The Maldives Story: Here’s How It Became A Luxury Haven For Tourists

The Maldives is a tropical paradise located in the Indian Ocean, known for its stunning beaches, crystal clear waters, and abundant marine life. Over the past few decades, it has transformed into a popular destination for luxury tourism, attracting travelers from around the world with its luxurious resorts, spa treatments, and world-class dining experiences. So let’s take a look at the Maldives Story and how it became a luxury haven for tourists.

The Beginnings Of The Island 

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Let’s go back in time to 1972, when the Maldives were still isolated from the tourism industry when the only people who walked the shoreline were fishermen, and when foreign investment was still a distant pipe dream. There was just a small airstrip on Hulhule Island (the current location of the international airport), which had been built by volunteers, and there were no regular flights.

Back then, there were no banks, no airports, no telephones, and the only way to communicate with Colombo was through ham radio or Morse code. As a matter of fact, it was this relationship with Sri Lanka’s capital that inverted the image of the Maldives, thanks to the efforts of young business people who were imbued with an incredible amount of passion and desire.

It all started with a chance encounter in Colombo between an Italian travel agent named George Corbin and Ahmed Naseem, who was working as a junior at the Maldives Embassy at the time and would go on to become the nation’s foreign minister in the future. At that time, Corbin was looking for unspoiled islands where he could invite Italians to swim and catch fish, and the picturesque archipelago was the perfect place to fulfill his needs.

The Italian swore to return to Malé with visitors on his first visit to the Maldives in 1971 when he arrived there on a cargo ship. A year later, in February 1972, he did so, bringing with him the Maldives’ very first tourists, who were primarily journalists and photographers.

The guests, who included MU Maniku, Hussain Afeef (the owner of multiple resorts in the country), and Naseem, stayed at three poor lodges in Malé. However, the pure waters created a spell on the travelers. Corbin guaranteed that he would return with a larger group of tourists, provided that the three of them could locate suitable lodging. This led to the establishment of Maldives’ tourism.

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Gaining International Recognition 

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At the time, Vihamanaafushi was an uninhabited coconut plantation; however, Maniku and Afeef joined forces with the leaseholder of the property. The remote location was picked because of its close proximity to both the airport and the main city, but it could only be reached by using a dhoni or an open board equipped with an outboard engine. When visitors arrived at the beachfront, they had to walk through the water to get to the resort’s main entrance.

Maniku and Corbin, along with a handful of their Maldivian friends, were successful in constructing thirty rooms in blocks of three using coral stone for the walls, coconut lumber, and palm thatch for the thatched roofs. Corbin provided financial support, and Maniku used her own resources. The accommodations included showers with brackish water, standard furnishings, and access to the beach. At mealtimes, customers may either place their orders at the canteen or at the beach grills located there.

They came to the conclusion that the resort should be called Kurumba Village (Kurumba is the word for coconut in Dhivehi), with Afeef taking the lead as the manager of the establishment. The resort first opened its doors to the public on October 3, 1972, and during the remainder of that year, every available room was reserved, which served as a portent of the resort’s continued success.

They had no idea what they were doing in terms of tourism. The growth of the industry in this area is largely due to the contributions made by tourists. They considered what people wanted, and then they provided it for them. They were really fortunate that they desired simplicity in natural settings because it was all that they could afford to provide and all that they had to provide.

Becoming The Ultimate Tropical Luxurious Spot 

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One of the key factors in the Maldives’ rise as a luxury destination is its focus on providing a personalized and exclusive experience for guests. Many resorts offer private villas with their own pools, butlers, and even overwater bungalows, allowing guests to enjoy their own slice of paradise without any disruptions. Another aspect that sets the Maldives apart is its commitment to sustainability.

The country recognizes the delicate balance between development and preservation and has taken steps to minimize its impact on the environment. For example, many resorts have switched to renewable energy sources, such as solar power, and have implemented waste management systems to reduce pollution. Additionally, the Maldives has established marine protected areas, which are crucial for conserving the delicate coral reefs and marine life that make the country so unique.

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Aside from its world-renowned beaches, the Maldives is also known for its rich culture and history. The country has a long history of maritime trade and fishing, which is evident in the local markets, where visitors can buy fresh seafood, spices, and other locally-made products. The country’s cultural heritage is also reflected in its traditional music and dance, as well as its many historic mosques and monuments.

In recent years, the Maldives has expanded its offerings to include a range of adventure and water sports, such as surf trips, kiteboarding, and big game fishing. The clear waters of the Maldives provide ideal conditions for these activities, and the country has become a popular destination for sports enthusiasts from around the world.

Overall, the Maldives’ blend of luxurious amenities, rich culture, and commitment to sustainability make it a unique and appealing destination for travelers looking for a tropical escape. Today, the Maldives continues to thrive as one of the world’s most sought-after luxury tourist destinations, offering visitors a unique and unforgettable experience unlike anywhere else in the world.

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Sources: Travel & Leisure Asia, Maldives Magazine, CNN

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