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Arabella Loving Ocean and Beauty of Maldives



Maldives Promotion House – Park Hyatt Maldives Hadahaa is situated on a pristine island 400 kilometres south of Malé in the North Huvadhoo (Gaafu Alifu) Atoll, one of the largest and deepest atolls in the world. With one of the healthiest reefs – the abundance, diversity and topography of the coral is therefore second-to none. Here we interview with Araballe Willing, Resident Marine Biologist of Hadahaa.

Arabella was born in Britain but grew up all over the world thanks to the nature of her father’s work. When she was six years old they lived in Cyprus, and every day after school she would run down to the beach and go snorkelling with her brothers. ArabeIla have always enjoyed nature and science, so when it was time to choose what to study at university she followed her love of the ocean, and studied Marine Biology at St Andrews University (of course where Prince William, the Duke of Cambridge studied), which is an ancient place of learning, soon to be celebrating its 600 year anniversary, and particularly famed for its marine research centre. After graduating from University she initially went into teaching, which brought her to the Maldives.

In 2010 she was offered the opportunity to work as a volunteer teacher in a local school on the island of Ihavandhoo up in Haa Alifu atoll. The Maldives is well known in the UK as a luxury holiday destination, but it is becoming more widely recognized as a country threatened by climate change; a topic which particularly interests her. As a country made almost entirely of coral it’s a dream destination for anyone with an interest in the underwater world.

What was your imagination of Maldives before coming and how do you feel now?
I knew that it would be beautiful but nothing can really prepare you for the intensity of the colours in the Maldives. The sand is blindingly white and the sea such a vibrant shade of blue. I’m also addicted to Maldivian sunsets – I’ve seen around 900 now, and no two have ever been the same. When I arrived at Hadahaa I was shocked by the health of the coral; it was so much better than I thought was possible for a resort house reef. The table corals in particular are extraordinarily large.  I had the impression that large international companies didn’t really care about the environment, but that’s not the case with Hyatt.

What are your responsibilities as a marine biologist? What is a typical day for you?
My main responsibility is to educate and protect. I provide guests and colleagues with information about what they see when they go underwater, and hopefully install a love for the ocean and a desire to protect it. Our environmental impact is of the upmost importance, I am also the EarthCheck Coordinator so I advise the management on sustainable practices and initiate programs to improve our performance involving the local islands as well. EarthCheck is a global certification for sustainable tourism and travel; we were the first property in the world to build using EarthCheck design and planning standards and currently hold their prestigious Sliver benchmarking certificate. I spend some of the day with the guests, answering their questions, giving short lectures or guiding trips, and the rest of the time managing the activity centre or coordinating with other departments to ensure we are following EarthCheck best practice guidelines and reducing our impact on the environment.

What made you interested to become a marine biologist?
I met some Marine Biologists working in the Middle East when I was a teenager, and they inspired me and showed me that it was possible to choose my interest as a career. Quite simply, it’s my passion.

What are some of the things that you like best about your work?
I love introducing people to the beauty of the ocean, most people have seen photos or videos, but it’s not even close to the experience of being in the water surrounded my hundreds of wild animals. Every day I have the opportunity to convince people to protect our reefs and value them as a resource. However small of a contribution, I feel like I’m helping an important cause, and that is the best thing about my work.

What are your favourite activities in Maldives?
Unsurprisingly, in the water is my favourite place to be, either diving or snorkelling. On land my favourite activity is simply visiting friends, playing with the kids, having coffee and laughing.

What is your favourite marine animal and why? Which is friendliest and smartest?
There’s no way I can choose just one favourite because there is such an incredible diversity, but the smartest is definitely dolphins. I’m fascinated by marine mammals; it’s a specialism of my university. Many times when we have been snorkelling or diving and a pod of dolphins have approached us, we can hear them communicating with each other using high pitched squeaks and whistles. We offer dolphin watching trips at Park Hyatt Maldives Hadahaa, and can often encounter a pod of 200 or more Spinner dolphins playing and jumping into the sunset sky. I must have done hundreds and every time I think “Wow, I can’t believe I’m getting paid for this!”

Tell us about the marine environment of Hadahaa?
Hadahaa is a very special island; it has a stunning house-reef 360 degrees around the island. There’s no natural channel, so during construction they had to be very careful not to damage the reef, and thankfully they were successful. It’s this care for the reef from the beginning, coupled with the location within the deepest atoll that has allowed the coral to grow to exceptional sizes and avoid bleaching; it’s certainly the best house reef I have seen in the Maldives. We are surrounded by a multitude of fabulous dive sites; we frequently see a variety of Sharks, Eagle rays, Turtles and Napoleon wrasse. The diversity of species and health of the hard coral are the two most impressive things about the marine environment around here.

Can you tell us few things about Maldives that many people don’t know?
A lot of the visitors to the Maldives fall in love with the beautifully soft sand, but they may not be aware that the sand that flows between their fingers and toes is so delicate because it has journeyed through the digestive systems of Parrotfish. Each Parrotfish can produce as much as 90Kg of sand each year.

What are your best experiences in Maldives?
Diving with the astonishing number of Sharks and Eagle rays we see down in Huvadhoo atoll is absolutely amazing. I particularly enjoy spending time on the local islands, especially with the children. Eid celebrations are so colourful and entertaining, and of course the traditional food is delicious (but very spicy!).

Can you give some tips and advice for those who want enjoy marine environment of Maldives?
For pristine reefs it better to visit the more remote and underdeveloped regions, but it’s vital to remember that the reefs are beautiful because they are untouched, and we should all try to keep them that way. My top tips are to take lots of photos but not to touch anything or remove anything from the water except for trash; even dead shells can become homes for other animals.

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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