95 metres, and the longest time anyone has held their breath underwater is 22 minutes and 22 seconds.

While the discomfort is natural at first, being able to dive down to the reef has been a way of life for Maldivians for millenia, foraging for those hard-to-reach crustaceans, octopus and sea cucumbers on their doorstep. You may feel out of your depth, but didn’t that first session back at the gym leave you feeling like a fish out of water?

Mari floats alongside you, checking you make the right decision and head back up. You do – flicking your fins and expanding your lungs as you race back up the rope leading into the sky.

Full courses are available at the resort’s ‘Aquafanatics’ Water Sports Centre, allowing you to take your skills to new depths. These include training on technique and safety procedures to ensure you can free-dive with freedom. 

Anantara Free Diving