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Four Seasons Maldives Surfing Champions Trophy opens, competition to begin Friday

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Four Seasons Maldives Surfing Champions Trophy opened Tuesday as surfers gear up for the competition to get underway later this week when weather conditions improve.

Maldives environment minister Toriq Ibrahim graced the opening ceremony held at Four Seasons Resort Maldives at Kuda Huraa. With conditions on the opening days of the event window not quite making the grade for competition to get underway, some surf champions headed out to the waves while some relaxed at The Island Spa.

The forecast, however, looks promising for a start this Friday.

“Right now we are in between swells, and last week’s waves are continuing to diminish,” Event coordinator and founder of Tropicsurf Ross Phillips, who has been surfing in the Maldives for around two decades, was quoted in a statement issued by Four Seasons Resorts Maldives, as saying.

“We also have quite strong monsoonal trade winds which are making the small waves tough to surf. On Friday we have a bit of a bump in swell and winds look to drop off, so we will wait until then to get the event underway in the best conditions of the window.”

As the competition gears up for its start on Friday at the perfect right-hand reef break at Sultans Point, six invitees are settling in on the idyllic island paradise of Kuda Huraa.

Having taken out the 2016 event, former WSL Championship Tour (CT) superstar Taj Burrow has made it back to the Four Seasons to defend his title. The Australian has put in some time surfing these parts since last year and has not lost much of the competitive spark that saw him make it to world no. 2 on several occasions throughout his career — meaning he will be the one to watch when competition gets underway.

“I’ve been counting down the days for this event since I left here last year,” Burrow said.

“Everything about it is amazing; the friends, the waves, the experience here at the Four Seasons, it’s all incredible. I’ve had a few days to reacquaint myself with my twin-fin and single fin boards, but will definitely have to keep practising before the competition starts.”

Best known for her big wave exploits, Brazilian Maya Gabeira comes into the event as the lone female competitor. On her first visit to the Maldives, Gabeira is not sure if she is more excited to be surfing in paradise or coming up against some of her heroes.

“This is my first time to the Maldives and my mind has been blown,” Gabeira said.

“I’ve never surfed a single fin or twin-fin until now, so it’s been cool to have that experience. I can’t wait for the competition to get underway, so I can share the lineup with some of my heroes. It’s going to be an amazing experience.”

Maya Gabeira getting acquainted with her new single fin in the lead up to the 2017 Four Seasons Maldives Surfing Champions Trophy. PHOTO/ SEAN SCOTT

Local competitor Ismail ‘Kuda Issey’ Miglal is by far the most experienced surfer at Sultans, and is relishing the opportunity to share the lineup with some of the world’s best. With the forecast for the event window looking to dish up some tricky conditions, Kuda Issey’s local knowledge will no doubt play heavily to his advantage.

“It’s a real honour to surf in this event with some of my favourite surfers,” Kuda Issey said.

“I love surfing on different boards, so I feel like the format suits me. I can’t wait to surf against the pros. Taj is my favourite surfer of all time. It will be amazing to share the lineup with him.”

World Champion CJ Hobgood has made one previous trip to the Maldives and is thrilled to be back. The hard charging goofy footer is stoked to have the opportunity to continue his competitive career in a more relaxed environment while surfing different boards.

“This sort of feels like a dream at the moment. I felt like everything was slowing down after retiring from the tour, and then I get to come to a contest like this here in paradise with my wife. It’s almost too good to be true, Hobgood, who was crowned World Champion in 2001, said.

“I was never one for experimenting with different boards, so I’m still getting the hang of the twin and single fins. But they definitely feel nice when you find that sweet spot. I’m having such a blast here.”

Returning to the Four Seasons in 2017 is former world no. 2 Rob Machado. The ‘cruisey’ Californian has style in spades and serious ability on crafts of all shapes and sizes, making him a perfect fit for the multi-discipline format of the Surfing Champions Trophy. Machado will be surfing the event on a quiver of boards he shaped himself, a first time at the Surfing Champions Trophy.

Another competitor that will be surfing on Machado’s shapes is former CT surfer and WSL commentator Ross Williams. These days, Williams is utilising his exceptionally sharp competitive mind under the guise of coach to 2016 WSL Champion John John Florence. This week he will pull on that skill-set with the competition jersey on for the first time in a long time.

Former CT stars Rob Machado and Ross Williams talking boards before a free surf session in the lead up to the 2017 Four Seasons Maldives Surfing Champions Trophy. PHOTO/ SEAN SCOTT

The Surfing Champions Trophy determines heat times based on age and tests skill across three divisions: single-fin, twin-fin and thruster. Places are by invitation-only to six world champions in a battle for inner-circle kudos and a USD25,000 prize pot.

Returning to the annual event is Four Seasons Explorer, the Maldives’ ultimate surf vessel. Following a full interior refurbishment, the 39-metre catamaran is proudly showcasing sleek new finishes and stylish soft furnishings across all three decks while hosting the contest.

Fans can get up close to all of the action with onboard VIP passes, then continue the “surf tour” experience with shoulder-rubbing events back at Four Seasons Resort Maldives at Kuda Huraa — the homeport for the event’s competitors, judges and Tropicsurf partners.

Combining innovation, wellness and conservation, Four Seasons Resort Maldives Landaa Giraavaru is a 44-acre, 103-villa wonderland in the Baa Atoll UNESCO Biosphere Reserve — a 30-minute seaplane flight from the main Velana International Airport.

Its sister property, Four Seasons Resort Maldives at Kuda Huraa lies to the south: an enchanting garden island complete with Island Spa sea sanctuary and Tropicsurf coaches and guides. It features 96 thatched beach and water accommodations constructed by local craftsmen using indigenous materials and techniques to reflect a true sense of the Maldives.

The luxury catamaran Four Seasons Explorer connects the two properties via three, four and seven-night cruises, plus private leisure, surf and manta ray charters.

The latest addition to the Maldives collection, Four Seasons Private Island Maldives at Voavah, Baa Atoll opened in December as the group’s first exclusive-use private island: off limits to everyone else, limitless to the guests.

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InterContinental Maldives invites guests to third Manta Retreat in March 2024

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After the successful launch of the Manta Retreat in 2022, the InterContinental Maldives Maamunagau Resort is gearing up for its third Manta Retreat, scheduled to take place from March 9th to 12th, 2024. This unique experience offers guests an opportunity to delve into the world of manta rays, their natural habitat, and the conservation efforts led by the Manta Trust.

The Manta Retreat, designed for travelers seeking an extra dimension to their vacations, encourages participants to explore and understand these majestic creatures while contributing to ocean conservation. The retreat will be led by Meral Hafeez, the Manta Trust base leader at InterContinental Maldives, who will guide participants through an immersive experience.

The focus of the third Manta Retreat will be on meeting the manta rays that inhabit the surrounding waters of the island, emphasizing their protection and ocean conservation. Meral Hafeez expressed her enthusiasm for sharing the wonders of Maldivian marine life, stating, “I can’t wait for everyone to experience their first manta ray and the wonders of the deep!”

This year’s retreat coincides with the Maamunagau Manta Season in March, where young manta rays gather in the resort’s lagoon, offering a unique opportunity for up-close encounters. The Maamunagau Lagoon serves as a crucial research ground for the Manta Trust team, allowing guests to actively participate in the identification and naming of manta rays through the Manta ID workshop.

The Manta Retreat package, priced at USD 1490 per guest, includes two manta ray snorkeling trips, a guided house reef snorkeling experience, the chance to name and adopt a manta ray, and various workshops covering manta rays, plankton, and coral restoration.

For certified divers, dedicated dive spots around the resort provide opportunities to observe the natural manta ray ‘spa’ at cleaning stations, showcasing the fascinating symbiosis of marine life in the Maldives.

The purpose of the Manta Retreat goes beyond education and exploration; it also serves as a fundraiser to support the valuable work of the Manta Trust. Guests staying at InterContinental Maldives can enjoy the resort’s luxurious facilities and accommodations while those not participating in the retreat have plenty of entertainment options.

To book the Manta Retreat or for more information, visit InterContinental Maldives Sustainability or contact the reservations team at reservations.icmaldives@ihg.com or on WhatsApp at +960 730 9300.

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Football legend Lukas Podolski lights up Heritance Aarah with friendly match against Maldivian youth

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In a heartwarming display of football’s unifying spirit, German legend Lukas Podolski traded the grand stadiums for the sun-kissed shores of Heritance Aarah, Maldives, to play a friendly match with a team of eager young players from Meedhu Island. The event saw Podolski donning a custom Heritance Aarah jersey and taking to the pitch alongside the spirited Maldivian children.

More than just a friendly kickabout, the match was a platform for learning and inspiration. The young athletes showcased their skills and learned new tricks from the seasoned pro. The air crackled with a distinctive camaraderie as Podolski’s guidance and encouragement blended seamlessly with the children’s infectious joy.

As a memento of this extraordinary encounter, each participant received a personally signed jersey from Podolski, adding a priceless touch to the occasion. The football star’s presence transformed the friendly match into an unforgettable experience, etching itself indelibly into the memories of the young players and their families.

Podolski later took to his Facebook, sharing photos from the event with the caption, “Football is our global game. A pleasure to meet you all thanks @oneluxury.de & @heritanceaarah #LP10 #football #strassenkicker #enjoy #love.” The post resonated with fans worldwide, celebrating the power of sports to connect people across cultures and backgrounds.

Heritance Aarah, a Premium All-Inclusive resort, offers an idyllic setting for the ultimate getaway, presenting a diverse range of experiences. From the culinary delights crafted by award-winning chefs to the exploration of the captivating over and underwater wonders of the Raa Atoll, the resort sets a remarkable tone for luxury and adventure. With five restaurants included in the Premium All-Inclusive package, exclusive bars, and access to Hatha and Baani with supplement charges, Heritance Aarah offers a holistic experience. The spa and wellness facilities, featuring a hot tub and a fitness center, further enhance the overall well-being of guests, who can also enjoy various activities.

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Game, set, Makarova: Former world #1 launches new tennis academy at Four Seasons Maldives at Kuda Huraa this festive season

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In partnership with the world-class sports management organisation RTC (Royal, Timeless & Challenging) Sport, Four Seasons Resort Maldives at Kuda Huraa is launching its new Tennis Academy this festive season: a stellar coaching school boasting a line-up of some of the sport’s most celebrated figures, starting with former World #1 and four-time Grand Slam Champion Ekaterina Makarova.  

Train with Legends, Play Like a Champion

The exhilarating new Tennis Academy program offers guests the rare opportunity to master their serve, perfect their backhand and elevate their on-court strategy with elite coaching from four world-class tennis coaches throughout the coming year.  Each of these iconic figures brings their own legacy of championship victories and a deep well of on-court expertise to guests of Kuda Huraa.

“Our partnership with RTC is a true game-changer,” says Didier Jardin, General Manager of Four Seasons Resort Maldives at Kuda Huraa. “It’s an excellent opportunity for our many tennis-loving guests to take their skills to the next level by learning from true tennis royalty.”

A Champion’s Pedigree

Serving up her award-winning take on the game for the Tennis Academy’s 2023 festive season from December 19-26, 2023 is former World #1 and four-time Grand Slam champion Ekaterina Makarova. Makarova dominated world tennis doubles for many years, winning the 2012 US Open with Bruno Soares and the 2013 French Open, 2014 US Open and 2017 Wimbledon Championships with Elena Vesnina. In 2016, together with Vesnina, she soared to Olympic gold. Ekaterina was officially proclaimed World Doubles #1 on June 11, 2018 and claimed 15 titles on the WTA Tour. She also shone as the World #8 in singles, winning three WTA titles, and was a cornerstone of Russia’s victorious 2008 Fed Cup team.

“I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to share my knowledge with the guests at Four Seasons Maldives at Kuda Huraa,” says Makarova. “I hope to inspire tennis-loving individuals to enhance their skills and on-court strategy with unique training techniques honed through my years of professional experience, while sharing my deep-seated passion for the game.”

Play in Paradise

The Tennis Academy is set in the award-winning serenity of Four Seasons Resort Maldives at Kuda Huraa, a breath-taking oceanfront village setting awarded a third-consecutive Forbes Five-Star rating in 2023. Guests will sail by traditional Maldivian dhoni across crystal-clear waters to reach the Resort’s scenic court, discreetly screened by lush greenery.

There will be tailored sessions for singles, couples and groups, adults and juniors, beginners and experienced players alike, all under the glorious Maldivian sun. Shaded seating, refreshments and towels keep guests cool while enjoying all the thrills of the game.

Throughout the year, the Tennis Academy will be overseen by Dmitrii Studitskii, Director of Tennis at Four Seasons Resort Kuda Huraa.

Dmitrii Studitskii is a formidable blend of seasonedprofessional tennis player and dedicated private coach. Fluent in English, Russian and Spanish, he has extensive experience in both the technical skills of the game and the psychology required to win. His talent for creating training plans tailored to each player’s skill level, from beginner to advanced, ensures that everyone experiences on-court success and grows their love of the game.

Interactive Q&As

A highlight of Kuda Huraa’s Tennis Academy will be an interactive Q&A session with Ekaterina Makarova, which all guests will be invited to join. The event will be an opportunity to ask the former world #1 about her journeys to championship point, the strategies that kept her at the top of her game and her advice for aspiring tennis legends.

Further tennis masters to grace the Tennis Academy will be announced over the coming weeks.

To be part of this Tennis Academy and take skills to the next level,email: reservations.mal@fourseasons.com or call the central reservations department of Four Seasons Resorts Maldives at tel: (960) 66 00 888.

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