Thursday, April 30, 2009

Hilton Hotels Corp Announces First Waldorf Astoria Collection Asia Pacific Resort

Hilton Hotels Corporation today announced its first Waldorf Astoria Collection property in Asia Pacific – The Beach House. Located at the northern tip of the Maldives, The Beach House is scheduled to join the Waldorf Astoria Collection on 1 November, 2009.

Owned by the Maldivian company, Sun Hotels & Resorts Pvt. Ltd, The Beach House has been in operation as a luxurious and private resort for the past year, during which time it has won several accolades, including being featured on the Condé Nast Traveler Hot List, as well as named one of the World’s Best New Hotels by the Daily Telegraph UK.

The Waldorf Astoria Collection is a distinctive selection of some of the most extraordinary hotels in the world. Each hotel celebrates its own individual character, timeless architecture and special history, while forming part of this prestigious global collection. The Beach House will join other world-renowned hotels and resorts in The Waldorf Astoria Collection, such as the Trianon Palace Versailles in France, the Rome Cavalieri in Italy, the Qasr Al Sharq in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia and the Arizona Biltmore Resort & Spa in the United States.

Martin Rinck, President – Asia Pacific, Hilton Hotels Corporation, commented, “The Maldives is well-known as one of the most desirable archipelagoes in the world and the success of our Conrad Maldives Rangali Island is testament to both the allure of this location and the uniqueness of the resort. In addition to welcoming The Beach House to the Waldorf Astoria Collection, we are delighted to have also signed an agreement with Sun Hotels & Resorts to manage a Hilton property in the Maldives, which will already open in July this year.”

The Beach House, The Waldorf Astoria Collection, is located on the pristine, lagoon-ringed Haa Alifu Atoll which is fringed by powder-white beaches and complemented with an unspoilt jungle-filled interior. The 35-acre resort comprises 83 Maldivian-style villas, three restaurants, four bars and a luxurious spa. Each villa comes complete with a private pool and butler.

Guests can choose to indulge in a romantic over-water Asian fusion meal at Saffron, enjoy succulent seafood and steaks from the central open kitchen at Medium Rare or dine at Four Corners on cuisine from around the world. In addition, there are options aplenty to watch the famous Maldivian sunsets from the resort’s spectacular bars.

Shui, an exquisite spa nestled among virgin forest and streams, offers traditional health and wellness treatments.

Paul Brown, President, Global Brands and Commercial Services, Hilton Hotels Corporation, said: “We are delighted to welcome The Beach House to the Waldorf Astoria Collection furthering its unique signature experiences around the world. The Waldorf Astoria Collection brings authentic, luxurious experiences to travelers, providing the ultimate opportunity for discovery amongst the natural beauty of this destination”.

Hilton Hotels Corporation is developing Waldorf Astoria Collection hotels in key cities around the world and over the next few years and expects to launch The Dakota Mountain Lodge, Park City, Utah, The Waldorf Astoria Collection (Spring 2009), Boca Raton Resort & Club, Boca Raton, Florida, The Waldorf Astoria Collection (Spring 2009), The Roosevelt, New Orleans, Louisiana, The Waldorf Astoria Collection (June 2009) and The Palace Jerusalem, Jerusalem, Israel, The Waldorf Astoria Collection - (December 2010).

The Beach House will become part of the wider Hilton Family of Hotels, including the Worldwide Reservations Network and the Global Distribution System, making it easier for guests to access reservations information. Each property in the Hilton Family will also participate in Hilton HHonors®, the only guest rewards program that allows members to earn Points & Miles® for the same stay and redeem points for free nights with No Blackout Dates.


Wednesday, April 29, 2009

OFIS Unveils 4 Self-Sustaining Islands in Maldives

Slovenian architect studio OFIS was recently granted a 25 year lease by the Maldivian government to develop a set of four islands into tropical eco resorts. Each island’s plan demonstrates concern for the local environment, the ability to self-sustain, and the developers’ genuine intent to maintain the cultural and ecological authenticity of the local area. Their proposal, which includes a 100-bed 5-star resort, will be spread throughout the islands with a variety of different accommodation styles, from bungalow to villa. This will all be done according to local law, of course, which, among other stipulations, requires that no building can be higher than the tallest tree on the island.

OFIS selected their four islands from a pool of 14 available for the project. Local environmental experts surveyed the islands to determine designs and methods most compatible with reef, wind and sun patterns, and local vegetation. The proposed construction materials are locally sourced bamboo, straw and wood that will be prefabricated on the mainland as much as possible.

The first island, Funamadua, is a relaxing sanctuary with seaview verandas and a spa. The second, Hadahaa, connects to a local village. Villas wrap around the island giving each one a private patio. The third and fourth islands, Konotta and Randheli, include similar offshore dwellings where visitors will feel like they are simply floating above the sea.


MARCO POLO called it the "Flower by the Indies" while Ibn Batuta described it as "One of the Wonders of the World".

And true to its reputation, the Maldives boasts some of the most spectacular sights that can only be seen in this part of the Indian Ocean.

As soon as my feet landed on the powder-fine sands of Kandooma island, I felt at home instantly.

Located some 35 km south of the capital Male, the four-star Kandooma resort features about 160 villas comprising beach and garden villas, two-storey duplex villas as well as water villas. Its contemporary aesthetic is seen in its large picture windows, and whitewashed floor boards that evoke a sense of fresh coolness, yet feel warm and textured to the bare feet.

It's a destination where a stroll on the beach is the highlight of the day, simply because the panoramic view of the shimmering ocean will stay lodged in your memory for a long while.

Of course, you don't have to limit yourself to a sedate stroll. You can work up a sweat by pounding the powdery sand in your jogging shoes, or head to the gym for a vigorous workout. Then ease out the kinks with a 50-minute full body massage at the COMO Shambhala Spa, where its signature blended oils make short work of your tight muscles.

Being in the Maldives without engaging in water sports is like staying at a ski resort and not going anywhere near the slopes. A must-try here is a half-day adventure aqua safari which takes you to two coral reefs to meet your colourful underwater neighbours. Say hello to numerous blue surgeon, while keeping an eye out for Moorish Idol, unicorn fish and even the occasional dolphin.

You might even be inspired to return something to Mother Nature by sponsoring a coral tray to build a home for the fishes. To date, some 28 coral trays have been planted, with 12 of these being guest sponsor trays. These trays are now home to some butterfly fish, lionfish, two stingrays and many others.

With the Maldives comprising 1,190 islands scattered across 26 atolls in the Indian Ocean, island-hopping is a natural progression after you've explored all the attractions of your resort island.

One option is to hop onto a speedboat to scenic Rihiveli, 15 minutes away. Located in the South Male Atoll, the island resort is rustic in setting and has a traditional Maldivian feel that the stylishly-furnished Kandooma didn't manage.

All 48 bungalows open to astounding sea views, with the warm waters of the lagoon lapping at your doorstep.

Each bungalow features palm-thatched roof, wooden floor, as well as garden with hammocks and sunbeds.

Lunch at Sunrise Island is a must, as guests are treated to a barbecue of freshly caught fish. What's more, the tiny island is accessible on foot as the shallow waters allow one to wade across from Rihiveli. If you are lucky, you can even spot some stingrays swimming near the shore.

There, you're not only treated to a sumptuous meal, but you're witness to a spell-binding work of art where every flicker of light appears to have been carved on the water by an invisible hand.

And as the sun sets over Rhiveli island in the evening, it casts its fiery glow on the water's surface and lights up the entire sea - another work of nature, and a sight to behold.

Source: (Oh Boon Ping)

Top travel magazine ranks Diva Maldives best Indian Ocean hotel

Diva, Naïade’s luxury resort in the Maldives, has obtained a new prestigious recognition. The renowned Condé Nast Traveller has announced its 2009 Hot List. Of all the hotels in the Indian Ocean, Diva is in first place in this ranking. Diva ranks 14th in the Hot List.

The Hot List is compiled based on the choice of professionals in Condé Nast. Several criteria are used: the design, ambience, food, among others.

Condé Nast was impressed with the design and feeling of space that one feels at Diva.

The excellent level of the six restaurants Diva also made a difference. The editorial team considers that the island Didhoonolhu is big enough for honeymooners to find an intimacy. The magazine recommended to its readers to book the Beach Villas. Condé Nast Traveller, with its 820,000 prints, remains one of the most prestigious travel magazines of the world.


Maldives: Appeal No. MAAMV001 - Annual report 2008

In a world of global challenges, continued poverty, inequity, and increasing vulnerability to disasters and disease, the International Federation – with its global network – works to accomplish its Global Agenda, partnering with local community and civil society to prevent and alleviate human suffering from disasters, diseases and public health emergencies.

In brief

Programme purpose: All 2008 programmes were focused on creating the environment for a local national society to be established and begin its work.

Programmes summary: The tsunami recovery programmes provided an opportunity for Red Cross Red Crescent work to be visible to the Maldivian community: thus, establishing goodwill and better understanding about its humanitarian nature. This understanding opened the way to support the formation of a Maldivian national society, a process which has been going on since September 2005. The International Federation continued supporting the interim planning group (IPG), which was tasked to steer the Maldivian Red Crescent formation process; a Red Crescent Bill was submitted to the People's Majlis [parliament] in November 2008.

Implementation of disaster management programme activities progressed well on all the 11 targeted islands. Specifically, community-based disaster management (CBDM), vulnerability capacity assessment (VCA) and first aid trainings were facilitated. Target island communities drew up emergency contingency and disaster risk reduction plans. First aid and sea search and rescue trainings were delivered to community volunteers while first aid training was also conducted for interested organizations, resorts and companies.

Collaboration with the National Disaster Management Centre (NDMC) resulted in the approval of new International Federation-produced guidelines for island disaster management mobilization and organization. The collaboration also promoted the participation of NDMC in the development of a CBDM training manual for government officers.

Promotion of the Fundamental Principles, humanitarian values, and the mandate of the International Red Cross Red Crescent Movement was also prioritized in the first half of the year. This included creating awareness on the role the Maldivian Red Crescent will be playing once it becomes operational. Exposition of the Principles and values formed an integral part of all programmes.

Financial situation: The initial budget for 2008 was CHF 1,683,000 (USD 1,595,700 or EUR 1,125,000). It was later reduced to CHF 228,265 (USD 216,400 or EUR 152,600), which was 100 per cent covered. The revision was done because activities implemented during the first half of the year were funded through the tsunami recovery operation since funding for Appeal 2008-2009 came during the second quarter of 2008. This also took into consideration that a local national society had not been formally constituted by end 2008. Total expenditure for the year was CHF 224,241 (USD 212,600 or EUR 149,900).

No. of people we help: Appeal 2008-2009 programmes reached over 24,000 beneficiaries during 2008. This number is expected to increase over the coming year as the Maldivian Red Crescent will target to reach to a quarter of the Maldivian population – approximately 75,000 people.

Our partners: The National Disaster Management Centre, Ministry of Atolls Development, Ministry of Health, Ministry of Education, Faculty of Health Sciences, Ministry of Youth, island authorities, American Red Cross, British Red Cross, Canadian Red Cross, French Red Cross, Hong Kong branch of the Red Cross Society of China, and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

Full_Report (pdf* format - 309.2 Kbytes)


Sunday, April 26, 2009

Blake replaces Boucher

President Barack Obama has chosen U.S. Ambassador to Sri Lanka Robert Blake to replace Richard Boucher as Assistant Secretary of State for South Asian affairs dealing with India and Pakistan.

In announcing his nomination, the White House noted Mr. Blake had also been Deputy Chief of Mission at the U.S. mission in New Delhi from 2003 to 2006.

If approved by the Senate, Mr. Blake will also deal with Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. A veteran diplomat, Mr. Blake, as Ambassador to Colombo and the Maldives, has urged Sri Lankan officials to let civilians leave the safe zone where they were trapped with Tamil Tiger rebels.

A foreign service officer since 1985, Mr. Blake has also served at the U.S. embassies in Tunisia, Algeria, Nigeria and Egypt. He also has held a number of positions at the State Department in Washington. Mr. Blake earned a bachelor of arts from Harvard in 1980 and a masters in international relations from the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies in 1984. Source:— IANS

Maldives Construction Fair 2009

By staging the Maldives Construction Fair in Male for the second consecutive year, Maldives Exhibition and Conference Services took on the role of a government agency, Managing Director, of South Asia Exhibition Services, Arjun Dharmadasa said.

He said that MECS, which was able to convince 30 Sri Lanka companies and organizations to participate in MCF 2009, had actually performed a function on behalf of the Sri Lankan government.

"Exhibitions in the Maldives do not generally attract huge crowds, but those who come are, by and large, persons interested in making purchases. In that sense, I would term MCF 2009 as a success. It has laid the foundation for further expansion."

The feedback was encouraging and it would take a while to determine the exact number of orders placed during the Fair and also its value in monetary terms, Dharmadasa said/

Managing Director of MECS, Mohammed Ajmal said that despite the global economic crisis, they were able to increase the number of stalls this year to 51, of which 30 were occupied by Sri Lankan companies.

Invest Maldives, he said, was earlier a very bureaucratic organization, but since President Nasheed assumed office, it had relaxed its rules and regulations with a view to attracting maximum foreign participation in the Maldivian economy.

Ajmal said that there is an urgent need to increase the number of Convention Centers and hotel rooms in Male and he has appealed to the Maldivian government, to address this issue as a matter of priority.


Saturday, April 18, 2009

Coral Fossils Reveal Sea Levels Rising Fast

Heat waves, droughts and mass extinctions are all potential threats from climate change. But the scariest risk has always been that of rapid sea-level rise caused by the collapse of the massive ice sheets in Greenland and Antarctica. There is enough water locked on Greenland alone to raise global sea levels by 23 ft. (7 m) if it melted, which would swamp coastal cities like London and Shanghai and all but wipe away small island states like the Maldives and Tuvalu. We can likely adapt, expensively, to higher temperatures and changing precipitation patterns, but it's difficult to imagine how we could cope with the oceans literally erasing some of our most valuable real estate.

While the geologic record shows the earth has experienced rapid sea-level rise in the past, during the sharp warm-ups that follow the end of ice ages, those big melts have occurred when the world had much less ice than it does now. Scientists are unsure of how quickly rising temperatures from global warming could destabilize and melt our existing sheets — the working assumption has been that such major melting and subsequent sea-level rise would take centuries, if not longer, even in a warmer world. (See TIME's special report on the environment.)

But a new study published in the April 16 issue of Nature argues that our ice sheets may be far more vulnerable than we believe, and that it may be a matter of decades before cities like New York are turned into swampland. Scientists led by Paul Blanchon of the National Autonomous University of Mexico examined sea-level fluctuations during the planet's last inter–ice age warm period, about 121,000 years ago, and found that the water rose as much as 10 ft. (3 m) in a matter of decades thanks to melting ice sheets. That conclusion indicates that, in the current interglacial period, we could well be facing rapidly rising tides by the end of the century if warming continues unchecked.

Blanchon examined fossil coral reefs about 40 miles south of Cancún on the east coast of Mexico's Yucatan peninsula. (The fossils had been exposed during the construction of a new seaside resort.) Working with his co-authors at Germany's Leibniz Institute of Marine Science, Blanchon calculated the age of the samples by measuring isotopes of thorium in the fossils, a process similar to carbon-dating. The patterns of the fossils indicated points where the coral died when the seas rose too fast for the organisms to adapt; each time the seas stabilized, the corals grew back, but at higher elevations and further inland, a process geologists call backstepping. The result is something like the ascending rings on a bathtub that indicate rising water levels.

Blanchon confirmed the age of the Mexican fossils at different elevations by comparing them to similar reefs in the Bahamas, and determined that the seas might have risen by 6.5 to 10 ft. (2 to 3 m) over the course of 50 to 100 years — far faster than scientists had assumed. Only rapidly melting ice sheets could explain sea-level rise occurring that swiftly, which would indicate that the ice locked away in Greenland and Antarctica today might not be as safe as we had thought.

There are caveats: the interglacial period during which the Mexican coral fossils were deposited was warmer than the world today, and sea levels were as much as 20 ft. (6 m) higher. And other scientists caution that Blanchon's work should still be viewed as preliminary and in need of independent confirmation at other, similar sites where old coral fossils have been deposited. (One obstacle is that only a few places on the earth — the Yucatan peninsula among them — have been seismically calm enough over the past several hundred thousand years to allow for such measurements.) But in the wake of the surprise breakaway of the Wilkins Ice Shelf in Antarctica, which won't raise sea levels but will speed the melting of the remaining Antarctic ice, the Nature study is a grim warning of a potentially flooded future.


Media Prima To Explore Opportunities In Maldives

Media Prima Bhd will explore opportunities in media-related fields in Maldives during a working visit to the country next week, the company said on Friday.

It said the three-day visit starting from Saturday, to be led by chairman Datuk Abdul Mutalib Razak, is on the invitation of the Maldives' Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture.

"The purpose of the visit is to facilitate discussions on how Media Prima can assist the island state develop its media and broadcast industries, including radio and television," it said in a statement.

Among areas to be looked into are training for local media and broadcast personnel and sharing of expertise in broadcasting, especially in management, financing, marketing, productions and technical aspects, it said.

The working visit is very much in line with regional expansion strategies and will allow Media Prima to study collaboration prospects.

This will be Media Prima's third venture with a foreign government after Oman and Pakistan.


Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Maldives goes green and embraces mid-market

The first democratically elected government in the Maldives has pledged to clean up the country's record on sustainable tourism.

Government representatives were in London on Monday to brief tour operators and journalists on their plans. Among those speaking was President Mohamed Nasheed, head of the new government.

One of the President's initial pledges is to promote mid-market and culture tourism.

Under the country's previous regime tourists were flown in to resorts and not allowed to see the poverty of citizens on neighbouring islands. Tourism Minister Dr Ahmed Ali Sawad hopes that they can share over 2,000 years of history with visitors.

He told Times Online that in the past money from resorts and tourism didn't filter down to the inhabitants of the islands.

He wants to share the wealth and plans to increase mid-market tourism to help generate funds. Three-star resorts will be built on uninhabited islands in a "sustainable manner".

More than 100,000 Britons visit the country each year and they hope to increase that figure by at least 50 per cent.

There was a mid-market boom in the 1980s but that has since shrunk, he said, and even though most of the resorts offer "first class five star service", there is "room to diversify".

The President was asked about the lack of public transport across the county's seven provinces. He said that they have no interest in running transport having "inherited a huge financial debt and the challenge of developing health, education and infrastructure".

Mr Nasheed has appealed to private investors to improve public transport links in return for land and guest house concessions.

Until now, visitors have not been allowed to get married on the islands, which have an Islamic law system, for religious reasons. Mr Nasheed also hopes to change that.

The second major aim of the goverment is to make the country carbon-neutral within ten years through the use of solar and wind power. Mr Nasheed held up luxury resort Soneva Fushi as an example of how they can achieve their aim. The resort has pledged to be carbon neutral by next year and "carbon zero" by 2011.

Soneva Fushi uses local materials for building, grows its own fresh produce in its grounds, provides air conditioning though a system that delivers cold water from the depths of the oceans, recycles everything and puts 2 per cent of villa rental revenue back into carbon schemes.

Another environmentally friendly measure introduced by the government has been to ban shark fishing in the country's waters.


Monday, April 13, 2009

First wave of 'climate refugees' on the seas

FOR the people of the Maldives, the prediction from the Copenhagen International Climate Congress last month of a sea level rise of one to two metres by 2100 carried extra sting. Sitting just 1.5metres above the sea, the Maldives future existence is at stake.

Many similarly vulnerable Pacific island nations are now feeling the impacts first hand. They too know they are fighting a losing battle against the encroaching forces of a changing climate. They want Australia to take action to give them the best chance of survival.

The CSIRO has been warning for years about the vulnerability of the Asia-Pacific region to the impact of climate change, without substantial action from Australia. In its report, Climate Change in the Asia-Pacific Region, the CSIRO warned the region was particularly vulnerable to coastal communities being inundated by rising seas, the loss of wetlands and coral bleaching, shifts in climate resulting in disease and heat-related mortality, and the net effects of climate change on regional economies.

At the CSIRO's Greenhouse 2009 conference in Perth, Climate Change Minister Penny Wong announced Australia would spend $20 million to help its neighbours in the Pacific and East Timor better understand how climate change would affect them, as part of a broader $150 million commitment to meet high-priority climate adaptation needs in vulnerable countries in our region.

On the surface, this pledge from Australia is a step in the right direction. Yet, in the context of Australia's emissions target of just a 5per cent reduction by 2020, and our refusal to approve climate refugee status requests from small Pacific nations such as Tuvulu, Senator Wong's announcement raises more questions than it answers.

For starters, it remains unclear whether the $150 million will be used for actual "adaptation" or whether it will be confined to further science and monitoring. Based on current breakdowns, the money will be distributed between the Department of Climate Change, AusAid, the Global Environment Fund and the World Bank. That means only a small percentage will go to the Pacific islands to deal with actual adaptation strategies.

This is reminiscent of a recent Guardian investigation revealing that although $18 billion had been pledged globally to assist poor countries adapt to climate impacts, only $900 million had been forthcoming. So far, the pledges have not matched the outcomes, and it is the world's poorest who are getting hit hardest.

Wong's $20 million pledge is a tiny drop in the ocean of needs and impending disasters when we start to measure the human and financial magnitude of the problem.

Since 2005, the people of the Carteret Islands (120 kilometres north-east of Bougainville in the Pacific Ocean) have been in a process of forced migration due to rising seas. The 2500 inhabitants of the islands are in the process of resettlement in Bougainville, putting them among the world's first "environmental refugees".

In PNG, extreme weather conditions have increased in frequency and ferocity in recent years. A huge flood in the Oro Province in November 2007 killed 70people and destroyed 95 per cent of the road and bridge infrastructure. The cost of repairing this infrastructure is estimated to run into the billions of dollars.

The injustice of climate change is that its effects are falling most heavily on the poor - those who bear the least responsibility for causing the problem and have the least capacity to adapt. While a country with a heavy greenhouse footprint such as Australia has the luxury to debate climate change, some low-lying island nations are likely to disappear off the surface of the earth altogether.

As a country that has disproportionately contributed to creating the problem of global warming (on a per-capita basis), Australia has an obligation to lead by example in reducing its own emissions, and to help its poorer neighbours to cope with its impacts and implement alternative development pathways.

Often lacking the infrastructure to even tackle day-to-day issues of social deprivation, health and hunger, the developing world has few resources left to respond to environmental circumstances in a way that might mitigate long-term impacts. Countries with poor democratic structures, weak borders and high incidence of corruption are most vulnerable to the potential for climate change triggering large-scale humanitarian crises.

Given that our targets of 5 to 15per cent emission cuts by 2020 will, according to all available science, lead us on a course that will see increasing problems in the Asia-Pacific region as a direct result of climate change, a $20 million pledge is very modest indeed.

The bigger question is how Australia will contribute to the global effort to radically reduce carbon emissions in the short term, and play a role in ensuring a strong new global emissions reduction treaty is signed at Copenhagen later this year. To achieve this, we will need to set credible science-based targets; we need 25 to 40 per cent cuts by 2020.

In a paper presented at the recent climate talks in Poznan, the Alliance of Small Island States called on the world to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by more than 40 per cent by 2020, and more than 95 per cent by 2050. These countries know their very existence is at stake.

Responding to the news from Copenhagen, Maldives President Mahamed Nasheed has pledged that his country will no longer be part of the "Faustian Pact" the world has with carbon by becoming the first country to go carbon neutral. "Today," he said, "the Maldives will opt out of that pact." But, where will Australia stand?


Sunday, April 12, 2009

Will Maldives cease to exist, engulfed by seas rising from the effects of global warming?

Is the Maldives, a country of about 1,200 coral islets and 400,000 people in the Indian Ocean, southwest of Sri Lanka, living on borrowed time? Is it likely to be wiped off the face of the earth in another 40 years, engulfed by seas rising from the effects of global warming?

I’m sure there are people — politicians, businessmen, even scientists — who’d ridicule this notion and the very idea of global warming, but for the Maldives, one of the world’s smallest nations, the fear is almost mortal. The country feels it’s living in the very jaws of death and has pleaded with the world, on many occasions, to come to its rescue.

In 1992, speaking at the UN Earth Summit, the then Maldives’ president Maumoon Abdul Gayoom declared his fear of doom in these words: “I stand before you as a representative of an endangered people. We are told that, as a result of global warming and sea-level rise, my country, the Maldives, may sometime during the next century disappear from the face of the earth.”

In late 2007, at the UN climate change meeting in Bali, Gayoom sounded desperate. “Over half of our islands,” he said, “are eroding at an alarming rate. In some cases, island communities have had to be relocated to safer islands. Without immediate action, the long-term habitation of our tiny islands is in serious doubt.”

But behind these frantic pleas is a growing realisation that action by the global community just isn’t round the corner. The Maldives was the first country to sign the Kyoto protocol to fight global warming, but others haven’t quite shared its enthusiasm. So it has decided to take matters in its own hands and do whatever it can to the best of its ability.

Its immediate goal is to become a fully carbon-neutral country by 2020, switching from fossil fuel to 100 per cent renewable energy sources. It’s thinking of a mix of wind turbines and rooftop solar panels, plus power plants burning nothing but coconut husks. Its long-term goal is to save up enough to buy a new homeland elsewhere and relocate its entire population before the crunch comes.

While carbon neutrality isn’t difficult to achieve, how feasible is the idea of a new homeland? The Maldives’ new president, Mohamed Nasheed, says the savings are to come mainly from revenues earned from tourism. They could. Tourism is a major segment of the Maldives’ economy, accounting for over 30 per cent of its GDP, and the more than 600,000 tourists who visit every year are mostly high-spenders and long-stayers.

But where does one find an alternative homeland for an entire nation? It won’t be easy to find an island that’s high and safe and uninhabited or that’s not a nation already or part of a nation. And though the Maldives has held relocation talks with Sri Lanka, India, and Australia, would any country want to carve out a part of its territory and sell it to another?

Perhaps, the Maldives should start looking for a solution that’s more practical and pertinent. The basis for such a solution already exists in the form of an artificial island that’s being built just off the country’s main inhabited island of Male. It’s called Hulhumale, or New Male, and many consider it a smart answer to the Maldives’ problem of survival.

The Maldives is nowhere more than six feet above the sea level, and seas rising from a global snowmelt could easily swamp it. Memories are still fresh of the devastating 1987 floods that submerged most of Male and the December 2004 tsunami, when 53 of the country’s 199 inhabited islands suffered severe damage — 20 were totally destroyed, and 19 of its 87 luxury resorts were badly mauled.

After the 1987 floods, a frantic government responded by erecting a concrete sea wall against the waves, which now rings Male. However, since the concrete tetrapods can only soften the blow and not thwart the surges altogether, the government also began, in 1997, to build Hulhumale as an alternative refuge several feet higher than the existing height of the rest of the country.

Hulhumale, about four times the size of Male, is actually a shallow lagoon being filled with sand dredged from the ocean floor. Its straight, wide streets, modern apartments, and more than basic facilities have already attracted several thousand people to move there. More are willing to follow to escape from Male’s congestion.

For the Maldives living in fear of doom, this is a possible way out. There are other shallow lagoons in the island chain where more Hulhumales could be built, if needed, to protect its people and economy. It’s going to be costly, no doubt, but at least it makes more sense than looking to buy a new homeland, and the UN, the Asian Development Bank, and the World Bank might be called upon to help.


Saturday, April 11, 2009

Maldives “Carbon Neutral” policy prompts carbon balanced yachting

The new Maldives “Carbon Neutral” policy has prompted a leading 74m superyacht to balance its carbon footprint through Yacht Carbon Offset. The President of the Maldives has announced his government’s intention to make the Republic of Maldives the world’s first carbon neutral country, within a decade.

Responding swiftly to express support for the President’s initiative, a leading 74m superyacht has turned to Carbon Offsetting. The yacht’s Owners have, through Yacht Carbon Offset, balanced the greenhouse gas emissions from the vessel’s engines for the duration of her stay.

Yacht Carbon Offset’s Managing Director Mark Robinson commented: “For Owners, Charterers or Captains cruising in the Islands, Carbon Offsetting is the clearest possible way to show recognition of this new policy objective. The action may be equally well received in other cruising destinations that welcome best environmental practices by visiting yachts”


Maldives targets mass market with affordable hotels

The Maldives could become the latest mass market holiday destination, reports Charles Starmer-Smith.

The government of the Indian Ocean archipelago this week revealed plans to build dozens of mid-range hotels and guesthouses in an attempt to arrest the downturn in tourism.

Mohamed Nasheed, the newly elected president of the Maldives, said he would allow construction of two- and three-star hotels and cheap guesthouses on islands – including some of the uninhabited ones – to make the country a more affordable holiday destination. He maintained that any construction would be sustainable and new properties would be approved only if the developers were willing to invest in infrastructure and public transport links on the islands.

Last year the Maldives attracted about 200,000 British holidaymakers, but the number of visitors has slowed markedly. In February, British visitor numbers fell by 24 per cent compared with the same month last year and many travel operators and hoteliers have already reduced their prices.

Meedhupparu, a four-star resort, last month made half of its employees redundant after revealing that in February it was less than a third full. British tour operators are now offering week-long packages in the Maldives for as little as £649. Even some of the most luxurious resorts have halved their rates. Elegant Resorts this week was offering seven nights’ half board at the five-star One&Only resort of Reethi Rah for £1,795 per person – a discount of £3,240 per couple.

It is hoped the developments will attract an extra 100,000 Britons, including backpackers and gap-year travellers.

“The average British person should be able to come to enjoy the Maldives and see the sun, the sea and the sand,” said Mr Nasheed.

He said the Maldives originally catered to a wider range of tourists, but over the past decade the main focus has been on high-end holidays, making the islands a byword for luxury beach breaks. As part of the drive to introduce lower room rates, Mr Nasheed said small guesthouse operators will pay cheaper rents than the larger hotel chains.

It has also been proposed that the country, which is Muslim, should in future be allowed to host weddings between foreigners and that there should be an increase in charter flights to the islands.

In a separate move, the government has promised to make the Maldives the world’s first carbon-neutral country by switching to the use of renewable energy within a decade.

The Maldives is one of the world’s lowest-lying countries – its 26 atolls, containing nearly 1,200 islands (of which 250 are inhabited), lie just 5ft above sea level. Scientists believe most of the islands could be submerged by the end of the century. In response, Mr Nasheed has announced plans to purchase land elsewhere for his countrymen to live on – with India, Sri Lanka and Australia among the countries he has approached.


Maldives vows to open state media

The President of the Maldives, Mohamed Nasheed, says his government is to open up its state-controlled media.

President Nasheed is on an official visit to the UK, where he met the Queen and Prime Minister Gordon Brown.

The president told the BBC he was seeking investors for a deregulated media sector that would ensure press freedom and competition.

Mr Nasheed took over in October 2008 from Abdul Gayoom who ruled the nation of nearly 1,200 islands for decades.

Mr Nasheed said: "We need to privatise Radio and TV Maldives and distribution networks. I have come here to see whether investors in the UK are interested."

The government operates Voice of Maldives radio and Television Maldives. The first private radio station opened in 2007 and a handful of private TV stations have been licensed.

The media rights group Reporters Without Borders (RSF) has called the radio licence charges exorbitant.


Mr Nasheed is making his maiden European trip since becoming the country's first ever democratically elected president.

He accepted an invitation from the Queen for dinner and an overnight stay in Windsor Castle.

Mr Nasheed said he was looking for environmentally friendly investors.

The Maldives president also delivered a lecture at the Royal Commonwealth Society on "Embracing the Future".

He thanked the UK public for helping his fight against President Gayoom's three decades of authoritarian rule.

"The changes that have been brought to the Maldives have been assisted very much by the civil society and people in the United Kingdom. So we wanted to say thank you," he told the BBC.

The country's coffers were "left empty" by the previous government and the new administration is seeking funds to consolidate democracy.

Empowering a "dysfunctional" judiciary, upgrading an education system, resolving issues like overcrowding in the capital, Male, and helping young drug addicts were among his priorities, he said.

The president also thanked India and Sri Lanka for their "excellent support", political and financial, since he took power last year.

Mr Nasheed said he was committed to eradicating Islamic fundamentalism but that the task was made difficult because growing radicalisation in Pakistan was encouraging Islamist groups in the Maldives.

He said he would tackle what he called a serious issue for the Maldives by consolidating democracy and offering better education opportunities.


Thursday, April 9, 2009

Dhiraagu Signs On for 2009 SriLankan Airlines Pro

The Association of Surfing Professionals Australasia (ASP) and SriLankan Airlines are proud to announce that Dhiraagu, the number one telecom service provider in Maldives, has signed on as an official partner for the 2009 SriLankan Airlines Pro - Maldives.

"We are excited to once again partner with the premier telecom provider in the Maldives and the support provided by Dhiraagu is vital to the success of the SriLankan Airlines Pro - Maldives and ensures that people all around the world will be able to access up-to-date information and watch the event live," said ASP Australasia Tour Manager Dane Jordan.

Dhiraagu will provide all International roaming capabilities for the event along with vital internet connections to allow daily press and the live video webcast to be broadcast to the world.

"We are proud to be associated with such a magnificent sporting event and the live webcast showcases Dhiraagu's advanced telecommunication networks" said Mr John Murray, Head of Marketing for Dhiraagu.

"Not only does this high quality live webcast highlight the great surf in the Maldives it also presents the magnificent tropical location to hundreds of thousands of people around the world and promotes our island paradise to the world."

The SriLankan Airlines Pro is a 6 Star PRIME World Qualifying Series event and will run from 8th - 14th June, on Chaaya Island Dhonveli home to the world famous wave of Pasta Point.

The event will attract over 100 of the worlds best surfers including numerous former World Champions and current ASP World Junior Champion Kai Barger (HAW). Competitors will come from 5 different continents and over 15 different countries.

The 2009 SriLankan Airlines Pro is proudly sponsored by SriLankan Airlines, Maldives Tourism and Promotions, Atoll Travel, Dhiraagu, Atoll Adventures and ASP Australasia.


Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Nations Fail to Offer CO2 Targets at UN Climate Talks

The world’s wealthiest nations failed to offer more ambitious carbon-dioxide cuts, stalling United Nations climate talks as developing countries called for funding help and technology to combat global warming.

“Progress has been very slow in Bonn,” Amjad Abdulla, director-general of the Maldives Environment Ministry, said today as 10 days of UN climate talks wrapped up. “Developed countries have been very reluctant to put numbers on the table” for emissions cuts and financial aid to poorer nations.

Delegates from 175 countries in Bonn were working to reach an agreement on a new climate treaty in Copenhagen in December. With two more meetings already scheduled before then, negotiators agreed to add sessions in August and October to enable both sides to work out their differences.

Countries are divided over the scale of emissions cuts necessary to avert dangerous effects of warming temperatures, and the Maldives was among 43 low-lying nations demanding that the U.S., Japan and other wealthier countries slash emissions at least 40 percent from 1990 levels by 2020.

“The industrialized countries have not yet shown the necessary leadership,” Danish Climate Minister Connie Hedegaard said. “Not leadership when it comes to reduction commitments. Not leadership when it comes to finance.”

So far, the 27-nation European Union has said it will reduce emissions by 20 percent by 2020 and will raise the commitment to 30 percent should other rich nations make comparable pledges in a Copenhagen agreement that replaces the expiring Kyoto treaty.

U.S. is ‘Significant’

“What kind of target the U.S. is ready to assume is equally significant,” Shyam Saran, India’s special envoy on climate change, said yesterday. “We don’t have much clarity at this point and there are other industrialized countries which we do not know at the moment what is it that they’re ready to sign onto. Japan as well.”

The talks are divided into two main forums. The first is for parties to the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, the current global warming treaty that includes all developed nations except the U.S. The other is a wider group that includes the U.S.

The U.S. has yet to formally submit a reduction commitment to the talks though President Barack Obama made an election pledge to cut emissions to 1990 levels by 2020.

“We are still forming our position,” U.S. negotiator Jonathan Pershing told delegates today. “We are actively working to move forward aggressively. We’re working on our domestic policy.”

Clarity Needed

Clarity from the U.S. will be needed before industrialized countries agree to make pledges, said Harald Dovland, who chairs the Kyoto Protocol forum talks.

“The industrialized countries in the Kyoto Protocol are very, very nervous about coming up with numbers without knowing what the U.S. is going to do,” Dovland told reporters today.

Japan, considering options ranging from a 4 percent increase in emissions to a 25 percent reduction, has said it will make an announcement by June. Russia and the Ukraine haven’t yet made pledges.

Based on what developed countries have proposed so far, they will probably trim carbon output 4 percent to 14 percent from 1990 levels by 2020, the environmental group Greenpeace estimates. That’s less than a UN panel said in 2007 was necessary to avert a temperature rise of 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) since industrialization, a threshold countries including the European Union’s members deem dangerous.

‘More Ambitious Targets Needed’

“Numbers are still a significant distance from that range so more ambitious targets are needed from industrialized countries,” UN climate chief Yvo de Boer said today.

The other issue that developing countries want to see progress on is how wealthier nations will help them to develop clean technology and adapt to the effects of climate change such as rising sea levels and decreased rainfall.

“The progress achieved so far has been disappointing,” India’s Saran told reporters. “There is still no clarity over the scale of financial and technological resources that would be available to developing countries.”

In order to give negotiators more time to iron out differences, delegates this week agreed to hold additional talks from Aug. 10-14 in Bonn and from Oct. 29 to Nov. 4 at a location yet to be decided. That’s on top of already-scheduled meetings in Bonn in June and in Bangkok for late September.

A final debate concerns how to draw together the two negotiating forums in Copenhagen. Dovland and his counterpart Michael Zammit Cutajar, who chairs the wider group that includes the U.S., both said they intend to produce negotiating texts by the next meeting in June.

It’s even possible Copenhagen won’t result in a single treaty, Cutajar told reporters.

“The way we’re going we’re going to have two documents but there are different proposals on the table, including a proposal that we have one document,” Cutajar said. “The form is not as important as the content” of the agreement that is reached in Copenhagen, he said.


Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Maldives president asks The Queen to stop islands sinking

Mohamed Nasheed, the president of Maldives, on Monday was scheduled to ask the help of Queen Elizabeth in combating the climate change and rising sea levels that threaten to submerge his island nation.

The president of the archipelago, who is on an official visit to the UK, said he would discuss the potential consequences of global warming on his country while at dinner with the Queen at Windsor Castle. He said he would seek advice from the monarch, as head of the Commonwealth, on a possible way out of the crisis.

"I will ask her for advice - about what she thinks and also how we may be able to organise ourselves," he told The Daily Telegraph.

"I'm sure her majesty would be very aware of the predicament that low-lying Commonwealth countries like the Maldives would be facing," he said. "In the past she has always responded very affectionately towards the Maldives and I'm sure she would find appropriate measures and appropriate actions on these issues."

The Maldives, one of the lowest countries in the world, is likely to be severely affected by rising sea levels as ice caps melt. If predictions by the International Panel on Climate Change are correct, most of the country's 1,192 islands will be submerged by the end of the century.

Mr Nasheed is also due this week to talk to the Kamalesh Sharma, Secretary General of the Commonwealth, and John Ashton, special adviser on Climate Change. The move comes amid climate change talks in Bonn in the run-up to the United Nations summit in Copenhagen in December which aims to forge a successor to the 1997 Kyoto protocol.

After being sworn in as president in November, Mr Nasheed said he would consider buying a new homeland to relocate his people in the face of the threat. And last month, he announced his country aimed to be the world's first carbon neutral country by switching to renewable energies as an example to other countries.


Luxurious Island Resort Conrad Maldives Voted Overall Winner

The Conrad Maldives Rangali Island has been voted the overall winner in the renowned German Spa Magazine, ‘SENSES’ annual wellness awards.

The SENSES Wellness awards have been running for 11 years and are co-ordinated by the SENSES editorial staff together with a select panel of experts. Competing against over 350 hotels and resorts, the lush twin-island resort was chosen the ‘Overall Winner’ for 2009.

The Conrad Maldives Rangali Island’s General Manager and Island Chief, Carsten Schieck, collected the esteemed award from famous German TV-Presenter, Alexandra Polzin at a ceremony held at the grand ‘Altes Stadthaus’ in Berlin on Thursday 12 March 2009.

In addition to being the only Destination Spa in the Maldives featuring 21 spa villas with personal treatment rooms and direct access to The Spa Retreat, the multiple award-winning resort is the first in the Maldives to feature two spas, each with its own product range and philosophy.

The Spa Retreat is a self-contained over-water resort offering a range of holistic treatments and spa packages, plus the services of a resident Personal Trainer, Naturopath and Nutritionist, restaurant, reception, hairdressers and retail area. Meanwhile, the Over-Water Spa offers signature couples rituals in glass floor treatment rooms and Serenity Spa Deck with open air Jacuzzi.


Monday, April 6, 2009

Sriwijaya FC Eyes Osaka Surprise; PSMS Ready for Maldives Mystery

Sriwijaya FC’s chances of reaching the Asian Champions League knockout phase are remote, but remote does not mean that it’s impossible.

Having suffered two heavy defeats, the Indonesian double winner faces its toughest test yet as it travels to face defending ACL champion Gamba Osaka at Expo ‘70 Stadium on Wednesday.

Regardless of the odds, Sriwijaya head coach Rahmad Darmawan said his side will complete its first continental campaign with dignity.

“I know we only have a slight chance to make it into the next round. And we face the toughest battle against the defending champion, Gamba Osaka, at its home ground,” Rahmad said. “But we have a serious intention to cause a big surprise by, at least, holding them to a draw and taking a point home.”

Just like the club’s trip to Jinan, China, for its March 17 match against Shandong Luneng, cold weather could be a factor. Arriving early could have helped the players adjust to the 17-degree temperatures, but financial considerations kept the team from leaving for Osaka until Sunday.

“I wish we could have arrived earlier, but I have to consider the club's financial burden,” the coach said. “I hope the players can adjust themselves quite quickly to the weather.”

Sriwijaya will receive a lift as first choice goalkeeper Ferry Rotinsulu returns to the squad. He is still nursing a knee injury, though, so Rahmad will keep faith with Indonesian under-23 goalkeeper Dede Sulaiman.

The South Sumatra-based club is last in Group F, having lost 4-2 at home to FC Seoul and 5-0 at Shandong. After its trip to Japan, it hosts Gamba on April 21 before rounding out group play at Seoul on May 5 and hosting Shandong on May 20.

In Wednesday’s other Group F match, Shandong hosts FC Seoul at the Shandong Sports Center in Jinan.

While its Sumatra neighbor struggles to make its way in the Champions League, PSMS Medan will attempt to continue its continental success when it hosts V.B. of the Maldives today at Gelora Sriwijaya Stadium in Palembang, South Sumatra.

New PSMS head coach Rudy Keltjes said he had little information on the visitors.

“I have no idea about the Maldives club at all. I met them at the press conference, and I could tell they have big and strong players,” the club’s fifth coach this season said on Monday. “I know they're just behind us, but we can't take them for granted.”

Rudy took over for interim coach Liestiadi last week. He said he would field his best lineup, including goalkeeper Markus Horison, who was benched against Deltras Sidoarjo after a shaky performance in PSMS’s 2-2 Indonesian Super League draw with PSM Makassar.

“Yes, I will put Markus back in goal. He's ready to get back into action,” he said. “But I still have a handicap as we don't have good goal-getters.”

PSMS is second in Group F with three points after its 3-1 defeat of Malaysian side Johor FC on March 17. V.B., which opened group play with a 0-0 draw at Johor, is third with one point.

After today’s fixtures, PSMS travels to Male’s National Stadium on April 21 to play V.B.

Hong Kong’s South China FC, which has already won 3-0 at home against PSMS and 2-1 away to V.B., hosts Johor today at Mongkok Stadium.


Saturday, April 4, 2009

Nine Maldives jihadists held in Pakistan

Nine Maldives-based jihadists have been held in Pakistan’s troubled Waziristan province — sparking renewed concern about the use of the Indian Ocean islands as staging-posts for attacks against India’s western coast.

Maldives Minister of Defence and National Security Ameen Faisal told Malé-based journalists that the nine men had been arrested in the troubled Waziristan region of north-western Pakistan, close to the Afghanistan border.

Large swathes of lawless Waziristan are controlled by Taliban insurgents, while Osama bin Laden’s Al Qaeda is also known to maintain a significant presence in the region.

Eight of the men were identified as Yoosuf Izadhy, 38, of Nicosia in the Malé atoll; Ahmed Ashraf, 31, of Vaikaradhoo; Abdullah Sameer, 38, of Lhaimagu; Ali Faiz, 31, of Vaikaradhoo; Moosa Yoosuf, 30, of Kalhaidhoo; Yoosuf Mohammed, 52, also of Kalhaidhoo; Mohammad Zuhree, 28, of Dhaandhoo; Ali Shafeeq, 25, of Kandholhudhoo and Arif Ahmed, whose personal details have not been released.

Pakistani authorities are reported to have held six of the men in raids on March 11, and six more men on March 12. No details were made available, though, on which jihadist group the men were involved with, and who had arranged for their recruitment in the Maldives.

Malé-based newspaper Minivan News reported that at least one of the men had earlier been held on suspicion of having participated in the September 2007 bombing of Malé’s Sultan Park, which left 12 tourists injured. However, Shafeeq was later cleared of all charges and released.

Growing concern

Concerns about the use of the Maldives by Islamist terror groups has been mounting since 2006, when evidence emerged that Dhaka-based Lashkar-e-Taiba commander Faisal Haroon had explored plans to use the islands as a logistical base.

In the wake of the Sultan Park bombing, 10 key suspects escaped to Pakistan, where they were thought to be sheltered by elements linked to the Lashkar. Maldives authorities are now preparing the trial of one of the fugitive suspects, who was arrested on his return to Malé in January. Three who failed to secure their escape were sentenced to 15 years in prison in 2007.

Growing numbers of Maldives nationals have been drawn to Pakistan-based Islamist groups in recent years. Many were recruited by the Lashkar-e-Taiba’s charitable front, the Idara Khidmat-e-Khalq, which carried out extensive relief operations in the southern atolls after the 2005 tsunami.

For example, Mohammed Faseehu, from the Laam atoll island of Dhanbidhoo, and Shifahu Abdul Wahid, of Dhiffushi island in Kaaf atoll, were reported killed in Jammu and Kashmir in January 2007. Both men had travelled to Pakistan to study at the Jamia Salafiyya. Speaking to journalists last month, Maldives Human Rights Commission president Ahmed said several similar complaints about the death of Maldives nationals had been received.

Investigators also found Ali Shameem and Abdul Latheef Ibrahim, held in 2007 for their role in the Sultan Park bombing, had also been planning to join the jihad in Jammu and Kashmir. Another Maldives national, Ibrahim Asif, was arrested in Kerala in April 2005, after attempting to source weapons from Thiruvananthapuram. And, in 2006, Male residents Ali Jaleel, Fatimah Nasreen, and Aishath Raushan were arrested for preparing to go to Pakistan to receive jihad training.

During his December 2008 visit to New Delhi, Maldives President Mohammad Nasheed had expressed concern about security in the Indian Ocean.

“You have sealed our borders [with Pakistan]”, he said, “but you have pushed terrorists into the Indian Ocean.” President Nasheed referred to the dangers of organised crime operations in the high seas, and warned that “pirates could be recruited into terrorist cells.”

President’s appeal

Noting that upwards of 40 Maldives nationals were known to be studying in Pakistani seminaries controlled by jihadist groups, President Nasheed also called for greater Indian educational assistance.


Friday, April 3, 2009

ADAARAN Resorts inaugurates ADAARAN 'Prestige' Vadoo, Maldives

ADAARAN Resorts unveiled their latest 5 star property ADAARAN 'Prestige' Vadoo. The resort was inaugurated by the Honourable Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture Dr. Ahmed Ali Sawad at a function held on 28th March 2009 at the resort. Chairman of Aitken Spence Deshamanya D H S Jayawardena, Deputy Chairman of Aitken Spence J M S Britto, Special Envoy of the President Ibrahim Hussain Zaki and several high ranking tourism industry officials in the Maldives, travel agents, local and international tour operators attended the gala event.

Situated within close proximity to the Male International Airport - a mere 15 minutes by speed boat, Vadoo features 50 brand new subliminally appointed villas including 6 Japanese concept rooms on the ocean that sets the standard for a new level in luxury.

Each villa comes with a personal butler, in-room spa therapy facilities, private dining area on deck, Jacuzzi, plunge pool, DVD player, home theatre system, espresso machine and many other facilities designed to cater to the discerning traveller.

With beautifully landscaped gardens, a majestic infinity swimming pool and intimately placed spa facilities, a simple barefoot existence takes precedence where soothing spa treatments entice the senses.

The fine dining experience with a varied international gourmet cuisine with a wide selection of wines, as well as an exclusive Japanese specialty restaurant. 4Contd. on ADAARAN Resorts own seven properties in the Maldives which include ADAARAN 'Select' Meedhupparu, ADAARAN 'Select' Hudhuran Fushi, ADAARAN 'Club' Rannalhi, ADAARAN 'Ayurveda Village' Meedhupparu, ADAARAN 'Prestige' Water Villas and ADAARAN 'Prestige' Ocean Villas.


Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Sri Lanka Aitken Spence opens new Maldivian resort

Sri Lanka's Aitken Spence group said it has opened its latest Maldivian luxury resort called Adaaran ‘Prestige’ Vadoo.

The resort, 15 minutes by speed boat from Male’ International Airport, has 50 villas including six Japanese concept rooms on the ocean, a company statement said.

The company said each villa comes with a personal butler, in-room spa therapy facilities, private dining area on deck, Jacuzzi, plunge pool, DVD player, home theatre system, and espresso machine.

Aitken Spence is the fourth largest hotel operator in the Maldives with seven properties under the Adaaran brand and also manages hotels in India and the Middle East.

The opening of the new resort comes at a time when tourist arrivals in the Maldives have fallen sharply because of the global recession.

Aitken Spence's overseas hotels have buoyed the group's bottom line in recent years as earnings from its Sri Lankan properties remained weak owing to the tourism slump caused by the ethnic war.

The group's hotel subsidiary Aitken Spence Hotels said net profit for the December 2008 quarter shot up almost 200 percent to 358 million rupees largely owing to the sale of its Bathala Island resort in the Maldives


Maldives aims to end separation of islanders and tourists

The Maldives has initiated a new tourism policy aimed at increasing contact between visitors and inhabitants of the island chain in the Indian Ocean, the country's tourism minister said. Speaking recently to the German weekly newspaper, Die Zeit, the minister, Ahmed Ali Sawad, said there would no longer be a "parallel world" of resort islands kept separate from the islands inhabited by Maldivians.

"We are pleased about every guest who seeks the seclusion of a resort island," Sawad remarked, adding, "But we also want to invite tourists to visit our communities."

Sawad said a first step would be a ferry network linking the some 300 inhabited islands, enabling tourists to "island-hop" and boosting exchanges among the islanders themselves.

"Up to now in the Maldives, we have constantly built for tourism and benefited ourselves only secondarily. Now it's going to be the other way around," Sawad said.

He noted that the creation of luxury resorts in the Maldives had become the norm, whereas mid-priced hotels "have almost disappeared completely over the years."