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Soneva to open Maldives’ first tourist-centric science centre

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Soneva recently announced its plans to open a SCIE:NCE Centre in the Maldives.

SCIE:NCE is short for Soneva Centre for Island Ecosystems. The centre will be located onsite at Soneva Fushi, and will be designed in a similar manner to the Soneva Art and Glass Studio.

The objective of the new centre is to create great guest experiences and learning opportunities around the subjects of marine and terrestrial biology and astronomy, as well as Soneva’s conservation efforts.

These topics are usually of great interest to Soneva’s younger guests, and the centre will provide even more opportunities for learning while at Soneva or through an online learning platform.

SCIE:NCE is set to develop and record short educational videos, which will be shared online.

Children and teenagers will also be able to sign up for online courses which will be distributed through existing educational platforms, such as FutureLearn.

Soneva has appointed Dr Bart Knols, who was instrumental in the implementation of Soneva’s sustainable, insecticide-free mosquito management system, to oversee the set up the centre.

The centre will need $250,000 to be built, with funds coming from donations and grants, and is scheduled to be completed by the end of 2021.

SCIE:NCE will include the following facilities:

  • A research laboratory for in-house scientists as well as scholars visiting from around the world.
  • An outdoor semi-field structure for behavioural and ecological studies on mosquitoes.
  • A coral propagation centre, which will have the capacity to produce 50,000 pieces of coral a year, which when planted, will cover at least one hectare. Soneva intends to set up coral propagation centres at both Soneva Jani and Soneva Fushi. These propagation centres will be unique and the largest scale coral propagation in the world. SCIE:NCE is currently in discussion with some of the world’s leading marine biologists and coral experts, to help advise the way forward. In the near future, Soneva will invite these scientists and experts to the Maldives to plan these activities.
  • A meeting/lecture room for seminars, training courses and teaching purposes, augmented with a library and office space.

“Covid-19 has brought into question the value of what we learn at school and traditional methods of learning. The world has been exposed to, and gotten used to, remote learning. We see a lot of interest from children, to either learn remotely or on-site, about astronomy, marine biology and conservation,” Sonu Shivdasani, Soneva’s CEO and Founder, said.

“It is our hope that we will develop week-long classes that children can subscribe to when they are at our resorts, and subscribe to digitally if they are unable to physically visit Soneva. I am sure that as we go on, new ideas will come up, and we will look back in a couple of years’ time at the SCIE:NCE Centre as one of those great initiatives that clearly differentiate Soneva from any other resort.”

SCIE:NCE will be directed by Bart Knols, who is a medical entomologist with a PhD from Wageningen University (Netherlands), where he started as a first-year biology student in 1983.

After attending a lecture on the side effects of aerial spraying insecticides to control tsetse flies in Africa he was hooked. He became interested in insects and the diseases that they transmit to humans and animals, as well as the ongoing search for green alternatives to pest control.

Bart was offered a chance to work in a Maasai community on the Kenya-Tanzania border to develop low-cost, odour-baited traps to control tsetse flies. What followed 11 years of working and living in east and southern Africa was a PhD on the behavioural ecology of African malaria mosquitoes.

He went on to work for the International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology (ICIPE), in Nairobi to set up its malaria vector programme. Bart then moved to the shores of Lake Victoria, where he headed up the malaria programme and became the manager of ICIPE’s field station.

In 2003, he was offered a research position with the UN’s International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in Vienna and Seibersdorf, to work on the development of the Sterile Insect Technique (SIT) for malaria mosquitoes. Bart has received many awards for his creative and unconventional lines of research and pioneering of new ideas.

He is a co-laureate of the Nobel Peace Prize (2005) and obtained an Ig Nobel Prize at Harvard University in 2006. He was also awarded the Eijkman medal, the highest award in the field of tropical medicine and international health in the Netherlands, in 2007.

The leading scientific journal Science wrote about Bart in 2016: “In humankind’s war against insect-borne disease, Dutch entomologist Bart Knols is one of the most creative warriors”.

He has published more than 140 scientific articles, 19 book chapters and (co-)edited four books. In recent years, Bart served as principal investigator on a 5.2 million Euro grant from the EU and subsequently as co-Principal Investigator on a $10.2 million grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

In 2019, Soneva partnered with Biogents, a company on the forefront of international mosquito control research, to introduce a sustainable, insecticide-free mosquito management system.

The aim of this partnership is to bring the mosquito population on Soneva Fushi’s island of Kunfunadhoo, down to zero to show the international community that it is possible to use sustainable, insecticide-free alternatives in mosquito control, and to be the first mosquito-free island in the Maldives.

Starting July 2019, a month into the operation, a sharp decline in the number of mosquitoes trapped on the island was observed, and today the mosquito population has been reduced by around 95-98 per cent.

Soneva’s target is to eliminate all mosquitoes on Kunfunadhoo island by the end of 2020.

The halting of chemical fogging has also resulted in the appearance of a greater diversity of flora and fauna on the island. Guests and hosts have noticed a resurgence in species of butterflies, dragon flies, bumble bees, beetles and small insects.

With these natural pollinators now back in abundance, there are more flowers, fruits and Soneva Fushi’s organic gardens are thriving. The increase in fruits and insects means there now are more birds visiting the shores of Kunfunadhoo and fire flies are once again spotted at night.

“I feel privileged and proud to join Soneva and its SCIE:NCE centre to lead its scientific research and conservation efforts,” Dr Knols said.

“Scientific endeavour is most meaningful if it is put to good use in society and addresses key issues reflected in the sustainable development goals. This we hope to accomplish, besides enthusing guests with what we do and developing capacity in the Maldives to address pressing environmental and conservation issues in line with the government’s Strategic Action Plan 2019-2023.”

Soneva is a pioneering family of hospitality properties, offering holistic encounters in luxurious and inspiring environments – from world class resorts to outstanding natural locations.

Soneva Fushi, Soneva Jani and Soneva in Aqua in the Maldives, and Soneva Kiri in Thailand rebuke the traditional concept of luxury and instead promise the luxury of time, purity and solitude. Every day, guests are encouraged to discover sandy feet, inspired minds and full hearts.

Combining luxury with a conscientious approach to sustainability and the environment, and proactively changing the nature of hospitality, it delivers intuitive service and meaningful experiences to the guests.

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Baros Maldives: The Perfect Setting for a Joyful Easter in the Maldives

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Baros is a treasure nestled in the Indian Ocean, just waiting to be discovered. This Easter, uncover the myriad of delights on offer for guests celebrating the holiday on our pristine island shores. 

From sunrise dolphin cruises to underwater marvels, serene spa journeys and delicious culinary sensations, every moment on Baros is a magical surprise. From 29th March to 4th April 2024, the Baros team has curated a special program of Easter celebration. Choose from a wide range of specially crafted experiences and curate your very own Easter escape of a lifetime. 

Baros delights the senses. There is something for everyone to enjoy, from snorkelling, diving and exciting excursions to unparalleled destination dining experiences and sensational spa moments. 

Guests are invited to harvest fresh and exotic ingredients from Baros’s Chef’s Garden for a unique meal preparation under the expert guidance of our award-winning chefs. Alternatively, they can immerse themselves in the allure of a specially curated menu, set by the seashore under a tapestry of stars. Every dish is a culinary masterpiece, creating unforgettable moments. 

For adventure on the high seas, guests can spend the day exploring five traditional fishing methods across multiple stunning locations on a fishing extravaganza. Or set sail on Baros’s luxury yacht, Serenity for a sunrise frolic with playful dolphins. 

At Baros, guests are welcomed to immerse themselves in the vibrant tapestry of Maldivian culture as local traditions come alive. Delve into the rich history and customs of our island sanctuary as you tantalise your senses with local delicacies, participate in interactive experiences and listen to captivating narratives from a local historian. 

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The Ritz-Carlton Maldives, Fari Islands Announces 2024 Masters of Crafts Program With Stellar Line-Up of Guest Experiences

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The Ritz-Carlton Maldives, Fari Islands is set to  welcome a shining season of global talent in its signature Masters of Crafts program for the second year  running. Working with some of the world’s most talented masters of food and drink, wellness, adventure  and environmental innovation, the resort’s curation of considered guest experiences has transformative  travel at its heart. From epicurean journeys with Michelin Star chefs and award-winning bartenders, retreats  guided by leading names in wellness, to adventure and learning with surf icons and environmental thought  leaders, 2024 guarantees extraordinary memories of a lifetime.  

The series, which last year included two Michelin Star British chef Tom Sellers with decorated bartenders  from Singapore’s Vijay Mudaliar of Native, to Malaysia’s Jungle Bird and celebrity crystal healer Emma  Knowles, will run throughout 2024 bringing a star-studded choice of dates to the luxury travel agenda. 

The resort’s signature Behind the Bar series is set to impress in 2024. Opening on the 8th March and running  through to the 6th December, this exclusive program promises an exquisite fusion of international mixology  talent, sustainability-focused concepts, and a celebration of local ingredients. Guests will have access to  some of the world’s most decorated drinksmiths with a line-up including; Stockholm’s Hampus Thunholm  from Röda Huset, 8th-13th March, Paul Aguilar & Maros Dzurus from HIMKOK, 5th-6th April, Republic from Singapore, 24th – 25th July, Bangkok’s Matteo Cadeddu from Opium, 9th-10th August, New York’s  Harrison Ginsberg from Overstory, 18th-19th September, Berlin’s Damien Guichard from Wax On, 22nd, 23rd November and Paris’ Hyacinthe Lescoet from The Cambridge Public House, 5th-6th December.

This Easter, from 27th March – 2nd April, New York based meditation practitioner and contemplative  guide Kirat Randhawa, will inspire guests to approach life through a different lens. Randhawa will share  practical tools for self-care on a journey of discovery where transformative sessions and empowering  wellness practices will include; cultivating stillness, igniting and welcoming reflection, inviting expansion,  practicing reinforcement and deepening integration.  

From 23rd-27th May an immersive wellness retreat brings together global gurus of practice with The  Essence of Balance – Elemental Harmony. A week-long program will follow a journey driven by the  spiritual power of the number five and the five elements of earth, water, fire, air and spirit. Guiding a cosmic  dance are five practitioners each custodians of an elemental force.  

California-based international yoga teacher Josh Kramer brings the grounding element of earth with his  celebrated practice blending Iyengar and vinyasa flow. Movement instructor and founder of the Jacy Method, Jacy Cunningham introduces his powerful method of physical movement representing the  adaptability of water, while sound healer and Reiki master Nicole Rutsch will harness the intellect of air  and the power of nature’s vibrations. New York’s Jackie Stewart will channel transcendence of spirit with guided meditation, while guests will be nourished by Nicole Berrie, founder of cult wellness guide,  Bonberi, with a plant-based menu of her most celebrated dishes representing the transformative element of  fire.  

In a Summer of Renewal, The Ritz-Carlton Maldives, Fari Islands is committed to ensuring that all guests  ‘Leave Better’. From 19th-23rd July, celebrity healer and founder of the sound healing school The Copper  Vessel, Susy Markoe Schieffelin, will take residency with a soothing practice guided by the moon. Under  Maldivian skies guests will bathe in Susy’s signature sound baths as enjoyed by millions worldwide, with her clients including Google, the Los Angeles Philharmonic and solo artist LeAnn Rimes. From 15th-20th August the Summer transformation continues with movement guidance from celebrated practitioner and  founder of Project Woman, Abi Adams. During two programs guests will embark on an emotional journey and exploration of hormonal balance with tools of meridian dance, rhythm meditation, music, yoga and  creative writing.  

A first for the resort, 2024 sees the introduction of two retreats partnering with championship surf heroes Nic von Rupp and Victor Bernardo. During the Maldives’ optimum surf season of June and July, the exhilarating escapes led by von Rupp and Bernardo will allow guests to ride and master the four most  popular waves in the North Malé Atoll comprising Chicken, Cokes Surf Break, Honkeys and Jailbreak.  

With his trademark touch of Portuguese flair and German strength, Nic Von Rupp is one of the top ‘big  wave’ surfers in the world. Two-time finalist of ‘World Surf League Big Wave Performance of the Year’,  von Rupp spends his time in pursuit of the world’s largest swells and will take the helm at The Ritz-Carlton  Maldives, Fari Islands from 4th-13th June. Brazilian big wave surfer Victor Bernardo was born on a board,  surfing from the age of four and with global accolades under his belt, he is one to watch on the free surfer  circuit. Bernardo will lead a guest retreat from 1st-7th July

Growing its stable of exceptional gastronomic experiences, 2024 will see pop-up residencies with an  impressive circle of culinary friends. From 27th July-3rdAugust, two Michelin Star and one Michelin Green  Star, Chef Bruno Verjus brings a taste of his Paris restaurant Table by Bruno Verjus to the Fari Islands.  For two nights only, an exquisite menu from the home of the famed ‘tarte au chocolat avec caviar’ will be  created and served under the stars at the resort’s Beach Shack. Guests will also have the opportunity to join  Verjus in an exclusive masterclass, and for the winning bidders of the Marriott Bonvoy Moments’ package, the chance to embark on a big game fishing excursion.  

From 10th-12th August Chef Pam Soontornyanakij, newly crowned Asia’s Best Female Chef 2024, will  bring her celebrated mastery from Bangkok’s Potong. The first and youngest female chef to receive both a  Michelin Star and ‘Opening of the Year’ award from the Michelin guide in the same year will present a  bespoke menu of her progressive Thai-Chinese cuisine in an exclusive two-night residency at Summer  Pavilion.

Chef Rolf Fliegaulkf, founder and executive chef of Switzerland’s Ecco will take over the resort’s Beach  Shack for two nights from 12th-14th November. The two Michelin Star and 18 Gault Millau points’  Fliegaulkf will unveil a creative menu bursting with exquisite flavour pairings demonstrating his signature  approach of ‘purist aroma cuisine’. 

The resort’s Visiting Heroes for 2024 bring inspired interactions with conservationists and environmental  thought leaders. From 8th-18th April legendary ocean explorer, film maker and conservationist Jean-Michel  Cousteau will be returning to the resort in continuation of the Ambassadors of the Environment program  and to provide a truly unique residency. Cousteau will host several presentations focused on marine biology,  lead a number of dives with guests including coral regeneration, and chair a thought-provoking panel  discussion alongside marine biologists and representatives from the Ministry of Climate Change,  Environment, and Energy. An exclusive Marriott Bonvoy Moments’ experience will be available to two  lucky guests via bid application, closing on the 23rd March. 

Joining the Visiting Heroes series, climate activist and Forbes 30 under 30 for social impact, Saad  Amer will play a pivotal role in the development of the resort’s sustainability agenda this year. A UN  consultant and named ‘most influential voice in ESG’ by WWD, Amer will be launching new sustainability  initiatives while undertaking educational programming with local islands and schools as part of the resort’s Community Footprints program. Dates for guest presentations and exclusive panel sessions will be announced soon. 

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MMPRC strengthens destination presence in the Indian market at SATTE 2024

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Maldives Marketing and Public Relations Corporation (MMPRC/ Visit Maldives) strengthens destination presence in the Indian market at SATTE 2024 alongside 57 representatives from 34 companies from the Maldives tourism industry. This event is being held from 22nd to 24th February 2024 at India Expo Mart, Delhi.

SATTE has established itself as the biggest networking forum for the travel and tourism industry in South Asia. Visit Maldives is showcasing the unique beauty and the distinctive experiences of the Sunny Side of Life as a short-haul holiday destination for Indian travellers at this event.

SATTE 2024 provides an extensive platform for the industry leaders and travel  trade partners to  connect,  network,  and showcase their products and services. Participation in this event assists in sharing the latest updates about  the destination, the unique selling points of our tourism products  and  the various experiences available in the Maldives with the participating travel trade representatives. Additionally, it provides  numerous opportunities for the industry partners to disseminate the latest information about their individual properties and unique offers.

Visitors can expect a range of activities at the Maldives stand at SATTE 2024, including meetings with key travel trade professionals and other partners, along  with  media interviews. Free holiday getaways will also be given to the lucky winners through a raffle.

India  was  the top source market to the destination last year with 208,876 arrivals received by 31st December 2023, which is 14.4 percent of the total market share. MMPRC consistently conducts various marketing activities targeting this market to maintain destination momentum. Several marketing activities are planned to be held throughout 2024 for this market as well. These marketing activities ensure that the Maldives remain a top-of-mind destination for the Indian market.

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