Last year the Maldives welcomed 1.7 million tourists. But now the archipelago is closed off from the world. In the Maldives, with a population of more than 500,000, the health of the Maldivians has been prioritised by the government. Travel restrictions from high-risk countries were implemented early in the pandemic while movement between islands was limited. Scot Ross Sanders, General Manager of Anantara Kihavah Villas has remained at the resort in the Baa Atoll, a 30-minute seaplane ride from Male, during lockdown. Accompanied by a small team of staff, he offers his view on the future of holidays in the Maldives.
“We want to turn this adverse situation into something positive, which will reshape the holiday island concept allowing for a more positive long-term and sustainable impact on the environment. I believe that in the recovery of post COVID-19, the attitudes of travellers will also change, making them more mindful of their carbon footprint for example and there might be a reduction in unnecessary travel. Travelling will become a cherished commodity and return to the luxury and glamour of yesteryear,” says Ross.
“Areas of excesses such as the extravagant buffet spread, will become a thing of the past as meals turn into more personalised experiences. As almost everything in the Maldives is imported, a reduced wastage on our part would lessen our carbon footprint. Further to this, we are also reviewing our present supply chains to see how we can encourage our suppliers to use more sustainable packaging on the items that are being delivered.
“I foresee a greater sense of self-awareness from guests when it comes to choosing what they eat, and this is now an opportunity to accelerate a move operationally in that direction. We will be redesigning our menus to be more organic, more sustainable, and importantly, healthier with a greater focus on aiding inner wellbeing. We are planning to hire a nutritionist consultant to help us introduce a range of nutritious dishes aimed at bolstering immunity.”
Ross is using his time to reinvent the resort’s facilities, clean up the island, enjoy the abundance of marine life in the house reef and get fit by preparing for an Ironman. The pause in tourism has given the resort the chance to implement island revitalisation programmes, such as tree planting, which has seen 60 new coconut palm saplings planted to date and also increase the reef protection programme, that reverses the impact of coral bleaching and restore colour and life back into the reefs through coral planting. The resort now has three coral nurseries and are growing more baby branching corals on ropes, which are then transplanted back on the reef after 18 months. There are currently 400 in the nurseries and over 200 planted recently in new spots such as underneath the overwater spa.
With the Maldives being such a desired destination for many people, Ross is confident that they will see luxury travellers returning more rapidly than other destinations, provided that the airlines and airports are able to implement pre-emptive measures from the start of the travel journey.
The luxury of Anantara Kihavah is that it is very easy to implement social distancing as all villas are exceptionally private with ample outdoor areas for dining and relaxing. Just before lock-down the resort launched its newly refurbished two, three and four-bedroom beach pool residences ranging from 829 sqm to 2,994 sqm – ideal for those looking for seclusion with their family and friends. Each luxury residence has extended swimming pools, an outdoor sala for al fresco dining and its own private enclosed spa room and gym.
“We will have to implement massive changes in how we handle service at our resort with an even greater emphasis on hygiene, to instill continued confidence in our guests and our team members,” says Ross.
From guest greetings at the airport, to luggage handling, to pre-arrival villa preparations, there are several hundred new standards which will be introduced when the resort reopens. For example, villas will now require cleaning to be done 24 hours prior to the next guest arrival, to ensure that they are fully sanitised. Magazines, menus and other high touch frequency items including in-villa collaterals and materials will be replaced. This is a transition that is also in line with their ongoing efforts in going paperless as digital iPads have already been deployed in the villas.
Wellness and well-being will take on an even bigger focus in the future. The resort plans to build on the success of the Cocoon Medi-spa and is looking into extending the existing range of immune-boosting treatments already available such as the IV Vitamin infusions, as well as improving the overall holistic experience of the Anantara Spa.
Anantara Kihavah Villas is launching a new special deal when the resort reopens in Q3 2020. The six night Best of Kihavah package includes snorkelling with manta rays, stargazing at the resort’s over water observatory, and fine dining underwater at SEA, one of the world’s few oceanic restaurants. The package represents a 40% saving on the room rate and starts from $8,800 (£7,053) on a half board basis consisting of breakfast, and dinner at three restaurants as well as the three signature experiences. There is a minimum stay of six nights and it is valid until 31 October 2021.
The Best of Kihavah Experiences Image and Video Gallery: https://mhg.to/uo5gs
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For further information please contact:
Emma Hill or Tiggy Dean
Hill & Dean PR