South Palm Resort in Maldives south to open in June 2019
South Palm Resort Maldives, a brand new resort being developed on the uninhabited island of Ismehela Hera in the southernmost Addu atoll, is set to open in June 2019.
Ahead of its opening, the resort is on a recruitment drive, with walk-in interviews and open days held in the southern atolls of Addu and Fuvahmulah late last month.
South Palm Resort Maldives is accessible by a short 10-minute speedboat ride from Gan International Airport in Addu. The resort offers accommodation in 130 rooms of three categories: Ocean Villa, Overwater Villa, and Beach Villa.
Owned and operated by Maldives-based South Palm Maldives Pvt Ltd, the four-star resort is being developed in three phases, with the first phase covering the first batch of rooms along with a restaurant, two bars and a spa. The second phase will bring the total number of rooms to 240, whilst the third phase involves linking the adjoining Kedevaahera island via a causeway and developing more water villas.
Development of a tourist resort on the island of Ismehela Hera has long been planned out with the project making headlines as recently as 2015 when the government announced that it was in talks with two foreign investors that had expressed interest in developing the island. Then tourism minster Ahmed Adeeb told local journalists at the time that the resort would have at least 600 beds.
The announcement was followed by the launch of Ismehela Hera Integrated Resort Development Project on April 28, 2015. No progress, however, was made.
Meanwhile, government had revealed in 2017 that a local company had won the bid for the island and had paid the acquisition cost.
The latest initiative to develop Ismehela Hera is part of a new push to develop tourism in the southernmost Addu. A state-owned enterprise has separately launched a project to develop 3,000 guesthouse beds in Addu to cater to backpackers and budget travellers.
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.
Despite several new resort developments and a boom in guesthouse tourism in the Maldives, Addu as a whole has lagged behind for years in attracting tourism-related investments. The relatively large atoll, which has unique geographical features compared to other parts of the island nation, is home to only two of the some 140 tourist resorts in the Maldives; Shangri-La’s Villingili Resort and Spa, and Canareef Resort Maldives.
However, tourism in the south has recently received a much needed boost from the launch of direct flights to Gan International Airport by SriLankan Airlines.
Neighbouring Sri Lanka’s flagship carrier, which is particularly popular amongst tourists who travel to the Maldives from Europe, currently operates six weekly flights to Gan from Bandaranaike International Airport in Colombo.