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SOUL announces full festival line-up for its Maldives debut

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SOUL has published its captivating festival programme, bringing with it a global line-up of visionaries, thought leaders and wellness pioneers to the Maldives from September 29 to October 8, 2023. A partnership by pioneering hospitality brand Soneva and international wellness enterprise ORGANIC INDIA, the intimate festival will be an immersive exploration of health and wellness in all its forms, from personal to planetary, at the award-winning luxury resort Soneva Fushi, located within the Baa Atoll UNESCO Biosphere Reserve.

SOUL Festival will span ten days and two weekends, offering guests the opportunity to explore the ancient healing traditions and modern science and medicine that serve individuals, communities and the planet. Sunset cocktails on the sandbank and a plant-based gala dinner on the beach will mark the official opening of the inaugural edition, followed by a live music performance and stargazing at Soneva Fushi’s island Observatory.

Each morning throughout the festival, guests can rise with the Maldivian sun during group yoga and meditation on the sandbank, reach new fitness goals with bootcamps at the island jungle gym, explore the the Indian Ocean’s hidden gems during guided paddle boarding, be introduced to the art of hot glassblowing, or gain insight into gut health during expert-led nutrition masterclasses. Throughout the day, guests can reconnect and feel renewed with daily healing rituals and one-on-one consultations with acclaimed Soneva Soul doctors and visiting wellness specialists, or expand their horizons during stimulating panel discussions.

Stand-out sessions from the programme include The Neuroscience of Wellness with Bruce Lipton, Emeran Mayor, Shamini Jain, Paul Salins and Farida Irani; The Eye of the Storm – Finding Balance in Times of Chaos with Shauna Shaipro, Dr Lilly-Marie Blecher, Luke Coutinho and Robert Svoboda; Building a Regenerative Future with Damon Gameau, Sonu Shivdasani, William Bissel, Gaia Vince, Louie Swartzberg and Bruce Lipton; and Health Crisis to Health Awakening with Amanda Huggins, Louie Swartzberg and Jo Marchant. Alongside the live, in-person sessions for Soneva Fushi guests, SOUL’s sessions will also be streamed online.

Guests can enjoy Soneva’s exclusive SOUL Festival offers, with specially curated three, five or ten-night packages. Starting from USD 6,900 for a three-night stay for two at Soneva Fushi, the offer includes full access to the festival programme, luxurious private villa accommodation, daily full board dining and round–trip domestic transfers. Bookings made before May 31, 2023, will also receive an additional 10 per cent reduction on the package rate.  

A life-enriching festival with a purpose, proceeds from the sale of SOUL Festival tickets will go to the Soneva Foundation and ORGANIC INDIA Foundation​ to support the development of projects that have a positive environmental, social and economic impact.

“We are so proud to host the first edition of SOUL Festival at Soneva Fushi,” says Sonu Shivdasani, CEO and co-founder of Soneva. “Wellness permeates all that we do at Soneva: our sustainable, barefoot philosophy that reconnects our guests to the earth; our life-affirming natural locations; our delicious yet health-focused cuisine; and our life-changing guest experiences. The festival’s remarkable programme is an opportunity to explore every facet of health and wellbeing, and I cannot wait to welcome the line-up of outstanding wellness experts to our shores.”

“SOUL Festival is a rare opportunity to experience a deeply immersive journey with some of the world’s leaders in wellness, health and regeneration,” adds festival director Chris Deckker. “From keynote talks and interactive panels to immersive workshops, intimate dinners and remote Island adventures, this unprecedented festival retreat is unlike any other in the world, hosted on one of the most magical Islands in the Maldives.” 

Soneva Fushi can be easily reached via Velana International Airport in the capital Malé, or Maafaru International Airport in the Noonu Atoll. Every stay at Soneva Fushi also invites guests to indulge in Soneva’s signature experiences and award-winning services – from Barefoot Guardians on hand 24/7 to anticipate every request, and transformative wellness treatments at Soneva Soul, to rare, one-of-a-kind island experiences, and an exciting programme of children’s activities at The Den, one of the largest children’s zones in the region.

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Prime Surf Season in Maldives: Niyama Welcomes Back Surf Pro Brad Gerlach and Surf Photographer Junior Gracia

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At Niyama Private Islands Maldives, surfing is a way of life. And with peak surf season fast approaching, two renowned surfies – Wave-Ki founder and instructor Brad Gerlach and whiz-behind-the-lens Junior Garcia – are set to take up residence.

Niyama Private Islands Maldives is the ultimate surf destination. Guests can jet in with their boards or get fully outfitted at the Rip Curl boutique, set up camp in one the specially outfitted surf villas, then hit the waves – including Vodi, a powerful and sometimes hollow wave that breaks right on shore. Afterwards, chill time awaits at the Surf Shack with rum and reggae, or at Drift Spa with a recovery back massage and sunburn-soothing aloe vera wrap.

In residence 10 March – 20 April to offer his revolutionary method of coaching is Brad Gerlach, the world’s #2 in 1991 after dominating the leader board for the majority of the year. He is the founder of Wave-Ki, a land-based method to perfect surf skills favoured by pros like Parker Coffin, with a martial art-like focus on slow, precise movements which create kinaesthetic motor memory for improved surfing once in the water.

There to capture guests mid-wave will be photographer Junior Garcia, at the resort 8 March 8 – September 30. Originally from Brazil, and now based in Bali, Junior has spent his life chasing the ultimate wave and the ultimate shot.

“The return of Brad and Junior to Niyama is epically exciting,” says Nathan Kemp, Surf Development Director at the resort. “Their unrivalled talents, combined with the perfect surf conditions and absolutely incomparable backdrop that is the Maldives, guarantees an unforgettable experience for all who will be staying with us during this time”.

While surfing in the Maldives can be enjoyed year-round, peak season runs from March to November. Brad can be booked for private or family coaching, first on land (USD 249) then in the water (USD 447). There will also be regular group land sessions (USD 74). Packages include a year’s access to Wave-Ki online, with video lessons, live sessions and Q&As, plus the option of one-on-one virtual coaching. Sessions with Junior begin at USD 249 per hour, or USD 489 for a week.

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Bunny hop to an Easter playground at Hard Rock Hotel Maldives and SAii Lagoon Maldives, Curio Collection by Hilton

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Easter is the calm before the storm, the perfect time to jet off for a memorable family holiday before the summer rush floods in. Balmy, warm beaches, long spells of sunshine, colourful reef and glimmering lagoons must be on the top of your agendas for this Easter especially with the incredible line up of festivities and events lined up at Hard Rock Hotel Maldives and SAii Lagoon Maldives, Curio Collection by Hilton.

Easter here is a very special holiday filled with energy and enthusiasm for adventure-making for the toddlers, teenagers, adults, or grandparents (or all of them). The secret ingredient to it all is embedded in the brand ethos itself.

Kid-Friendly, Teen Approved, Roxity Kids Club ™ & Teen Spirit ® Club for This Easter

Who says grown-ups get to have all the fun? Kids need a place where they can have an adventure that’s exclusively theirs. Hard Rock Hotel Maldives signature, kid-friendly hangouts are part of an adult-free zone, each with its line up of exciting Easter activities. Start your day with the Bunny Dance Fitness session at the Pool Deck, where you can groove to the rhythm and get energized for the day ahead. As the sun sets, join the Easter Sundown Ritual, a harmonious celebration of the holiday spirit against the perfect tropical sunset backdrop.

Indulge in a Mexican dinner at The Elephant and The Butterfly, accompanied by live band performances that will set the stage on fire. The family favourite Easter Pool Party, is a must try on the list where you can make a splash and enjoy the beats of the Bunny DJ I-MJAN. For the little ones, there is plenty of fun with Roxity Mini Fun Fair, Easter Bunny Cookie Making, and the Roxity Easter Egg Hunting. For the ultimate thrill-seekers, take on the Easter Limbo Challenge at the Pool Deck or try your hand at the Bunny Silk Climbing Aerial Class at The Stage. With live music, delicious dining experiences, and exciting activities for all ages, Easter at Hard Rock Hotel Maldives promises to be an unforgettable melody of fun and excitement.

Koimala & Maalimi’s Junior Beach Club and Camp’s SAiiSational Easter Line-Up

Celebrate Easter with a touch of heartfelt charm at SAii Lagoon Maldives, Curio Collection by Hilton. Start your day with a snorkeling house reef tour, where you can explore the vibrant underwater world of the Maldives. Join Saii Lagoon for Aqua Zumba and Water Polo at the Beach Club Pool, perfect for guests of all ages to enjoy some fun in the sun. Unwind with a cocktail-making competition and pool volleyball, promising exciting prizes for those who participate. For aspiring chefs, the SAii Master Chef Competition sets the perfect stage, where they can showcase their culinary skills and win fantastic rewards.

As the day winds down, indulge in the Easter Dinner Buffet at Tera and Mray, offering a delightful dining experience with live music. With its relaxed atmosphere and genuine hospitality, Easter at SAii Lagoon Maldives promises to be a truly SAiiSational experience, where every moment is a chance to reach out to the blue and embrace the beauty of the island.

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Maldives Association of Tourism Industry (MATI) holds its 34th Annual General Meeting

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The Maldives Association of Tourism Industry (MATI) held its 34th Annual General Meeting at Kurumba Maldives today, with a total of 100 members in attendance. 

The day’s events began with a welcome address from the Chairman of MATI, Mr. Mohamed Umar, who also presided over the session. The agenda included an address from the Secretary General, Mr. Ahmed Nazeer, the review and approval of the minutes of the 33rd AGM, the review and adoption of the Annual Report and Financial Reports for 2023, the approval of the 2024 budget, the appointment of auditors for 2024, the welcoming of new members and election of executive board members to the two vacant positions (by-election).

In the member discussion session, the following topics were covered: the Government’s aim to reach net-zero emissions by 2023 and renewable energy generation in the Tourism Industry, new terminal of Velana International Airport and developments, employment challenges, the Industrial Relations Act and trade unions, environmental conservation and the significance of creating and executing efficient management plans for protected areas like the South Ari Marine Protected Area (SAMPA).

Following the official proceedings, the Minister of Tourism Hon. Ibrahim Faisal and the Minister of Economic Development and Trade Hon. Mohamed Saeed joined the forum. The Ministers provided remarks and engaged in a Member Q&A session. This session provided members with the chance to directly engage with the Ministers and delve into crucial industry topics. The queries focused on the Economic Outlook, forthcoming development plans and  immediate challenges and issues affecting the Tourism Industry.

A video presentation was also showcased that delved into the extensive work undertaken by MATI in 2023. The video also touched upon the Tourism Industry’s performance over the past 5 years, as well as the current and projected human resource capacity of the sector.

In his closing remarks, the Secretary General highlighted the importance of collaborative efforts in addressing industry challenges and called for greater unison amongst industry stakeholders, ending with an acknowledgement of the promising start to the year in terms of arrivals.

Executive Board Members elected to the 2 vacant positions (by-election):

  1. Ibrahim Shareef, CEO and Managing Director of Maldives Airports Company Limited
  2. Renato De Olivera, General Manager of The Ritz-Carlton Maldives, Fari Islands and representative of Marriott International
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