Enjoying The Maldives Responsibly

  • Kate Randall
  • Travel

The Maldives has long been a luxury destination, but for many in this new era, gone is over-the-top excess now replaced a sense of responsibility while still enjoying the finer things in life. If you are a part of this growing trend then Villingili Island in The Maldives is a complete and stunning offering.

 This island, at the very tip of the collection of islands known as The Maldives is truly special and is in the midst of redefining the concept of the island visit. One of the few islands that has not been altered by man, Villingili still offers sun-splashed days filled with lounging on beaches or by poolside via its 5-star Shangri-La resort, but increasingly, it is showing the way forward for guests wishing to embrace an eco-consciousness experience while enjoying every moment of the island’s beauty and serenity.

Well-known for its lush landscape and jungle-like portions, Villingili Island is nature at some of its very best. Guests can take in the islands natural miracle either on foot or by vintage-style bicycles at a leisurely pace and observe the 45 registered species of plants or tour the property’s Orchid Nursery and connect with the land in a meaningful manner.

However, one of the best ways to connect with the earth and giveback is to learn and interact with the breathtaking marine environment surrounding the entire island. Not only does Shangri-La offer a complete diving and snorkeling menu, but guests can actually plant part of a coral reef.

Coral reefs, which are found throughout the oceans in the Maldives, are home to 25 percent of all marine life on the planet and form nurseries for nearly a quarter of the ocean’s fish. Tropical coral reefs are found between 30° north and south of the equator in areas where surface water temperatures do not drop below 16° Celsius. Tropical reefs can grow upwards at rates of 1cm to 100cm per year. They can form huge structures over incredibly long periods of time, making them the largest and oldest living systems on earth. Yet given the earth’s rapid climate changes, many of these reefs and others throughout the world are dying. But guests can help balance the damage if only a bit.

Guests can take participate in reef plating activities through the resort’s Reef Care project, which focuses on the regeneration of reefs and marine life through replanting fragmented corals in the coral nursery. To date, over 300 pieces of coral have been planted at the resort’s coral nursery.

Shangri-La’s Villingili Resort & Spa, Maldives’ Reef Care project is focused on replanting fragmented corals to regenerate reefs and marine life. Planted corals are placed in the coral nursery located at Serenity Bay Water Villa. The resort started planting corals in 2010. As of now, Shangri-La says that more than 300 pieces of coral have been planted, the majority of which are growing healthily.

 But, of course, what is a vacation without food. While the island boasts some of the finest restaurants in the Maldives, the initiatives pertaining to sustainable measures is nearly unparalleled. Shangri-La’s Villingili Resort & Spa works with the local farmers of neighboring Medhoo Island who rely on agriculture as their main source of income. The farmers supply the resort with fresh fruit and vegetables on a weekly basis, creating a cooperative that is mutually beneficial. The process also ensures the resort offers a menu using the freshest ingredients while reducing its carbon footprint by sourcing locally.

 Launched in September 2018, the resort’s “Farm to Plate” is not-to-be-missed. This activity begins with a tour of the Chef’s Garden hosted by the resort’s head chef. Guests are invited to assist in collecting fresh bananas, radishes and lettuce in baskets made of woven coconut leaves.  After visiting the Chef’s Garden, guests are then transported via speedboat to Meedhoo Island where they are greeted by local farmers and can pick melons, papaya, chili, Chinese cabbage, tomatoes and pumpkins.

 But wait, there’s more. Guests can then relax in Meedhoo Park while enjoying a refreshing coconut drink before returning with baskets filled with fresh produce. At sunset, everyone can take part in a traditional Maldivian fishing experience as they sail across the turquoise waters to catch fresh fish with a hand line, one of the most sustainable methods of fishing. In the evening, the resort’s chefs prepare a feast using the ingredients picked and caught during the day, and guests dine under the Chef’s Garden pagoda, making for a truly Instagram-worthy moment that goes well beyond ordering champagne and lobster from a standard menu.

Finally, the resort also implemented a partnership with the Al-Noor Centre at the Sharfuddin School in Addu City. Here, classrooms and an occupational therapy center are being developed to assist children with disabilities such as autism, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), cerebral palsy and Down syndrome, proving that the new luxury is truly supporting one’s world in every sense of the word, even while vacationing.

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