Top five luxury eco-friendly resorts in the Maldives
The fragile coral reefs of the Maldives are some of the most spectacular in the world, attracting thousands of visitors. However, both tourism and the traditional Maldivian way of life would cease if these and the islands were destroyed. Therefore it is vital that the value of these delicate eco-systems is understood and each resort needs to play their part in helping to preserve the islands and their surrounding habitat. Specialist, luxury tour operator, Tropic Breeze, lists five of their favourite, eco-friendly resorts.
1. Coco Palm Dhuni Kolhu
Coco Palm Dhuni Kolhu occupies a private island in Baa Atoll which is widely considered to be one of the most beautiful islands in the Maldives. The island’s ivory white beaches encircle a lush tropical paradise overlooking a gorgeous, crystal clear lagoon of unparalleled beauty. Reached by a 30 minute seaplane transfer from Male, guests travelling to Coco Palm Dhuni Kolhu will be treated to breathtaking views of the Maldives from the air.
Accommodation at Coco Palm Dhuni Kolhu is in delightful thatched villas either set amid the palms back from the beach, on the sand overlooking the lagoon, or on stilts over the water. All villas offer privacy and traditional comfort, while those located on the sunset side of the island promise the best views.
The resort is dedicated to supporting the Maldivian eco system and culture. They host an on-site water production and glass bottling plant as well as a waste management centre that recycles materials including aluminium, glass and styrofoam. Plastic bags and bottles are banned to minimise waste and pollution.
To cut down on the impact of importing fresh produce organic fruit, vegetables and herbs are grown on the island. Guests can experience a signature Maldivian dinner at the garden, with the chefs explaining the inspiration behind each course on the exclusive menu.
Needless to say, Coco Palm Dhuni Kolhu is also very involved with marine conversation, and the resort is a nesting site for the endangered green turtles. A dedicated marine biologist is on hand to protect the eggs, monitor the nests for hatchlings, and if required, relocate the nests to safer ground. During the nesting season, the team releases the baby turtles into the ocean to help increase their chances of survival and guests are invited to join in. The resort works in partnership with the Olive Ridley Project which helps to remove ghost nets and rehabilitate any injured turtles. Coco Palm Dhuni Kolhu is the only island in the Maldives with a dedicated resident veterinary surgeon.
In May, Coco Palm is offering guests a wonderful opportunity to improve their photography skills with Blue Planet 2 cameraman, Patrick Dykspa, who will be holding masterclasses and guided dives.
2. Soneva Fushi
Soneva Fushi offers a unique holiday experience where the emphasis is on understated barefoot luxury. The motto here is ‘no news, no shoes’ and on arrival you are given a bag to put them in with the reassurance that you won’t need them until you leave!
This resort is situated on one of the largest islands in the Baa Atoll UNESCO Biosphere Reserve and is more than a mile long. Soneva Fushi has a very down-to-earth personality and this is reflected in the design of the buildings which have been inspired by their natural surroundings and built using local materials. In total there are are 65 beautiful villas and suites hidden among the dense foliage.
The resort is one of few that offers Maldivian cuisine and uses locally produced ingredients as well as vegetables and herbs from it’s own garden.
There is masses to do including an excellent dive centre, a range of water sports, and a superb spa. A glass studio has artists creating beautiful objects recycling all the glass from the resort and holds exhibitions and workshops for guests. There’s even an observatory above the forest so you can see the stars and galaxies away from any light pollution which will not fail to inspire guests of all ages.
The founders of Soneva, Eva and Sonu Shivdasani, are true pioneers of sustainable tourism and this resort, their first, was established in 1995.
Baros is a lush tropical island in North Male Atoll, set in the waters of a shallow lagoon surrounded by a reef rich in marine life just 25 minutes by launch from the airport on Male.
Baros has been a leader in green initiatives for 40 years. The island is like a tropical botanical garden and has a unique combination of environmentally responsible luxury, simple Maldivian authenticity and practical sustainability. The latter includes recycling the water so after being purified it can be used to irrigate the garden. Reducing the amount of electricity used by using LED light systems with a longer lifespan. Heating the water in the guest villas by using a heat exchange system and using air conditioning units that are CFC free. All cleaning agents used throughout the resort are bio-degradeable.
The island has been declared the first eco-dive centre in The Maldives and offers the ‘Reef Check programme’ to all Baros guests. Baros is the gateway to 30 dive sites with a biodiversity of marine life to excite even the most experienced diver. They run a ‘Diving by Design’ programme. The resort has a resident marine biologist who organises guided snorkelling excursions on the house reef. You can even adopt your own coral under the ‘coral planting project’ and receive pictures so you can monitor it’s growth every six months!
At Baros you stay in elegant timber and sandstone villas which stand on stilts over the water or nestle among the exotic blooms that fringe the beach, creating the perfect Maldivian escape.
Baros was named ‘Indian Ocean’s Most Romantic Resort’ at the 2017 World Travel Awards.
4. Six Senses Laamu
This resort is a truly unique island paradise and is the only one on the Laamu Atoll. This luxurious, eco-sensitive resort is a perfect destination for couples, families and friends looking to relax on pristine beaches, enjoy glorious sunsets from weathered timber jetties or snorkel around it’s stunning house reef. The villas sit on stilts above the ocean or nestle on land amid the palms and are constructed from sustainable bamboo and other local materials.
Six Senses takes great care to act responsibly both underwater and on land. The Marine Team at Six Senses Laamu strives to inspire visiting guests, fellow hosts and local communities by promoting education and awareness of the marine environment. The team is the largest of its kind in the country and conducts valuable research to implement long-term conservation in the Laamu Atoll.
On land the resort is committed to reducing the environmental impact and carbon footprint. Utilizing corporate sustainability guidelines, the resort is constantly working towards improving resource efficiency, self-sufficiency and aiming for zero-waste.
In the community Six Senses Laamu works with the local island and atoll councils. They give back to the local community by helping with their education, development and providing services. Also Six Senses is actively involved with global partnerships to help with marine conservation and sustainable development.
Apart from the usual water based activities Six Senses also offers surfing thanks to the most famous surfing wave in Maldives, the Yin Yang, that breaks just offshore.
5. Gili Lankanfushi
Gili Lankanfushi occupies a small island on the North Male Atoll and was named the ‘Indian Ocean’s Leading Resort’ at the 2017 World Travel Awards. The emphasis at Gili Lankanfushi is on ensuring guests totally relax by offering quality provision at every barefoot step – not only in the luxurious accommodation, superb dining and leisure pursuits, but also in the finishing touches, such as preloaded iPods and the huge scented candles in earthenware pots.
The resort is committed to conservation and works hard to preserve the natural environment. Buildings have been constructed using recycled and sustainably-sourced wood. Organic toiletries come in refillable earthenware containers. There is a desalination plant that provides still and sparkling water in glass bottles. Most of the food waste is composted before being used in the organic herb and vegetable garden. And, guests are encouraged to recycle.
Gili Lankanfushi also recently opened a new marine biology centre, Gili Veshi, which acts as a research facility as well as offering guest experiences, activities such as reef cleaning, eco tours, and educational treasure hunts for children both in and out of the water.
Gili Lankanfushi is one of the most supremely luxurious, unique and romantic hotels in the Maldives.
For more information on Tropic Breeze, visit www.tropicbreeze.co.uk or call 01752 880 880.