The COVID-19-induced travel restrictions have not been easy for countries heavy on tourist-led revenues. Yet, despite this situation, a glimmer of hope shines through in the recently reopened Maldives as it continues to be a preferred destination for international travellers. We talk to hotels across the country to celebrate this small win. By Bayar Jain

1. How has the pandemic affected guest intake and stay at your property?

 

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Lily Beach Resort & Spa at Huvahendhoo: “Starting July 15, we welcomed our esteemed guests back. We’ve remained vigilant and steadfast in our commitment to provide every individual at our resorts with the highest standard of safety and hygiene protocols. These include free PCR tests; screenings and temperature checks; guidelines on masks; social distancing; food-handling protective measures; sanitisation and disinfection; and cleaning procedures. Additionally, our staff has also been given enhanced training sessions on personal hygiene.”

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Photo Courtesy: Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi

Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi: “It has affected visitors similar to how it has been for every other location around the world. But our guests can visit with enhanced peace of mind, aware that the resort has fully implemented industry-leading standards of cleanliness and disinfection of the proprietary with Hilton CleanStay program while simultaneously adhering to Maldivian health and safety guidelines. From arrival to check-in and throughout the entire stay, our guests can experience an elevated standard of cleanliness and sanitisation which builds upon Hilton’s already high standards of housekeeping and hygiene. Now hospital-grade cleaning products and upgraded protocols are in place as well.”

 

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Velaa Private Island: “We are tremendously proud about staying open with a 45 per cent occupancy all throughout the country-wide lockdown! It would not be true to say that it hasn’t affected us, but we have made the best we could and adapted to the situation. We’ve even built our own PCR laboratory on a nearby island to support Velaa and the local population.”

 

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Vakkaru Maldives: “At a time when many feel the need for a worry-free escape more than ever, the team at Vakkaru Maldives have done everything in their power to ensure a safe and healthy holiday experience to treasure forever. The efforts include our newly launched hospitality-concept, Vakkare, which places the concept of care at the core of all our offerings. Vakkare not only incorporates the resort’s practical responses to the operational challenges during the COVID-19 era but also considers the physical, social and emotional needs of our guests.”

 

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 Aitken Spence Hotels: “The pandemic has affected guest intake to our resorts in the Maldives, given that not all countries have opened their borders for travel and tourism. Whilst we experienced heavy cancellations at the very outset of the pandemic breaking, now as the world embraces a new normal and accustoms their lifestyles, we have seen an increase in confidence to travel. This is reflected in guests opting to postpone their holidays instead of cancelling. We are also confident that the safety measures undertaken by our resorts have also had a positive impact on boosting confidence among travellers.”

2. Do you have any upcoming special offers or packages for guests?

 

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Lily Beach Resort & Spa at Huvahendhoo: “Currently, we’re running an exciting special promotion offer called ‘Buy Now & Book Later’, along with other special discounted promotions.”

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Photo Courtesy: Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi

Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi: “We have the ‘Dream Away’ offer which gives a 30 per off on the best available rate for Hilton Honors members, and a 25 per cent off on the same for non-members, inclusive of breakfast.”

 

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Velaa Private Island: “We’ve noticed that a lot of our guests wish to stay longer, which is why have rolled out the great ‘Stay Longer At Velaa’ offer on our website.”

 

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JOALI Maldives: “Keeping the changes in tourism in mind, we are offering flexible booking choices to our guests, which means they can amend or cancel their bookings if they wish to. Additionally, international travellers looking for luxury in ultimate privacy can experience Joali’s new ‘private island buyout offer’, with exclusive use of the private island’s 73 villas and residences and facilities.”

 

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Vakkaru Maldives: “We understand that some countries still have travel restrictions and certain health protocols, which is why we are offering flexible bookings and cancellations. As special assistance, we are also providing testing services priced at USD 150 (INR 11,025) at the Resort’s Clinic for guests who require COVID-19 test results before travelling to home countries or elsewhere. As a welcome back gift to our valued guests, we have launched our Escape Awaits Reopening Offer for stays between August 1 and December 22. Guests can book their long-awaited getaway in the Beach Pool Villa starting from USD 900 (INR 66,150) per room per night. This exceptionally generous offer includes a 40 per cent discount on accommodation, and an array of benefits including complimentary transfers for up to two adults and two children, daily breakfast, complimentary daily dinner as well as a 60-minute relaxing body massage at Merana Spa.”

 

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Aitken Spence Hotels: “Yes, we have several attractive offers for potential guests to book our resorts, including great rates and discounts; and offers on transfers and spa treatments among others. Our Early Bird Booking offer and Long Stay offer have been a great hit since its launch. We also offer our resorts Adaaran Prestige Vadoo and Heritance Aarah for island buyouts—either completely or partially—which is great for guests who wish for complete seclusions, weddings, or for familial ties with their nearest and dearest.”

3. Do you have any guests currently staying at the property, or bookings for the upcoming days?

 

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Lily Beach Resort & Spa at Huvahendhoo: “Yes, currently we’re maintaining a decent occupancy with a minimum stay of seven to 14 nights.”

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Photo Courtesy: Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi

Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi: “Yes, we do. In fact, ever since we reopened on August 1, it has been busier than anticipated. It has been a good surprise, and the outcome is positive! The reservations are looking very good, and it’s promising of a perfect end of the year. People are willing to travel and find an ideal spot to breathe, to somehow ‘forget’ the pandemic and live again.”

 

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Velaa Private Island: “We have guests staying currently, and we’re looking to be quite busy again by next month.”

 

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JOALI Maldives: “Yes, currently we have in-house guests and we’ve started getting bookings for the coming months too, especially for the festive season.”

 

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Vakkaru Maldives:Vakkaru Maldives reopened on August 1, and we’ve been welcoming guests—including repeaters—ever since. We have been receiving bookings and inquiries from guests such as for last-minute short getaways to even long stay holidays for the festive season or 2021.”

 

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Aitken Spence Hotels: “All our resorts are now open. Adaaran Select Vadoo opened its doors on July 27, followed by Heritance Aarah, Adaaran Select Meedhupparu, Adaaran Prestige Water Villas and Adaaran Club Rannalhi on September 1. Given our focus on creating a safe and secure environment for our guests with heightened practices on health and hygiene, our guests feel confident to book and enjoy stays at our resorts.”

4. What are your predictions for tourism in Maldives?

 

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Lily Beach Resort & Spa at Huvahendhoo: “As per predictions, we can expect a tourism revival from mid-December this year.”

Maldives Hotels
Photo Courtesy: Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi

Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi: “It is just a matter of time. Maldives is a safe destination. The government, airport authorities, the Maldives Health Protection Agency, and all tourist facilities have taken strict precautions at all levels so that visitors feel free yet safe and secure. Tourists can genuinely enjoy their well-deserved holidays here.”

 

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Velaa Private Island: “We are, of course, hoping that tourism will pick up shortly but there continue to be many travel restrictions from countries and regions. The whole year will be very challenging, however, we are hoping that by the festive season, we will all be able to move around freely again.”

 

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JOALI Maldives: “Looking ahead, the measures put in place today will shape tomorrow’s tourism. We need to consider the longer-term implications of the crisis, while staying ahead of the digital curve, supporting the low carbon transition, and promoting the structural transformation needed to build a stronger, more sustainable and resilient tourism economy. The crisis is an opportunity to rethink tourism for the future.”

 

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Vakkaru Maldives: Maldives already offers one of the safest locations in the world, owing to the natural and unique concept of one island, one resort. The destination recently achieved the Safe Travels Stamp granted by the World Travel and Tourism Council, which was also endorsed by the World Tourism Organization. This surely brings more confidence for travellers who are looking for a safe destination. This also gives us hope that tourism will recover, and we’ll see some sort of normalcy in the coming months.”

 

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Aitken Spence Hotels: “We share the Maldivian Tourism Board’s optimism. As one of the first countries to open its borders, we look forward with positivity and enthusiasm. We think tourism in the Maldives will bounce back very soon.”

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