The Maldives Government recently ordered that all spas in luxury hotels in the Maldives should be closed. The order followed protests by the opposition Islamist Adhaalath Party which claimed the spas were breaching Islamic law.
More than 850,000 tourists visit the 1,100 coral islands and atolls that make up the Maldives. Vacations typically include sunbathing, snorkelling and diving on the beautiful coral reefs along with spa treatments and massage. The destination is popular with wealthy celebrities and honeymooners looking for a quiet place to relax in the tropical sunshine. Luxique.com offers ten top luxury resorts in the Maldives, most with five star amenities.
Although all resort hotels were ordered to close their spas and health centres with immediate effect, many chose to disobey the ruling to preserve their business. The Maldives Association of Tourism (MATI) has vowed to fight the ban on behalf of the island’s hotels as tourism is crucial to the economy of the Maldives.
In the latest move, the President of the Maldives has ordered the country’s upscale spas to reopen pending the Supreme Court’s decision on whether spas violate Islamic beliefs. Mr Nasheed said, “To be racist in any way is detrimental to the tourism industry” and he acknowledged this was not the way for the Maldives to go. He advocates a brand of moderate Islam traditionally practised in the country, which he sees is vital to preserve tourism in the Maldives.
Middle Eastern hotel group Jumeirah has ambitious plans to double the number of hotels over the next 14 months. Its newest offering is the exclusive all-suite Ocean Pearls resort, part of the Jumeirah Dhevanafushi Hotel on the Gaafu Alifu Atoll in the Maldives.
Offering a Robinson Crusoe castaway experience, the cluster of 16 over-water villas sit above the ocean and are surrounded by water on all sides. Access is along an 800m long boardwalk or by boat to the jetty. Along with the private villas there is an infinity pool, spa, seafood restaurant, bar and library all suspended above the water, which creates a tranquil peace and unique desert island atmosphere.
Each Ocean Pearls villa has a private deck with daybeds, a sunken bathtub and steps down for a swim in the warm Indian Ocean with its pristine coral reefs. Butler service is available for those requiring a “Man Friday” and guests can choose from a choice of suites ranging from 270-340 square meters, all with unobstructed ocean views, of course.
Jumeirah is keen to compete with luxury hotel brands such as the Four Seasons and Mandarin Oriental. It has planned openings in Kuwait, Majorca and Azerbaihjan in the forthcoming year.
The Maldives will introduce strict guidelines on conducting wedding ceremonies for tourists after a foreign couple were mocked and abused at a beach resort.
The couple thought they were taking part in a marriage renewal ceremony conducted in the local Dhivehi language. But the celebrant used the occasion to insult them and call them names.
The couple, whose nationalities have not been revealed, were called ‘pork-eating infidels’, and told that their children would be ‘bastard swine’. Other hotel employees were at the ceremony, but said nothing. The ceremony has appeared on YouTube, with translations.
The nation’s President, Mohamed Nasheed, was aghast when told. In his weekly radio address, he said he was disgusted by the incident and described the behaviour of staff as ‘absolutely disgraceful’.
All tourist hotels without exception will be required to follow the new guidelines which will be issued shortly. “No stone will be left unturned to ensure that an incident like this never happens again,” the government said in a statement.
The Maldives – an archipelago of almost 1,200 coral islands – is a favourite of well-heeled Westerners lured by its white sandy beaches.
The Vilu Reef beach and spa, where the incident took place, promises to offer ‘a tranquil beach where couples can renew marriage vows hand in hand against a golden sunset backdrop, where their everlasting love can be sealed by a kaleidoscope of romantic hues’.
by Andy Moreton
The Maldives is – generally – the friendliest paradise in the world and Luxique offers ten luxury hotels there.
A travel firm has caused a stir by announcing plans to open a luxury hotel in the Maldives staffed entirely by young blonde women.
The Lithuanian company Olialia (apparently pronounced Ooh-la-la), says blondes will run all the resort’s operations from the reception to the restaurant, and there’ll be special flights with an all-blonde crew of pilots and stewardesses.
The aim is to dispel the stereotype of the ‘dumb blonde’. Olialia’s Managing Director, Giedre Pukiene, said: “Our girls are very smart and they have degrees. All of them want to do something with their lives. They have lots of business ideas.”
Olialia is run and staffed by blonde women, and already operates in 75 different business sectors, making products from computer software and food products to pop music.
The resort is due to open in 2015, but the proposal could run into trouble as laws in the Maldives state that staff should be 50 per cent local – who are non-white and non-blonde.
When it was announced on the Maldivian news website, Minivan, many readers condemned it as discriminatory. One wrote: “This is racist and should not be allowed in the Maldives.”
by Andy Moreton
For blondes, brunettes, redheads or even the folically challenged who want a taste of paradise, Luxique offers ten luxury hotels in the Maldives.
A luxury hotel in the Maldives is offering a honeymoon suite to beat all others – it’s set sixteen feet below the surface of the Indian Ocean.
Usually, the Ithaa room at the Rangali Island resort (part of the Conrad Group) is used as a restaurant; about a dozen diners sit in the dome-shaped ‘aquarium’ and enjoy cordon bleu food while marvelling at the beauty of the underwater world around them.
But now, to celebrate the resort’s fifth birthday, the room has been converted into a honeymoon suite complete with every luxury imaginable.
It’s safe to say that this experience is not for newlyweds on a budget – the luxury hotel says the price is available ‘on application’. Until now, the top-of-the-range accommodation at the Rangali had been a King Deluxe Water Villa. That costs around £1,156 ($1,785) a night … and it’s above water.
by Andy Moreton
If you’re dreaming of a visit to paradise, keep your head above water and get the best rates at any of Luxique’s five carefully-selected luxury hotels in the Maldives.
For a small country, the Maldives generates a fair amount of publicity.
The latest news from the island group is that the country’s cabinet is to meet on Saturday … underwater.
The idea is to highlight the threat of global warming, to which the Maldives is particularly vulnerable. Most of the islands are less than three feet above sea level and face being wiped out if oceans rise.
An adviser to President Mohamed Nasheed said the dive was ‘a bit of fun’ but the cabinet intended to send a serious message about rising sea levels. Members will sign a document (waterproof, presumably) calling for global cuts in carbon emissions. Mr Nasheed, who’s a qualified diver, will hold a news conference.
The President’s adviser said that although the country’s government was almost all going to be under water at the same time, there was no real danger. Each minister would be accompanied by a diving instructor and a military minder and the local sharks were ‘friendly’.
by Andy Moreton
Dive in for a taste of paradise – Luxique offers ten luxury hotels throughout the Maldives.
The Maldives has said it’s introducing a new environment tax on all tourists who use its resorts.
The low-lying archipelago has been at the forefront of efforts to mitigate climate change because rising sea levels are forecast to submerge most of its islands by 2100. In March, President Mohammed Nasheed announced plans to make the Maldives the world’s first carbon neutral nation within a decade.
If approved by parliament in the capital, Male, the tax will be $3 (£1.80) per tourist per day. At a rough estimate, the measure will bring in $6.3 million (£3.8 million) a year.
President Nasheed has said he can’t afford to go the climate change summit in Copenhagen in December, much as he’d like to. The Maldives would be represented only if someone offered to pay for his trip.
He hoped the Copenhagen summit would come out with positive plans, like renewable energy promotion, rather than stressing what he called negative ones such as capping carbon emissions.
by Andy Moreton
The Maldives is famed for its high-end luxury resorts and white sand atolls, and Luxique can guide you towards some of the best secluded places to stay, including the Banyan Tree and the award-winning Four Seasons resort at Kuda Huraa.
The President of the Maldives has made a bold, green statement – the islands will become carbon neutral within ten years.
Mohamed Nasheed said this would be achieved by switching completely to renewable energy sources like wind and solar power.
He said the Maldives understood better than most what would happen if the world failed to tackle climate change; his tiny country – made up of some 1,200 tropical coral islands - is one of the lowest-lying on earth and extremely vulnerable to rises in sea level.
He said that going green would cost a lot of money, but refusing to act now would ‘cost the earth.’
“We don’t want to sit around and blame others, but want to do whatever we can; hopefully our carbon neutral plan will serve as a blueprint for other nations to follow,” said the President.
by Andy Moreton
For those who want to taste a little bit of paradise, Luxique offers ten luxury hotels in the Maldives.
Earlier this year, I wrote about a dream job in Australia – to be caretaker on a desert island with a handsome salary and a three-bedroom house thrown in. So many applied, apparently, the website went into meltdown.
Now I hear of another attractive offer, although somewhat less lucrative. The idyllic Indian Ocean islands of The Maldives want to improve educational standards, so they’ve put out a call for British head teachers to consider taking up posts there.
The teachers would leave behind snow, rain and the crowded train for long sunny days and a leisurely commute across a crystal clear bay.
Last October, the Maldives had its first democratic presidential election and a former political prisoner, Mohamed Nasheed, defeated Asia’s longest-serving ruler, Maumoon Abdul Gayoom. Mr Nasheed studied in Britain and has said improving education for the country’s poor is among his top priorities.
The country, which has 370,000 people and 1,000 islands, plans to assign British headteachers to oversee seven newly decentralised regions. In addition to heading their own schools, they would be expected to help develop education in their zone.
By Western standards, the likely monthly salary of about 10,000 Rufiyaa (£523 / $745) is not vast. But in The Maldives, this is considerably more than the average.
Having won its independence from Britain in 1965, The Maldives has progressed from an economy that was almost entirely dependent on fishing to one where tourism accounts for 28 per cent of its Gross Domestic Product.
For holidaymakers who want to taste a little bit of paradise, Luxique offers ten luxury hotels in The Maldives.
by Andy Moreton