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Chelsea legend Terry meets local hospitality on his third visit to Maldives at Kuda Villingili



By Ahmed Mizyal

“I’m prepared to manage the national football team, if that were what it would take to stay in the Maldives,” says John Terry, former Chelsea FC captain, in an exclusive interview with Maldives Insider.

“If given the opportunity (to manage the national football team) I assure you that we can reach major competitions.”

The purpose behind the expression of interest is his fondness of the Maldives. Even if managing the national team is a justification, he describes as lucky to have been able to spend time in the Maldives.

A career of 20 years as a professional footballer, Terry was widely considered one of the best defenders in the world. He is a natural leader on and off the pitch having worn the armband leading England at the FIFA World Cup, having lifted numerous trophies, leading the team in the Champions League at Chelsea FC and captained at Premier League side Aston Villa. He is arguably the most decorated and successful captains in the history of Chelsea FC having won every major trophy England and Europe has to offer.

Praise to the Maldives and Kuda Villingili

Terry is not new to the Maldives. Spending his holiday with wife Toni Terry and family at Kuda Villingili Maldives, this is his third visit to the Maldives.

“Seeing it from afar you see that anywhere in Maldives is beautiful, but only when you arrive in Maldives do you see how beautiful it truly is,” says Terry.

Reflecting on his 10-day stay at Kuda Villingili, his approval and praise goes out to the entire operation of the resort. Despite having opened only last year, he noted that Kuda Villingili and its services are on par with resorts with far greater experience. In some instances, even better than the competition.

“The service at the restaurants was amazing; the beaches and the facilities were excellent. I have had the privilege to experience a lot of resorts and hotels around the world. Based on the level of service, it feels as though Kuda Villingili has been operational for 5-10 years. The time I have been able to spend here is amazing and it I am blessed to be here. My children are keen to return to the Maldives as well,” he says.

Celebrities who come to Maldives make their way straight to the resort and rarely get to experience local life. This was the case for Terry as well on his two previous visits. All that changed when he visited the local island of Thulusdhoo during this visit.

“I saw how Maldivians live and more importantly, how passionate Maldivians are about football and love for Chelsea. The reception at Thulusdhoo was amazing with children and adults alike. Maldivians are truly friendly and hospitable people,” says Terry, noting that he was fortunate to meet locals outside of the resort environment.

“The Premier League is one of the strongest leagues and it gives me great joy to see children aspiring to be players at the top level.”


Attending as the guest of honour, Terry took the time to watch a friendly futsal match between Thulusdhoo and Kuda Villingili. Afterwards he met with supporters and signed autographs as well.

Football and Terry: Transitioning from a player to a coach

Having retired from professional football in 2018 after a star-studded career, Terry chose to go into coaching. Having recently been the assistant coach at Aston Villa, he is currently taking on the role of consultant at Chelsea FC academy based in Cobham.

“This is how it was destined to be, after all I will always be Blue. My aim and my dream is to one day be the manager of the first team of Chelsea FC. For the time being, working alongside the youth is vital and much needed,” Terry reflects on his return to Chelsea.

Terry during the exclusive interview with Maldives Insider. (PHOTO/ ABDULLA YASHAU)

Terry hopes to nurture and build a new generation of youth synonymous with the success the Chelsea name has carried. The move was motivated by reasons not limited to youth development.

“Playing at the highest level, you make a lot of sacrifices. Preparing for upcoming games, you rarely get to spend quality time with your children during their birthdays or holidays. Before, once the season starts, I would be occupied with football. In comparison, being at the academy now gives me a better work life balance. It is very special to me making up for lost time,” he says.

The twins, Summer and Georgie, 16, is an important part of Terry’s life, and he makes it a priority to spend time with them.

‘It’s coming home?’

English fans lay claim that modern day football and its rules find their roots in England. Regardless, having one of the top footballing leagues in the world, the English national team have little to show for it as a nation.

England have only won the FIFA World Cup once in their long history in 1966 when England were the hosts of the tournament. The chant ever since has been the same by the fans to this day, “It’s coming home! Football’s coming home!” The gist of the chant being that winning the tournament, the most prestigious trophy in world football, is coming home to its birthplace. World Cup 2022 is to be hosted by Qatar in November.

When asked, Terry had this to say: “That is what we keep saying.”

Terry signs his autograph for a fan. (PHOTO/ ABDULLA YASHAU)

The most recent major tournament, England reached the final of the UEFA Euro 2020 only to lose in a penalty shoot-out against Italy. It is important to note that this is the first time England has played in the final of Euro.

“This is the closest England has come in recent history. It would give the players hope and motivation having come so close at the Euro as they set their sights on the world cup. Looking at the current squad, we have a squad capable of being the top three favourites to go all the way at this tournament. I won’t say we are the favourites, but we do stand a good chance of winning. We usually play the world cup around June/July, which is hot and humid. The weather would be more favourable playing during a different period,” says the FIFA World Cup veteran.

To the fans: You are my family

Chelsea boasts a fanbase stretching to every corner of the world and are significant in numbers in the Maldives. Terry being the most decorated Chelsea captain, his fans are equally as many. He saw this first-hand during his visit to Thulusdhoo.

“I saw how passionate Maldivians are about football and the Premier League. No matter where you come from, football fans are one big family. We, as professional players did not come from much. Our parents were not well off either, says Terry, thanking everyone he has met during his visit to the Maldives.

Terry hopes to inspire the next generation of footballers. With plans to return to the Maldives, he reiterated the friendliness of the people and that he enjoys the Maldives.

Concluding the interview, Terry clarified if Maldives has played at a major international tournament such as the World Cup. “I like the weather here. If given the opportunity, I assure you that Maldives can reach major competitions.”

An Insider

Oriana Migliaccio: The Marine Guardian Transforming Conservation in the Maldives



At the heart of Anantara’s commitment to tailored luxury and authentic experiences lies the passionate work of Oriana Migliaccio, a marine biologist whose devotion to oceanic preservation resonates deeply in the sky-blue waters of the Maldives. Oriana, a PADI Master Scuba Diver Trainer with a PhD in Life and Biomolecular Sciences, embodies the spirit of discovery and conservation at Anantara Dhigu Maldives Resort, Anantara Veli Maldives Resort, and Naladhu Private Island Maldives.

Raised on the sun-kissed shores of Naples, Italy, Oriana’s early years were steeped in the wonders of the Mediterranean Sea, a rich biodiversity hotspot. She frequently spent winter breaks at the aquarium. “It is this deep love for the marine world that got me interested from an early age in pursuing a career in marine biology,” she reflects. Following her passion, Oriana earned her B.Sc. and M.Sc. in Marine Biology in Italy. Her journey then took her to the Maldives for an additional master’s in Tropical Marine Biology, where the allure of tropical environments steered her focus towards specialising in coral reef biology and conservation. This newfound dedication culminated in earning her PhD in the United Kingdom, solidifying her commitment to preserving marine ecosystems.

Oriana’s expertise, honed in the jungles of Borneo as a Conservation Manager and Dive Leader, now flourishes in the Maldives. Her initiatives span coral reef restoration, sea turtle protection, and sustainable practices, all pivotal to the region’s marine ecosystem. A crowning achievement is her creation of the “Reef Hero” PADI specialty, a course designed to educate divers on coral conservation, nurturing a new wave of ocean stewards.

“I created the ‘Reef Hero’ course during my time as a marine biologist and dive instructor in Malaysian Borneo. This course, focusing on coral reef restoration and rehabilitation, was inspired by my diving students’ desire to positively impact the oceans they love exploring. Witnessing the adverse effects of marine issues like debris, over-fishing, pollution, and global warming, this inspired me to create guidelines that can be used by recreational divers to save coral reefs around the world.” – Oriana Migliaccio

In April 2023, Oriana joined Anantara, where her role transcends traditional boundaries, as she immerses guests in a world of marine wonders through various interactive initiatives:

  • Marine Talk on Coral Reef & Marine Life: Weekly educational sessions that spotlight the vital role of coral reefs and the importance of responsible diving.
  • Discovering Marine Biology for Kids: Fun, interactive lessons that spark young minds’ curiosity about the underwater world.
  • Workshop on Repurposing Ghost Nets: Transforming abandoned fishing nets into bracelets, raising awareness about their impact on marine life.
  • Marine Biologist Corner: An open forum for guests to engage with Oriana, deepening their understanding of marine conservation.
  • Visit the Coral Nursery: Snorkeling adventures to coral nurseries, where guests explore coral species and participate in the resort’s coral restoration efforts.
  • Coral Adoption: Encouraging guests to play an active role in coral restoration, either by planting corals or sponsoring a coral rope, and tracking their growth.

“In the Maldives, a country faced with pressing environmental challenges, sustainability and environmental conservation are not just trends. They are a necessity,” Oriana emphasises, outlining the long-term goals for sustainability and marine conservation at Anantara’s Maldives resorts. “The survival of this tropical paradise is intertwined with adopting sustainable practices and reducing the anthropogenic impact on the environment.”

Following the devastating coral bleaching event of 2016, Oriana has been instrumental in Anantara’s HARP initiative (Holistic Approach to Reef Protection), aimed at rehabilitating damaged coral reefs. With over 10,000 corals grown and planted since 2017, the project is on course to double this number, enhancing marine biodiversity. Guests are invited to become coral gardeners, contributing to the project’s success while receiving progress updates on their adopted “baby corals”.

Collaborating with esteemed organisations like the Olive Ridley Project, Manta Trust, and the Maldives Whale Shark Research Program, Oriana’s work includes a photo-ID programme for studying sea turtles, manta rays, and whale sharks. She invites guests to join as citizen scientists, aiding in data collection during their underwater explorations.

Oriana Migliaccio’s contributions reflect the essence of Anantara’s luxury experience — unique, immersive, and deeply connected to the local environment. Her passion and dedication are not just preserving the ocean’s beauty but also inspiring guests to become active participants in its conservation, ensuring its wonder endures for generations to come.

For more information on Anantara Hotels, Resorts & Spas, please visit 

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An Insider

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.

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An Insider

Hamzath Ameen: Elevating human resources



In the fast-paced and thriving hospitality industry of the Maldives, where exceptional service and guest satisfaction are paramount, there are individuals who stand out for their dedication, expertise, and leadership qualities. Hamzath Ameen is making his mark as a proficient human resources professional in island resorts of the Maldives. With an impressive career trajectory and a passion for excellence, Hamzath has become a respected figure in the industry.

Hamzath Ameen was born and raised in Addu Atoll, a region known for its stunning natural beauty and vibrant culture. Following his schooling, he pursued his higher education at Cyryx College in Male’, where he successfully completed an Advanced Diploma in Business Management. This academic foundation laid the groundwork for his future career in the dynamic world of hospitality.

Hamzath embarked on his professional journey at Dhonveli Beach Resort, where he assumed the role of Accounts Officer. This initial foray into the hospitality industry allowed him to gain valuable insights into the financial aspects of resort operations and the importance of maintaining accurate records and efficient systems.

Eager to expand his horizons and broaden his skill set, Hamzath sought opportunities at various reputable companies and resorts throughout the Maldives. His determination and exceptional work ethic caught the attention of industry professionals, leading to his appointment as the Human Resources Officer at Furaveri Island Resort. Recognizing his potential, Ameen quickly rose through the ranks and was promoted to the position of Assistant Manager, and subsequently, Human Resources Manager.

During his tenure at Furaveri Island Resort, Hamzath made significant contributions to the establishment’s human resources department. He spearheaded various initiatives to enhance employee engagement, streamline recruitment processes, and foster a positive work culture. Under his leadership, the resort witnessed an increase in employee satisfaction and a notable reduction in turnover rates, solidifying Hamzath’s reputation as a skilled people manager.

In 2022, Hamzath accepted an exciting new opportunity and joined Rihiveli Maldives Resort as the Human Resources Manager. With his wealth of experience and proven track record, he assumed a pivotal role in overseeing the resort’s human resources functions, including recruitment, training and development, performance management, and employee relations. Hamzath’s strategic approach and ability to build strong relationships with staff and management alike have made him an invaluable asset to the resort.

Hamzath Ameen’s journey from an Accounts Officer to a respected Human Resources Manager exemplifies his commitment to personal growth and professional excellence. Through his hard work, dedication, and leadership abilities, he has successfully carved a niche for himself in the competitive Maldivian hospitality industry. Hamzath’s passion for nurturing talent, fostering positive work environments, and delivering exceptional guest experiences continues to make a lasting impact on the resorts he has served.

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