Why you should social-distance in the Maldives this winter

like countless High-profile destination Maldives – with more than 160 resorts (and counting) spread across its nearly 1,200 Indian Ocean islands – has seen tourism plummet in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic, attracting some 550,000 visitors tourists, compared to a record 1.7 million in 2019. But as tourism slowly recovers, sunseekers are flocking back to the remote island nation, buoyed by its colorful turquoise seas, innate social distancing and unparalleled attracted by the accommodation.

Take, for example, the Ritz-Carlton Maldives, Faree Islands, which opened in June. Spanning three scenic islands in the North Male Atoll – a 45-minute luxury speedboat ride from Velana International Airport – the resort is the esteemed brand’s long-awaited entry into the archipelago.

In an environment that is particularly vulnerable to the cumulative effects of climate change – 80% of the Maldives is less than a metre above sea level – the resort’s impact on its fragile surrounding ecosystem is minimised from the outset. Kerry Hill Architects used a pioneering prefab design to create a visually lightweight building for the 100-room resort, reducing onerous on-site operations and reducing waste and pollution during construction. The property’s primary reliance on solar energy also reflects its low carbon footprint, while its physical resources help foster new coral nurseries: hundreds of concrete columns supporting its aquatic structure will stimulate coral replenishment over time.

Your Island Home: Each Beach Pool Villa at The Ritz-Carlton offers coastal access and sweeping views of the Indian Ocean.

Courtesy of The Ritz-Carlton, Maldives, Faree Islands

The periodicity of island life – the resort’s signature theme – resonates throughout the hotel. Stylish and spacious overwater villas, dramatic infinity pools and sculptural spas are all circular.One Arismiha– In Dhivehi (the national language of the Maldives), an island butler who takes care of the royal family – service every villa (all with private pools), golf cart to dive with just a WhatsApp message Centers and spas, restaurant reservations and special requests.

Lagoon Pier at The Ritz-Carlton Maldives, Faree Islands
The Lagoon Villas are powered by a solar roof.

Courtesy of The Ritz-Carlton, Maldives, Faree Islands

The resort has seven restaurants, two of which are located in the nearby Fari Islands Marina, whose creative cuisine exceeds the highest expectations. Reef fish ceviche with tangy gazpacho and Jaffna-inspired mud crab curry was a hit at Beach Shack, a casual and elegant beachfront restaurant where the waves crash against the shore The DJ’s selection of icy rhythms slaps the coast.

Summer Pavilion, the sister restaurant of the Michelin-starred Singaporean restaurant, serves exquisite Cantonese cuisine on hand-painted tableware under golden paper lanterns. Sophisticated Japanese cuisine takes center stage at Iwau, where creative dishes include shrimp and foie gras with grilled asparagus, brioche and vanilla pepper cream — a delicacy of GM Mark Hehir’s time as head chef at the Hilton Tokyo.

The cocktails at the resort's Eau Bar are inspired by local flavors.
The cocktails at the resort’s Eau Bar are inspired by local flavors.

Courtesy of The Ritz-Carlton, Maldives, Faree Islands

Between meals and drinks, guests are busy with a variety of activities from morning to night. Clever backhand with resident tennis coach.Find your zen with sunrise and aerial yoga, or try fishing on a traditional wooden plank Dhoni (Maldives fishing boat) At twilight, as the sun dips below the horizon, smooth red snapper and kingfish seem to catapult onto your hook.

To truly immerse yourself in the unspeakable magic of the Maldives, head to the seaside. Snorkelers and scuba divers can explore the rich resources of the Indian Ocean, swim with turtles and manta rays, and learn about marine conservation through Jean-Michel Cousteau’s Environmental Ambassador program. Products including “Underwater Cities” explain the key roles of different fauna, such as sharks, in coral reefs. These top predators keep the oceans — which produce more oxygen than all the rainforests on Earth combined — healthy and balanced.

World-class snorkeling in the atoll's restored coral reefs.
World-class snorkeling in the atoll’s restored coral reefs.

Courtesy of The Ritz-Carlton, Maldives, Faree Islands

Then it’s time to dive in and get up close and personal with the Maldives’ most colorful inhabitants. Yellowfin oriental sweetlips have black and white stripes, and pointy parrotfish dyed lavender and turquoise – a kaleidoscope of rainbow hues and stunning species on every visit. For the particularly intrepid nighttime snorkels – frequented by eagles and manta rays, octopuses and nurse sharks – offer exciting glimpses into the ocean’s little-known and incredibly complex ecology.

Guests can also watch the team of Jiangling ambassadors use drones to locate ghost nets – abandoned fishing nets that entangle and kill hundreds of thousands of marine animals each year. The team has removed several nets – a reminder of how much work needs to be done to protect this marine eden.

A version of this article appears in December 2021/January 2022 issue of wealth The title is “Integrating into the Maldives”.

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