Qatar Airways to Increase maldives Flight Capacity With First A350 Service to South Asia

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Qatar Airways is to deploy an A350 jet on its flight operations to the Maldives in an attempt to cater to the increase in demand during the upcoming peak tourist season in the island nation.

Adil Moosa, Managing Director of state-owned airport operator Maldives Airports Company Limited (MACL), said it would be the first ever A350 jet deployed by the airline to the Maldives as well as to any South Asian destination.

“This is a huge boost to the Maldives tourism industry,” he said, at a ceremony held Wednesday afternoon to unveil new departure gates and expanded baggage carousels at the main Velana International Airport.

Qatar Airways will use an A350-900 jet for twice daily flights to and from the Maldives between November 1 and March 31, 2018.

Positioned to compete with the Boeing 787 Dreamliner, the A350 entered service in 2015 with Qatar Airways as the launch customer. As the first Airbus aircraft with both fuselage and wing structures made primarily of carbon-fibre-reinforced polymer, the A350 offers more space with wider seats and features state-of-the-art technology.

Qatar Airways is popular amongst travellers from Europe who often transit in Doha before flying to the Maldives.

The capacity increase by Qatar Airways follows announcements by several international airlines to increase flight frequency to the island nation ahead of the upcoming peak tourist season.

Air France will begin scheduled operations to the Maldives on November 2, followed by Indian budget carrier GoAir on December 1.

Air France will be offering two weekly flights to the Maldives main Velana International Airport on departure from Paris-Charles de Gaulle.

Air France flights will be operated by Boeing 777-200 equipped with the latest Air France travel cabins, and with a capacity of 312 seats including 28 in Business, 24 in Premium Economy and 260 in Economy. Flights operate on Wednesdays and Saturdays on departure from Paris and on Thursdays and Sundays on departure from Male.

GoAir will fly from Mumbai using an 180 seater Airbus A-320 aircraft.

Italy’s flagship carrier Alitalia, which earlier had charter services, will also begin direct flights to the Maldives from Rome’s Leonardo da Vinci–Fiumicino Airport on October 31. The new three-weekly Rome-Male service will operate for the whole winter season until March 24, 2018.

Hainan Airlines, which flies to the Maldives from the Chinese Shenzhen city, will from December 27 begin operating two flights a week, while Beijing Capital Airlines will from October 29 shift to a daily service from four times a week service.

From October 29, Emirates will also increase its fight frequency from four to five a day.

Dubai-based Emirates began its service to the Maldives in May 1987 using a single Boeing 727 aircraft. It now operates four times daily service to the Maldives from Dubai, with transit routes, including neighbouring Sri Lanka, and uses Boeing 777-300s for its Male operations.

Emirates has become a major airline operating to the Maldives and has been serving for years as a preferred airline of tourists visiting the island nation from far corners of the world, especially Europe.

From October 30, Malaysia-based low-cost airline AirAsia will also add four flights per week to its existingdaily service. It will be followed by an increase in January 2018 to nine flights per week from a four times weekly service by SilkAir, the regional wing of Singapore Airlines.

Meanwhile, Chinese low-cost carrier Lucky Air is set to begin flight operations to the Maldives in January 2018.

December to April is considered the peak tourist season, as these months constitute summers in Maldives. Between December and April, the islands boast of dry weather, making it ideal for tourists to travel and enjoy the tropical environment.

Resorts across the archipelago organise special activities for the festive season, which falls during the peak tourist season. Popular resorts such as Baros Maldives, Amilla Fushi and Finolhu Maldives, Soneva Fushi, The St. Regis Maldives Vommuli Resort and Mirihi Island Resort have already announced their festive programmes for this year.

After years of double-digit growth in tourism, the Maldives has over the recent years observed a slowdown in growth. Tourist arrivals have crossed the one million milestone and is on course to reach 1.5 million by the end of this year, but the country has been struggling to create demand amidst a significant increase in bed capacity.

Soneva Announces Festive Programme Featuring Guest Favourites

Loading Maldives Offers.... Soneva’s two resorts in the Maldives are set to offer an exciting set of activities during the upcoming festive season.

The festivities will extend to the world-leading luxury resort operator’s property in Thailand as well, with activities that allow guests to pair fine-dining lunches with whiskey, wine, champagne or sake, learn how to make Christmas chocolate truffles and New Year detox masks, receive a private coaching tennis lesson from the nine-times Grand Slam winner Jonas Björkman, and discover Soneva’s famous food journeys.

“Let your children explore island nature with the Soneva Den hosts taking charge, while you learn how to make Vietnamese, Maldivian, Japanese and Thai food, and come together at the end of the day for a Christmas dinner with all the trimmings in a truly spectacular location,” the group said, in an announcement.

“There is no shortage of experiences to do, eat or see at Soneva.”

Soneva Fushi

Soneva’s flagship resort, Soneva Fushi in the Maldives, offers tried and true guest favourites. Cast yourself away to a Sonu’s picnic on a desert island with just your family, or join a group picnic and meet new snorkel companions or teammates for the next water volleyball game. Discover your new favourite spot to dine at a sunset sushi bar, or a Spanish barbecue under the banyan tree. Learn from our talented chefs from our many cooking classes specialising in different cuisines. Explore the world’s best cuisine and entertainment in one night during Soneva’s famous food journey.

In between dining on delicious food, take some time to meet Santa, hunt for treasure, and snorkel with our marine biologist. Discover Soneva’s waste-to-wealth techniques on an Ecotour, learn about the ocean life with a presentation from our marine biologist, or try your hand at glass blowing in our glass studio.

Jonas Bjorkman, former tennis champion, will be offering complimentary private coaching sessions during the holiday season exclusively for a limited number of Soneva guests. Jonas formerly coached Andy Murray in 2015, No. 1 in singles (July 2017), and currently coaches world No. 6 Marin Cilic.

Plus, learn more about the secrets of the universe with Soneva’s Astronomy Week, being held between December 25-31.  Soneva’s resident astronomer, plus guest astronomers, will be able to give dinner talks, presentations and classes to anyone interested in learning more about the night sky.

Discover Soneva’s newest addition Soneva Jani, with a programme full of culinary delights and activities for the whole family. Treat your palate to a lunch or dinner paired with whiskies, sake, wine or champagne, or travel the world through your plate and dine on Vietnamese, Maldivian, Japanese cuisine and more. End the year with a New Years Eve food journey that will lead you through the resort, from 2017 into 2018.

In between delicious feasts, treat yourself to a variety of experiences, fun for the whole family. Loosen your body and mind with a special Christmas yoga, before welcoming Santa to Soneva Jani. Stay up late to dance the night away to a DJ, relax with some live music, or immerse yourself in a movie at Cinema Paradiso.

Established in 1995, Soneva Fushi is the original Soneva. The No News, No Shoes blueprint for all desert island barefoot luxury hideaways is located within the Baa Atoll UNESCO Biosphere Reserve in the Maldives. Soneva Fushi inspires the imagination with 65 spacious beachfront villas, ranging in size from one to nine bedrooms, hidden amongst dense foliage.

Highlights include the open-air Cinema Paradiso, counting Saturn’s rings in the high-tech Observatory, the home-made chocolate and ice cream rooms, five hundred wines to choose from and nine dining options.  If the experiences are magical, the philosophy is simple: No news, no shoes. No pretensions either.

The iconic resort has bagged several international awards for eco-friendly tourism and green initiatives, including the 2017 Green Hotelier Award for the Asia Pacific region and the Sustainable Hotel Award by the Hotel Investment Conference Asia Pacific (HICAP) as well as a spot in the Gold List compiled by Condé Nast Traveler China as the Best Hotel in the Maldives.

Opened in December 2016, Soneva Jani encompasses a collection of 24 overwater villas and one island villa set in a 5.6 kilometre private lagoon located in the northern Noonu atoll. The resort spans five islands surrounded by pure white beaches, covered in rich tropical vegetation, offering the ultimate in privacy and luxury.

Each of the resort’s multilevel water villas has its own private pool and a retractable roof that allows guests to sleep beneath the stars. Many villas also have slides that transport guests directly from the top level into the lagoon below. Other hotel highlights include a spa, an observatory — home to the largest telescope in the Indian Ocean — and an outdoor cinema.

Since its opening, Soneva Jani has created a lot of buzz amongst luxury travellers with its exciting features such as the retractable roofs and the water slides. It has also been named the Best Over-the-Top Luxury hotel of the year by

World's Best Resort in Conde Nast Traveller Readers' Choice Awards | Naladhu Maldives

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Naladhu Private Island Maldives has been crowned the best resort in the world in the Condé Nast Traveler Readers’ Choice Awards 2017.

Listing Naladhu in the first place in the list of the 50 best resorts in the world, Condé Nast Traveler described it as an intimate resort providing a level of privacy and personal attention impressive even in the Maldives.

“With a location only 30 minutes from Male’s international airport by the hotel’s speedboat, Naladhu represents the Maldives’ most convenient exclusive destination yet,” the world’s leading travel publication said.

Naladhu offers an intimate beach resort experience with just 19 guest villas, including six Beach Pool Houses, 12 Ocean Pool Houses and a Two-Bedroom Pool Residence. These weathered-wood accommodations come with a private garden and an infinity pool, high-ceilinged interiors decorated in cane and tropical hues, and an open-air bathroom with L’Occitane products and a sea-facing tub for two.

The Living Room restaurant’s dining spaces range from tables set around the all-glass wine cellar to cushioned Indian daybeds under the stars, and a fleet of traditional Maldivian dhonis adds onboard private dinners.

Dedicated butlers, or Very Good Chaps (VGCs), exceed expectations with quiet, smiling service.

Condé Nast Traveler on Tuesday announced the results of its 30th annual Readers’ Choice Awards, ranking the best hotels, resorts, cities, islands, airlines, airports, and cruise lines in the world.

Over 300,000 readers submitted millions of ratings and tens of thousands of comments, voting on a record-breaking 7,320 hotels and resorts, 610 cities, 225 islands, 468 cruise ships, 158 airlines, and 195 airports — thereby creating the largest-ever list of Readers’ Choice Award winners.

New Floating Hammock at Lily Beach

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Lily Beach Resort and Spa Maldives has introduced a new floating hammock platform.

In an announcement, the resort said the hammock platform can accommodate up to four people, and is available for guests to rent.

During the day the platform comes equipped with a cooler containing a selection of drinks and a fruit platter, making a great base for the family or couples wanting to enjoy their time together. Sunset rentals are also available, and couples will enjoy the incredibly romantic experience, sipping cocktails, watching the sky change colour on their own private floating piece of paradise.

“Providing guests with their own private luxury escape, this new addition continues to build on the amazing experience available throughout the resort. Securely anchored in our sheltered lagoon it provides a fantastic base to snorkel and swim as well as offering a unique place to lie back and relax and enjoy the view,” the announcement read.

“The uninterrupted views across the lagoon, combined with the amazing marine life potentially just below make this hammock platform an incredible location, which all guests should look to experience.”

Set on the island of Huvahendhoo in South Ari Atoll, Lily Beach is a 25-minute seaplane flight away from the main Velana International Airport. This five-star luxury resort, which perfected the Platinum All-Inclusive holiday experience, features 125 villas — both on land and over water — with private decks and open-air bathrooms with jacuzzis, canopy beds, glass floors and plunge pools.

In close proximity to some of the most amazing dive sites in the world, Lily Beach also offers a wide range of recreational activities and plenty of relaxation options.

"Dive with a Purpose expeditions for 2k18" by Carpe Diem

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Carpe Diem Maldives Cruises has announced its 2018 Dive with a Purpose series of hands-on marine expeditions for leisure divers.

The 2018 expeditions build on the success of three marine expeditions in 2017, in partnership with US based research organisation Coral Reef CPR.

“Divers with an avid marine conservation interest should not miss out on this unique opportunity to work alongside expert marine biologists in the 2018 series of Dive with a Purpose expeditions from Carpe Diem Maldives,” a statement issued by Carpe Diem Maldives read.

Taking a concerted approach towards protecting and restoring the health of coral reefs and marine life in the Maldives, three “Rescue a Reef” weeks with experts from Coral Reef CPR will look at addressing issues around reef predators, damage prevention and restoration. These expeditions are an extension of Carpe Diem’s support of the organisation’s Holistic Approach To Reef Protection (HARP) programme. A fourth week has been added to the 2018 Dive with a Purpose programme in partnership with Maldives Whale Shark Research Programme (MWSRP).

On each Dive with A Purpose week, up to 20 recreational divers can join the marine expeditions; divers must have an Advanced PADI qualification, excellent buoyancy control and ideally a minimum of 70 dives.

Priced from USD 1,863 per person for the week, the expeditions include:

Seven nights aboard the assigned Carpe Diem Maldives vessel
Three meals daily, plus between-dive snacks
Three to four dives daily (except for on day of arrival and day before departure)
Use of tanks, weights and belts
Drinking water, tea and coffee
Airport transfers on the days of embarkation/disembarkation
Evening workshops on marine ecology, coral reef, marine life and more
On-board marine biologists
GST 12 percent
Rescue a Reef: Crown of Thorns Starfish Removal with Coral Reef CPR

Expedition dates: May 19 – May 26 / July 15 – July 22 / Sept 8 – Sept 15

Reefs in the Maldives are currently being impacted by the third outbreak of crown of thorns starfish (COTS; Acanthaster spp.) that started in 2014 at the western end of North Male Atoll, near Reethi Rah, and has progressively spread throughout North Male Atoll, South Male Atoll and Ari Atoll, with smaller infestations reported on six other atolls. While normal densities of these starfish are generally not a concern, over 130 localised outbreaks were reported between 2014 and 2017.  Many of these have consisted of thousands of starfish and hundreds of reefs have been completely destroyed as a result of their voracious feeding.

Coral Reef CPR, in partnership with Carpe Diem Maldives, has removed over 10,600 starfish from reefs in the Maldives since 2015.

In the 2018 “Rescue a Reef” expeditions, divers on the trips can expect a hands-on role in eliminating the starfish from badly infested reefs. Divers on board these expeditions will assist the Coral Reef CPR scientists in collecting valuable data on the behaviours of the starfish and their genetic make-up. This will help understand why the outbreaks occur, where they originate from and what we can do to prevent a recurrence.

In addition to the COTS removal from reefs, the team will also visit a number of unique reef environments, including submerged farus and giris to explore the invertebrate life as and also collect valuable data on the diverse and colourful reef fish communities and larger megafauna such as sharks, manta rays and turtles.  During these dives and COTS removal dives, quantitative transects will be conducted to measure the health of the reefs and patterns of recovery following the 2016 bleaching event.

Working in buddy teams to remove the COTS from the reef, divers will be assisting Coral Reef CPR scientists in all aspects of research, including reef assessment surveys, collection of samples, and removal of crown of thorns starfish, cushion stars and coral eating snails. Across each of the one-week trips, divers will be trained in reef conservation methods and survey approaches, and learn about coral reefs and the vibrant and diverse life found on reefs through nightly workshops and discussions.

“Joining these ‘Rescue a Reef’ expeditions will provide divers with an opportunity to be part of a team who are saving thousands of hectares of reef and preventing the potential for future outbreaks,” the statement read.

The Great Megafauna Migration: Track whale sharks, mantas and turtles

There is a growing school of thought that the Maldivian ‘big three’; whale sharks, manta rays and turtles react to the changes in the monsoon seasons by moving to sites on the leeward side of the atolls. In May 2018, Carpe Novo will become a research platform for biologists from the Maldives Whale Shark Research Programme providing them and 20 lucky guests an unprecedented opportunity to explore this phenomenon.

“The goal of this particular Dive with a Purpose expedition is to begin the 2018 southwest season’s data collection, documenting the movements of these iconic yet enigmatic animals,” the statement read.

There are two monsoons in the Maldives, Iruvai as the Maldivians call the northeast monsoon between December and April and Hulhagu, the southwest monsoon from May to November. How quickly these megafauna species transition from sites on the west coasts to sites on the east coast and vice versa is not defined and probably depends on currents and surface weather conditions.

The MWSRP will be setting out on Carpe Novo with the aim of seeking whale sharks, as well as manta rays and sea turtles at differing points amongst the central atolls. Whale sharks, manta rays and turtles will be photo identified, with individuals compared to previous sightings in national level databases to identify movements between locations, both within and between atolls. Equipment will be deployed to gather data on current and surface weather conditions in the hope of gleaning information on how quickly the 2018 season has changed and how the megafauna has reacted to it.

Special attention will be paid to whale sharks which have moved from other atolls, where a fledgling understanding of seasonal cyclic movements can be reinforced by any sightings of 29 individual whale sharks known to be regular inter-atoll travellers.

In areas where whale sharks are prevalent, the MWSRP will explore oceanic conditions in the isolated parts of the atolls where whale sharks are not expected to be sighted through the deployment of temperature and current reading loggers and compare that to data collected in areas where whale sharks would be expected to be seen.

Guests joining this expedition will be offered the opportunity to assist the researchers in the hands on equipment deployment and every data gathering aspect of their work and will be afforded nightly workshops, lectures and discussions on marine life and the leading edge findings from Maldives-specific research on these species.

The Carpe Novo vessel.
Established in 2008, Carpe Diem showcases a collection of three luxury liveaboard cruises, each accommodating 20 guests at a time. Carpe Diem is renowned for delivering a sense of discovery and adventure while enriching guests’ knowledge. The Carpe Diem name has built significant brand recognition within the top echelons of the travel industry for diving and leisure, and is currently developing a resort in the Maldives.

55% Discount Offer | Sun Aqua Vilu Reef

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Sun Aqua Vilu Reef has announced a special offer with up to 55 percent discount.

Under the offer, which is valid for bookings and stays between now and December 25, room rates start from USD 330 per night.

The rates are subject to 10 percent service charge, 12 percent Goods and Services Tax (GST), and green tax of USD 6 per person per night. An additional USD 445 per adult and USD 295 per child will also be charged for seaplane transfers.

Sun Aqua Vilu Reef is a palm fringed paradise-like island located in Dhaalu atoll, a mere 35-minute seaplane flight away from the main Velana International Airport.

Hidden amongst the foliage are 62 shell shaped bungalows, (14 Beach Villas, 18 Deluxe Beach Villas, 10 Jacuzzi Deluxe Beach Villas, five Deluxe Beach Villas with Pool, and 15 Sun Aqua Pool Villas) with lava-stone pools, whirlpool bathtubs, private sundecks and day swing beds. A further 41 Water Villas (20 Reef Villas, nine Sunset Reef Villas, six Aqua Villas with plunge pools, five Aqua Suites with private swimming pool and a Grand Reef Suite) complete the accommodation offering with a select few even hiding inviting overwater hammocks.

Guests can be selective at Sun Aqua Vilu Reef and explore the spice and warmth of home style Maldivian cuisine, feast on gourmet organic and free-range produce grown on the resorts private Farm Island, sink their teeth into freshly caught, barbecued seafood or dine under the stars with private dining experiences.

A major focus, the Sun Aqua Spa at the Sun Aqua Vilu Reef consists of six private treatment pavilions each with open air flower baths, open showers, a hydrotherapy area and double treatment beds. On offer is also a salon, manicure/pedicure and a beautiful relaxation area. Encompassing the Five Element Theory — Wood, Fire, Metal, Earth and Water — the spa will offer a lengthy menu of Ayurvedic wellness rituals, pampering beauty therapies and massage techniques from around the world. It also offers a selection of signature therapies to help renew body and mind, including a rich scrub of coconut or coffee, a herbal Udavarthanam detox or a relaxing, fragrant flower bath.

Registration For Boot Fair 2018 | MMPRC

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Maldives Marketing and Public Relations Corporation (MMPRC) has opened registration for the upcoming Boot Fair in Germany.

In a circular, MMPRC asked those interested in taking part in the fair, which is set to be held in Dusseldorf from January 20-28, to fill in a co-exhibitor registration form and send it to MMPRC with the payment before 3pm on November 2.

Registration costs USD 1,000 for resorts, hotels, and foreign travel agents and tour operators, and USD 500 for safari vessels, guesthouses, local travel agents, dive operators, transfer companies and picnic islands. Another USD 1,000 will be charged from each party in all categories, except foreign travel agents and tour operators (USD 2,000 for them), for table booking.

According to MMPRC, the fees cover two representatives per company. A fee of USD 212 should be paid for each additional representative, it added.

One of the leading dive and water sports shows in the world, the annual Boot Fair witnesses a wide range of products and services such as luxury yachts, diving equipment, water sports equipment and dive destinations. In 2016, over 1,800 exhibitors from 68 countries showcased their products to an audience of more than 250,000 visitors from 90 different countries.

With 99 percent water, the Maldives has traditionally been a dive destination and continues to attract a large number of divers every year.

Known internationally as one of the world’s best scuba diving destinations, the Maldives has an abundance of dive sites with one thrilling dive opportunity after another. The islands of the Maldives have consistently warm waters with outstanding visibility throughout the year, and consist of exhilarating dive sites such as vibrant thilas, exciting channels, coral-filled overhangs and fascinating wrecks.

Germany continues to lead growth in arrivals from Europe, the biggest source market for the Maldives tourism industry, with a one percent year-on-year increase in the number of German tourists that visited the Maldives in the first nine months of the year. Official figures show that 67,438 Germans visited the Maldives during the period compared to the 66,797 in the same period of last year.

Kuredu Unveils New Gym

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Kuredu Island Resort and Spa has opened a new gym, located in a specially designed building, offering one of the best views on the island!

Located adjacent to The Beach Restaurant, the new two-storey building offers a fantastic place to work out. Replacing the old gym, which was located in the centre of the island, the larger new gym has a downstairs area, which is dedicated to yoga, stretching and floorwork exercise. From upstairs, those wanting to work with weights or cardio equipment can enjoy a stunning view over the turquoise waters of Kuredu’s lagoon, out towards the house reef. Thanks to TVs, guests can also keep current with worldwide sports events.

The new building also houses showers and changing facilities in order to allow guests to complete their cool-down routine at the gym without having to return to their villa.

“The facilities are available for all guests (children under 12 to be accompanied by an adult) to use free of charge, and our team members are on hand to help out and provide introductions to any equipment you may be unfamiliar with,” an announcement by the resort read.

“Kuredu’s gym is also where you sign up for yoga sessions, tennis and badminton, and the place to hop on a rental bike to feel the sweet Kuredu breeze in your hair.”

Located on a 1,800 metre by 325 metre remote island in the northern atoll of Lhaviyani, Kuredu is accessible by a 40-minute scenic seaplane flight from the main Velana International Airport. This 4.5-star resort has 383 rooms, including beach and water villas, making it the second largest resort in the Maldives.

Kula Art initiative | Kandima maldives Becomes More Colorful

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Kandima Maldives has introduced its KULA art initiative, turning the “kool” island resort into the trendiest, most happening art centre in the Indian Ocean.

KULA, which means “colours” in local Dhivehi language, is envisioned as a long-term initiative to support the full spectrum of the contemporary creative arts — from local crafts, fashion, digital photography, videography to music — and open up new horizons for the local art community like never before.

A local artist showcases her talent at Kandima Maldives.
The entire resort will be a glorious art gallery, and thanks to a collaboration with Maldives Artists Community (MAC), a local art NGO with over 100 members, Kandima is set to host regular exhibitions and exciting performances by local artists. There will be live art demonstrations and guests can unleash their inner Picasso with classes at Kandima’s very own Art Studio.

Set on the edge of a natural lake, the Art Studio will be one of the most peaceful locations on the island, giving both guests and artists the inspiration and calm space they need to create their masterpiece.

“We want to create extraordinary and innovative experiences for our guests which in turn will positively impact our local communities,” Mohamed Shafraz Hafiz, PR and Communications Manager at Kandima who is leading the initiative, was quoted as saying in an announcement issued by the resort.

“This seemed like the perfect match. There are hundreds of talented artists that come from the local Maldivian islands but their work isn’t seen or appreciated because they don’t have a platform. It’s our vision that this programme will change that. We want KULA to promote and nurture local artistic talent and creativity and essentially open up new horizons for the local art community like never before.”

Kandima team poses for a photo with some of the artists that showcased their talent at the resort.
KULA is very much a community affair as it will support local schools and artists with equipment, grants and masterclasses. Kandima will give USD 1 per occupied room night to the KULA Fund and guests can make their own donations.

The KULA fund will also prosper and increase from the artists themselves. When a piece of art is sold, the artist will contribute a small percentage of the sale to the KULA fund to help it grow. The remainder goes personally to the artist, with no profit to Kandima.

A local artist showcases his talent at Kandima Maldives.
The opportunity to be involved is one that local artist Atikey is grateful for.

“KULA is a dream come true. It’s a platform that the whole art community has been waiting for, for a long time. This will not only help local artists display their work in the Maldives, but also on an international stage. It’s an exciting new beginning for us that we hope will grow from strength to strength,” Atikey, who was amongst a group of local artists that hosted art classes at Kandima last month, said.

Local artists showcase their talent at Kandima Maldives.
According to Kandima, additional dimensions of the KULA initiative will be activated over the next few months, making its way through local crafts, photography and music. The plans include hosting the first KULA exhibition in December with work from 20 local artists — a first for any resort in the Maldives — and introducing the KULA Awards in 2018, giving the local art community a platform to showcase to a global audience.

Located on a lush tropical island in Dhaalu Atoll, Kandima offers a choice of 274 stylishly designed studios and villas, with 11 different categories to choose from, all of which have a private terrace and endless tropical views to enjoy.

The four star plus resort has first class infrastructure, boasting the largest pool in
 the Maldives, tennis courts, an art studio, a marine biology school, a kids club, a game room, a library, a gym, a yoga studio and a spa. There is plenty to keep everyone occupied and the array of activities and events on offer is endless, including a huge choice of watersports, diving or snorkelling near the house reef, yoga, Zumba, bicycles, beach volleyball, petanque, arts and crafts lessons, and much more.

The island also offers one of the largest selection of F&B outlets in the country, with an incredible choice of ten restaurants and bars, all featuring unique and individual menus offering flavours of the world from Chinese and Japanese to authentic Maldivian and Mediterranean. So be it tropical or traditional, Kandima has something to suit everyone’s tastes.

OUTRIGGER Appoints Frederic De Marcy Chelin as Indian Ocean Sales, Marketing Chief

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Outrigger Enterprises Group has appointed Frederic De Marcy Chelin to the newly created role of Area Director of Sales and Marketing for Indian Ocean.

While continuing as Director of Sales and Marketing for the Outrigger Mauritius Beach Resort, a position he has held for four years, Chelin will add Outrigger Konotta Maldives Resort to his area of responsibility. He will report to Franck Seguin, General Manager at Outrigger Mauritius Beach Resort, John Allanson, General Manager at Outrigger Konotta Maldives Resort, and Andrew Gee, Outrigger Vice President of Sales and Marketing for Asia Pacific.

According to Outrigger, the new dual role is consistent with its strategic sales and marketing structure in the Asia Pacific: Rory Campbell as Area Director of Sales and Marketing for Outrigger Laguna Phuket Beach Resort and Outrigger Koh Samui Beach Resort in Thailand, and Ben Johnson as Area Director of Sales and Marketing for Outrigger Fiji Beach Resort and Castaway Island, Fiji.

Before joining Outrigger in August 2013, Chelin, a native of Mauritius, worked for Starwood Hotels and Resorts as Director of Corporate and Group Sales, and was responsible for three properties in Mauritius.

In the Maldives, Outrigger runs the Outrigger Konotta Maldives Resort.

Outrigger Konotta Maldives Resort is accessible via a 55-minute flight from the main Velana International Airport to Kaadedhdhoo Airport followed by a scenic 30-minute journey on a luxurious private speedboat. The resort comprises 29 Beach Pool Villas, 21 Ocean Pool Villas, two Lagoon Pool Villas and a masterful three-bedroom Grand Konotta Villa, offering guests a complete sense of privacy and intimate luxury.

Matato to Launch Annual travel Agents Guide

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Maldives Association of Travel Agents and Tour Operators (MATATO) has announced plans to launch a directory of travel agents in Maldives.

In a statement, MATATO said the Maldives Travel Agents Guide would be published from next year onwards as a handbook directory that provides detailed information about travel agents operating in the Maldives. In addition to listings of travel agents, the guide will include features and advertorials on holiday options offered by local agents, it added.

“The purpose of this publication is to have an exclusive platform, where MATATO can exclusively feature local travel agents and their innovative travel ideas and offers that need to be showcased for the international market. This publication will also serve as business directory and catalogue for international buyers seeking for information on local agents,” the statement read.

According to MATATO, the annual guide will be distributed at major international travel trade shows and MATATO hosted events.

Travel agents interested to be listed on the guide are requested to contact the organisation’s Deputy Secretary General Asra Naseem via email.

MATATO already publishes an annual magazine, Maldives Finder.

First launched in 2011, Maldives Finder is distributed throughout the year at leading international travel exhibitions and events, and travel roadshows and networking events organised by MATATO. The publication is also widely circulated amongst the tourism facilities in the Maldives.

MATAO, a non-profit that supports local travel agents and tour operators through lobbying and training programmes, also organises the prestigious Maldives Travel Awards every year.

Happy B'day Kurumba, "Turns 45 today" | 3rd of October

Loading Maldives Offers.... Tourism: an industry that brought prosperity and progress to the Maldives. It began with Kurumba Maldives opening on October 3, 1972.

At the time, this remote archipelago, inhabited only by fisher folk, was unknown to the outside world, with no foreign investment. There was only a small airstrip on Hulhule Island (the present international airport), built by volunteers, with no regular flights.

Mohamed Umar Maniku, Universal Enterprises’ Chairman, recalls: “We had nothing in the Maldives then, nothing. No Banks, no airport, no telephones only ham radio or Morse code contact with Colombo. Even the UNDP experts said that tourism would never succeed because there were no facilities, no infrastructure.”
Here was an industry that could have easily missed its chance to grow, yet tourism flourished thanks to the right people in the right place at the right time, and the passion and determination of its young Maldivian founders. It all began with a chance meeting in Colombo between George Corbin, an Italian travel agent, and Ahmed Naseem, then a junior with the Maldives Embassy who later became foreign minister. At the time, Corbin was seeking pristine islands where he could bring Italians to swim and hunt fish. For Corbin, the idyllic Maldives archipelago was love at first sight. Upon his first visit to Male, with Naseem by cargo ship in 1971, he immediately vowed to return with more guests.

Corbin brought the Maldives’ first tourists, mainly journalists and photographers, in February 1972. They stayed in humble lodging in three houses in Male, looked after by M U Maniku and his friends, including Hussain Afeef, who is currently the successful owner and operator of several resorts. Perfect for swimming, sunbathing, fishing, the Maldives enchanted them. Corbin promised to bring more tourists if Maniku, Naseem and Afeef could find them somewhere to stay.

From then on, Kurumba was born!

The Original

Inspired by their enthusiasm, Maniku and Afeef linked up with the leaseholder of Vihamanaafushi, then an uninhabited island coconut plantation. They chose the island for its proximity to the airstrip and the capital. Access to the island was only by sailing dhoni or open boat with outboard motor. There was no jetty (although one was later built using coconut trunks as pillars). After arriving by boat on the beach, guests had to wade through the surf to reach the resort.

An agriculture officer, M U Maniku spent his time after work, finishing each day at 1.30pm to develop Vihamanaafushi. With financial help from Corbin and his own resources, Maniku and his young Maldivian friends managed to build 30 rooms in blocks of three, using coral stone for walls, coconut timber, and palm thatch for roofs. Each room had a brackish water shower and toilet, basic furniture, and access to the beach. Meals were taken in a canteen or as barbecues on the beach.

They called the resort Kurumba Village, after the Dhivehi word for coconut, Kurumba. Afeef became the manager. The resort opened on October 3, 1972, and remained fully booked for the rest of the year, an augury of its success ever since.

“We knew nothing about tourism,” said Maniku.

“It was tourists who helped us build the industry here. We listened to them and gave them what they wanted. Luckily for us, they wanted simplicity in natural surroundings and that was what we had to offer and all we could afford.”

A Lasting Success

From its humble origins accommodating only 60 guests a month, Kurumba has since graduated to 14,000. From a handful of founding friends, to a staff of 450. Several have stayed for over 20 years.

“In the beginning. We didn’t know what to cook for these tourists from overseas, or how to deal with them. I had a recipe book in English which I translated into Dhivehi so the boys could understand, I was cook, gardener and room boy. We had to do everything ourselves,” said Maniku.

Kurumba expanded to accommodate more people after the airport was extended to take long-haul flights. Like an authentic tropical village, but with the comforts of home. Fresh water, air-conditioning and restaurants with international offerings.

In 2003, Kurumba underwent a complete transformation yet again, to meet the demands of the 21st century. It has emerged as a grand resort of distinctive style and panache. With 180 bungalows and villas dotted throughout the island within verdant foliage only a pace or two from the beach, Kurumba offers a wide range of luxurious accommodation. The villas and rooms have wooden floors and are elegantly furnished with solid timbre furniture.

In addition to the newly opened King Thai restaurant, the resort boasts seven restaurants and five bars featuring an impressive variety of cuisines, including Italian, Japanese, Indian and Lebanese choices.

Offering a wide range of treatments, Veli Spa proposes the traditional Dhivehi Beys treatments, as well as both modern and traditional treatments. This complements the resort’s recreational offerings such as its two outdoor freshwater pools, three tennis courts and the fitness centre.

A process of natural growth, and of proud perseverance, led by heartfelt service over the years, Kurumba has matured into the grand hotel of the Maldives, setting the benchmark for hospitality in the region and in the tropics at large.