Villa Hotels & Resorts eco-luxury resort, Sun Island Resort & Spa has been awarded the Maldives Leading Green Resort in the Indian Ocean category at the 29th annual World Travel Awards gala ceremony held in Nairobi, Kenya. Recognized globally as the ultimate hallmark of excellence in the tourism industry, the prestigious environmental award is a testament to Sun Island’s sustainable way of life and forward-thinking environmental and ocean conservation initiatives.
Eco barefoot living and a care for the natural environment is woven throughout Sun Island, one of the largest Maldives resorts which lays claim to 1.6KM of pristine sugar white beach studded with coconut palms. Set in the Southern tip of South Ari Atoll, within proximity to the South Ari Marine Protected Area (SAMPA), the luscious environment provides more than 20,000 coconuts per month and is home to thriving biodiversity and marine life. Nestled by the Indian Ocean, the spacious beach retreat offers guests an abundance of unprecedented privacy to reconnect with nature in luxurious open-air living spaces that flow in harmony with the tropical surroundings.
Breaking Travel news caught up with the General Manager at Sun Island, Abdulla Fathhey to find out why this hotel has taken the steps it has and what plans it has for the future.
BTN: Congratulations on your award as Maldives leading Green Resort at the World Travel Awards Africa & Indian Ocean Ceremony; how will your resort get this message out to your staff and more importantly your customers?
SIR: The entire team at Sun Island Resort & Spa and Villa Hotels & Resorts is honoured to achieve this prestigious award and further recognition for our sustainable way of life. The World Travel Awards is recognized globally as the ultimate hallmark of excellence in the tourism industry and this prestigious environmental award is a testament to the forward-thinking environmental and ocean conservation initiatives we have in place.
Protecting the natural ecology of the island and creating a positive impact for the future of the planet are core values and practices. Winning the Maldives Leading Green Resort is a further recognition and encouragement to what we have already been doing at Sun Island Resort from the start. Our success is a result of our passionate and dedicated team at Sun Island and Villa Hotels & Resorts.
We always encourage our guests to get involved in what we do at the resort, from tree planting and adding to the island’s natural vegetation to joining our island and lagoon clean ups. Everything we do at Sun Island is a reflection of our care for the natural environment which we call home.
BTN: In a very competitive market and one that is seeing huge leaps into sustainability and green tourism, what steps has your resort taken which lead to this prestigious award and that other resorts can learn from.
SIR: Eco-living and a care for the natural environment is woven throughout the resort, which is one of the largest Maldives resorts. Set in the Southern tip of South Ari Atoll, within proximity to the South Ari Marine Protected Area (SAMPA), the luscious environment sprawled out across 1.6km provides more than 20,000 coconuts per month and is home to thriving biodiversity and marine life. Nestled by the Indian Ocean, our spacious beach retreat offers guests an abundance of unprecedented privacy to reconnect with nature in luxurious open-air living spaces.
Protecting the natural ecology of the island and creating a positive impact for the future of the planet are core values and practices at Sun Island. We believe in the importance of thinking ahead for the future generations with regards to protecting and preserving the natural environment at Sun Island. The fertile environment we have now at Sun Island is a result of the previous generations. It is very important that when we plant a seed, we should not expect immediate benefits. Rather we must think about planting for the future generation, which will contribute towards a sustainable environment and help reduce the carbon footprint long term. Last year we planted more than 1400 coconut trees and over 200 mango trees to bear fruits later. We expect to see the boundless results in the years to come. It is our responsibility to educate the younger generation and highlight the importance of taking care of the natural environment for the future of the Maldives and of our planet.
Moreover, Sun Island has demonstrated unwavering commitment towards saving energy and water, switching from single use plastics to glass bottles, introduced paper straws, recycling, and progressing towards carbon neutrality. Our latest solar energy system, installed by Swimsol Maldives, has over 2,400 solar panels which generate clean renewable energy and drastically helps to reduce the carbon footprint. In addition, we are proud to have achieved the prestigious Green-Key certification in alignment with stringent measures to protect the natural ecology of the island. We have exciting emerging conservation projects and sustainable activities in the pipeline and can’t wait to share more of our upcoming plans.
The eco-friendly resort generates solar energy with over 2,400 solar panels supplying clean renewable energy and drastically helping to reduce the carbon footprint: further affirming the resorts best practices of environmental sustainability in alignment with the prestigious Green-Key certification.
In keeping with a green approach to living, organic vegetables and herbs are grown in thriving botanical gardens, which are picked and served across the variety of restaurants including the signature garden to fork restaurant, Zero, perched high above in the tree top canopy. In addition to the fertile environment, the island is also home to various migratory birds which take shelter within the dense vegetation on the island. Moreover, because of the natural beauty of the island and continued commitment to preserve the fragile ecosystem, Sun Island was recently awarded Leading Sustainable Honeymoon Resort in the Marie Claire UK Sustainability awards.
Protecting the natural ecology of the island and creating a positive impact for the future of the planet are core values and practices at Villa Hotels & Resorts. Sun Island General Manager, Abdulla Fathhey explains the importance of thinking ahead for future generations with regards to protecting and preserving the natural environment at Sun Island.
BTN: Clearly, developing a green resort doesn’t happen overnight, how long has this taken to get to the stage at where you are now and what steps in the future do you think you will be taking to improve yet further on your green credentials.
SIR: From the beginning Sun Island Resort & Spa has been environmentally forward thinking with conservation initiatives in place and unique ways to save energy and water and help reduce the carbon footprint. We have always been consistent when it comes to doing our part towards the protection of the environment and the ocean.
Moreover, Sun Island has always been recognised as a Green Island by the Governments, International bodies, our partners and most importantly our valued guests. Throughout the years we have received recognition and several awards for our commitment towards a self-sufficient and sustainable island. We are proud to have recently been named the Leading Sustainable Honeymoon Resort in the Marie Claire UK Sustainability awards. These awards focused on sustainability are a testament to the continuous hard work of our team.
BTN: Are you seeing a trend in bookings from people that are only seeking a vacation where they too can do their part in green tourism by staying at resorts like yours that offer climate friendly alternatives?
SIR: There will always be guests who are attracted to our environmental initiatives, and often we have repeaters who wish to return to the same villa they stayed in before as they adored the surrounding nature unique to all our villas, whether nestled by lush vegetation or hovering above the crystal clear lagoon waters.
We encourage and invite all our guests to get involved and support the resort’s sustainable initiatives by adopting the eco practices in place, including recycling, saving energy, washing linen only when required, and joining the lagoon and sandbank clean-ups led by our diveOceanus dive center. The opportunity for eco-conscious travellers to contribute to conservation activities presents guests with a deeper connection to the rich Maldivian nature.
BTN: There is a growing trend for wellness and spa vacations in this time sensitive and busy tech filled world, how are you addressing this and what plans do you have for this area in the future.
SRI: Sun Island has an award-wining spa, in fact one of the largest in the Maldives. We have a range of holistic beauty rituals, massages, specialist Ayurveda treatments, classic treatments, yoga, and a team of expert beauty therapists on hand to create your ultimate bespoke wellness journey. Outdoor and indoor fitness is a key focus at the resort, with extensive nature and secluded running tracks lending the perfect serene setting to go for a morning jog or spend time soaking up the scenery on a nature walk.
We currently have a collection of experts to cater to our guest’s fitness requirements. We have a personal trainer, tennis expert, Yogi and soon we will welcome a new Zumba instructor. We are thrilled to introduce Zumba soon at the resort. It is out aim to keep raising the bar with regards to wellness and fitness and to be consistently introducing innovative ways to stay fit and healthy while on vacation as this is something which is important for our guests.
BTN: The Maldives government has announced a ban on single use plastics by 2023, do you think the government is doing enough to support initiatives that you yourselves are obviously making in supporting sustainability and green tourism?
SRI: We believe this is a very good initiative taken by the Maldives Government and it encourages all Maldives Resorts to work towards removing plastic from the islands. We have already started the process several years ago and replaced all single use plastics with glass bottles throughout the resort and on dive and snorkel excursions. We have also removed all plastic straws and offer only paper ones.
We are continually looking into areas where we can further reduce our plastic consumption and recycle even more. We maintain a partnership with Parley for the Oceans whereby we donate all our plastic debris for recycling.
BTN: What more could the government do in supporting resorts and the growing trend for green tourism?
SRI: The Maldives Government is doing a great job to support local islands and resorts to come up with sound policies which can instigate robust measures to reduce single use plastics and encourage green initiatives. In addition to their work to help remove plastic from the Maldives, the Government has declared some parts of the Maldives as marine protected areas such as the UNESCO Biosphere Reserve of Baa Atoll which and the South Ari Marine Protected Area (SAMPA) which is home to Sun Island Resort & Spa. The declaration of these areas as natural reserves and protected areas has helped preserve the fragile environments and in turn created a deeper care and respect for the ocean. It is exciting to leant that there has also been discussion to declare further areas protected in the Maldives.
For more information go to https://www.villahotels.com/sun-island/