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Soneva embarks on project to launch one of world’s largest coral nurseries

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Partnership with Coralive and Ark2030 aims to propagate 50,000 coral fragments every year.

Soneva has launched an ambitious programme to restore coral reef systems and create a coral hub for the Maldives.

A partnership between the Soneva Foundation, the Swiss environmental organisation Coralive and the global ecosystem restoration organisation Ark2030, the project aims to protect and regenerate this vital marine habitat, which has been decimated by rising sea temperatures, ocean acidification, El Niño events and ocean pollution.

The coral restoration programme, located onsite at Soneva Fushi in the Baa Atoll, is the largest conservation initiative to be supported by the Soneva Foundation.

Founded in 2010 by Sonu and Eva Shivdasani, this UK-registered charity builds on their belief that a business must have a purpose beyond profit and invests in the development of global projects that have a positive environmental, social and economic impact.

“With the global warming crisis, the Maldives has little influence over the actions of the big greenhouse gas emitting countries. We can’t bet our future on a wish and a prayer that the big countries decarbonise their economies in time to halt climate change before it wipes out our coral reefs. We need a back-up plan,” said Sonu Shivdasani, CEO and Co-Founder of Soneva.

“When finished, the coral farm at Soneva Fushi will be 1 hectare in size – one of the largest coral farms in the world – and in the ensuing years it is our goal to cultivate 1 hectare of coral each year at each of our resorts. This is the scale that is needed to have a meaningful impact and it also represents a huge opportunity for the Maldives to become a global leader in an activity that will likely have considerable future demand.”

Coral reefs are among the most biodiverse ecosystems on the planet, providing habitat for a quarter of all marine life, as well as protecting coastal communities from storms and erosion, with an estimated half a billion people worldwide reliant on reef systems for their livelihoods.

Over the last three decades, more than half of the earth’s corals have died, with scientists predicting that up to 90 percent of all reefs will be lost over the next 20 years if decisive action is not taken.

The large-scale, in-situ restoration programme at Soneva Fushi aims to restore coral habitats and improve the resilience of the marine ecosystem around the Baa Atoll resort, with the long-term goal of becoming a coral restoration and knowledge hub for the Maldives and beyond.

Following a two-year study to define the most suitable restoration techniques for the Maldives’ unique marine environment, it will become the largest Mineral Accretion Technology (MAT) coral nursery in the world.

Once fully operational, the nursery will cover one hectare of ocean and propagate 50,000 coral fragments every year.

The ultimate aim of the programme is to regenerate the reef back to the state in which it existed 25 years ago, covering out-planted corals across 40 hectares over the next decade.

Channelling low voltage electricity through metal structures placed underwater, MAT creates the ideal environment for corals to grow – as the electrons flow, calcium carbonate (CaCO3) deposits begin to accumulate on the structures, the same mineral that forms the skeleton of most hard and some soft coral species. Corals that have been placed on MAT structures have been observed to grow up to four times faster than other propagation methods, as well as having significantly higher survival rates during bleaching events.

At Soneva Fushi, the nursery will be cultivated from ‘corals of opportunity’ – rather than being harvested, these are corals that have been broken or damaged due to storms, waves or human activity.

Located at the outer edge of the house reef, the coral nursery at Soneva Fushi will comprise 432 table structures, arranged in three circular clusters.

The project is divided into three distinct phases: the initial installation phase, where the tables and nursery infrastructure will be placed into the water, expected to take up to three months; a two- to three-month population phase, which will include scouting for donors and creating a detailed database to record taxonomy, growth and survival rates; and the third, ongoing maintenance and monitoring phase to ensure the health of the corals, monitor predation and verify that the MAT equipment is fully functional.

Each table structure will be given its own unique code, where coral growth rates and health are recorded twice a year.

The restoration site at Soneva Fushi will be constantly monitored via an Aqualink Smart Buoy, which records temperatures at both the surface and the ocean floor, with all data accessible through the cloud. In phases two and three of the project, guests at Soneva Fushi will be invited to join in the restoration efforts themselves – a unique opportunity to be part of this ground-breaking project.

Founded in 1995, Soneva is an award-winning sustainable luxury resorts operator. At Soneva Fushi, Soneva Jani and Soneva in Aqua in the Maldives, and Soneva Kiri in Thailand, true ‘luxury’ is defined by peace, time and space. Each day, guests are encouraged to discover the SLOW LIFE, reconnecting with themselves and the natural world through rare, unforgettable experiences that inspire and enthral.

Soneva is a pioneer for responsible tourism, combining a conscientious, proactive approach to sustainability with exquisite luxury and intuitive personalised service. Carbon neutral since 2012, Soneva launched its Total Impact Assessment in 2016, a first for the hospitality industry, measuring its social and environmental impacts.

A mandatory 2% environmental levy is added to every Soneva stay, with proceeds going towards the not-for-profit Soneva Foundation to offset both direct and indirect carbon emissions from resort activities and guest flights. The Foundation funds a range of global projects that have a positive environmental, social and economic impact.

Excursions

Uncover the Gems and Untold Tales of the Maldives’ Baa Atoll Through Personalised and Free-Spirited Adventures with The Nautilus Maldives

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When envisioning the Maldives, one often conjures images of pristine white sands and  luxurious resorts. However, beyond the typical tourist attractions lies a realm of adventure,  cultural immersion, and natural wonders waiting to be explored. The Nautilus Maldives, an  ultra-luxury private island hideaway, is crafting extraordinary journeys in the captivating Baa  Atoll, inviting its guests to embrace escapism through immersive cultural experiences. 

Inspired by The Nautilus’s brand hallmarks of the Art of Bohemia and Free Spirited  Adventures, guests are encouraged to step outside their comfort zones and indulge in  transformative experiences. Through encounters with local personalities, guests gain an  insight into island life, delving into cultural roots, traditions, nature, language, cuisine, and  more. 

The Nautilus prides itself on tailoring bespoke experiences to suit the unique preferences of  its guests—whether adventurers, culture enthusiasts, or families seeking more than a  beachside retreat. Guests embark on one of The Nautilus’s luxurious yachts, exploring  treasured spots of the Atoll and creating unforgettable memories that will linger in their  hearts long after their journey ends. 

Discover the roots at the Kendhoo 

Nestled in the northwest of the Baa Atoll, Kendhoo carries a rich tapestry of experiences  weaving together history and culture. Once a vital hub along ancient maritime routes,  Kendhoo’s vibrant cultural landscape is shaped by centuries of influences from Indian, Arab,  and Southeast Asian merchants, as well colonial conquests. Guests can wander its streets, 

indulging in local culinary treats with distinct flavours, and exploring landmarks like the 800- year old house marking the place of prayers of Abdul Barakaath Yoosuf al Barbary, a renowned Islamic scholar. 

Weave your memories of the Maldives into art at Kihaadhoo 

On the beautiful island of Kihaadhoo, guests can immerse themselves in the therapeutic art  of coconut leaf weaving, a cherished tradition passed down through generations. Through  hands-on experiences with the island’s residents, guests can learn to create baskets, hats,  and decorative pieces, fostering a sense of cultural identity and belonging.

www.thenautilusmaldives.com 

Traditional lacquer masters at Thulhaadhoo 

Venturing to the southern tip of Baa Atoll, guests discover Thulhaadhoo island, renowned for  its exquisite craftsmanship in traditional lacquerware. Here, artisans share their secrets of this  ancient art of decorating items with vibrant colours and intricate designs inspired by the  Maldives’ marine life and lush tropics, which has been passed down through generations. 

Guests can even try their hand at creating these unique art pieces, serving as precious souvenir  of their tropical getaway. 

Exploration of the Deep Blue Waters of Dhonfanu 

At Dhonfanu, one of Baa Atoll’s premier diving spots, vibrant coral gardens and diverse marine  life awaits beneath azure waters. In season, there’s also a high chance for guests to encounter  graceful manta rays and majestic whale sharks, igniting the senses with excitement and awe. 

Delve into Poetic Ambiance of Dharavandhoo 

Guests can make a stop at Dharavandhoo island, which boasts a rich tradition of Maldivian  poetry, where locals celebrate history and folklore through the art of storytelling, expressing  emotions, beliefs, and aspirations in the most poetic ways. These enchanting verses, inspired  by the islands’ natural beauty, love, nature, and daily island life, transport listeners to a world  where ocean rhythms intertwine poetic imagery.  

To craft your own cultural journey across Maldivian islands, contact The Nautilus at hello@thenautilusmaldives.com and begin creating your ultimate bohemian dream escape. For more information visit www.thenautilusmaldives.com.

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InterContinental Maldives invites guests to third Manta Retreat in March 2024

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After the successful launch of the Manta Retreat in 2022, the InterContinental Maldives Maamunagau Resort is gearing up for its third Manta Retreat, scheduled to take place from March 9th to 12th, 2024. This unique experience offers guests an opportunity to delve into the world of manta rays, their natural habitat, and the conservation efforts led by the Manta Trust.

The Manta Retreat, designed for travelers seeking an extra dimension to their vacations, encourages participants to explore and understand these majestic creatures while contributing to ocean conservation. The retreat will be led by Meral Hafeez, the Manta Trust base leader at InterContinental Maldives, who will guide participants through an immersive experience.

The focus of the third Manta Retreat will be on meeting the manta rays that inhabit the surrounding waters of the island, emphasizing their protection and ocean conservation. Meral Hafeez expressed her enthusiasm for sharing the wonders of Maldivian marine life, stating, “I can’t wait for everyone to experience their first manta ray and the wonders of the deep!”

This year’s retreat coincides with the Maamunagau Manta Season in March, where young manta rays gather in the resort’s lagoon, offering a unique opportunity for up-close encounters. The Maamunagau Lagoon serves as a crucial research ground for the Manta Trust team, allowing guests to actively participate in the identification and naming of manta rays through the Manta ID workshop.

The Manta Retreat package, priced at USD 1490 per guest, includes two manta ray snorkeling trips, a guided house reef snorkeling experience, the chance to name and adopt a manta ray, and various workshops covering manta rays, plankton, and coral restoration.

For certified divers, dedicated dive spots around the resort provide opportunities to observe the natural manta ray ‘spa’ at cleaning stations, showcasing the fascinating symbiosis of marine life in the Maldives.

The purpose of the Manta Retreat goes beyond education and exploration; it also serves as a fundraiser to support the valuable work of the Manta Trust. Guests staying at InterContinental Maldives can enjoy the resort’s luxurious facilities and accommodations while those not participating in the retreat have plenty of entertainment options.

To book the Manta Retreat or for more information, visit InterContinental Maldives Sustainability or contact the reservations team at reservations.icmaldives@ihg.com or on WhatsApp at +960 730 9300.

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Football legend Lukas Podolski lights up Heritance Aarah with friendly match against Maldivian youth

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In a heartwarming display of football’s unifying spirit, German legend Lukas Podolski traded the grand stadiums for the sun-kissed shores of Heritance Aarah, Maldives, to play a friendly match with a team of eager young players from Meedhu Island. The event saw Podolski donning a custom Heritance Aarah jersey and taking to the pitch alongside the spirited Maldivian children.

More than just a friendly kickabout, the match was a platform for learning and inspiration. The young athletes showcased their skills and learned new tricks from the seasoned pro. The air crackled with a distinctive camaraderie as Podolski’s guidance and encouragement blended seamlessly with the children’s infectious joy.

As a memento of this extraordinary encounter, each participant received a personally signed jersey from Podolski, adding a priceless touch to the occasion. The football star’s presence transformed the friendly match into an unforgettable experience, etching itself indelibly into the memories of the young players and their families.

Podolski later took to his Facebook, sharing photos from the event with the caption, “Football is our global game. A pleasure to meet you all thanks @oneluxury.de & @heritanceaarah #LP10 #football #strassenkicker #enjoy #love.” The post resonated with fans worldwide, celebrating the power of sports to connect people across cultures and backgrounds.

Heritance Aarah, a Premium All-Inclusive resort, offers an idyllic setting for the ultimate getaway, presenting a diverse range of experiences. From the culinary delights crafted by award-winning chefs to the exploration of the captivating over and underwater wonders of the Raa Atoll, the resort sets a remarkable tone for luxury and adventure. With five restaurants included in the Premium All-Inclusive package, exclusive bars, and access to Hatha and Baani with supplement charges, Heritance Aarah offers a holistic experience. The spa and wellness facilities, featuring a hot tub and a fitness center, further enhance the overall well-being of guests, who can also enjoy various activities.

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