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Snorkel with Manta Rays, discover diverse marine life at The Westin Maldives Miriandhoo Resort

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The Westin Maldives Miriandhoo Resort, located in Baa Atoll, the first UNESCO Biosphere Reserve in the Maldives, offers guests the chance to get up-close-and-personal with manta rays at one of the world’s largest natural manta feeding destinations. Guests have the rare opportunity to snorkel with the gentle giants at the protected site of Hanifaru Bay just 18 kilometres from the resort.

The Maldives is home to the largest population of studied Manta Rays, with over 4,900 individuals identified, which also includes the endangered Oceanic Manta Ray. Among these, 1800 have been recorded at Hanifaru bay. This year’s Manta season officially started on May 6, 2022 and is expected to continue until early November.

“During peak season, more than 100 Mantas can be seen feeding at the bay and one may also see Whale Sharks, especially during full moon,” said the resort’s resident Marine Biologist Filipa Lopes.

With wingspans up to seven meter, speeds up to 24 kilometers per hour, and cognitive function at par with dolphins, manta rays are indeed one of the most majestic creatures in the ocean. Classed as vulnerable, the Maldivian government added all ray species to the list of protected species, which also strengthens the countries reputation as a leader in marine conservation and promotes the valuable, sustainable tourism based around manta populations. By connecting people to mantas, the mantas’ chances of survival will increase.

Filipa adds to warn, “Climate change can impact these gentle giants’ food source – as it is predicted that the rise in sea temperature will result in decline in zooplankton populations – and a scarcity of food can affect their reproductive ecology, declining manta ray population numbers. Luckily, Maldivian Manta population is one of the best studied in the world and is considered stable ate the moment.”

The Baa Atoll Biosphere Reserve is known for its rich marine biodiversity and stunning coral reef, which guarantee guests a wide variety of colourful reef fish in every snorkelling experience such as Batfish, Fusiliers and Anemone Fish to name just a few. Dolphins can be spotted regularly from the island, and guests can get a closer view particularly during the sunset dolphin cruise excursions offered regularly by the resort. For those looking to enhance their underwater life knowledge, The Westin Maldives Miriandhoo Resort also conducts a weekly Marine Biology presentation, where anyone interested can learn more about the rich marine life around the resort and ask their questions to its passionate resident Marine Biologist, Filipa Lopes.

Guests can also choose from various other exciting watersport activities and excursions on this idyllic island, ranging from Jet Ski rides, to snorkelling with turtles and traditional sunset fishing.For this season, The Westin Maldives Miriandhoo Resort has recently launched a special package for diving enthusiasts or anyone who wants a first on-hand experience with the marine world. This exclusive #PlayWell with Manta Rays offer includes an opportunity to swim with manta rays at Hanifaru Bay, a turtle snorkel trip, as well as two scuba diving sessions one in the house reef and one in open water.

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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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Game, set, Makarova: Former world #1 launches new tennis academy at Four Seasons Maldives at Kuda Huraa this festive season

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In partnership with the world-class sports management organisation RTC (Royal, Timeless & Challenging) Sport, Four Seasons Resort Maldives at Kuda Huraa is launching its new Tennis Academy this festive season: a stellar coaching school boasting a line-up of some of the sport’s most celebrated figures, starting with former World #1 and four-time Grand Slam Champion Ekaterina Makarova.  

Train with Legends, Play Like a Champion

The exhilarating new Tennis Academy program offers guests the rare opportunity to master their serve, perfect their backhand and elevate their on-court strategy with elite coaching from four world-class tennis coaches throughout the coming year.  Each of these iconic figures brings their own legacy of championship victories and a deep well of on-court expertise to guests of Kuda Huraa.

“Our partnership with RTC is a true game-changer,” says Didier Jardin, General Manager of Four Seasons Resort Maldives at Kuda Huraa. “It’s an excellent opportunity for our many tennis-loving guests to take their skills to the next level by learning from true tennis royalty.”

A Champion’s Pedigree

Serving up her award-winning take on the game for the Tennis Academy’s 2023 festive season from December 19-26, 2023 is former World #1 and four-time Grand Slam champion Ekaterina Makarova. Makarova dominated world tennis doubles for many years, winning the 2012 US Open with Bruno Soares and the 2013 French Open, 2014 US Open and 2017 Wimbledon Championships with Elena Vesnina. In 2016, together with Vesnina, she soared to Olympic gold. Ekaterina was officially proclaimed World Doubles #1 on June 11, 2018 and claimed 15 titles on the WTA Tour. She also shone as the World #8 in singles, winning three WTA titles, and was a cornerstone of Russia’s victorious 2008 Fed Cup team.

“I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to share my knowledge with the guests at Four Seasons Maldives at Kuda Huraa,” says Makarova. “I hope to inspire tennis-loving individuals to enhance their skills and on-court strategy with unique training techniques honed through my years of professional experience, while sharing my deep-seated passion for the game.”

Play in Paradise

The Tennis Academy is set in the award-winning serenity of Four Seasons Resort Maldives at Kuda Huraa, a breath-taking oceanfront village setting awarded a third-consecutive Forbes Five-Star rating in 2023. Guests will sail by traditional Maldivian dhoni across crystal-clear waters to reach the Resort’s scenic court, discreetly screened by lush greenery.

There will be tailored sessions for singles, couples and groups, adults and juniors, beginners and experienced players alike, all under the glorious Maldivian sun. Shaded seating, refreshments and towels keep guests cool while enjoying all the thrills of the game.

Throughout the year, the Tennis Academy will be overseen by Dmitrii Studitskii, Director of Tennis at Four Seasons Resort Kuda Huraa.

Dmitrii Studitskii is a formidable blend of seasonedprofessional tennis player and dedicated private coach. Fluent in English, Russian and Spanish, he has extensive experience in both the technical skills of the game and the psychology required to win. His talent for creating training plans tailored to each player’s skill level, from beginner to advanced, ensures that everyone experiences on-court success and grows their love of the game.

Interactive Q&As

A highlight of Kuda Huraa’s Tennis Academy will be an interactive Q&A session with Ekaterina Makarova, which all guests will be invited to join. The event will be an opportunity to ask the former world #1 about her journeys to championship point, the strategies that kept her at the top of her game and her advice for aspiring tennis legends.

Further tennis masters to grace the Tennis Academy will be announced over the coming weeks.

To be part of this Tennis Academy and take skills to the next level,email: reservations.mal@fourseasons.com or call the central reservations department of Four Seasons Resorts Maldives at tel: (960) 66 00 888.

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