Maldives Travel Awards celebrates best of guesthouse tourism

Maafushi island on Monday hosted a spectacular celebration of the Maldives booming guesthouse industry as the Maldives Association of Travel Agents and Tour Operators (MATATO) held the first ever dedicated Guesthouse Edition of the Maldives Travel Awards at the birthplace of guesthouse tourism in the Maldives.

Over 250 invitees, including guesthouse owners, suppliers and service providers, attended the event, which was officially called Dhiraagu Presents Maldives Travel Awards Guesthouse Edition.

Awards were presented in 12 categories, for which 96 parties were nominated. The winners include:

Leading Guesthouse: Arena Beach Hotel

Location: Maafushi, South Male Atoll

Situated on its own private beach, Arena Beach is a three-storey hotel, which features 50 stylish rooms. Each modern accommodation offers amenities to make your stay cosy and comfortable, while the private beach allows you to explore a variety of leisure activities like snorkelling and diving.

Leading Food and Beverage Guesthouse: Velana Beach

Location: Maafushi, South Male Atoll

Located on the beachfront, Velana Beach offers posh and spacious suites that are fit for families and couples alike. Designed with your comfort in mind, all rooms are equipped with free Wi-Fi, air conditioning as well as hot and cold water.

Leading Guesthouse/Diving and Water Sports: Active Dive

Location: Maafushi, South Male Atoll

Winner of Leading Activity/Water Sports Centre title at the Maldives Travel Awards 2016, Active Maldives provides full range of water sports activities and equipment for a number of guesthouses.

Leading Green/Eco-Friendly Guesthouse: TME Retreats Dhigurah

Location: Dhigurah, South Ari Atoll

Winner of Leading Guesthouse title at Maldives Travel Awards 2014, TME Retreats Dhigurah is a three-star stylish beach hotel with all modern conveniences. Designed for maximum privacy, the hotel is located a little away from the village, yet close enough to walk and enjoy the island lifestyle.

Leading Business Guesthouse: Hotel UI Inn

Location: Hulhumale

A 10-minute drive from the main airport, Hotel UI Inn offers spacious rooms with modern facilities. Each floor has a wide balcony, while the top floor comes with a terrace that offers panoramic views of the ocean. Guests can also enjoy several activities, including water sports, diving and excursions.

Leading Heritage Guesthouse: Local Island Inn

Location: Hangnaameedhoo, South Ari Atoll

Offering a unique touch of true Maldivian culture, Local Island Inn offers superior rooms that are comfortable, roomy and elegant. All rooms are fitted with a seating area, while some units have a patio. Guests can also enjoy South African and barbecue cuisine at the in-house restaurant.

Leading Adventure Guesthouse: Reveries Diving Village

Location: Gan, Laamu Atoll

Crowned the Leading Guesthouse at the Maldives Travel Awards 2016, Reveries Diving Village offers the true Maldivian island life experience. In addition to modern rooms and a variety of excursions, the guesthouse offers three dining facilities, an indoor pool, a 24-hour gym and a spa.

Most Innovative Guesthouse Concept: Velana Beach

Location: Maafushi, South Male Atoll

Located on the beachfront, Velana Beach offers posh and spacious suites that are fit for families and couples alike. Designed with your comfort in mind, all rooms are equipped with free Wi-Fi, air conditioning as well as hot and cold water.

Leading Guesthouse Brand: Kaani Hotels

Location: Maafushi, South Male Atoll

A beach getaway surrounded by coconut palm trees, Kaani Beach Hotel offers sea view rooms with private balcony. The hotel features a restaurant, which serves buffet breakfast and dinner, as well as a rooftop open air terrace with loungers. A floating bar is also available just two minutes away.

Leading Transport Service Provider: Nevi Speed

Location: Alif Alif Atoll

With its homebase in Alif Alif Atoll, Nevi provides ferry service between capital Male and several islands in the atoll, including Mathiveri, Folhudhoo, Ukulhas and Rasdhoo. Its services, provided using modern speedboats fitted with state-of-the-art technology, are used by several guesthouses.

Leading Guesthouse Island: Maafushi

Location: South Male Atoll

About 30 minutes from capital Male by speedboat, Maafushi is considered the ‘Birthplace of Guesthouse Tourism in the Maldives’. Frequented by a lot of backpackers, the island has a booming guesthouse industry with a variety of affordable hotels and restaurants offering guests a holiday experience with a local touch.

Leading Beach Island: Kelaa

Location: Haa Alif Atoll

A distinct island in the northernmost Maldives atoll of Haa Alif, Kelaa boats a long stretch of powder soft white sand beach, making it the perfect getaway that will make your dream holiday come true.

Nominees were evaluated and shortlisted to five contenders in each category based on their rating on TripAdvisor, which accounts for 40 percent of the total score. Shortlisted properties were then announced and featured for popular vote, which accounts for the remaining 60 percent of the final score.

Additionally, MATATO gave recognitions in three categories, including Leading Business Development Partner for the Guesthouse Industry, Newcomer of the Year and Most Supportive Guesthouse.

Leading Business Development Partner for the Guesthouse Industry: Dhiraagu

Dhiraagu is the leading and the largest provider of telecommunications and digital services in the Maldives, offering a comprehensive range of mobile, internet, data, fixed line and TV services throughout the archipelago. The company offers specialised internet and TV services for the guesthouse industry.

Newcomer of the Year: Veli Vilaa

Location: Dhiffushi, North Male Atoll

Set on its own grounds amidst a well laid out garden and with direct access to a private beach, the luxury bungalow offers four bedrooms featuring twin beds and en-suite bathrooms. The Vilaa comes with its own restaurant, cocktail area and sun deck. An in-house chef is also available.

Most Supportive Guesthouse: 

Arena Beach

Location: Maafushi, South Male Atoll

Situated on its own private beach, Arena Beach is a three-storey hotel, which features 50 stylish rooms. Each modern accommodation offers amenities to make your stay cosy and comfortable, while the private beach allows you to explore a variety of leisure activities like snorkelling and diving.

 

Kaani Beach Hotel

Location: Maafushi, South Male Atoll

A beach getaway surrounded by coconut palm trees, Kaani Beach Hotel offers sea view rooms with private balcony. The hotel features a restaurant, which serves buffet breakfast and dinner, as well as a rooftop open air terrace with loungers. A floating bar is also available just two minutes away.

Introduced this year, the Guesthouse Edition builds on the recognitions awarded to guesthouses by MATATO as part of the Maldives Travel Awards, and celebrates the outstanding performance of the guesthouse sector.

Maldives, known world over for its upmarket tourism industry, has resorts in the hundreds spread across the archipelago. The industry has in recent years expanded to introduce more affordable segments, including guesthouses and liveaboards. Some 330 guesthouses have started operations over the past five years as the number of travellers that choose to stay in guesthouses rise.

Initiated in 2012 by MATATO, Maldives Travel Awards celebrate and honour the best tourism and hospitality products in the Maldives, while fostering relationships with suppliers and local travel agents. From 20 categories in 2012, the awards have now expanded into three editions totalling 55 categories.

This year, MATATO has for the first time branched out the prestigious awards into three categories; the People’s Edition, which recognises successful pioneers and long serving individuals in the tourism industry, a Guesthouse Edition, which celebrates the outstanding performance of the up and coming guesthouse sector, and the Grand Gala, which is exclusive for winners in the categories for resorts, airlines and liveaboards.

As the first event held under the Maldives Travel Awards brand, Adaaran Select Hudhuranfushi hosted the People’s Edition on July 13, where 10 individuals were recognised for their immense contributions to the development of the Maldives tourism industry.

After the Guesthouse Edition, the Grand Gala will be held in Adaaran Select Hudhuranfushi resort in November. Voting for the Grand Gala is now open.

The non-profit will also combine the Grand Gala with the travel conference happening a day before at Bandos Maldives resort, bringing an international audience of industry experts.

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