Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Eco resorts in the Maldives


Lovers of luxury are spoilt for choice when it comes to first-class island escapes in the Maldives – 90 luxury resorts all providing privacy and top-class hospitality in spectacular five-star surrounds. Tourism turned up late to the Maldives, a nation stretching over 800km of atolls in two main groups (north and south). The first luxury resort opened only in 1995, but it is now a destination hotter than the equatorial sun that beats down on the loved-up couples, jet-set veterans and A-listers who flock there.

Alila Villas Hadahaa, Maldives

Coco Palm Dhuni Kolhu

The palm-fringed, icing-sugar sand beaches and dazzling turquoise waters took a beating in 2004 when the Boxing Day tsunami tore through the country, severely damaging many of the resorts. The destruction of the islands and surrounding coral reefs revealed just how vulnerable the lowest lying nation on Earth is to environmental disasters. Rising seas and global warming could threaten the Maldives with the prospect of being underwater by early next century.

President Mohamed Nasheed recently declared his vision for the Maldives to be carbon neutral by 2020. It was a big call, but with tourism being the main industry, many resorts have reopened as even glossier versions of their former selves, albeit with a much stronger focus on ecotourism.

Doing more than paying lip service to protecting their environment, many of the resorts have already achieved serious eco credentials from the tourism industry’s environmental watchdog, EarthCheck. It is paying dividends, enticing a new breed of traveller who has realised that doing his or her bit for the environment doesn’t have to mean scrimping on life’s luxuries.

Stay

Alila Villas Hadahaa | The most recent green resort opened in August 2009. Set on a remote island 400km south of Male and 10km from its nearest neighbour, Hadahaa is creating quite a stir. The slick design was created by award-winning architects who can now claim credit for building the first resort in the country to rigorous EarthCheck standards. There are 36 island villas (20 with plunge pools) and 14 super-sleek over-water bungalows, built wherever possible from local materials, with design and construction guided by environmental impact. Rainwater harvesting and a waste-treatment plan help reduce the carbon footprint...

Soneva Fushi Six Senses | The birthplace of barefoot luxury, Soneva Fushi’s Robinson Crusoe-style hideaway is a magical island maze of footbridges above the gardens with pools and pavilions that seem to grow out of the lush jungle surrounds. Part of the Six Senses portfolio, it is the creation of Sonu and Eva Shivdasani, who opened their flagship resort in 1995. Their philosophy is simple: taking people back to nature luxuriously. At what is now one of the world’s most exclusive escapes with a swag of awards, the eco-luxe experience begins on arrival. Shoes are stashed in an unbleached, organic cotton bag and not seen again until the time of departure...

Coco Palm Dhuni Kolhu | A 25-minute seaplane journey from the capital, Male, this resort keeps prices low while offering five-star rustic chic. DK isn’t flashy. Its charm creeps up on you thanks to the seclusion of the bungalows and pared-back comfort of the 98 compact villas, which feature four-poster beds, outdoor showers and soaring thatched roofs. Better still, there is no television or wi-fi in the rooms. Twelve lagoon villas and two 154sq m top-of-the-line Sunset Lagoon villas allow glimpses of fish below; or take in the spectacular Maldivian sunsets from private splash pools and decks...

Banyan Tree Vabbinfaru | This exclusive hideaway is among the leaders in eco-luxury travel and offers first-rate, unobtrusive hospitality. Vabbinfaru – which in Maldivian means “round island circled by a coral reef” – has 48 rooms constructed from sustainable materials. They range from the high-end beachfront villas to deluxe and cheaper ocean-view villas, which are tucked behind them. The food is exceptional and dinner options include the beachfront restaurant or a romantic table for two on the beach with water lapping at your feet. Anyone who has stayed at Banyan Tree resorts will know they are among the best for spa treatments...

Soneva Gili | Long before eco-luxe travel was in vogue, Soneva Gili by Six Senses was practising it. With 45 spacious suites and villas built on stilts over the glorious blue water, every spot makes the most of this hideaway’s natural beauty. A haven for celebrities, the tranquil resort offers all the mod cons that guests demand, but does so with sustainability at the fore. Renewable forest timber and traditional fabrics on the sumptuous day beds are in line with its eco-chic theme. Villas are huge, with over-water terrace and rooftop patio...

Angsana IhuruSnorkellers and divers will relish this small island luxury retreat, where guests can almost roll out of bed and into turquoise waters awash with fish. Don mask and fins and be distracted for hours on the resort’s house reef, touted as one of the best in the Maldives. The resort’s coral regeneration program has ensured guests are treated to an underwater kaleidoscope of colour, as well as myriad marine life including turtles, dolphins and the occasional (harmless, we’re assured) reef shark...

Taj Exotica & SpaAt less than 1km long and just 50m wide, this island, with its faultless beaches set in one of the only clear sand lagoons in the Maldives, will seduce you before you’ve even arrived. Just 15 minutes by boat from the mainland, Taj Exotica is surrounded by shallow waters and dotted with 64 air- conditioned villas – some with plunge pools – and an over-water presidential suite. The entry-level villas are all over water and have first-class touches including large marble bathrooms with tubs providing postcard-perfect sea views; cool, dark woods in soothing creams and caramels; and outdoor plunge pools perched above the lagoon...

Coco Palm Bodu HithiOpened in 2006, the boomerang-shaped younger sister of Dhuni Kolhu smacks you with wow factor from the moment you set foot on the island. Even entry-level beach villas have a private outdoor courtyard with an extravagant plunge pool. Coco Palm Resorts, as part of the Coco Collection, which has three resorts in the Maldives, has committed itself to fast-tracking its eco responsibilities and at Bodu Hithi a marine biologist has embarked on a three-year coral-rejuvenation program. An infinity pool, myriad top-class restaurants and a spectacular house reef are just some of the reasons the resort was awarded the title of Best Luxury Island Resort at this year’s World Luxury Travel Hotel Awards...

Source Qantas The Australian Way February 2011


Visit Qantas Travel Insider

1 comment:

  1. Hi,

    Maldives offers a unique collection of luxury Eco resorts, bringing guests of the Maldives everything they dream of from a holiday in Paradise, whilst having the vision to protect this land for generations to come. Thanks a lot...

    Blue Cruise In Turkey

    ReplyDelete