Alila Villas Hadahaa, the very first ultra-premium resort to open in the unspoiled and unsullied Southern Atolls in the enchanted isles of Maldives, slated to open in August 2009. Representing Alila Hotels and Resorts’ new generation of high-end luxury villas, this luxury resort is more than just the ‘new kid on the block’. If anything, the Green Globe-certified Alila Villas Hadahaa will teach its elders in the hospitality arena a thing or two about giving back to the community and what is the hallmark of true hospitality.The juxtaposition of a spectacularly stylish luxury resort against the humble Maldivian way of life in a part of the country where most of the country’s islanders live may be a little odd, even jarring, but Alila Villas Hadahaa puts cynics and skeptics to shame with its genuine fervour to bless the community in a variety of intentional endeavours. The resort’s community efforts, backed by a commitment to support the Maldivian community in which it is located, are commendable, inspiring, refreshing and undeniably crucial. “We count ourselves fortunate to be able to build such a beautiful property on the previously untouched Gaafu Alifu Atoll, and we seek to involve and give back as much as we possibly can to its equally lovely community,” says Mr. Julian Moore, the General Manager of the resort.
The “Gift-to-Share” programme, to commemorate and coincide with the luxury resort’s opening, is just one such community effort which proudly resonates this ethos. Not only does Alila Villas Hadahaa participate, but the resort brings it one noble notch up by implementing a scheme which encourages its guests to give as well. For trips booked at opening rates, Alila Villas Hadahaa will waive accommodation charges for every second night, on top of presenting all guests with a host of complimentary Alila hospitalities and villa amenities (that’s a lot of savings). Fuelled by the belief that ‘it is better to teach one to fish, than to give one a fish’, Alila Villas Hadahaa has initiated three Maldivian community programmes: building up a reference and research library in the local schools for the Maldivian children; re-introducing Maldivian traditional crafts into primary schools; and introducing community farming projects. Guests will be introduced to the “Gift-to-Share” programme at the luxury resort itself, with the non-pushy, no-obligations option to share the ‘Gift’ by choosing to donate any amount they wish in support of their preferred Maldivian community programme.
With a deep curiosity about issues its community face and the solutions needed, Alila Villas Hadahaa sent Mr. Moore, an established hotel management expert, to spend many months interacting with the islanders. His goal was to integrate their opinions and feedback in devising ways to enhance and better their living conditions. After intensive research and much careful thought, the resort management created the three community programmes to purposefully address pressing education, culture and income issues which inhibit progress for the Maldivians. All three programmes are well-calculated and designed to empower individuals in practical ways, no matter at what circumstance or at which stage of their lives.
The reference and research library initiative stems from the hope of charting a child’s path right, by providing Maldivian children access to information and knowledge. Although a physical library will not be literally built, the funds collected will go towards supporting local primary schools, who can then add good quality materials to their own libraries. Such aid tremendously benefits those who have little access to educational resources and literary knowledge, giving each young child a leg up in dreaming bigger dreams.
As the Maldives—one of the world’s smallest nations—grows to become the epitome of luxury beach breaks, traditional artisanal crafts sadly become lost as generations pass. Especially targeted at youths, Alila Villas Hadahaa valiantly attempts to re-introduce Maldivian crafts to the community, in order to share the knowledge of the past with Maldivian artisans of the future. The programme seeks to reach out to professional and experienced artists, usually middle-aged, and sponsors them to teach classes in schools. Crafts include traditional painting, lacquer ware, net weaving, and assembling gold or silver craft. Looking into the future, the luxury resort hopes to institute a craft centre to provide the training of skills, not only to preserve culture, but as a means of generating a source of income for the local Maldivians.
The over-arching objective of the community farming project is to proffer the islanders a sustainable food supply and enable them to develop a commercial enterprise in supplying upcoming resorts. Yes, even the ones that are not managed by Alila. Understanding that local agricultural produce has to meet international standards in order to profit, the luxury resort seeks to help local farmers improve knowledge on farming techniques. Funds will be channelled towards a government programme to provide the farmers with necessary skills and tools. Also, by educating the farmers on the types and quality of produce required at the resort, Alila Villas Hadahaa can support the local suppliers in a very tangible way, and switch from international to local suppliers.