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Where was Maldives first overwater villa built?



If you think Maldives has always been synonymous with luxury island paradise, you are mistaken! Four decades ago, this remote archipelago was inhabited only by fisher folk. It was unknown to the outside world and there was no foreign investment. There was only a small airstrip on Hulhule Island (the present international airport), built by volunteers, with no regular flights.

That changed on October 3, 1972 when Kurumba Maldives (then called Kurumba Village) opened for business as the first resort in the Maldives. Two hundred and sixty-six foreigners visited that year, staying in rustic huts and marvelling at the gin-clear water lapping at their ankles.

Over the past 46 years, that number has crossed 1.4 million. More than 140 resorts have since opened across the archipelago. The Maldives has transitioned from hidden gem to highly-coveted, must-visit holiday destination, and with exclusive water villas that rise out of aquamarine lagoons and picture-perfect beaches, it’s not difficult to understand why.

Did you know that the Maldives is home to about two-thirds of the 8,000 plus overwater villas in the world? And the list continues to grow longer almost monthly!

But where in the Maldives was the first water villa built? Who brought this concept to the shores of Maldives?

That’s a question that fetches so many conflicting answers, as was evidenced when longtime Maldives aficionado Paola Mattana Lamperti recently posed it to her Facebook friends! Was it Kuramathi Maldives or Baros Maldives, two resorts owned and operated by tourism pioneers Universal Resorts? Was it Conrad Maldives Rangali Island (then called Hilton Maldives)?

Mohamed ‘Modi’ Ibrahim Didi, who served as the manager of Baros in the 80s and 90s, told Maldives Insider that the first overwater villa was built at Adaaran Prestige Vadoo (then called Vadoo Diving Paradise) in 1986. It was conceived by the resort’s then Japanese owner Tokohiko Sakamoto, who sold the resort to Sri Lankan hotel group Aitken Spence in 2006, he added.

Overwater villas at Vadoo, when it was operated as Vadoo Diving Paradise.

According to others that served in the industry at the time, the first overwater bungalow at Vadoo was designed by a Singaporean architectural firm. A Japanese team provided the engineering expertise to the project.

“That particular water bungalow is now not used for accommodation but for historical purposes,” Pranjal P D Sarmah, founder of travel agency 360 Degree World, said in a comment to Paola’s question.

Ahmed Waseem, who was the Resident Manager at Vadoo at the time, said officials from leading local resort operators like Universal and Villa Hotels visited the island to study the concept. Malaysia’s then Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamed also paid a visit, he added.

Sakamoto’s innovation undoubtedly set in motion a wave of construction projects involving overwater villas. Two years later, Kuramathi opened its first overwater bungalow, followed by Baros in 1992. And the rest is history, as almost every resort that opened since features overwater villas.

The model for overwater villas in Maldives is simple. Like pearls over water, these villas are set suspended on stilts into the turquoise lagoon, connected to the island by a timber walkway. A private sundeck of the villa extends into hammocks or similar items to sunbath, lazing over the water, listening to the sound of the waves and observing the vivid marine life beneath. A wooden staircase leads directly from the sundeck to the lagoon, for the daily dose of snorkelling or for the occasional plunge into the ocean. Most villas have an additional living room attached to the bedroom. A spacious bathroom opens to the outdoor with an open-air bathtub, and is equipped with the latest luxury amenities.

Some new entrants in the Maldives resort market now go the extra mile, with multi-storey palatial overwater residences that offer guests everything they can think of without having to step out. Private pools above the lapping waters of the lagoon, sky-decks that transform into anything you want it to be, spa sanctuaries within the residence, retractable roofs… you name it!

The concept of overwater bungalows itself is relatively new. It’s been said that a group of three Americans running a small hotel in Tahiti built the world’s first overwater bungalow some 50 years ago. It was a creative solution to the issue of their hotel lacking a beach!

That’s not an issue for Maldivian resorts; almost every island has long stretches of powder soft white sand beach. But overwater villas in Maldives continue to get bigger and better. And their allure continues to grow.


Award-winning Grand Park Kodhipparu Maldives launches indulgence winter offer



Grand Park Kodhipparu Maldives recently announced scooping up the title of “Best Boutique Resort in Maldives” for the second consecutive year, awarded by the Travel Trade Maldives which comes as no surprise as it is one of the best destinations to experience the unreal sunsets you will ever see while projecting extravagant character and easy-going exotica.

What’s really shaking things up this holiday season at this cozy luxury boutique island resort is that you will be spoiled for choice with one beach for every day. That is right – home to four beautiful beaches, Wai, Veli, Dhigu, and Divehi, all with their unique character – letting you sunbathe, snorkel, windsurf, and cycle overwater around the island to your heart’s content. Touching down at Kodhipparu, adventure seekers can revel in countless opportunities for wild coral reef dives, parasailing up the sky for a bird’s-eye view of the lagoon, or even simply zen out to sunrise and sunset with the resident yogi.

To celebrate the win, and to rev up the appetite with seaside excursions, the resort announced the launch of the exclusive “Kodhipparu Indulgence” offer with an unparalleled dining experience and a consequential gourmet coma that is fully worth every penny you’ve spent on your extravagant holiday.

Set your seaside expedition dreams to a reality, with attractive offerings from the resort-owned marine sports centre as well as the luxury overwater spa, that will have you wanting to extend your holiday. What’s more, you get to enjoy complimentary roundtrip speedboat transfers saving you quite a few pennies on your vacation.

The little explorers with big dreams are welcome to stay and dine free of charge sharing the room with the parents, whether it is by spending their time decorating some yummy cupcakes or catching a kiddies movie under the stars with popcorn.

If you are looking for a romantic touch, with an ample amount of floating rose petals in your pool, or a swoon-worthy proposal set up at a secret corner of the island out of bounds to others or even a candle-lit dinner on the secluded beaches with you and your beau, all you have to do is message your lifestyle host to work the magic and make it happen for you. With the Kodhipparu dedicated lifestyle host service, everything is just a message away.

As is all good things, this offer is only for a limited time period, so make use of this exclusive indulgence package at Grand Park Kodhipparu comes with an amazing 35% discount on all villa categories.

Simply head over to to book your holiday with a flair of fun, freedom, and serenity that is promised to make you keep coming back for more!

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An Insider

Abdulla Wisam: A journey of excellence and growth in the Maldivian hospitality industry



In the heart of the stunning Maldives, where luxury resorts and crystal-clear waters come together to create a paradise on Earth, there are individuals who work tirelessly behind the scenes to ensure that every guest’s experience is nothing short of exceptional. One such individual is Abdulla Wisam, whose remarkable journey in the hospitality industry is a testament to his dedication, passion, and unwavering commitment to providing the best possible service to guests.

Abdulla Wisam’s journey in the hospitality industry began right after completing his schooling. In 2003, he embarked on his professional career by joining Dhoveli Beach Resort & Spa, where he gained his first taste of the world of hospitality. It was here that he discovered his passion for creating memorable guest experiences and building relationships with visitors from around the world.

After his initial foray into the industry, Wisam’s career path continued to evolve. His dedication and hard work caught the attention of industry leaders, leading him to take on roles of increasing responsibility. His time at Meeru Island Resort saw him as an Outlet Cashier and Night Auditor, roles that allowed him to develop a deep understanding of the operational aspects of a resort.

Wisam’s determination and eagerness to learn led him to the iconic Four Seasons Resort Maldives at Landaa Giraavaru, where he started as a Recreation Attendant. Over time, he showcased his exceptional skills in guest relations and management, and he was promoted to the position of Front Office Supervisor. His journey with Four Seasons served as a stepping stone for what was to come next.

In 2014, Wisam joined the W Maldives, a resort known for its luxurious offerings and unparalleled guest experiences. Starting as a Welcome Team Leader, he quickly rose through the ranks due to his impeccable guest service skills and innate leadership abilities. His promotion to Guest Experience Manager was a testament to his ability to not only meet but exceed guest expectations. He was then transferred to The St. Regis Maldives as the Assistant Front Office Manager with the pre-opening team.

As his career trajectory continued its upward trajectory, Wisam took on the role of Front Office Manager at prestigious resorts such as Milaidhoo Island, Raffles Maldives, and The Standard Maldives. These roles allowed him to refine his management style, hone his problem-solving skills, and contribute to the overall success of each resort.

Wisam’s journey eventually led him to COMO Cocoa Island, a resort renowned for its unparalleled luxury and exquisite attention to detail. Joining as the Front Office Manager, he embraced the challenges and responsibilities that came with the position. His dedication, combined with his innate ability to create genuine connections with guests, led to his promotion as the Director of Rooms.

Wisam’s journey in the Maldivian hospitality industry is a remarkable tale of perseverance, growth, and a genuine passion for creating exceptional guest experiences. His diverse roles, spanning from recreation to guest experience management, have equipped him with a holistic understanding of the industry. His commitment to continuous improvement and dedication to delivering top-tier service have not only benefited the resorts he’s been a part of but have also contributed to elevating the reputation of Maldives as a premier luxury travel destination.

As Wisam continues to shape the guest experience landscape at COMO Cocoa Island, one can only imagine the heights he will reach and the impact he will make on the ever-evolving hospitality industry of the Maldives. His journey stands as an inspiration to aspiring hoteliers and a testament to the boundless opportunities that await those who are truly passionate about their craft.

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Fan Club

A remarkable tale of wanderlust: Naito Takashi’s 103rd journey to the Maldives



The azure waters of the Maldives have long been a magnet for travelers seeking paradise on Earth. Among these wanderers, one name stands out – Naito Takashi, a Japanese tourist whose boundless enthusiasm for the Maldives has led him to visit this tropical haven a staggering 103 times. His unwavering love for this island nation, coupled with its mesmerizing beauty, has turned his visits into a remarkable testament to the allure of the Maldives.

For the past 24 years, Naito Takashi has visited Maldives between three to five times annually, embarking on a journey that has spanned more than two decades. His tale is one of dedication, passion, and a deep-rooted connection with the captivating landscapes that the Maldives offers. Each visit is not just a vacation; it’s a renewal of his profound relationship with the natural wonders that have captured his heart.

Naito Takashi’s 103rd arrival to the Maldives was met with a warm and heartfelt welcome from none other than the Tourism Minister himself, Dr. Abdulla Mausoom. This gesture symbolizes the deep appreciation the Maldivian people have for their loyal and devoted visitors. The ceremony held aboard the M/V Blue of the Fun Azul Fleet was a fitting tribute to a traveler who has become an honorary ambassador of the Maldives.

The M/V Blue, Fun Azul Fleet, holds special significance for Naito Takashi. As an avid diver, he has found his perfect companion in this cruise boat specialized in diving charters. The vessel offers schedules tailored to explore the best dive spots around the Maldives’ islands, making it an ideal partner for a diving enthusiast like Naito Takashi. The crystal-clear waters of the Maldives have witnessed countless underwater escapades orchestrated by this intrepid traveler.

The Maldives’ Ministry of Tourism has lauded Naito Takashi’s enduring passion for the nation’s beauty. Their tweet acknowledging his multiple visits serves as a testament to his unique and cherished relationship with the country. He has witnessed the ever-changing landscape of the Maldives, from its pristine beaches to its vibrant marine life, and has undoubtedly contributed to the thriving tourism industry.

Naito Takashi’s story also reflects the profound impact that travel can have on an individual’s life. His unwavering commitment to exploring the Maldives has not only enriched his own experiences but has also brought attention to the natural wonders of Maldives. It stands as a reminder that the act of traveling is not just about ticking off destinations from a bucket list; it’s about forming connections, fostering appreciation, and creating lasting memories.

As Naito Takashi continues his journey through the Maldives, his story resonates as an inspiration to fellow travelers and a tribute to the unyielding allure of this island paradise. His 103rd visit is not just a numerical milestone; it’s a celebration of an extraordinary bond between a traveler and a destination, a bond that has grown stronger with each passing year and promises to endure for years to come.

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