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Cocoon Maldives: marrying Italian design with nature to bring out ‘cultural luxury’

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If there is any postcard destination in the world, the Maldives deserves the top spot. With islets of powder white sand topped by tropical palms and vegetation, and strung like pearl necklaces onto dreamy atolls that seemingly float on the turquoise ocean, the Maldives provides the perfect setting for the best luxury beach resorts in the world.

Rightly so, the Maldives has come to be known as the ultimate luxury travel destination, favoured by celebrities and high net worth individuals from the world over. It has pioneered barefoot luxury and several innovative concepts such as overwater villas and so on. Great design, unostentatious luxury and personalised service coupled with utmost exclusivity and authentic experiences have made each and every resort in the Maldives the perfect beach holiday destination.

And nothing like that still exists anywhere in the world!

But travel trends are changing across the world with the emergence of millennial travellers that are on the lookout for something beyond the usual luxury. The Maldives too is inevitably adapting to these changes as well, and this phenomena is evident nowhere else more than at the recently opened Cocoon Maldives resort.

Opened in December and officially unveiled in March, Cocoon Maldives is developed on the 6.9-hectare island of Ookolhufinolhu in the northern Lhaviyani atoll. Nestled in a relatively large lagoon even by Maldives standards, Cocoon Maldives is accessible by a 30-minute scenic seaplane from the main Velana International Airport.

An aerial view of Cocoon Maldives. PHOTO/ COCOON

As the seaplane brings you directly to the arrival jetty, your first impressions may very well be the same as when you arrive in another resort in the Maldives. But at Cocoon Maldives, there is a whole world for you to admire and explore, as Italian design and the Maldives natural beauty creates a harmony never seen before. Through simple and chic interiors exclusively designed by world-renowned Italian design firm LAGO, Cocoon Maldives takes its guests through a cultural journey with a contemporary outlook. Here, Italian design takes a unique turn as it sets about telling a story of a culture that is deep-rooted in arts and crafts.

“My friend Alessandro Azzola [Managing Director of Cocoon Investments which owns and manages the resort] asked me to come to the Maldives to have a look at his island. I came down here when it was just another island in the Maldives, and I was awestruck by the natural beauty,” Daniele Lago, the Chief Executive Officer and Head of Design at LAGO, told Maldives Insider.

“Every design has a story, but we live in the present. So Cocoon Maldives presents that story with a contemporary twist.”

Daniele Lago (L) and Alessandro walk past a collection of water villas at Cocoon Maldives. PHOTO/ IBRAHIM ASAD

The story begins as soon as you reach the reception where simple, modern swings that pay tribute to the traditional swings often found in isolated islands complement woven chairs set inside the thatched building. There is nothing much here except a desk with a computer system and shelf to hold necessary items for the operations. From this point on, guests are invited to leave the complexities and complications of the world behind, and embrace their own well-being in an environment beautiful beyond imagination.

The reception area of Cocoon Maldives. PHOTO/ COCOON

In the 150 guest villas — including Beach Villas, Beach Suites, Family Beach Villas, Beach Suites with Pool, Lagoon Villas, Lagoon Suites, Lagoon Suites with Poo and a separate Cocoon Suite — a floating bed welcomes guests to a ‘cocoon’ of solitude where a carefully planned view constantly links eyes and landscape, and preserves and highlights its natural surroundings. Walls beaming with calming shades of powder blue and peach match with wooden details of the room and the bathroom, while the wallpaper projects an endless image on the facing wall when lights in the room are turned on.

“The main focus of the design is to reflect the vivid blue of the ocean and the natural beauty of the Maldives. The beds, chairs and tables are all suspended using glass bottoms. This reflects the crystal clear waters of the Maldives,” Daniele said.

A ‘floating’ bed in a Beach Suite at Cocoon Maldives. PHOTO/ COCOON

This simplicity and tribute to culture is seen across all dining venues of the resort as well. The main Octopus restaurant is a large open area with large oak tree tables where guests can enjoy freshly cooked meals while letting their mind drift away and forget about time. Deep into the greenery, a LAGO Community Table tears down all cultural barriers, and brings different worlds and people together. In the speciality overwater Manta restaurant, tables suspended with glass bottoms come with tabletops made from ceramic tiles decorated with traditional art.

LAGO tables set on a sandbank at Cocoon Maldives. PHOTO/ COCOON

As Maldives has come to be synonymous with luxury tourism, so has its resorts. Properties across the archipelago are constantly adding new features to satisfy those that splurge on their vacations — from private residences, in-villa pools to branded amenities and spa treatments.

But Cocoon Maldives keeps it simple. Here, food is simple but great tasting. Villas have minimal furnishing and basic amenities. Spa treatments are ordinary but especially designed to ensure peacefulness of the mind, body and spirit. Recreational facilities and activities are not grand but exhaustive. All in all, Cocoon Maldives does not go overboard; instead, the resort offers a well thought-out and elegant holiday experience with the feeling of lightness and joy.

“We have conceived a design resort that is deeply connected with the unspoiled natural surroundings and crystal clear water. Every space in the resort has been created with meticulous precision to give life to as fantastic an experience as the environment they belong to,” Daniele explained, still paying tribute to the Maldives, which he enthusiastically described as “paradise” on several occasions.

“This is the new luxury. It’s cultural luxury born from the environment.”

The simplicity offered by Cocoon Maldives brings a new face to the luxury that the Maldives is known for. Starting from the swings at the reception to villas and dining experiences, this is the place where luxury is redefined to connect with one’s mind and soul. This new form of ‘cultural luxury’ does not disconnect you from the breath-taking environment and scenery of the paradise island, but allows you be at ease. At Cocoon Maldives, as you ‘float’ on one of the swings, on your bed or while you are dining, your troubles float away as well.

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Prime Surf Season in Maldives: Niyama Welcomes Back Surf Pro Brad Gerlach and Surf Photographer Junior Gracia

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At Niyama Private Islands Maldives, surfing is a way of life. And with peak surf season fast approaching, two renowned surfies – Wave-Ki founder and instructor Brad Gerlach and whiz-behind-the-lens Junior Garcia – are set to take up residence.

Niyama Private Islands Maldives is the ultimate surf destination. Guests can jet in with their boards or get fully outfitted at the Rip Curl boutique, set up camp in one the specially outfitted surf villas, then hit the waves – including Vodi, a powerful and sometimes hollow wave that breaks right on shore. Afterwards, chill time awaits at the Surf Shack with rum and reggae, or at Drift Spa with a recovery back massage and sunburn-soothing aloe vera wrap.

In residence 10 March – 20 April to offer his revolutionary method of coaching is Brad Gerlach, the world’s #2 in 1991 after dominating the leader board for the majority of the year. He is the founder of Wave-Ki, a land-based method to perfect surf skills favoured by pros like Parker Coffin, with a martial art-like focus on slow, precise movements which create kinaesthetic motor memory for improved surfing once in the water.

There to capture guests mid-wave will be photographer Junior Garcia, at the resort 8 March 8 – September 30. Originally from Brazil, and now based in Bali, Junior has spent his life chasing the ultimate wave and the ultimate shot.

“The return of Brad and Junior to Niyama is epically exciting,” says Nathan Kemp, Surf Development Director at the resort. “Their unrivalled talents, combined with the perfect surf conditions and absolutely incomparable backdrop that is the Maldives, guarantees an unforgettable experience for all who will be staying with us during this time”.

While surfing in the Maldives can be enjoyed year-round, peak season runs from March to November. Brad can be booked for private or family coaching, first on land (USD 249) then in the water (USD 447). There will also be regular group land sessions (USD 74). Packages include a year’s access to Wave-Ki online, with video lessons, live sessions and Q&As, plus the option of one-on-one virtual coaching. Sessions with Junior begin at USD 249 per hour, or USD 489 for a week.

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Bunny hop to an Easter playground at Hard Rock Hotel Maldives and SAii Lagoon Maldives, Curio Collection by Hilton

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Easter is the calm before the storm, the perfect time to jet off for a memorable family holiday before the summer rush floods in. Balmy, warm beaches, long spells of sunshine, colourful reef and glimmering lagoons must be on the top of your agendas for this Easter especially with the incredible line up of festivities and events lined up at Hard Rock Hotel Maldives and SAii Lagoon Maldives, Curio Collection by Hilton.

Easter here is a very special holiday filled with energy and enthusiasm for adventure-making for the toddlers, teenagers, adults, or grandparents (or all of them). The secret ingredient to it all is embedded in the brand ethos itself.

Kid-Friendly, Teen Approved, Roxity Kids Club ™ & Teen Spirit ® Club for This Easter

Who says grown-ups get to have all the fun? Kids need a place where they can have an adventure that’s exclusively theirs. Hard Rock Hotel Maldives signature, kid-friendly hangouts are part of an adult-free zone, each with its line up of exciting Easter activities. Start your day with the Bunny Dance Fitness session at the Pool Deck, where you can groove to the rhythm and get energized for the day ahead. As the sun sets, join the Easter Sundown Ritual, a harmonious celebration of the holiday spirit against the perfect tropical sunset backdrop.

Indulge in a Mexican dinner at The Elephant and The Butterfly, accompanied by live band performances that will set the stage on fire. The family favourite Easter Pool Party, is a must try on the list where you can make a splash and enjoy the beats of the Bunny DJ I-MJAN. For the little ones, there is plenty of fun with Roxity Mini Fun Fair, Easter Bunny Cookie Making, and the Roxity Easter Egg Hunting. For the ultimate thrill-seekers, take on the Easter Limbo Challenge at the Pool Deck or try your hand at the Bunny Silk Climbing Aerial Class at The Stage. With live music, delicious dining experiences, and exciting activities for all ages, Easter at Hard Rock Hotel Maldives promises to be an unforgettable melody of fun and excitement.

Koimala & Maalimi’s Junior Beach Club and Camp’s SAiiSational Easter Line-Up

Celebrate Easter with a touch of heartfelt charm at SAii Lagoon Maldives, Curio Collection by Hilton. Start your day with a snorkeling house reef tour, where you can explore the vibrant underwater world of the Maldives. Join Saii Lagoon for Aqua Zumba and Water Polo at the Beach Club Pool, perfect for guests of all ages to enjoy some fun in the sun. Unwind with a cocktail-making competition and pool volleyball, promising exciting prizes for those who participate. For aspiring chefs, the SAii Master Chef Competition sets the perfect stage, where they can showcase their culinary skills and win fantastic rewards.

As the day winds down, indulge in the Easter Dinner Buffet at Tera and Mray, offering a delightful dining experience with live music. With its relaxed atmosphere and genuine hospitality, Easter at SAii Lagoon Maldives promises to be a truly SAiiSational experience, where every moment is a chance to reach out to the blue and embrace the beauty of the island.

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Maldives Association of Tourism Industry (MATI) holds its 34th Annual General Meeting

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The Maldives Association of Tourism Industry (MATI) held its 34th Annual General Meeting at Kurumba Maldives today, with a total of 100 members in attendance. 

The day’s events began with a welcome address from the Chairman of MATI, Mr. Mohamed Umar, who also presided over the session. The agenda included an address from the Secretary General, Mr. Ahmed Nazeer, the review and approval of the minutes of the 33rd AGM, the review and adoption of the Annual Report and Financial Reports for 2023, the approval of the 2024 budget, the appointment of auditors for 2024, the welcoming of new members and election of executive board members to the two vacant positions (by-election).

In the member discussion session, the following topics were covered: the Government’s aim to reach net-zero emissions by 2023 and renewable energy generation in the Tourism Industry, new terminal of Velana International Airport and developments, employment challenges, the Industrial Relations Act and trade unions, environmental conservation and the significance of creating and executing efficient management plans for protected areas like the South Ari Marine Protected Area (SAMPA).

Following the official proceedings, the Minister of Tourism Hon. Ibrahim Faisal and the Minister of Economic Development and Trade Hon. Mohamed Saeed joined the forum. The Ministers provided remarks and engaged in a Member Q&A session. This session provided members with the chance to directly engage with the Ministers and delve into crucial industry topics. The queries focused on the Economic Outlook, forthcoming development plans and  immediate challenges and issues affecting the Tourism Industry.

A video presentation was also showcased that delved into the extensive work undertaken by MATI in 2023. The video also touched upon the Tourism Industry’s performance over the past 5 years, as well as the current and projected human resource capacity of the sector.

In his closing remarks, the Secretary General highlighted the importance of collaborative efforts in addressing industry challenges and called for greater unison amongst industry stakeholders, ending with an acknowledgement of the promising start to the year in terms of arrivals.

Executive Board Members elected to the 2 vacant positions (by-election):

  1. Ibrahim Shareef, CEO and Managing Director of Maldives Airports Company Limited
  2. Renato De Olivera, General Manager of The Ritz-Carlton Maldives, Fari Islands and representative of Marriott International
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