Studies have shown that travelers are increasingly more concerned about their impact on the world and there has been an increase in awareness of environmental and social issues. Apart from eco-conscious accommodation, travelers are also looking for meaningful travel initiatives. In 2021, Marriott International launched the Good Travel with Marriott Bonvoy program which aspires to shift the way vacations are perceived – from pure leisure to a value-adding opportunity that allows travellers to explore and build deeper connections in local communities.
Conscientious travelers to the Maldives can look forward to include initiatives to continue to eliminate single-use plastics, implementation of re-usable glass bottles for water and juices, usage of paper products around the resorts and initiating monthly dives against debris and clean-up days along with various other initiatives to promote the conservation of marine life and awareness of the same.
These four resorts from Marriott Bonvoy’ portfolio in the Maldives are ramping up initiatives to do their bit for the environment, oceans and community:
JW MARRIOTT MALDIVES RESORT & SPA
Sustainability is at the heart of the multi-generational JW Marriott Maldives Resort & Spa’s ethos and the island haven offers interactive activities for the entire family to enjoy whilst keeping a sustainable approach in place. The resort’s marine biologist leads fun and interactive chats for all ages at ‘Marine Talk’ where guests can learn about the importance of coral, how the resort is preserving it and delving into the wonderful wildlife which inhabits Vagaru Island. Through the FAMiLY by JW Little Griffins Kids Club, arts and crafts sessions aim at reducing waste and providing kids with tangible knowledge and experience on recycling and sustainability. Children can use a plethora of day-to-day items from plastic bottles to paper cups and toilet paper, or even leaves from around the beautiful resort, to create art and celebrate this idyllic island while understanding the impact of waste. The Kids Club facilitators teach children through interactive and fun activities, how each one of us can play a part to support climate change and sustainability.
“Supporting local” is not just a trend, but an important undertaking for travellers who directly contribute to empowering the local economy. The pandemic has underscored, for many travellers that everyone is in it together. Marriott International is committed to supporting local communities and embracing local businesses for sustainability. JW Marriott Maldives Resort & Spa uses Island Apothecary products – made from local natural ingredients, in some of the signature couple treatments at Spa by JW. This initiative supports women run businesses in the community as each bottle is mixed, bottled and shipped straight from the island homes. The resort also uses locally sourced fresh catch in their restaurants and handmade tipi tents to bring to life the FAMiLY by JW experience in villas for kids.
The resort has number of initiatives as part of it’s sustainability program, including a water bottling plant, a waste management and composting system as well as a thriving JW Garden is now open to guests as well, and has been contributing to the resort’s kitchens for some months already. JW Garden uses 100% organic fertilizer made on the island paired with a manual irrigation system. With total area of 3,600 sq ft, JW Garden is growing over six varieties of herbs, six varieties of fruits and over 25 vegetables. The luxurious resort has started to benefit from this serene sanctuary by incorporating some of the herbs into their welcome drinks, in the essence of the oshibori, at the spa, and not just to be consumed as food ingredients. The resort also started a coral restoration project a year ago, as the engineering team designed the frames, and every week, along with the marine biologist, associates dive underwater and take care of the corals, cleaning the home of the fish.
Whether you’re looking to follow your dietary discipline, or experience what sustainable dining entails even while you’re in the middle of the ocean – look no further! W Maldives is elevating it’s culinary offerings by collaborating with celebrity vegan chef & sustainable cuisine champion, Chef Priyanka Naik, who has created a pop-up menu that would be available exclusively at the resort until October 2023. With a focus on local and sustainably sourced ingredients while maintaining stylish presentation and bold flavors true to the brand, the menu is sure to entice not just vegans but also the non-vegans to give it a try.
The luxury playground in North Ari Atoll has also partnered with cutting-edge Hong Kong swimwear label Mazu Resortwear to create exclusive prints with a bold message in mind. Made out of salvaged plastic bottles, the limited edition swimwear collection is stealing the scene in style and is inspired by the team’s commitment to save the ocean since 2021. The resort also offers its bath amenities in refillable bottles, to reduce plastic waste.
SHERATON MALDIVES FULL MOON RESORT & SPA
Situated on a natural island, the lush Sheraton Maldives Full Moon Resort & Spa is surrounded by an incredible array of over thirty species of plant life and home to 630 palm trees, absorbing large amounts of carbon dioxide to decrease global warming. From the tropical Coconut Tree to the fragrant Tulip Tree, no resources of nature are wasted as the tree’s fallen branches are used as building materials for boats and other purposes. As guests explore the resort, they can come across several trees that are not only beautiful, but also have significant cultural and medicinal value. The Ficus benghalensis, or Banyan Tree, is one such tree. Its large canopy provides shade from the hot sun and its bark, leaves, fruits, and latex are all used in traditional medicine. Another tree that can be found is the Ficus religiosa, also known as the sacred fig or bodhi tree. It has a lifespan of up to 1500 years and is considered sacred in Indian culture. The Calophyllum inophyllum, or tamanu tree, has versatile wood used for building boats and cabinets.
The Adopt a Coral initiative at Sheraton Maldives Full Moon Resort & Spa invites guests to participate in the fun and interactive coral-fragment plantation activity in an effort to promote reef habitats and generate new coral. The resort has teamed up with Reefscapers, a coral propagation organization appointed by the Maldivian Government as custodians of the coral colonies in the Gulhi Falhu lagoon which was slated to be destroyed as part of a reclamation project. The activity is led by experts and offers a hands-on experience to participants while also providing an alternative business to the 250 inhabitants whose sole previous source of employment was fishing. The resort witnessed coral spawning, a milestone in the resort’s coral propagation initiative that started in February 2020. To date, over 6,000 coral fragments from 15 different species of corals have been transplanted. As part of the Adopt a Coral program, participating guests also receive regular updates on the status and growth of the coral they planted to keep track of it’s progress.
The resort also runs its own ‘water bottling plant initiative’ as part of the resort’s sustainability program that is dedicated to removing large amounts of plastic bottles from the resort. This initiative is an important aspect of the property’s commitment to protecting and preserving their environment through day-to-day operation, encompassing Marriott International’s wider “Serve 360: Doing Good in Every Direction” campaign. The one-of-a-kind outdoor gym in the five-star resort is a true embodiment of sustainability and innovation. Fitness enthusiasts can work up a sweat while treading lightly on the earth, thanks to the gym’s construction from recycled materials. With equipment crafted from the wood of fallen trees, every element of the gym tells a story of sustainability and eco-consciousness.
THE WESTIN MALDIVES MIRIANDHOO RESORT
As part of Good Travel with Marriott Bonvoy™, The Westin Maldives Miriandhoo Resort offers guests an experience to be able to contribute meaningfully to the community by promoting the traditional art of lacquer to travelers coming to Maldives, making it profitable and helping to preserve the rich cultural heritage of Liyelaa Jehun for future generations. Lacquer work, known locally as Liyelaa Jehun, is a traditional art believed to have come to the Maldives centuries ago from Chinese traders and settlers. It is now only practiced by a few locals and is at risk of being lost forever. At The Westin Maldives Miriandhoo Resort guests are invited to join the interactive workshop with local lacquer workers, to learn the art and help preserve one of the oldest traditional crafts in the Maldives. Guests can learn and mold the intricate craft themselves with local artisans guiding them. Guests participating in the experience play a key role in supporting the local artisans and the industry. The workshops not only give guests the chance to create something of their own, but also to help keep the art alive. By buying crafts directly from the producers, they directly support the local economy, and by taking pieces of the art back home, guests are helping to preserve the traditional craft and heritage and spread awareness about it too.
The resort has also launched a new project to protect and restore coral reefs. The team at AQUA, the watersports center at the resort, leads this exciting project, one of the biggest of its kind in the Baa Atoll area. It is specific to the local reef topography and will focus on restoring the reefs from top to bottom. Trial nurseries have been set up to see if this method will be successful and healthy coral colonies can be transplanted back onto the reefs. The Westin Maldives Miriandhoo Resort also has it’s own water bottling plant cutting down majorly on the amount of plastic waste and also uses refillable bathroom amenity bottles.