Hurawalhi — Maldives without limits

With more than 1200 resorts to choose from in an area already world-renowned for its beauty – a new opening ought to be nothing short of spectacular to be worthy of interest. Hurawalhi in the Maldives is unparalleled, extraordinary and utterly original.  Environmentally innovative, a breath-taking underwater restaurant, a tropical Champagne Pavilion, stylish villas and an over 18s-only policy and with no other resorts as far as the eye can see – Hurawalhi offers its own take on Paradise.

This is the Maldives redefined; a truly unique five-star resort experience, nestled amongst the spectacular coral reefs of Lhaviyani Atoll, opening in October 2016.

Just a 40-minute seaplane flight from Malé, here are a distinctive collection of superbly designed, exclusive and supremely spacious villas strung across the glittering lagoon – perfectly positioned, so that all guests can enjoy either sunrise or sunset panoramas. And with dining options that include on the beach, over the water, and even under the water, the philosophy here is that nothing is impossible.

Offering 90 Villas including 60 Ocean Villas and 30 Beach Villas, Hurawalhi is a sanctuary of serenity for grown-ups who are seeking luxury and innovation. The residences are stylishly and beautifully conceived featuring soothing décor, sumptuous linens on king size beds, bleached wooden floors, and private terraces with panoramic views.

With a strong environmental focus, Hurawalhi gives back to the Maldives as much as it gets. Using solar panels, its own water bottling plant, energy saving solutions, hot water recovery and an in-house marine biologist, Hurawalhi’s eco credentials are the finest in the Maldives.

In addition, Hurawalhi is collaborating with WiseOceans, the marine conservation and education specialists. WiseOceans are teaming up with the resort’s own in-house 5* PADI instructors in order to provide educational guided dives and snorkelling through the spectacular nearby reefs and shipwrecks. The island is a nesting site for green turtles and WiseOceans are tasked with preserving this natural habitat as well as educating visitors on these beautiful and endangered creatures.

The scene-stealer is the underwater restaurant, named 5.8 and will send senses soaring in this unparalleled setting, located 5.8 meters beneath the sea.  Each dish blends the best ingredients with innovation and style, resulting in a showcase of imaginative modern cuisine, combined with an incredible location, wine and service. Surrounded by out of this world marine views, the minimalist-designed restaurant keeps the focus outside; and rates high on romance – every table is set for just two. The menu concept is a multi-course tasting extravaganza also available with wine pairing options narrated by the sommelier.

Coming up for air, above the water, the Aquarium restaurant offers staggering sea views by day and a romantic flicker of candlelight by night.  Serving a contemporary menu with thoughtfully sourced ingredients, organic and artisanal, a Teppanyaki grill, there is an emphasis on the freshest of local seafood and the finest quality of prime beef with delectable sushi, sashimi and tempura all prepared by a personal, highly skilled chef.

Canneli is a third option for dining, serving international cuisine prepared to the highest standards whilst overlooking the tranquil Indian Ocean. Private beach dining al fresco under the stars is also encouraged, allowing guests to create once-in-a-lifetime memories in a romantic setting second to none, enjoying signature lobster and wagyu beef created by a personal chef. The seductively lit bar is directly on the beach with al fresco decking overlooking a glimmering pool and lagoon, and includes a comprehensive shisha selection.

For activity seekers there is tennis, badminton and beach volleyball, with a sports fishing boat for deep-sea fishing.   There is incredible diving on offer including guided diving and snorkelling boat trips and a complete PADI 5* training centre. There are jet skis available as well as paragliding, water skiing, wakeboarding, paddle boarding, windsurfing, kayaks and catamarans.

Hurawalhi’s blissful Duniye Spa brings visitors closer to nature overlooking the vibrant turquoise water. Duniye means “universe” and the name represents its philosophy: a universal approach to wellness, with treatments inspired by ancient and modern expertise from around the globe. A strong influence from the healing traditions of Asia and Africa can be seen in the spa’s repertoire, including the use of local ingredients and treatments inspired from traditional cultures. Channeling wholeness, simplicity, purity and quality, the spa uses only the highest quality chemical free, organic compound products from ‘Healing Earth™ – they are all free from petrochemicals, synthetics, colourants, DEA, preservatives and parabens.

Indeed, there are countless reasons to visit the Maldives: dazzling white sands, cyan-blue seas, spectacular underwater life, and incredible sunsets. The opening of the extraordinary Hurawalhi ensures that this destination will remain unmissable in the years to come.

What’s exceptional:

  • 60% of the resort runs on sustainable solar energy with the majority of the villas being powered by solar panels. No Plastic Bottles – the resort has its own water bottling plant and sustainable energy throughout
  •   Best Diving in the Maldives with nearby Manta Rays, Nurse Sharks and world-class dive sites
  •   Largest and deepest underwater restaurant – 5.8 metres under the sea
  •   Adults-Only sanctuary on pure white sand on a crystal blue sea
  •   Duniye Spa uses only organic, preservative and chemical free products

1.3 Metres Underwater With A Semi-Submarine

News Flash! Exciting times ahead for those keen on exploring the mysterious aquatic realm of the Maldives without even dipping a toe in the water! Sporting a wide toothy grin, this new red semi-submarine seats 12 people and offers the chance to sight the beauty of the famed prime dive/snorkelling spot of Madivaru. It measures 10min length and 2.45m in width. Aqua Sports & Fun runs this incredible sea voyage twice a week (on Fridays and Sundays) be sure to save a seat with your beloved on our semi-submarine!

Kuramathi is one of the first resorts to open among the resorts Maldives and is part of Universal Resorts of Universal Enterprises Private Ltd, a 100% Maldivian owned company, and the pioneers of tourism in the Maldives. An emerald jewel in the turquoise Maldivian waters, Kuramathi is a stunning island retreat with acres of luxuriant vegetation surrounded by spectacular beaches tapering into an endless sandbank. Villas blend contemporary design and nature, and are set on the beach, amongst lush gardens or over water.

Four poster beds, open-air bathrooms, rainfall showers or Jacuzzi, large outdoor decks with inviting daybeds or sun loungers, are just some of the creature-comforts enjoyed by our guests. Dining options are diverse with many restaurants, bars and great value all inclusive packages, topped off with Maldivian service – welcoming, genuine and friendly.

Glass Bathrooms, Resident Turtles and a Toast to a Fine Day on the Ari Explorer

Open since February 2014 Kandolhu Island has captivated the hearts of many and is now currently ranked as the 2nd top getaway in the famed island nation of the Maldives. This year marks the second anniversary of the tiny heart-shaped island but what really contributed to this spectacular glory?

With just 30 intimate villas, 4 gourmet restaurants and a house reef with resident turtles swimming around, how can you not be convinced? A member of the prestigious Small Luxury Hotels chain, Kandolhu Island provides a luxe but laid-back experience.

Ocean Pool Villa's Glass Bathroom, Kandolhu Island
Ocean Pool Villa’s Glass Bathroom, Kandolhu Island

This Maldives hotel offers bespoke services, tailor-made with an added flavour of warm hospitality. Out of the 30 villas presented in 5 unique categories, the Ocean Pool Villa stands out as the iconic face of the resort with its signature glass bathroom. The villas are all fitted handsomely with designer brands from Switzerland, Germany and Italy. A spaciously sized sundeck views out to the array of corals splayed in the ocean with fiery sunsets visible during the evening.

Ari Explorer cruising near island
Ari Explorer

Come evening board the magnificent Ari Explorer, a luxurious 50-metre vessel, and enjoy canapés served with champagne. The skipper drives into the infinite ocean as wisps of scarlet and orange colour the translucent clouds in the sky like canvas.

VIP Guests at the Turtle Fest

The Lhaviyani Turtle Fest took place this weekend on the island of Naifaru, bringing together groups from across the atoll to raise awareness about sea turtle conservation and waste management.

Visitors and NGOs from the capital Malé joined local people for entertainment and educational activities, though the guests of honour had been on the island for some time when the bodu beru drums signalled the start of proceedings.

Lhaviyani Turtle Fest 2016.
Lhaviyani Turtle Fest 2016. Photo Credit: Naj

As songs were sung, faces painted, seminars given and games played, the VIPs kept out of sight. The dozens of eggs, laid by green turtles on the beach weeks earlier stayed out of the limelight, fenced in for protection from poachers by marine biologists based on the island.

The appearance of nests was as unusual as it was well-timed, providing the perfect backdrop as the rest of the community gathered to learn how to protect their endangered neighbours.

Lhaviyani Turtle Fest 2016.
Lhaviyani Turtle Fest 2016. Photo Credit: Naj

“It was a great opportunity to further raise awareness about the issues of egg poaching,” said Fanny Vessaz of Naifaru’s Atoll Marine Centre.

Five of the world’s seven turtle species are found within the archipelago, all of which have been placed on the IUCN’s red list for endangered species. Sighting the sleepy strokes of a hawksbill or an olive ridley is the highlight of many a visitors’ trip, and the benefits of keeping the local population healthy is now a question of economics as well as ecology.

Lhaviyani Turtle Fest 2016.
Lhaviyani Turtle Fest 2016. Photo Credit: Naj

The eating of turtle eggs has been a part of Maldivian culture for centuries, though the consumption of turtle meat became widespread only after the removal on religious prohibitions in the late 1940s. Growing local consumption coupled with the rise in demand for tourist souvenirs in the 1970s put greater pressure on the turtle population.

But the waves of global tourism soon brought the conservation movement to the Maldives, with restrictions on the killing of turtles beginning in 1978. A 1995 moratorium on the catching and killing of turtle products was made permanent this year, while a ban on egg collection in specific islands has just been expanded to the whole country.

Lhaviyani Turtle Fest 2016.
Lhaviyani Turtle Fest 2016. Photo Credit: Naj

Rather than relying on legislation, however, the events organisers hope to spread the message that awareness-raising alongside waste management is key to protecting the species.

“In addition to the hunting of these sea turtles, marine debris are very dangerous,” explained the marine centre’s Ben Harris. “Therefore, preserving sea turtles has two faces – raising awareness about these animals to prevent poaching and about waste management to mitigate the marine debris issue.”

Lhaviyani Turtle Fest 2016
Lhaviyani Turtle Fest 2016. Photo Credit: Naj

Atoll Awareness

Presentations given during the event highlighted the damage caused to local turtle populations by marine litter, with plastic bags often mistaken for jellyfish and eaten. The frequent discovery of young turtles stranded in ‘ghost nets’ was also discussed. Not used by Maldivian fishermen, the nets can drift thousands of miles before injuring and killing turtles in Maldivian waters, and should be collected whenever found.

The festival – the first of its kind in the atoll – saw participation from organisations such as the Environmental Protection Agency, the UNDP, the IUCN, conservation groups, and local schools and colleges. Nearby resorts – which have become some of the main players in local turtle conservation – were also present, with staff from Amilla Fushi, Four Seasons and Kuredu all helping to spread the message.

Just opposite the colourful stalls lay a 20 foot turtle diagram, its frame filled in with locally collected waste to demonstrate the importance of better refuse management. The fishing nets in the head will take 40 years to break down, explained a handout being distributed nearby. 450 years will be needed to break down the plastic bottles in the flipper, and 20 years for the plastic bags in the stomach.

The beneficiaries of the enhanced awareness sloshed around in the tanks of the marine centre behind the festival. Unwanted pets nursed to full strength, these young turtles are being hand-reared until they are a year old, after which they will spend a few weeks in an open water cage preparing for their eventual release.

The natural survival rate of these juvenile turtles is 1 in 100, and that of those still protected in the nest 1 in 1000.

Everyone from the Lhaviyani Turtle Fest 2016 will try to ensure that human activities don’t further narrow these odds. Everyone inside the eggs will appreciate the support.

Sale Coordinator

Located upon a tropical island in the North Huvadhoo Atoll, this beachfront resort is truly a tropical paradise featuring palm coconuts, banyan trees, tropical flowers, and is surrounded by marvelous beaches. Offering the ultimate Maldivian experience, Park Hyatt Maldives Hadahaa is the first eco-friendly resort that is awarded the Green Globe certification in the construction and resort operations.

The property boast 50 villas that are beautifully designed to cater to the needs of all their guests. Offering an excellent variety of villas including Park Villas, Park Villas with Pool, and Park Water Villas, each unit has a private deck, living area, private garden, outdoor shower and bath, entertainment system, and TV.

The resort offers two excellent dining venues, The Dining Room and The Island Grill, offering excellent cuisine with imported beverages. A magnificent place of stay, the Park Hyatt Maldives Hadahaa will give you a memorable one.

Apply before June 07, 2016

CV’s sent with an application for another suitable position within the resort will not be considered.

Villingili – Malé’s Hidden Treasure

On the quiet side of the Maldives’ capital, Male, lies a well-kept secret. Hidden from the million plus visitors who land on Hulhule island each year, Villingili is the hidden gem of North Male atoll.

BuggyArriving on the island from the bursting capital city 7 minutes away, as the ferry’s engines idle and you glide past shaded restaurants into the harbour, your hearing takes time to adjust to the contrasting calm.

Where raised voices and revved engines dominated your senses across the water, in the leafy suburb island the only raised voices are those of the cuckooing Koels up above, and the battery-powered buggies humming down the lanes.

Historically an area of private recreation for sultans before a period as a prison island in the 1970s, Villingili became one of the Maldives’ first resorts before being incorporated (as Villimale) into the insatiable greater Male area in the 1990s.

view of MaleAs the overflow from the teeming Male focuses largely on the artificial Hulhumale island to the north, savvy travellers and residents alike head west to enjoy the perfect hybrid of island and urban life in the Maldives.

The embodiment of this character comes in the form of a fleet of electric buggies, recently introduced as the local transport network on an island that maintains its long-standing restriction on motorised vehicles. For five rufiyaa ($0.3), the buggies can take take you to any one of the three guest houses on the 0.26 square km island.

Villingili Guest HousesBut even during the heat of a Maldivian midday, Seahouse Topdeck hotel and the recently opened Villingili Inn are just a sandalled stroll from the ferry terminal. Further on, past towering palm trees and streets lined with netted joali chairs, the City King guest house sits on the western side of the island.

Guests at all three sites can enjoy spacious air-conditioned rooms, wifi, television and private bathrooms. The largest of  the three, Seahouse, also provides massage treatments. Seahouse and City King have cafe’s on site while visitors to the Villingili Inn can enjoy exclusive access to the nearby McRooster restaurant.

Numerous canteen cafes scattered across the island offer local basics such as fish curry, devilled chicken, and afternoon savoury snacks known as short-eats. For striking views of the chaotic capital, however, Xie Xie restaurant and Marimba cafe are recommended, with the latter situated on the beach itself.

On foot or by bicycle, the small island can be circumnavigated in the 15 minutes it takes to travel to the city and back. Villingili’s visitors can dive into Male’s maelstrom to see the heart of the modern Maldives before heading back to enjoy its spirit, reclining on swings let down from the sheltering trees and swimming in the clear blue waters.

Alternatively, those looking for a little more action can take a trip to the opposite side of the island, where the team at Liquid Watersports will be happy to show you their backyard, providing a range of activities, including jetskis, windsurfing, and their signature speciality – flyboarding!!

The underwater delights of the atoll are easily accessible from Villingili, with the experienced team at the Diver’s Lodge offering the aquatic experiences to divers of all levels. The country’s first whale submarine company also operates from the channel between Male and its sleepy neighbour, providing a unique trip around the reefs and channels in air-conditioned comfort.

In addition to this, the island’s guest houses are happy to arrange snorkelling, fishing and local island visits, while day trips to one of the many nearby single-island resorts can easily be arranged.

Visitors to Villingili will feel that they have stumbled upon an unexplored treasure island, and in many ways they have. Maintaining island calm in the shadow of the world’s most densely populated island is some achievement, and those choosing to stay in Villingili will feel the rewards.

Kurumba Maldives Celebrates International Children’s Day 2016

For the fourth consecutive year, Kurumba Maldives celebrated International Children’s Day 2016 by welcoming 30 Maldivian children from the orphanage “Kudakudhinge Hiyaa” residing in Villingili island. Aged 9 to 16 years old, the children enjoyed an exciting afternoon at the Resort.

Kurumba Maldives - International Children's Day 2016After a fun speedboat ride from Villingili island to Kurumba, the children were welcomed at the Conference Hall by Kurumba Maldives’ Bodu Beru team, who performed a few songs for them. Then the children enjoyed a delicious buffet and sweet treats prepared by Kurumba’s team of chefs, whilst some of our team members sang and danced for them. This encouraged the children to do the same in return. This was then followed by a Magician Show and fun team games, accompanied by Kurumba’s mascots.

Kurumba Maldives - International Children's Day 2016Ali Farooq, Assistant Food & Beverage Manager of Kurumba Maldives stated: “Kurumba Maldives endeavors to support our local community through events and projects like this. This year, we combined Maahefun – celebration marking the beginning of the Ramadan – and International Children’s Day for the kids to enjoy.”

Kurumba Maldives - International Children's Day 2016The Kudakudhinge Hiyaa orphanage, located on Villingili and Hulhumalé islands, hosts children between the ages of 6 months and 21 years old. This is a self-supporting service that requires help from the community and industry in order to continue providing a caring, safe and educational environment for these children.

IMG_8128Kurumba Maldives has an ongoing commitment to Kudakudhinge Hiyaa and over the past 2 years has provided numerous improvements to the orphanage’s residential areas. These include upgrades to the kitchen, laundry, play areas, CCTV and installing new computers, along with providing ongoing consumables such as linen, cleaning equipment, toys and complimentary repairs and maintenance.

Kurumba Maldives - International Children's Day 2016For more information on Kurumba Maldives’ CSR program, please check www.kurumba.com/maldives-csr-activities

For more information about upcoming events in Kurumba Maldives, please check www.kurumba.com/maldives-event-calendar

About Kurumba Maldives

Kurumba Maldives is set on a tropical island in the North Male’ Atoll, conveniently situated a brief 10 minute speedboat ride from the airport. Dotted with coconut trees that are the island’s namesake, Kurumba was the first private island resort in the Maldives. Beautiful gardens, palm fringed white sandy beaches and a vibrant house reef is the hallmarks of this classic Maldivian resort.

The resort offers an array of nine styles of accommodation, ranging from comfortable Superior rooms to the spacious Royal Residence, spread amongst the island’s lush tropical gardens with easy access to the beach. With eight different restaurants to choose from Kurumba Maldives will charm you with its unparalleled choice of dining experiences and a wide range of recreation activities and entertainment. All while maintaining idyllic refuges and quiet spaces of relaxation to create the perfect balance for a holiday in paradise, perfect for honeymooners and families alike.

Over the years, Kurumba has played host to a variety of foreign dignitaries and Heads of State, including Indian Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh, former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, and former US Presidents Bill Clinton, George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush. It has also been the recipient of numerous accolades and awards, including Maldives Leading Hotel (World Travel Awards) in 2010 and 2011, and Trip Advisor’s Travellers’ Choice Awards for Best Service and Luxury (2013) as well as the number one All-Inclusive resort in Asia (2014 and 2015), and number one best All-Inclusive resort in the world (2015).

An Island to call your own: Introducing Four Seasons Private Island Maldives at Voavah, Baa Atoll

Off limits to everyone; limitless to you

Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts, the world’s leading luxury hospitality company, today announced Four Seasons Private Island Maldives at Voavah, Baa Atoll, the first private island in the company’s portfolio and the world’s only exclusive-use UNESCO hideaway located in a World Biosphere Reserve.

Opening in late 2016, this secluded five-acre (two-hectare) oasis transcends the private island experience. “Entirely yours” from the moment of booking, the island’s seven bedrooms, Beach House, Dive Centre, Oceans of Consciousness Spa and 62-foot (18.9-metre) yacht extend the spoils of the Maldives’ only UNESCO Biosphere Reserve to up to 22 guests on an exclusive basis.

Truly capturing the imagination, Four Seasons Private Island Maldives at Voavah couples legendary care with limitless living. Alongside the Four Seasons Private Jet and the company’s array of Extraordinary Experiences, the island showcases the company’s commitment to offering the world’s most discerning guests the best of a destination, while surrounded by the personalised service and attention to detail that are the hallmarks of Four Seasons.

“Four Seasons Private Island Maldives at Voavah will redefine exclusive luxury, opening as a tropical haven for those who seek an unprecedented experience of private luxury alongside Four Seasons legendary service,” said Mike Crawford, President, Asia Pacific. “As the latest addition to our Extraordinary Experiences collection, the island speaks to the company’s commitment to perfecting the guest experience and our ability to re-imagine the limits of luxury travel in creative and innovative ways. It’s just one of the many ways we’re constantly evolving our offerings to deliver the kind of memorable, fully-customised and exclusive experiences our guests want and value.”

“At Four Seasons Private Island Maldives at Voavah, guests can design their own experience,” commented Armando Kraenzlin, Regional Vice President and General Manager, Four Seasons Resort Maldives at Landaa Giraavaru. “They can treat the island as a space to spend captivating moments with family and friends; a place to play to the extreme and explore to their heart’s content; a secluded sanctuary to retreat and spa; the most exclusive VIP venue to celebrate and party; or an inspiring landscape to meet and motivate.”

Maldives Private Island at Voavah, Baa Atoll
Maldives Private Island at Voavah, Baa Atoll

Many experiences – from year-round manta ray sightings to mind-expanding kids’ activities – focus on the surrounding UNESCO territory, guided by a team that has already spent a decade protecting it. Indeed, Four Seasons developed Voavah in close coordination with local environmental consultancies to ensure proper maintenance of the balance between man and nature, culture and conservation – in keeping with the prerequisites of the Atoll’s UNESCO Biosphere designation.

Voavah days revolve around the double-storey Beach House and adjacent white sands, crystal waters and abundant reef – all exemplary even by Maldivian standards. The Beach House hub offers an open-air living room, dining room, kitchen, pool deck, gym, library and loft lounge, while seven bedrooms span three separate locations: on the beach, over the lagoon or elevated in panoramic Mezzanine Suites.

As are all aspects of Four Seasons Private Island Maldives at Voavah, dining on the island is tailored to the mood of island guests, meal by meal, from poolside to The Beach House dining room, at the water’s edge or on a sandbank. A 62-foot (18.9-metre) private yacht – Voavah Summer – invites exploration of a dazzling and undisturbed UNESCO territory. From diving with whale sharks to snorkelling with year-round manta rays, swimming with neighbourhood turtles, fishing for dinner, visiting local islands, surfing unknown breaks and cruising into breathtaking Baa Atoll sunsets, the possibilities on Four Seasons Private Island Maldives at Voavah are endless.

Expanding horizons, The Oceans of Consciousness Spa offers bespoke over-water spa therapies and rituals; yoga, meditation and pranayama classes; high-end beauty treatments; and Rossano Ferretti hair consultant on call.

In the mood for a party? On Voavah, there are no neighbours, no paparazzi and the possibilities are endless. Groups can create one-of-a-kind birthday surprises and celebrations, fly in big name acts or create their own mini music festival or beach party, all perfected with a sprinkling of Voavah magic.

Maldives Private Island at Voavah, Baa Atoll
Maldives Private Island at Voavah, Baa Atoll

The island is accessible via a 40-minute seaplane transfer from Malé International Airport, or a 20-minute speedboat ride from Four Seasons Resort Maldives at Landaa Giraavaru. Four Seasons Private Island Maldives at Voavah will be the fourth addition to the company’s Maldives collection, including Four Seasons Resort Maldives at Landaa Giraavaru, Four Seasons Resort Maldives at Kuda Huraa, and Four Seasons Explorer.

Four Seasons explorer near island
Four Seasons explorer near island

The experience of Four Seasons Private Island Maldives at Voavah will set the benchmark for private island travel, both due to the transfixing natural beauty of the island and the highly bespoke, privacy-protected service that epitomises Four Seasons. It is the very definition of an Extraordinary Experience. Such offerings invite travellers to see the world differently, with a level of access that is otherwise unavailable. The current collection of Four Seasons Extraordinary Experiences includes a wide range of unforgettable options, including those in:

  • Maui – Guests will soar by helicopter above towering waterfalls, rainforested peaks and a dormant volcano before touching down on Hana Ranch for a private tour and foraging expedition through the working ranch and organic farm. Guests will then enjoy a private lunch prepared by Four Seasons Executive Chef Craig Dryhurst and Hana Ranch’s Chef Jon Watson featuring ingredients freshly picked from the farm. 
  • San Diego – Armed with a waterproof camera and wetsuit, guests will capture the beauty of coastal California from sea to sky through an underwater photography expedition with Aaron Chang, considered by many to be the creator of modern surf and ocean photography. Following a morning of diving, guests will join Chang in a helicopter tour above the San Diego coastline to capture the perfect aerial shot of the breaking shore.
  • Cairo at Nile Plaza – Guests will relive the 7,000-year history of Egypt and the Pharaonic Empire by enjoying a spectacular sound and light show of the Pyramids at night. Narration and light displays will bring the history and mystery of the Egyptian empire to life, recounting the legends of ancient Pharaohs and the majestic Sphinx.  Set against the backdrop of the Great Pyramid, guests will then enjoy a private dinner under the stars while listening to the gorgeous strains of the private Cairo Symphony Orchestra. 
  • Cap-Ferrat – Guests will enjoy a private tour of Villa Santo Sospir, the legendary French Riviera estate that formerly belonged to socialite Francine Weisweiller and was once the favourite gathering place for celebrities, writers and artists such as Coco Chanel, Marlene Dietrich and Pablo Picasso. After exploring the Villa and taking in its many whimsical mosaics, murals and frescos, guests will enjoy a private dinner, prepared by Michelin-starred Chef Didier Aniès, overlooking the Mediterranean on the estate terrace. 
  • Maldives at Landaa Giraavaru – Guests will channel their inner Jacques Cousteau during a journey of discovery in the underwater world of manta rays and whale sharks. Led by some of the world’s leading experts on manta rays, guests will cruise the turquoise waters of the Baa Atoll UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve, learning to spot the creatures in the water and helping to record essential environmental information and take identification photos. Taking their oceanic study to new depths, guests will then free-dive into the Indian Ocean to observe the manta rays and whale sharks in their natural habitat.

    Sunset Water Villa, Four Seasons Resort Maldives at Landaa Giraavaru
    Sunset Water Villa, Four Seasons Resort Maldives at Landaa Giraavaru
  • Hangzhou – Guests will journey back in time on a traditional Chinese rowboat ride through one of Eastern China’s most lush and fabled lakes, taking in majestic mountains, ancient temples, traditional pagodas and graceful bridges while sipping premium Hangzhou tea and sampling local delicacies from Four Seasons Hotel Hangzhou at West Lake.

Guesthouses in Maldives – Island Value

Telling colleagues that you are taking a holiday in the Maldives will prompt groans of jealousy around the office. Co-workers will lose themselves in daydreams in which coffee at the desk becomes kurumba on a deck chair, and the computer’s glare is replaced by the Indian Ocean sun.

But, snapping out of this reverie, they will then ask themselves if you’ve had a pay rise they weren’t aware of.

Kaani Beach Hotel
Kaani Beach Hotel

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.

But the industry is changing, with budget guesthouses 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.

Beach, Whiteshell Island Hotel & Spa
Beach, Whiteshell Island Hotel & Spa

While the advent of commercial tourism in the 1970s brought the delights of the Maldives’ rich reefs and pristine lagoons to the outside world, the society of those who call paradise home remained largely off limits.

Stories of intrepid backpackers making it as far as the isolated islands were rare before fears of ‘hippy-types’ prompted the government in 1984 to shut down the few unofficial home-stays outside the capital, Malé. Small fishing communities were this cut-off from the outside world for a further quarter-century.

Photo Credit: Naj
Photo Credit: Naj

After legislative changes in 2009, however, the massive potential of the guesthouse sector has been unleashed, with floods of resort workers investing their money and their considerable hospitality experience in local islands.

Akhmeem Razzaq, managing director of local publisher Maldives Getaways, believes that the industry’s development will create financially empowered communities as well as raising social and environmental awareness across the islands.

“Maldives is not just about beaches, sun and sea. It’s also about people and a very unique culture history and traditional language,” Akhmeem told Maldives.com.

Beach, Kaani Beach Hotel
Beach, Kaani Beach Hotel

Indeed, the sea-change in the industry has opened up a unique prospect of affordable holidays that can offer unparalleled beaches alongside the opportunity to experience a culture largely untouched by the outside world.

Initial fears that the island’s Islamic culture would be incompatible with budget travel have proven unfounded, with the industry growing by more than a third in the past 5 years. The absence of pork and alcohol is more than offset by the opportunity to experience Maldivian lifestyle – fishing, diving, snorkelling – for a fraction of the usual price.

Snorkeling, Kaani Beach Hotel
Snorkeling, Kaani Beach Hotel

But those who wish to swap the lilting call to prayer echoing through the sandy island streets with the music of the cocktail bar are welcome to do so. Most guesthouses are happy to arrange day trips – and even short-stays – on the resorts, so visitors can experience the other side of paradise.

While transport between 1,192 islands spread across 42,000 square km will always be challenging, more and more guesthouse visitors are utilising local public transport to island hop, embracing the unique experience of a ferry ride around atolls.

Back in the office, envious teammates can now hear stories of sun, sea, and sand accompanied by tales of life in the Indian Ocean and the Maldivian community. But the best news of all is that that the cost of a holiday in the famous atolls is now within their reach.

Anantara’s Coral Protection and Regeneration Programme

Anantara has launched their latest coral protection and regeneration programme, aiming and provide a safe environment in which life on the reef can thrive.

Named, ‘Taking A Holistic Approach To Reef Protection’ – HARP – the 5-year scheme is headed by marine biologists from Coral Reef CPR – conservationists, biologists and ecologists whose mission is to reduce threats and promote sustainable management of reef ecosystems.

“Some reefs in the Maldives are experiencing unusually high water temperatures which is causing coral bleaching,” explained the organisation’s lead scientist Dr Andrew Buckner.

“These coral animals contain symbiotic single-celled algae within their tissues, which provide the coral with up to 90% of its energy. Once stressed, the coral expels these algae, causing them to turn completely white.”

Snorkelling with fish, Anantara Kihavah Villas
Snorkelling, Anantara Kihavah Villas

Dr Bruckner noted that, despite the bleaching of the reef in the Maldives, the coral can recover. The atoll archipelago suffered extensive bleaching as a result of the intense 1998 El Nino, while the recently ended El Nino was said to have been the strongest in 20 years.

In addition to monitoring the water conditions at 10 points in South Malé and Baa atoll this year, the HARP programme saw the removal of the harmful Crown of Thorn starfish from around Anantara’s three South Malé atoll properties in 2015. Following this project, Anantara have produced and distributed a manual outlining best practice for other resorts to follow.

As a result of this year’s observations, Coral Reef CPR have discovered that temperatures on the reef have exceeded 30°C, rising as high as 32 – 33 °C in lagoonal environments.

“Under normal conditions, sea water temperatures should be 3-4 degrees cooler at depth but these high temperatures are extending beyond 35 metres depth,” noted Dr Bruckner.

As well as being caused by the recent El Nino, Dr Bruckner noted that the sea has been unusually calm, allowing UV light to penetrate further down the reef.

“Due to stressful conditions corals in some areas in the Maldives began to pale in colour at the beginning of April and several sensitive species bleached white. By mid-April between 60-80% of corals on the reef we were monitoring were fully bleached or a very light yellow in colour.”

Aerial, Anantara Kihavah Villas
Aerial, Anantara Kihavah Villas

On a more positive note, however, the researchers have discovered some corals that appear to have adapted to higher temperatures, with further plans made to analyse and encourage the wider growth of these so-called ‘super corals’.

The HARP programme is set to build upon Anantara’s award-winning conservation work, which has included coral regeneration programmes in place since 2011. Guests at Anantara Dhigu, Anantara Veli, Anantara Kihavah Villas or Naladhu Maldives can join the marine biologists on excursions as well as help to fund the project through the company’s ‘Dollars for Deeds’ initiative.

The scheme sees guests invited to donate one dollar for each night of their stay, which is then matched dollar for dollar by Minor Hotels. Subsequent funds raised in the Maldives are committed over the next five years to the key areas of marine and coastal environment protection, environmental education, and community welfare.