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From CNN: How the Maldives became the biggest 2020 international tourism success story

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By Lilit Marcus, CNN

(CNN) — In most destinations, being a million tourists short over the previous year would be a huge cause for concern, the result of a horrible natural disaster. But that was before 2020, and before the coronavirus pandemic changed the way we travel forever.

The Maldives, an Indian Ocean island archipelago practically synonymous with romance, normally sees north of 1.7 million visitors per year. In 2020, it had around 500,000. And despite the significant decrease, it marks one of the most successful tourism stories amid the pandemic

While many other destinations slammed their borders closed, the Maldives chose to fully reopen to travellers from any country, regardless of the status of the virus there, in July 2020.

Part of the decision was financial. According to data from Michigan State University, tourism contributes 28 per cent of the Maldives’s GDP, one of the highest totals in the world.

The country’s geography also lends itself well to coronavirus protocols. Many hotels and resorts are on their own private islands — there are more than a thousand to choose from, even before man-made islands come into the equation — which makes isolating and social distancing exceptionally easy.

Countries around Asia and the Pacific have been more cautious about reopening than those in Europe and North America, meaning that tourists in the region had few options for places to go.

As other popular Asia-Pacific island getaways like Tahiti, Bali and Phuket remained off-limits, the Maldives took advantage of the fact that they were in relatively good shape with the virus. The places that have since reopened have done so with significant caveats. For example, Thailand and Sri Lanka both require a mandatory two-week hotel quarantine before being able to travel elsewhere in-country.

Understandably, there were some hiccups. The Maldives reopened unconditionally in July, only to walk it back in September by requiring all travellers to show proof of a negative Covid-19 test upon arrival.

The Maldives’ heavy reliance on ultra-luxury resorts also worked in its favour when it came to testing and social distancing. For example, some high-end properties conduct additional in-resort Covid testing as an added layer of protection against the spread of the virus.

The One&Only Reethi Rah (pictured) had its doors open for most of 2020. PHOTO/ ONE&ONLY

Thoyyib Mohamed is the managing director of the Maldives Marketing & PR Corporation, the country’s national tourism authority.

He says that the country received a total number of 555,494 visitors in 2020, surpassing their adjusted arrival forecast of 500,000 arrivals by the end of 2020.

“Our biggest advantage is the unique geographical features of Maldives,” he says, adding that the implementation of strict hygiene protocols combined with the ease of spreading people on different islands made a compelling combination for travellers who wanted to get away from it all.

“We promoted the destination as a safe haven to the tourists.”

Infrastructure played a role as well. Many resorts have private boat or plane transfers built into their packages, meaning that visitors who arrived in the country could get to their final destinations without encountering many — if any — other tourists.

Jan Tibaldi, general manager of the One&Only Reethi Rah, tells CNN Travel that while they didn’t have significantly more visitors in 2020 than they did in 2019, there was a massive increase in the amount of time these visitors were spending there.

“Our guests are traveling less frequently, but for longer and with more purpose,” she said.

As a direct response to the increased amount of time visitors were spending in the Maldives and the fact that most people were going digital-only for work and school, the resort devised a special package for guests staying a full month. The 28-day offering includes meals, high-speed internet, wellness activities and use of a kids’ club and is priced from $42,600 for a family of four.

They weren’t the only ones. The Anantara Veli dug in even further, selling “all you can stay” packages for unlimited bookings for up to a year at a cost of $30,000. Another luxurious property, The Nautilus Maldives, promoted a “workation” package priced from $23,250 for seven days.

Still, there’s no such thing as a completely positive travel story when it comes to navigating the new world under Covid.

The Maldives closed its borders in late March, with about 500 total tourists still remaining in the country.

Many Maldivians who work in hospitality found themselves effectively “stranded in paradise,” forced to stay at the resorts where they worked in order to look after just a handful of guests.

Two staff members at the Kuredu Island Resort & Spa tested positive for the virus in March 2020. As a precaution, the entire resort was locked down. While quarantining on a postcard-pretty tropical beach wasn’t the worst possible scenario for the guests, it wasn’t as dreamy for the staff members who were charged with keeping the place running indefinitely.

However, the numbers alone show that despite reopening the Maldives has been able to keep the pandemic largely in check.

As of February 2021, the country has had 17,828 confirmed cases and just 58 deaths.

Note: The above article article has been reproduced as it is from its original source, CNN. The original article can be found here.

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Unwind and Explore: Hilton Maldives Amingiri Resort & Spa Invites Families to a Rejuvenating Summer Escape

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Hilton Maldives Amingiri Resort & Spa, an all-pool villa haven nestled amidst the breathtaking natural seascapes of the Indian Ocean, invites families to embrace the joy of relaxation and the spirit of adventure this summer with a slew of experiences designed to inspire playful discoveries and foster tranquil reconnections with the mind and body.

Fun for All Ages

Budding adventurers and creative little spirits alike can discover new adventures at Krakengiri Kids’ Club, one of the largest kids’ clubs in the Maldives. Led by a multilingual team of certified childcare professionals, young guests can engage in an exciting array of daily activities that combine learning and play.

Upstairs, Re:Fuel, a rooftop lounge for teens, hosts engaging milkshake-making workshops and fun family movie nights under the starry Maldivian sky.

In June, the resort offers a Holiday Camp for teens, who can personalize their wellness experiences as follows:

  • Pick up new sports such as tennis, pickleball, and badminton on the multi-purpose court with the hotel’s resident Sports Animator
  • Work out with a personal trainer at the fitness center
  • Try aerial yoga for beginners, yoga for better sleep, breathwork, and meditation with the resident yoga practitioner
  • Enjoy a restorative massage in the overwater treatment villas of Amingiri Spa.

The experience is available at USD 150++ per person for a combination of any two 30-minute sessions.

Restful Retreats

Amingiri Spa introduces Water Connect, a private in-villa pool experience guided by a certified water shiatsu specialist. The gentle movements and targeted massage techniques melt away tension and create a deeply relaxing sensation akin to being cocooned in the womb. The serene escape is available between 4:00 pm to 5:30 pm at USD 150++ for 30 minutes.

Starting in June, guests can indulge in a brand-new Sleep Wellness menu designed to ease the mind and body into a state of deep and rejuvenating slumber. Guests can choose to unwind with a calming signature massage on the spa’s Skye Deck, bask in the timeless glow of an evening hammam ritual in the modern hammam room, or embrace tranquility with an in-villa session incorporating guided meditation, yoga, and breathwork.

Exclusive Offer

Guests who stay a minimum of four nights enjoy the added value of a half board meal plan and complimentary shared roundtrip speedboat transfers with Maldivian Bliss. This offer is available for stays through to December 20, 2024.

From May through to September 30, 2024, children stay and dine free: parents staying with two young children ages 11 years and below in an Overwater Suite with Pool and any of the Two-Bedroom Beach and Overwater Villas will also enjoy the half board meal plan and complimentary shared roundtrip speedboat transfers when booking Maldivian Bliss. Hilton Honors members enjoy full points for their stay. Terms and conditions apply.

Hilton Maldives Amingiri Resort & Spa is part of Hilton Honors®, the award-winning guest-loyalty program for Hilton’s 22 distinct hotel brands. Members who book directly on the hotel’s website will have access to instant benefits, including a flexible payment slider that allows members to choose nearly any combination of points and money to book a stay, an exclusive member discount, free standard Wi-Fi and the Hilton Honors app.

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Maldives Madridistas: Patina Maldives, Fari Islands Nets Exclusive Football Camp Partnership with the Real Madrid Foundation

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Younger guests at Patina Maldives, Fari Islands can embrace new patterns of play this summer at an exclusive, Maldives-first Real Madrid Foundation football camp. From 4 July – 12 August, a youth coach will lead a comprehensive Real Madrid Foundation programme of daily soccer sessions for ages 5-9yrs, 10-14yrs, and 15-17yrs. The coach will be joined by an elite player ambassador from UEFA’s all-time no. 1 ranked football club toward the end of the programme.

This summer’s inaugural Patina Maldives x Real Madrid CF Foundation football camp is the first edition in an ongoing partnership, with additional future football camp dates to be confirmed. Led by a licensed Real Madrid Foundation coach, sessions will focus on developing each participant both individually and as part of the group, in order to ‘Play The Real Way’ – the training methodology that combines play, as well as sports values.

Sessions will take place on a new, purpose-built 6 a side astroturf pitch located near the Fari Marina Village at Patina Maldives.

All participants will receive an official camp football camp shirt, shorts, socks, drawstring bag, sweatbands, and cap; while those completing a minimum of four days’ coaching will also be presented with a Real Madrid Foundation participation certificate.

Real Madrid Foundation football clinics at Patina Maldives, Fari Islands are priced at USD195++ per child per session for guests of the resort. Bookings are also open to guests from neighbouring resorts, from USD250++ per child per session.

Rates at Patina Maldives, Fari Islands start from USD2,054 (approx. GBP1,620) per night based on two adults sharing a One Bedroom Pool Villa including daily breakfast, complimentary Guest Benefits, tax, and service. Terms and conditions apply.

For more information and reservations, please visit https://patinahotels.com/maldives or contact reservations.maldives@patinahotels.com. For more information on Pathways, please see here.

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A blissful island Easter celebration at Alila Kothaifaru Maldives

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Experience unique and enriching getaways at Alila Kothaifaru Maldives, as the luxury resort unveils exciting benefits for family getaway packages launching this season. Guests are invited to immerse themselves in the ethereal charm of the Maldives.

Nestled in the pristine Raa Atoll, Alila Kothaifaru Maldives seamlessly blends eco-friendly architecture with contemporary sophistication, complemented by the untouched, rugged beauty of the Raa Atoll. Situated amidst miles of untouched marine life, Alila Kothaifaru invites guests to reconnect with nature in the most extraordinary ways. With spacious villas and private pools, guests can truly experience the essence of a getaway where luxury and adventure harmoniously coexist.

Surrounded by azure skies and the turquoise waters of the Raa Atoll, Alila Kothaifaru Maldives offers an idyllic setting for a family escape during the Easter break. Here, guests can unwind in luxurious, nature-immersed surroundings, embark on exciting adventures together, and indulge in unforgettable wellness and culinary experiences.

During Easter weekend, Play Alila will delight young guests with a diverse range of festive island-inspired activities, including Easter egg decorating, arts and crafts, face painting, and more. For those seeking relaxation, Spa Alila offers enticing packages for parents and children to enjoy quality bonding time.

For the adventurous souls, do not miss the chance to join our Sparkling Underwater Egg Hunt. Hidden throughout one of our nearby dive sites, these eggs hold a special surprise. The lucky diver who discovers the egg with a unique mark will win an exclusive clutch made of Swarovski crystal valued at EUR 1,800!

Embark on an Easter journey to remember at Alila Kothaifaru Maldives. Explore all of the Easter events and activities at Alila Kothaifaru Maldives here 

Family Getaway Package

  • Booking Period: Until 30 October 2024
  • Stay Period: Until 25 December 2024

Experience a family holiday rich with memorable moments. From nature walks to energetic beach activities, Alila Kothaifaru Maldives’ offerings extend to the whole family. Indulge in a host of fun adventures together, or relax while your children participate in creative indoor and outdoor activities. Enjoy special family welcome amenities upon arrival, return seaplane transfers, daily full-board meals, and a special offer on wellness treatments. Experience the beauty of our island while creating lasting memories to be treasured!

Stay with us during the Easter period from 25-31 March 2024 and be treated to a wide range of festive island inspired activities such as Easter egg decorating, arts and crafts, egg hunting around the island and underwater, wellness offering, and many more!

For more information and reservations, please contact kothaifaru@alilahotels.com or visit alilahotels.com

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