By Jason Kruse
Lots of people have been asking me about how we came up with some of the most robust Covid-prevention protocols in the Maldives. Well, I’d like to start by saying there was no playbook for any of this.
Covid-19 caught the world by surprise. We went into a temporary hiatus back in March, but a few guests decided to stay with us in our island quarantine bubble for the next few months. That’s the great thing about having a resort on a private island of its own – we can carefully monitor absolutely everyone who comes in and out, thereby massively reducing risk of transmission. The only people arriving are a controlled number of guests and staff.
Some of our team members went home when the borders reopened in July but myself and many other Islanders have remained on our island this entire time. You might have read about all the things we got up to during lockdown on the Amilla blog, but we decided we had two choices – to sit back and do nothing or to stand up and fight. So, we decided to come up with as many ingenious and inventive ways as possible of enhancing our island with the focus on improving our guest experience, and being more sustainable in our approach.
Everybody got stuck in, it was amazing to see so much spirit! We had spa therapists working in the gardens, butlers building a hen house, we all switched jobs to build and create new things in order to help put us in as strong a position as possible for when we reopened, from creating an organic garden and banana plantation to artwork made from driftwood and aquaponics projects! And during this whole time right up to today, we didn’t even visit any local islands, to avoid any chance of community spread.
When we made the decision to reopen, we carefully considered the government of the Maldives’ guidelines as well as the latest advice from the WHO. We decided we wanted to take our precautions to the next level so that we could assure our guests, our team and our owners that Amilla Maldives will remain Covid-free to the very best of our abilities. But we also needed to ensure we delivered guests that sense of escapism and luxury they so dearly needed (in 2020 more than ever). Not the easiest things to juggle.
We formed a Covid Taskforce with members of the management team who were left on the island, liaised with medical professionals and government officials, recruited a Safety Manager and appointed NSURE to provide hygiene training for all our team members and help establish best practices. Being a Maldivian-owned and managed island, we don’t have the resources of a glitzy global head office. So, we also looked to learn from other resorts and hotels which were developing some good practices and managing risks while reducing the impact on their guests’ experiences.
Armed with all this information and recommendations, we set forth to welcome our guests, offering complimentary PCR tests on arrival for everyone aged over 12 months old, including all team members returning to the island. That’s right, we decided the best form of Covid prevention is testing, testing, testing (at our own cost). This is before the Maldives started requiring all arrivals to the country to have taken a PCR test at home.
Our guests and staff would keep their masks the whole time on whenever they were in communal areas like our restaurants. We took away cutlery and had contactless menus too.
But after a short time, we realised that guests perceived our ‘compromised’ hospitality as compromised service. Obviously, we didn’t want that because everyone comes here for an unparalleled sense of getting away from it all.
We knew during the process we’d have to be adaptable to our guests’ needs (and the constant updates on safety and hygiene requirements), so when the government switched to asking all guests to present a PCR test on arrival in the Maldives we realised if we then also did a complimentary second test on arrival on our island, we could be confident they are very, very unlikely to have Covid-19. That means we could do away with masks once they got the all-clear, because our island is kind of its own quarantine bubble, with everyone coming in and out being tested. We added some extra precautions too, but not many that are visible to guests.
So now, guests arriving at Amilla Maldives are welcomed to their Villa or Residence, then our trained team member or Resort Doctor does a quick PCR test. The samples are packed in special transport containers and sent by seaplane to Male (our capital) to be processed.
While awaiting the test results, guests are free to use most the resort facilities with some basic social distancing protocols in place. Until we receive the results, our guests and the restaurant staff wear masks, they use just one of our restaurants and we give them a separate team of housekeepers and ‘katheebs’ (butlers) who live and work in a ‘quarantine bubble’, separate from the other team members.
That’s just to make sure that if in the worst-case scenario a guest tests positive, it can be contained quickly as they are in a separate ‘bubble’ to the majority of people on the island. We also use enhanced disinfecting protocols.
It’s worth mentioning at this point that since transmission is much worse in high population density areas, a lot of people are reassured by the fact Amilla is one of the country’s largest islands with 23.5 hectares of space (most of it is undeveloped beautiful jungle) and only a selected number of Villas and Residences (which have a great deal of space between them and extensive private indoor and outdoor facilities – in fact, they amongst the largest Villas in the Maldives). So, these factors also help a lot with risk reduction and reassurance.
The PCR results come back fast and as soon as our guests receive their negative results, they are no longer required to wear masks and can roam the entire island. (Bear in mind this is their second PCR test as the Maldives government requires everyone flying to the Maldives to present a negative PCR test on arrival, taken a maximum of 72 hours before flying).
This facilitates a rare situation whereby our guests can holiday with a sense of pre-Covid ‘normality’, while being reassured by the knowledge everyone on the island has been tested twice. Plus, the abundance of space and fresh air combined with our robust hygiene protocols help make Amilla Maldives even safer.
We are proud to have a thought out Covid-prevention protocol that does not compromise on our guest experience, and so far, remain extremely successful in keeping Covid-19 from coming ashore to Our Island Home, Amilla Fushi.
Note: Jason Kruse is the General Manager at Amilla Maldives Resort and Residences.
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.
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.
Amari Raaya Maldives opens its gates to paradise
In a grand celebration of luxury and nature’s wonders, Amari Raaya Maldives resort has officially opened its doors, welcoming its first guests to experience a slice of paradise in the Maldives. The exclusive event was attended by the resort’s management team, as well as Atul Chordia, Chairman of Panchshil Realty, the developer behind this magnificent project.
Nestled on a pristine natural island in the heart of the Maldives’ Raa Atoll, Amari Raaya promises to be a sanctuary for travelers seeking an unforgettable escape amidst the archipelago’s breathtaking beauty. From the moment guests arrived via Manta Air seaplane, they were greeted with warm hospitality and a taste of Maldivian culture, as they were presented with traditional cultural items and treated to mesmerizing Maldivian dances.
Atul Chordia, the visionary behind Panchshil Realty, and Yuthachai Charanachitta ONYX Hospitality Group’s CEO marked the official opening of the resort by cutting the ribbon, signifying the culmination of a labor of love and dedication to creating a unique haven for luxury travelers.
With 187 villas offering a variety of luxurious experiences, Amari Raaya ensures that every guest’s stay is truly exceptional. Visitors can choose from an array of accommodation options, including the Beach Villas, Beach Pool Villas, and interconnecting Family Beach Villas, perfect for creating cherished memories with loved ones.
For those seeking unparalleled luxury and seclusion, the Ocean Villas and Ocean Pool Villas provide panoramic views of the azure waters teeming with marine life. Sunset enthusiasts can revel in the breathtaking beauty of the Maldivian dusk from the privacy of their villas, opting for the Sunset Ocean Villas or Sunset Ocean Pool Villas, promising an unforgettable experience.
Amari Raaya Maldives goes beyond offering captivating villas; it has curated an extraordinary culinary journey for its guests. With eight distinct dining options, visitors can embark on a gastronomic adventure that caters to every palate. From the signature Amaya Food Gallery, serving famous street food and hawker delights, to the rooftop bar Ampers&nd, where guests can savor sunset snacks and cocktails, the resort promises to delight all epicureans. Poolside Italian favorites, freshly caught seafood infused with Maldivian and Asian flavors, and the fun and playful experience of enjoying mobile snacks and drinks served from a bus all add to the culinary magic of the resort.
In the evenings, guests can find a sense of community and immerse themselves in the local culture through live music, traditional Boduberu nights, and regular cultural events and festivities, making every moment at Amari Raaya Maldives an enriching and memorable one.
Amari Raaya Maldives is developed by Panchshil Realty, a name synonymous with excellence in luxury real estate in India. The resort is managed by Onyx Hospitality, renowned for its exceptional and personalized hospitality experiences.
With its official opening, Amari Raaya Maldives invites travelers from around the world to discover the allure of the Maldives in unparalleled comfort and style. As guests arrive at this oasis of luxury and natural splendor, they are sure to find themselves enchanted by the timeless beauty of the islands and immersed in an experience that will linger in their hearts forever.
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