In the late, breezy hours of a Monday evening, I sat on a speedboat waiting to be taken on an adventure. The destination? A lagoon that had nothing but a small bank of white sand just a mere two years ago.
Twenty minutes into the ride, the ever-bumpy but fast speed boat came to a lazy stop. I looked out of the window, and was taken aback with what I saw. In the place of the sandbank stood a large, luxurious and lush resort island - ‘Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi’.
On the way to the island, Chairman of Hotel and Resort Construction (HRC) and Maldivian partner of the Ithaafushi ownership Mohamed Ali Janaah briefed me on how the resort came into existence. He revealed that the lagoon was dredged and reclaimed in just nine days, utilizing the second largest dredger in the world to create the island.
A brand under world renowned hotel and resort chain Hilton, over 500 staff are currently employed at the resort in its pre-opening stage. While the resort is preparing for their opening, journalists from AVAS were given a tour of the island.
Nothing but the best for their staff!
A large number of Maldivians are already employed at the resort. All services that are required by the staff are available on the island, including meals. The mega operation that provides meals for their staff is extraordinary by itself, with both Maldivians and foreigners working on the team.
The highest priority of the Waldorf Astoria signature is the welfare of its staff. The American brand ensures that the services provided for their employees are nothing but the best. In order to achieve this, a separate island has been developed for their staff team on the same property, with all facilities and services.
“Have you ever seen such an operation? This restaurant already caters to over 500 people. We have 18 cold-storage to keep perishables”, said a senior employee of the meals operation, giving me a tour of the huge building dedicated for meal preparation.
The building has its own in-house bakery, one of the employees being a Maldivian girl working her magic in creating scrumptious desserts and other delicacies. Multi cuisine culinary experiences are made available through the multiple restaurants in the building.
The best part? Each staff gets their own private accommodation, a room of their own with all facilities made available, to ensure their comfort and ease while on the job.
“All facilities and services required by our staff are available on the island. We have special recreational areas and lounge areas for our staff to relax and enjoy after work hours”, said Janaah, showing us one such lounge area.
An island full of surprises!
The 400-million dollar investment is worth its weight in gold - the island itself and the services it offer are nothing short of amazing.
The resort welcomes its guests on a floating jetty, connected to the main jetty of the island. The spacious platform can accommodate several vessels at a time, and has the capacity to park two seaplanes on either side of the platform.
Guests get off the beautiful walkway and is greeted with the sight of a beautifully designed and decorated reception area, intricately styled with extra-ordinary designs, a hint of Maldivian styles meticulously incorporated within.
While the guest area is a separate island, the pathways of this resort have been named after American streets, a subtle ode to the American roots of the company.
Let's talk briefly on the guest accommodations.
There are 20 different types of villas to choose from, including water villas, and beach villas of various sizes. Judging from what we saw from the rest of the island, one can only assume that the villas will not disappoint and definitely live up to expectations - I am extremely confident of this.
As for guest meals, nine different types of restaurants are on the island, ranging from Chinese to Middle Eastern cuisine and all that is in between. One such restaurant has “woven eggs” made out of bamboo high up over the palm trees - giving a breathtaking bird’s eye view of the island from atop while you dine. The exhilarating private dining experience would be one of its kind.
Restaurant “Yasmin”, offering middle-eastern cuisine is also notable, with materials imported from abroad for the construction of the restaurant, while a beautifully designed Chinese restaurant is also on the island. The innovative and creative designs seen throughout the island attest to the novel and fresh ideas and visions the owners of the resort have for the island.
“This is the result of the hard work of the staff of HRC and its partners. This is the result of the participation of Maldivians”, said Janaah.
Other services offered on the island include a Wellness Center and Spa, situated in a rich, lush green area where foliage is in abundance. This is the perfect spot to catch the setting sun, with all the beautiful shades and hues it emits contrasting against the green as it sets. The in-house Kids Club offers several entertaining activities for the kids, making sure the little ones enjoy the island as much as their parents. Oh, and did I mention the private island being developed right next to the island?
Unfortunately, this is as much as we can share on the concept features and interior of the resort- at least until its official opening. The management requested us not to share too much on the resort’s features, to leave somethings unknown to pull off a ‘surprise’ during its opening.
One thing for sure - This island cannot be toured in an hour! After our hour was up, we had to board the speedboats once more to go back home without having seen all there is to see on this exquisite island.