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Outrigger Konotta Maldives Resort appoints new resident marine biologist

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Outrigger Konotta Maldives Resort has appointed Joan Li as the new resident marine biologist to take forward the OZONE (Outrigger’s ZONE) conservation initiative.

A Chinese national from near the North Korean border, Joan says her new job is a dream posting. Here, she shares a little of her back story and what resort guests can expect when they visit Konotta:

What is your background? 

I was born in a small city in northeast China called Dandong. It’s across the river from North Korea. But we moved to Shenzhen in southeast China near Hong Kong when I was six.

Being born and raised in China, what made you want to become a marine biologist?

I’ve always stayed in cities near the sea. The mystery of underwater life has always intrigued me, especially after I started diving. With a mask on, the beauty of the underwater world is revealed. Nothing can compare to the feeling of seeing marine life alive in its natural habitat.

Where did you study in Hong Kong?

Hong Kong University of Science and Technology. I studied general biology, including cell biology, molecular biology – and marine biology.

What made you decide to take up scuba diving and take your career in a whole new direction?

My first diving experience was a birthday retreat with my friend. After seeing how marine life exists in the 70 percent of the planet that we usually don’t have access to, I just wanted to dive as much as possible. When I started diving in 2016, the underwater world completely changed me. It made me realise the possibility of having another life – rather than one in a laboratory or office.

Tell us about your experience in Malaysia and Philippines

I passed my first three levels of scuba diving at courses in Sipadan in Malaysia, one of the top dive spots in the world. After seeing countless jack fish, barracuda, turtles and sharks swimming freely around me, I felt spoiled. I wanted to find a place that I could stay longer to explore below sea. In 2017, I got the opportunity to become an intern at a marine conservation group in Philippines. I was diving twice a day, learning about coral reef monitoring, sea grass and mangrove ecosystems. I conducted my own research. I carried out more than 200 underwater surveys, which taught me a lot – more than any textbook.

What attracted you to working at Outrigger Konotta Maldives Resort?

The internship I had in Philippines was voluntary. In order to further pursue a career in marine biology and the diving industry, I found opportunities online. Outrigger had a position for a resident marine biologist. Working in the paradise of the Maldives was a very attractive proposition.

How is the Outrigger OZONE coral conservation programme going at Konotta?

The total number of restored coral is now around 400 branches. Outrigger had already established its coral restoration project for three years through previous marine biologist Caterina. We’re now looking to involve more guests to join our coral restoration activities as well as showing them the wonderful underwater world. Right now, we have 19 coral frames restored underwater as well as stone piles with new coral growing on them.

How can guests join in the conservation programme?

Guest can join the Outrigger’s monthly coral restoration workshop and marine talk to find out more about the mysterious underwater environment. Every Wednesday and Saturday I give free marine educational talks. In fact, these can be arranged anytime.

What educational activities do you have for kids at Outrigger Konotta?

Kids can join a marine biology semi-submarine, so that even for youngsters that don’t know how to swim, they have a chance to see the marine creatures around Konotta.

For guests who can scuba dive, what experiences do you like to show them at Outrigger Konotta?

In particular, I’d like to take them for a night dive and have a look at the fluorescence corals under UV light.

If they can only snorkel, what can you show them?

If they can only snorkel, we have a group of stingrays always hanging out near the jetty. Sometimes when there’s a group of sardines and mackerels around, baby reef sharks will be there too. I’d love to take the chance and show them how friendly and curious these beautiful reef sharks are. They really are portrayed in a wrong way in movies and TV shows.

What advice do you have for guests who love nature who are coming to stay at Outrigger Konotta Maldives Resort?

Just grab your mask, snorkel and fins and enjoy the blue!

The private island of Konotta is located 340 kilometres to the south of capital Male, and is conveniently accessible via a 55-minute flight from the main Velana International Airport to Kaadedhdhoo Airport followed by a scenic 30-minute journey on a luxurious private yacht.

The award-winning Outrigger Konotta Maldives Resort offers guests the largest average villa sizes in the Maldives. Comprising 29 Beach Pool Villas, 21 Ocean Pool Villas, two Lagoon Pool Villas and the three-bedroom Grand Konotta Villa, the resort offers a complete sense of privacy and intimate luxury.

Captivate your senses with innovative dining concepts, the Navasana Spa, and high-end facilities. In between your diving lesson and massage, indulge in sumptuous Maldivian cuisine or a glass of white Burgundy in one of the resort’s restaurants or the comfort of your villa. As the sun sets, sample Japanese single malts at the Teppan bar while drinking in endless ocean views.

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OBLU NATURE Helengeli gets PADI award for excellence supporting female dive sports

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In honour of providing exceptional services to female diving, OBLU NATURE Helengeli by SENTIDO, a resort in the portfolio of renowned hospitality company Atmosphere Core, and dive centre partner TGI Maldives, once again place the world’s most desirable tourism destination on the global map, jointly receiving the Outstanding Contribution to Women’s Diving award from PADI.

Professional Association of Diving Instructors (PADI) is the world’s largest purpose-driven diving organisation operating in 180 countries and territories with over 30 million diving certifications issued. With more than 6,600 PADI dive centres and resorts worldwide, it is a remarkable achievement for TGI Maldives and OBLU NATURE Helengeli to receive this particular contribution award.

Announcing its 10th global celebration, PADI introduced the Women In Diving Initiative, and flagship annual PADI Women’s Dive Day, as a solution to increase the inclusivity and belonging of females in the dive industry. The “Outstanding Contribution to Women’s Diving” award recognises TGI Maldives and OBLU NATURE Helengeli for breaking down barriers and empowering more women to explore the underwater world.

Dr Abdulla Niyaz, Minister of State for Tourism of the Republic of Maldives along with Matt Wenger, PADI Regional Manager for Maldives and Ibrahim Shiuree, Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director of Maldives Marketing & PR Corporation (MMPRC), attended the presentation award ceremony held on the shores of Helengeli island. In support of female diving, the resort held a PADI Women’s Dive Day Celebration event from 14th to 17th July inviting ten female journalists from around the world alongside women dive instructors from TGI Maldives.

Acknowledging the importance of the positive promotion of female diving in the Maldives, Minister of Tourism Ibrahim Faisal commented, “As the world’s most desirable holiday destination, we have witnessed our small country transform over the last 30 years. From humble beginnings in our archipelago, we have evolved our island nation to create a paradise for all to enjoy. Today, the demographic profile of inbound tourists is a lot different to the early days. From exploring couples in the 1980s, we now see a mix of all segments including couples, families and group parties – all wishing to experience first-hand the magic of the Maldives.”

“As global society evolves – so does the Maldives. It is testimony that in the last decade we have seen the introduction of friends not couples, travelling along with increased single travellers. A large portion of these travellers are female, who wish to escape and enjoy the castaway feeling of freedom and independence only the Maldives can offer. PADI’s award presented at OBLU NATURE Helengeli in partnership with TGI Maldives, reinforces the hotelier Atmosphere Core’s commitment to offering experiences for all. The Ministry of Tourism congratulates the team at Helengeli island and importantly the highly skilled team at TGI Maldives for creating a centre of excellence for female diving. This award recognises all involved as well as the Maldives as the leading dive destination for all divers around the world.”

PADI’s Regional Manager Matt Wenger added, “Positive promotion and support for female diving has been at the heart of PADI’s philosophy since our inception in 1966. As part of PADI’s Pillars of Change, we are focused on fostering diversity, elevating the healing aspects from the sport and nurturing inclusion so that the underwater world is accessible to all. We are thrilled to recognise TGI Maldives and OBLU NATURE Helengeli for their contributions in encouraging more females to seek adventure and save the ocean.”

“We proudly mark the 10th Anniversary of ‘PADI Women’s Dive Day’ with this award to TGI Maldives at OBLU NATURE Helengeli. The award recognises the combination of what we believe is a world class location and overall experience joining PADI-recognised dive sites, exceptional dive centre services and exemplary hospitality.”

From beginners to the experienced, female divers will struggle to find a more beautiful location to escape to than OBLU NATURE Helengeli. Whether ocean scuba diving at a well-known dive site, finding a new unexplored location or snorkelling a vibrant coral garden teeming with marine life, there are endless opportunities to seek a glimpse of the local manta rays, turtles, octopi, and sharks, not to mention the abundant schools of tropical creatures inhabiting the Indian Ocean. With occasional pods of dolphins swimming by restaurants just off the island reef, it’s an island destination perfect for both big blue exploration and unforgettable castaway life.

Aside the stunning dive sites, scuba diving and snorkelling are beautifully woven into the overall resort lifestyle, which seamlessly integrates with the ELE|NA spa experience. Divers can enjoy elevated relaxing and healing treatments and therapies designed to soothe before and after diving. Breathwork and floating meditation sessions accompany sunset yoga to ensure that all divers are guaranteed a relaxing vacation both underwater and on the island.

Receiving the award on behalf of TGI Maldives and OBLU NATURE Helengeli, dive centre Operations Manager Greta Marcelli and resort General Manager Ali Shakir both concluded, “Our partnership here at OBLU NATURE Helengeli continually strives to improve guest experiences, both on the island as a dream destination, and in the ocean as a place of true wonder.”

“Working closely with PADI, we aim to provide the safest certified dive courses to encourage those curious to explore wonders of the ocean, as well as escort professional divers to unchartered locations. Receiving this “Outstanding Contribution to Women’s Diving” award marking PADI Women’s Dive Day’s 10th celebration, is testimony to the efforts made by all the team in and out the water. The combination of first-class hospitality coupled with exceptional dive experiences, positions OBLU NATURE Helengeli at the forefront of the sport in the Indian Ocean, not just for female divers, but for all.”

OBLU NATURE Helengeli by SENTIDO is located at the tip of the North Malé Atoll, reachable by a scenic 50-minute speedboat ride from Velana International Airport.

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Kandima Maldives remains top choice for sports celebrities; hosts futsal camp with Ricardinho

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Growing in popularity as a holiday hotspot among sports personalities, active lifestyle resort Kandima Maldives with Ricardinho, holding the title of being named the best Futsal player in the World 6 times by the Futsal planet.

The legendary Ricardinho spent a week at the island resort from 30th June to 6th July, providing a once-in-a-lifetime experience for both local youths and Kandima guests.

During his stay, Ricardinho conducted an engaging three-day futsal camp, coaching aspiring players from the local Kudahuvadhoo Island. The camp was open to Kandima’s guests too and provided an amazing opportunity for participants to learn from one of the greatest futsal players of all time.

Throughout the event, Ricardinho actively engaged with visitors, playing matches with fans and futsal enthusiasts, and showcasing his expertise in a community setting. Guests had the rare chance to watch, learn, and interact directly with the futsal legend, making the experience truly anything but ordinary.

“We are honoured to welcome Ricardinho, the world’s top Futsal player, to Kandima,” said Tom van Tuijl, General Manager, Kandima Maldives “This collaboration aligned perfectly with Kandima’s focus on an active lifestyle. Our commitment to promote a fitness-oriented way of life in a tropical island setting and Ricardinho’s visit undoubtedly inspired our guests, especially families with young futsal enthusiasts, to embrace a more sporty lifestyle.”

Kandima is no stranger to hosting renowned athletes from around the world and the UK. In recent years, the island resort has already hosted premium league footballers Liverpool FC’s Joe Gomez, Manchester City goalkeeper Ederson Moraes, and freestyle football champion Lia Lewis for a holiday. Innovative in their approach to creating distinct and memorable sports experiences for guests, Kandima continues exploring fun and educational partnerships with esteemed athletes to impress fitness-oriented travellers.

“We are thrilled to partner with Kandima Maldives for this exciting football camp,” said Ricardinho.” It was a great opportunity to share my passion for the sport and engaging with the Kandima’s guests, local youths and staff. Together, we created unforgettable memories and inspired a love for football and an active lifestyle.”

For more information about Kandima Maldives and upcoming Uber Kool events, please visit www.kandima.com.

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Tennis pro Dominik Hrbaty to conduct training sessions at Sirru Fen Fushi Maldives

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Sirru Fen Fushi – Private Lagoon Resort has announced the arrival of tennis legend Dominik Hrbaty for an exclusive series of training sessions at their luxurious island retreat in collaboration with LUX Tennis Private Coaching Academy. From 6th August to 14th August 2024, guests at this breathtaking Maldivian resort will have the unique opportunity to train personally with Hrbaty, benefiting from his exceptional skills and expertise in the sport.

Born on April 1, 1978, in Slovakia, Dominik Hrbaty is celebrated worldwide for his illustrious career as a professional tennis player. Throughout his tenure on the ATP tour, Hrbaty achieved a highest singles ranking of 12 and doubles ranking of 14, capturing the hearts of tennis enthusiasts with 6 career singles titles and 2 doubles titles. His remarkable achievements include victories at prestigious tournaments such as San Marino, Prague, Auckland, Adelaide, and Marseille, among others.

“We are honoured to host Dominik Hrbaty at Sirru Fen Fushi,” said Wellness & Recreation Manager, Wilfred Suarez. “His presence underscores our commitment to offering unparalleled experiences that combine wellness, fitness, and the pursuit of excellence. Guests will have the extraordinary opportunity to learn directly from one of tennis’s most esteemed figures in our idyllic island setting.”

Nestled amidst the serene beauty of the Maldives, Sirru Fen Fushi offers a haven of luxury and tranquility. The resort’s tennis facilities boast a stunning court set beneath swaying palm trees, complete with floodlights for evening games, ensuring an unforgettable tennis experience day or night.

In addition to personalised training sessions with Hrbaty, guests can indulge in a range of wellness activities, including yoga on the beach, rejuvenating spa treatments, and exquisite culinary offerings featuring fresh, local ingredients.

Hrbaty’s visit aligns seamlessly with the resort’s philosophy of promoting overall well-being and personal improvement. His exceptional career achievements and dedication to the sport make him an ideal mentor for guests looking to enhance their tennis skills while enjoying a world-class vacation.

For more information on Sirru Fen Fushi – Private Lagoon Resort and to reserve your exclusive training session with Dominik Hrbaty, please visit www.sirrufenfushi.com or contact our reservations team at reservations@sirrufenfushi.com.

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