Soneva unveils ‘Change-Maker’ film series to highlight community, environmental projects

Soneva has launched a series of short films this August that explore its sustainability and community projects, as narrated by some of Soneva’s employees across the company’s three properties in the Maldives and Thailand.

The ‘Change-Maker’ series comprises five videos shot at Soneva Fushi and Soneva Jani, as well as four hand-drawn animated videos. The series launch is part of Soneva’s Festival of Colour’s August “Green” month, which celebrates our planet.

The nine films are being released on Soneva’s social media accounts throughout the month of August. The stories told through the films manage to highlight some of the pressing social and environmental issues facing the local communities in which Soneva operates, as well as solutions. They also introduce some of the Soneva Hosts (employees) and the important functions they have in not only serving guests, but being part of a company’s bigger purpose.

“I strongly believe that a company exists not only to make a profit, but to serve and improve the communities in which it operates. I remain a strong advocate of the overall positive impact of Travel & Tourism and the key role it plays in protecting and conserving communities and the environment. Being sustainable is also part of our DNA and we are always striving to limit the negative environmental impact of our activities – something which is both difficult as well as critical for a company which operates resorts in remote places of pristine natural beauty,” Sonu Shivdasani, Soneva’s CEO and Joint Creative Director, was quoted in a statement, as saying.

“We may sometimes fall short of our own high standards, but we are very clear about our responsibilities as custodians of the communities we operate in.  This responsibility to one’s community is somewhat complicated for a company such as ours whose guests jet in from all over the globe. As a result our social and environmental responsibilities are as much global as they are local. This film series is a small window into our many initiatives.”

The five videos begin with ‘From Garden to Plate’, which tells the story of how the resorts’ organic and seasonal produce enable the chef’s imagination to dictate the menu. It shows how Soneva Fushi’s chefs and gardeners work hand in hand with nature to ensure Soneva’s guests enjoy only the freshest, most nutritious ingredients.

‘We Are the 4%’ highlights how very few Maldivian women work in the hospitality industry and how Soneva Jani is working hard to change that. It centres around the story of Fathimath Shaazleen, the first female Resort Manager in the Maldives, as well as that of other female Maldivian Hosts and showcases what Soneva does to ensure these women feel safe, involved and have an opportunity to advance their careers.

‘Beyond the Seagrass’, narrated by Soneva Jani’s Marine Biologist Eleanor Butler, draws attention to the harm that plastic waste and fishing nets are doing the island nation’s marine life. Eleanor also talks about the sea turtle tracking that is done by marine biologists across the country with the help of resort guests. When a guest finds an undocumented sea turtle they are allowed to name it, and so far there has been a Geraldine, a Hope, a Shelly and a Stevie.

Ali Adil, Soneva Jani’s Astronomer narrates the next video, ‘The Mangrove Network’, which delves into the intricacies and interconnectedness of the ecosystems found on the island. He warns that if crabs or the mangroves are removed, then the island itself would perish as a result.

‘Rocket’, the last film in the series so far, introduces a Maldivian fisherman called Rocket who provides Soneva Fushi with its freshly caught fish. Rocket tells the story of how he has been with Soneva since the resort first opened 23 years ago, and how working with the resort helped him start his fishing business. Rocket fishes with line and pole, the most sustainable way to fish, and he hopes that sustainable practices will help reverse and stop further harm from coming to the Maldives’ marine environment.

Interspersed between the live video releases will be four animated films that go into more detail about Soneva’s sustainability practices and initiatives.

‘Striving for Nothing’ explains how Soneva offsets its carbon emissions, both at the resorts and through projects around the world, to ensure it is 100 percent carbon neutral. ‘Drink Water Save Lives’ is about the Soneva Drinking Water initiative that allows Soneva to be plastic bottle free, and through which it has funded clean water projects and given over 750,000 people access to clean water around the world.

‘Do You Believe in Magic’ expands upon the story in ‘From Garden to Plate’ to shed light on how Soneva grows its own produce from composting to harvesting. Finally, ‘Growing a Soneva Villa’ goes into the details surrounding the creation of a Soneva villa, from the growing and replanting of the sustainably farmed timber to the making of building blocks made of recycled waste in Soneva’s Eco Centro.

Soneva’s Festival of Colour celebrates Soneva’s diverse range of guest experiences and visiting Michelin-starred chefs, wellness experts, authors, athletes and much more across of its resorts.

Soneva, a world-leading luxury resort operator, runs two resorts in the Maldives, Soneva Fushi and Soneva Jani.

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.

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 and amongst the best resorts in the world in the Condé Nast Traveler Readers’ Choice Awards 2017.

Opened in December 2016, Soneva Jani is Soneva’s newest property and its second resort in the Maldives.

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 been named the Best Over-the-Top Luxury hotel of the year by Jetsetter.com, the best new resort in the world by CNN, and the Leading Luxury Hotel/Resort in South Asia and Leading Luxury Hotel/Resort in Maldives.

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