All resorts in the Maldives have a unique advantage—their beautiful location! This nation of islands in the Indian Ocean is home to some of the best beaches, crystal clear waters, beautiful coral reefs, and thriving marine life. But, the Maldives also has one of the most delicate ecosystems anywhere on the planet. Recognizing the dire need to preserve their picture-perfect environment, luxury resorts are working tirelessly towards reducing their environmental impact by following green practices in services, logistics, maintenance, and more.
We have picked resorts that are known to offer the most luxurious experiences to their guests, in the most eco-friendly ways. According to ehotelier.com, going green leads to better loyalty and word of mouth marketing and greater customer satisfaction. While some of these resorts follow similar practices, such as coral spawning, educating guests and so on—we will tell you how these practices are put into action, so that you can make an informed decision the next time you visit the island nation.
1. Combining luxury with responsible tourism
Soneva is a pioneer for responsible tourism, combining a conscientious approach to sustainability with exquisite luxury and 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. Each day, guests are encouraged to discover the “slow life” —reconnecting with themselves and the natural world through rare, unforgettable experiences.
Then, there’s Good Travel with Marriott Bonvoy—a program that offers meaningful travel, allowing guests the opportunity to create a positive impact as they explore and build deeper connections in local communities when they stay at Marriott hotels. With over 100-curated experiences, the program focuses on three pillars—environmental protection, community engagement, and marine conservation.
2. Educating young guests
At The Westin Maldives Miriandhoo Resort guests can start young with their initiation into marine life conservation as their marine biologist conducts educational talks with children and adults alike about the diverse marine life around the UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, Baa Atoll, where the resort is located. Topics ranging from turtles to sharks, rays, dolphins, fish families and coral reefs are not only educational, but they also help travellers appreciate these unique islands and atolls much more.
JW Marriott Maldives Resort & Spa, on the other hand, incorporates sustainability through educational and interactive activities at the FAMiLY by JW Little Griffins Kids Club. They inculcate the importance of ‘wealth out of waste’ by creating art with reusable waste like toilet paper rolls, plastic caps and bottles.
3. Community outreach
JOALI BEING believes in empowering the local communities. The resort is located in the Raa Atoll that has a population of 22,000 with a total of 88 islands with only 15 inhabitant islands. JOALI BEING is committed to uniting people in the fight against climate change, overfishing, unsustainable development, and the many other threats that face this dispersed island nation through education, engagement, and donation programmes. Community meetings are held three times a year, bringing together representatives from the atoll council and island councils, women’s development committees, schools, police stations, and active local NGOs, who together represent the voices of Raa Atoll’s residents.
4. Sustainable gastronomy
Chef Bir Yadav, executive chef at JW Marriott Maldives shares that he insists on making a variety of regularly used ingredients from scratch, in order to avoid unnecessary imports. From jams, pickles, and granolas to sausages and smoked salmon—he prefers making it all in-house. The resort also offers a lovely Maldivian dinner to promote the local cuisine as well as educate guests about the customs and lifestyle of the people of this island nation. A traditional dinner deeply rooted within Maldivian history, the Malafaaiy dinner at JW Marriott Maldives stems from fishermen’s wives who would cook and prepare dishes in a traditional large wooden round box for their husbands to take on the boat.
According to custom, they would wrap the box in a large cloth.The box was then hung from bamboo sticks, allowing the men to transport the food to the boat.The ceremonious meal at the resort also is carried to the guests’ table with local drummers, singing and clapping to native songs. The meal comprises of soups, signature meat, chicken, and fish dishes, curries, rice, salads and a platter of coconut-infused desserts.
JOALI BEING also offers JOALI Art Dinners that combine gastronomical experiences with art and education. Monthly art dinners at the artistic hub see the executive chef, preparing paints using herbs and flowers from the island’s own chef garden, for an interactive experience led by female artists from around the world. Additionally, the resort uses biodegradable garbage bags, and packing containers and plastic containers are replaced with glass jars to avoid plastic wastage. Silicon lids or natural wrappers such as banana leaf and areca leaf are used instead of plastic films. Fish are locally sourced from fishermen from neighbouring islands, ensuring that they are adhering to sustainable fishing practices.
5. Utilising eco-friendly amenities
JW Marriott Maldives uses Island Apothecary products—made from local natural ingredients—for some of the signature treatments at Spa by JW. This initiative supports women-run businesses in the community as each bottle is mixed, bottled and shipped straight from the island homes.
6. Beach clean-ups
JOALI Maldives offers ‘Dive Against Debris’ and Island Clean-ups to reduce the amount of plastic and other waste littering our oceans. They also encourage guests to participate in regular clean-ups of uninhabited islands around the resort, making it fun while being an integral part of green travel.
7. Coral/reef propagation
A trend that has caught on across hotels in the Maldives, coral restoration is a step to ensure a proactive action by transplanting coral fragments on metallic or ceramic frames that will spawn and restore coral reefs around the Maldives once they are mature enough. Sheraton Maldives Full Moon Resort & Spa launched the resort’s coral propagation initiative in February 2020. To date, over 6,000 coral fragments from 15 different species of corals have been transplanted. These coral colonies were rescued from Gulhi Falhu in 2020 and relocated on coral pyramids at the Sheraton Full Moon Resort & Spa to give them a second chance to thrive. These colonies are now healthy and strong enough to spawn after the relocation. Coral spawning increases genetic diversity and is a sign that reefs are slowly recovering from previous massive bleaching events.
8. Getting creative with waste plastic
Many artists across the world are using plastic to create high-fashion shoes and clothes. W Maldives has collaborated with Mazu Resortwear, the cutting-edge Hong Kong men’s swimwear brand, to create shorts out of recycled plastic bottles. An initiative of W Hotels Worldwide, the swimwear that is made out of 12 salvaged plastic bottles is creating quite the style statement!