Soneva Namoona, a Soneva initiative that seeks to radically change the way the Maldives manages its waste, has announced its first Soneva Namoona Guardian: Matt Porteous, the founder of Ocean Culture Life and the Managing Director of Studio M.
The mission of Soneva Namoona is to design a sustainable waste management system that can benefit the whole nation and prevent plastic entering the sea. The initiative centres around the three pillars of Reduce, Recycle, Inspire.
At the heart of Soneva Namoona is Reduce, a radical reduction in the volume of plastic arriving on the islands. Soneva assisted in the establishment of a water bottling plant on the island of Maalhos to desalinate and mineralise sea water, which is distributed in reusable glass bottles, eliminating the need for water bottled in plastic.
Recycle is the second strand of the programme and focuses on the responsible disposal of waste. Maalhos is the first island to open a Soneva-sponsored Eco Centro with machinery that will include a wood chipper and a glass crusher.
The third component is Inspire which aims to foster a love of the ocean and the environment. The belief is that through water sports, education and festivities children will lose their fear of the ocean and learn to love it, and thus protect it.
The goal of Namoona Guardians is to build a network of like-minded people around the world who are committed to making Soneva Namoona a success.
Namoona Guardians can be environmentalists, conservationists, surfers, sailors, athletes, and artists who have a passion for safeguarding the environment. They are innovators, leaders, visionaries and pioneers.
Matt recently did a takeover of the Soneva Namoona Instagram account, @namooonabaa, to talk about his work documenting how the Maldivian islands of Maalhos, Dharavandhoo and Kihaadhoo have become pioneers of the waste-to-wealth philosophy and setting examples in reducing marine plastic waste.
“I’m incredibly fortunate as a photographer to spend time with amazing people. In the case of Soneva Namoona, this means telling stories of the real heroes of Maldivian islands – the community collecting ocean plastic for the benefit of future generations, the team mentoring children on neighbouring islands to become ocean stewards, the waste experts at Soneva who are designing a sustainable way of managing waste that can benefit the whole country,” Matt Porteous said.
“Change starts with individuals and passion. Programmes like Soneva Namoona are so important for creating the systems needed to tackle complex problems. But what is so exemplary about it is the focus on nurturing people and their passion. My passion is in sharing these stories, connecting like-minded individuals and corporations, helping create ripples of change across the world.”
Matt’s love and delight in his surroundings are evident in his work. He captures and reveals the expression and detail that is seldom evident to the naked eye.
Matt is one of the UK’s leading photographers both in and out of the water, where his passion for oceans has taken him to some of the most beautiful places on the planet and connected him to some of the world’s greatest changemakers.
The Jersey-based photographer was chosen by The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge as the official photographer to photograph Prince George to mark the young royal’s third and fifth birthdays. Matt was also commissioned to shoot Prince H. Louis’ christening at Clarence House. Later in 2018 he was tasked with capturing last year’s Christmas card photograph for the Duke and Duchess’s family portrait in their country home, in Norfolk.
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.
Experience All the Magic of Easter Candyland at Fairmont Maldives, Sirru Fen Fushi
As the spring sunshine sparkles on the gentle waves of the Indian Ocean, Fairmont Maldives, Sirru Fen Fushi invites couples seeking the ultimate escapism and families looking to spend moments of togetherness this Easter break. Nestled in the picturesque Shaviyani Atoll, the private island retreat will transform into an Easter Candyland filled with sweet delights and confectionary creations. Whimsical and full of vibrancy, the extraordinary lineup of experiences promises guests of every generation an unforgettable escape, from indulgent feasts under the stars and colorful egg hunts to chocolate-infused treatments at Fairmont Spa.
From 24 March to 12 April, the resort presents an immersive calendar of events and activities where guests can celebrate special moments in elevated luxury, savor exquisite culinary journeys, embark on new adventures, and make memories that will last for a lifetime.
“Easter is a time of renewal and joyful reconnection, and our team has curated a program of experiences that celebrates the joy of Easter and the spirit of togetherness,” says Steven Stefaniuk, General Manager at Fairmont Maldives, Sirru Fen Fushi.
Dining is a sensational experience in this idyllic island paradise. Guests can savor local and global flavors at the beachfront Raha Market, indulge in Asian favorites at Kata, enjoy a spectacular by-the-sea dining experience at Azure, and taste a range of creative cocktails at Onu Onu. On 31 March, the island will host an extravagant Easter-themed lunch and pool party featuring a range of global Easter favorites and mouth-watering desserts, complete with fun activities, live music, and entertainment.
Parents can watch in delight as their little ones spark their curiosity and imagination at the Kids’ Club and discover various Candyland-themed activities, such as arts and crafts, cupcake and cookie decorating, and egg and face painting. Furthermore, budding eco-warriors can participate in repurposing plastic waste into bespoke souvenirs at the Sustainability Lab and join ocean life conservation activities with the Marine Biology team.
Guests can restore their inner balance and achieve renewed energy with the offerings of award-winning Fairmont Spa, including nature-inspired wellbeing sessions and the ‘Chocolate Indulgence’ treatment that soothes the body in smooth and revitalizing sensations. Moreover, active travelers can participate in sunrise yoga, beach game challenges, water sports, and interactive coaching with LUX Tennis.
In the mood for adventure? Dive into one of the flourishing dive sites in Shaviyani Atoll with the resort’s dive partner, Sub Oceanic, snorkel the 9-km-long house reef to discover over 250 species of marine life, or join a sunset cruise in search of dozens of playful dolphins that love to leap out from the sea.
Timeless Family Fun Package – Children Under 12 Stay and Dine for Free
The resort presents the ‘Timeless Family Fun’ package with a complimentary meal plan upgrade, Easter treats and amenities, and delightful dining experiences for the whole family. Book a 4-night stay or more in one of the resort’s spacious pool villas, offering the perfect blend of privacy and togetherness, and enjoy:
- Complimentary upgrade from Bed & Breakfast to Half-Board package
- Children below 12 years of age stay and dine for free
- Easter Sunday Lunch and Egg Hunt activity
- Floating breakfast once during the stay
- Family-style beach dinner once during the stay
- Guided tour of the Sustainability Lab and underwater Coralarium
- 25% discount on spa treatments
Celebrate Earth Week with Nature’s Embrace at Oaga Art Resort
Join Oaga Art Resort from March 21st to 27th, 2024, for a week dedicated to connecting with the beauty and wonder of our planet. Immerse yourself in a program filled with creative activities, meaningful experiences, and a deep appreciation for Earth’s magic.
Unwind with Earth-inspired creativity:
March 21st, as the world celebrates Poetry Day, start your day with a poetic breakfast, followed by a lunchtime fusion of traditional Maldivian Boduberu beats and poetry called ‘Farihi’. In the evening, enjoy some poetry reading and a captivating performance by local duo “Something Lovely”.
On March 22nd, tap your feet to the lively rhythms of a Boduberu jam session at lunch. As the stars emerge, witness the artistry of a sand artist create their magic on the Raa Baa deck.
Connect with nature in a mindful way:
March 23rd, as part of Earth Hour, join a peaceful candlelit Earth Meditation and sound healing session. Later, light your own candle and take part in an art installation under the moonlight. Savour a delicious Earth-conscious buffet and enjoy unplugged music around a bonfire.
On the same day, a special coral planting cocktail is to take place during sunset at the beach. Witness firsthand the wonders of coral restoration as you help plant 60+ coral frames in Oaga’s reef nursery. This project, in partnership with Coralive, aims to completely restore the house reef by 2028. Savour refreshing cocktails and learn about the crucial role coral reefs play in our ecosystem while contributing to a sustainable future.
Celebrate Holi traditions with an eco-twist:
March 25th, witness the creation of a stunning sand mandala and participate in the traditional Full Moon ritual. Dance the night away at a vibrant Holi Full moon party with minimal lighting and glow-in-the-dark paint.
Reflect and reminisce under the stars:
March 26th, cuddle up for a captivating movie night featuring nature documentaries under the starlit sky.
A grand finale on World Theatre Day:
On March 27th, engage your children in a fun puppet show and enjoy a live performance by the energetic band Sky Rock. The week culminates with a special Earth-themed solo performance at the Kaa Kada dinner in celebration of World Theatre Day.
Beyond these highlights, Earth Week weaves its theme throughout Oaga’s daily activities. Whether it is to explore nature-inspired percussion in Take Notes sessions or to let your kids unleash their creativity with eco-friendly crafts in the Fiyoh Kid’s Club, there is something engaging for everyone.
Join Oaga and embark on a journey that reconnects you with nature, celebrates our planet, and leaves you feeling empowered to make a positive difference.
Hurawalhi Island Resort’s Exemplary Commitment to Marine Conservation Shines in the Maldives
Hurawalhi Island Resort, nestled amidst the stunning landscapes of the Maldives, proudly reaffirms its steadfast dedication to marine conservation through pioneering initiatives aimed at safeguarding the region’s diverse marine ecosystems.
Saoirse Macklin, the esteemed Resident Marine Biologist at Hurawalhi Island Resort, emphasizes the Maldives’ distinguished status as one of the world’s most biodiverse marine environments. “At Hurawalhi, we prioritize the dissemination of knowledge and wonder about our marine world,” states Macklin. “As a Marine Biologist, it’s been a privilege to inspire and educate guests about the remarkable marine life surrounding our island.”
Hurawalhi’s commitment to marine conservation materializes through a range of educational experiences offered to guests. From immersive Turtle Tours, shedding light on the pivotal role of seagrass in sustaining turtle populations, to awe-inspiring Manta Search excursions, each journey represents an enlightening voyage of discovery.
During these excursions, science and education take precedence, ensuring guests acquire profound insights into the intricate ecosystems enveloping the island. As the resident Marine Biologist, Macklin spearheads efforts to monitor and safeguard turtle and manta populations, employing cutting-edge photo identification techniques to meticulously track and document individual specimens during every expedition.
Hurawalhi extends a warm invitation to guests to partake in Marine Biologist-guided reef snorkeling experiences, providing an unparalleled opportunity to explore coral reef and seagrass ecosystems while championing their preservation. Participants not only revel in the splendor of the house reef but also actively engage in efforts to protect these delicate habitats.
Furthermore, Hurawalhi’s commitment to marine conservation is evident in its ongoing projects. The resort’s diligent monitoring and maintenance of its artificial reef program adjacent to the iconic 5.8 Underwater Restaurant aim to rejuvenate and revitalize reef systems. In 2021, a total of 114 artificial reef frames were transplanted, laying the groundwork for reef regeneration.
Recent initiatives include the creation of “festive frames,” crafted by guests during the holiday season, with regular updates fostering continued guest involvement in conservation endeavors. Annual monitoring of benthic habitats and species abundance by the Marine Biologist team is pivotal, collecting data to track changes in habitats and biodiversity over time. This scientific endeavor provides valuable insights into the health of Hurawalhi’s marine life and serves as a cornerstone for future conservation efforts.
The data collected holds immense potential, serving as a catalyst for initiatives aimed at securing protected status for Hurawalhi and its surrounding waters. Through collaboration with government-led conservation programs and local stakeholders, the resort aspires to designate Hurawalhi as a protected area, ensuring its continued vitality and resilience.
In the face of unprecedented challenges to ocean conservation, Hurawalhi remains resolute in its mission to preserve and protect the marine marvels of the Maldives. Through collective understanding and concerted action, the resort endeavors to safeguard these invaluable ecosystems for generations to come.
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