Soneva honoured at Departures Legend Awards for eco-friendly initiatives
Soneva has been recognised for its eco-friendly initiatives.
In its 2020 Legend Awards, Departures magazine listed Soneva’s Namoona Baa initiative amongst “The Best Eco-Initiatives in Hospitality This Year”.
Namoona Baa sees the islands of Maalhos, Dharavandhoo, and Kihaadhoo in the Baa atoll pledging to end the open burning of island waste, in a radical shift towards eco-friendly waste management.
The pledge was made by the presidents of Maalhos, Dharavandhoo, and Kihaadhoo island councils, during a workshop on waste held at Soneva Fushi on January 5-8, 2019.
To end the practice of the open burning of waste, which poses a health and environmental hazard and damages tourism, each island will create an ‘eco-centro’ waste-to-wealth centre that will sort, recycle and reuse island waste.
The eco-centro model was pioneered at Soneva Fushi, which is located close to Maalhos. At the resort, food and organic waste, metals, and bottles are chipped, ground down or composted, and turned into things of economic value, such as concrete building blocks and fertiliser. Plastic waste is either recycled or used to create useful new objects.
Soneva has pledged funds from its Soneva Save our Seas programme to support the creation of the eco-centros on Maalhos, Dharavandhoo, and Kihaadhoo. During the January workshop, the island council presidents helped forge a new partnership amongst their islands, Soneva Fushi, and Common Seas, an international NGO dedicated to reducing marine plastic pollution.
The new partnership — part of the international Clean Blue Alliance which supports islands to prevent plastic waste leaking into the ocean — sets a course for Baa atoll, and eventually the Maldives, to become a global leader in halting ocean plastic pollution.
The Maalhos eco-centro waste-to-wealth centre – an innovative, waste processing complex modelled on Soneva Fushi’s Eco Centro — was inaugurated in February.
At the complex, the island’s waste is sorted into different categories such as plastic, glass, tin and wood; which is then compacted, crushed, and chipped where possible, and sent for recycling. The new eco-centro has enabled Maalhos to completely stop the open burning of rubbish and waste – making it the first inhabited island in the Maldives to do so.
Dealing with waste, particularly plastic, is a major issue for every island community in the Maldives. Plastic bottles and bags tend to litter streets, island jungle and beaches, while waste is routinely burned in toxic, open bonfires. Human health and guesthouse tourism suffer as a direct result of this practice.
Under the Namoona Baa Initiative, the Maalhos model will be expanded to neighbouring Dharavandhoo and Kihaadhoo, with eco-centro waste-to-wealth centres established on both islands later this year. With government support, it is hoped that the model can be rolled out across the Baa atoll, and eventually the whole of the Maldives.
In August 2019, Common Seas produced a preliminary report for the Maldivian government showing how the island nation could radically reduce the amount of single-use plastic it consumes, and reduce plastic pollution.
In September 2019, at his maiden address to the UN General Assembly, Maldivian President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih announced a nationwide phase-out of single-use plastics to be implemented by 2023, including phase-outs of single-use plastic bottles and bags. It is one of the most comprehensive phase-outs of single use plastics in the world.
Soneva currently runs two resorts in the Maldives, Soneva Fushi and Soneva Jani, and luxury yacht, Soneva in Aqua. The world-leading luxury resort operator also operates Soneva Kiri resort in Thailand.
In 1995, the award-winning luxury resort Soneva Fushi set the standard for all desert island barefoot luxury hideaways in the Maldives. Located in the Baa Atoll UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, Soneva Fushi pairs Robinson Crusoe fantasy with intelligent luxury.
Sixty-two private villas with their own stretch of beach are hidden amongst dense foliage within touching distance of a pristine coral reef. Eight new one- and two-bedroom Water Retreats, perched above the turquoise depths of the Indian Ocean, are scheduled to open to guests by May. Intuitive service is provided by Mr./Ms. Friday butlers.
Highlights include the open-air Cinema Paradiso, counting Saturn’s rings in the high-tech Observatory, the home-made chocolate and ice cream rooms, five hundred wines to choose from, six different restaurants and countless destination dining options.
In November 2015, Soneva launched a floating villa concept, Soneva in Aqua, a treasure trove children’s Den and a multi-purpose facility encompasses a glass gallery, boutique and studio where guests can learn the art of glass blowing.
Opened in December 2016, Soneva Jani is Soneva’s newest property and the world-leading luxury hotel group’s second resort in the Maldives.
Soneva Jani is located on the island of Medhufaru within a 5.6 kilometre lagoon in the Noonu atoll, and has uninterrupted ocean views in all directions. The lagoon is 35 minutes by seaplane from Velana International Airport and one hour by speedboat from Soneva Fushi.
Meaning ‘wisdom’ in Sanskrit, Soneva Jani currently comprises 24 overwater villas and one island villa, with additional villas to be built in phase two. Five islands encircle the lagoon, each one with soft white sands and covered in rich tropical vegetation. Four of the five islands will remain untouched, making Soneva Jani the lowest density development in the Maldives. The overwater villas are spaced across the expansive lagoon, offering privacy and extensive views over the Maldives’ turquoise waters. The island villas will be tucked into the lush greenery, providing the ultimate privacy, and all within steps of the beach.
Soneva Jani’s main guest facilities are located at The Gathering, the heart of the overwater villas. This dramatic three story structure is home to the main dining outlets, in addition to the Soneva Spa, library, retail area and wine cellar. It is located next to the Maldives’ first overwater Observatory.
Facilities on the island include the overwater Cinema Paradiso, the Eco Centro Waste-to-Wealth centre, organic gardens, tennis courts, water sports champa and Zuhair’s Beach on a desert island in the lagoon.
Departures magazine launched the Legend Awards last year.
The awards, selected by the Departures editorial team, span 24 categories, from Best Luxury Hotel Opening to Most Instagrammable Destination, covering every aspect of air, rail, and hotel travel experiences and amenities.
For the 2020 Legend Awards, editors curated the list of honourees based on experiences between May 1, 2019 to March 31, 2020, awarding honours to at least 10 properties, products or services per category.