Monthly Archives: March 2012

A Start-Up Airline Finds Its Place in the Maldives

At a time when many airlines are filing for bankruptcy or consolidating routes, George Weinmann is jumping into the industry with a start-up.

Mr. Weinmann, the chief executive of Mega Maldives Airlines, is going after a growing niche, linking increasingly affluent China with the Maldives, a tiny island nation. The American entrepreneur says he has the right ingredients to make it a success: lucrative landing rights in an expanding market, an international network of contacts and crucial government approvals.

“Over the next 10 years, the Maldives can become the playground in the backyard of India and China, similar to the way the Caribbean is to the U.S.A. and Canada,” Mr. Weinmann said.

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Maldives March 21, 2012: Maldives has been wowing tourists worldwide with its mesmerizing beaches, secluded islands and luxurious resorts. For those with Maldives on their bucket list, there is no better time to visit the islands than now. With global economy slowly recovering from recessive effect, tourism is gaining momentum, but rates are still low. brings the best of Maldives resorts at unbelievably low rates.

No one can deny the shattering effect recession had on tourism industry. With many losing their jobs, people obviously avoided extra expenditure such as traveling. The vice grip of slowdown on world economy loosening almost a year back, people worldwide are heaving huge sigh of relief. Jobs scene is improving and so is tourism industry. Tourists are once again scouting for exotic vacation destinations. However, budget is not as lavish it was earlier. The recessive effect is still lingering in certain aspects of life.

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Lot of scope to increase Chinese tourists to Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka has a lot of potential, as good as the Maldives, to attract dozens of Chinese travellers but a group of top, visiting travel agents says much needs to be done before this could be achieved.
China is the Maldives’ biggest source market with nearly 200,000 tourists in 2011, against just 41,500 in 2008 compared to Sri Lanka which attracted only 16,000 last year with half of them being workers.

“The travel industry (on both sides) did a lot of promotion of the Maldives and in just 2-3 years it increased by over 100,000 visitors. The same can happen in Sri Lanka if there is a coordinated promotional effort,” said Sketic (one name) from Shenzhen Shenhua International Travel Service. Sword Lai, Vacations Division Product Manager at China International Travel Service Shenzhen Co Ltd among China’s top three travel agencies, told the Business Times that while Sri Lanka has some fantastic offerings and is ‘such a compact destination’, the key is communications.

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On The Road: Swimming with mantas in the Maldives

I’ve just sailed into mirror-smooth Hanifaru Lagoon in the Maldives where, so they say, manta rays come to feed en masse. It’s a rare event and little understood. Sometimes the mantas are there, sometimes not, but today it seems like they are waiting for me. I see one flapping idly over the sandy bottom; another hovers near the drop off. There’s a wing flap in that direction, a dark ripple in the other.

Next thing I know, I’m sitting on the sand at 10m deep with my head spinning. Left, right, left. Up, down. If it was to turn any more, I swear it would go a full 360 degrees. There must be more than 50 mantas but I can’t count them because my neck isn’t built to turn that far. One swims right up to me and performs a perfect belly roll inches from my face. Never, in the 20 or so years I have been scuba diving, have I seen such a thing.

Manta after manta arrives, swimming to and fro, approaching divers and snorkellers, showing off, flapping away again. By the time I run out of air, I have seen hundreds of these gentle giants and my adrenalin level is at explosion point.

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Maldives honeymoons ‘offer activities as well as luxury’

Engaged couples looking for a honeymoon destination that offers a combination of luxury and excitement have been encouraged to consider the Maldives.

Mohamed Adam, acting managing director of the Maldives Marketing and Public Relations Corporation, said the island nation offers palm tree-lined beaches, high-end resorts and ‘excellent’ service, but also provides opportunities to try watersports and cruise excursions.

Scuba diving is highly popular – with more than 300 different types of tropical fish in the surrounding waters – as are windsurfing, kayaking, snorkelling and jet skiing.

Commenting on the enduring appeal of the Maldives as a post-wedding holiday destination, Mr Adam said: ‘The Maldives is extremely popular with honeymooners, as the island life and postcard-perfect paradise is often viewed as a once-in-a-lifetime indulgence.’

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Raffles to open five new hotels by end 2013

Raffles Hotels & Resorts will expand its portfolio by more than half in the next two years, with five new openings taking the chain from eight to 13 hotels worldwide.

By the end of this year, the luxury hotel company will open hotels in the Maldives and the Philippines

These will be followed in 2013 by new hotels in Hainan, China; Istanbul and Jakarta.

Raffles vice president sales and marketing Diana Banks said: “There are exciting times ahead for Raffles Hotels & Resorts. The company is embarking on a new phase of expansion with another five developments in the pipeline over the next two years.

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Glowing Blue Waves Explained

Pinpricks of light on the shore seem to mirror stars above in an undated picture taken on Vaadhoo Island in the Maldives.

The biological light, or bioluminescence, in the waves is the product of tiny marine life-forms called phytoplankton—and now scientists think they know how some of these sea beasts create their brilliant blue glow.

Various species of phytoplankton are known to bioluminesce, and their lights can be seen in oceans all around the world, said marine biologist and bioluminescence expert Woodland Hastings of Harvard University. (Also see “Glowing Sea Beasts: Photos Shed Light on Bioluminescence.”)

“I’ve been across the Atlantic and Pacific, and I’ve never seen a spot that wasn’t bioluminescent or a night that [bioluminescence] couldn’t be seen,” Hastings said.

The most common type of marine bioluminescence is generated by phytoplankton known as dinoflagellates. A recent study co-authored by Hastings has for the first time identified a special channel in the dinoflagellate cell membrane that responds to electrical signals—offering a potential mechanism for how the animals create their unique illumination.


Holiday Inn parent IHG launches brand for China

Holiday Inn parent IHG today announced the launch of a Chinese hotel brand for the massive emerging market.

Called Hualuxe Hotels & Resorts, the concept includes a prominent tea house instead of a traditional bar, restaurants that offer local food vs. fine dining, and foot massage instead of a spa, China Daily reports.

China’s hotel market is expected to overtake the USA as the world’s largest in 2025, the story says.


Maldives’ first golf course to open later this month — but it can’t float

The first golf course in the Maldives will open later this month, Shangri-La has confirmed.

The first course in the tourism hotspot is set to be inaugurated March 27, offering nine holes on the southern end of Villingili Island.

The 7.5-hectare course will average par 3, Shangri-La said, with a green fee of US$80 (RM240) including clubs.

Amid concerns about the course’s environmental impact on the island’s ecosystem (turtles are expected to be a regular sight between holes six and nine), a spokesperson from the resort told local publications that fresh water would not be used to desalinate the greens and use of organic fertilisers would be kept to a minimum.

Tourism arrivals in the Maldives have nearly doubled in 10 years, hitting a record of over 931,000 in 2011, a figure which is expected to grow again in 2012.

That has led to a boom in development on the islands, and in some cases off them — Shangri-La may be able to lay claim to the first golf course in the country, but it could soon be overtaken by a floating course first mooted last year.

The development plan, a partnership between Troon Golf and Dutch Docklands, calls for a US$500 million floating island, which is set for completion in 2015.

According to the plans, golfers would be able to hop on a speedboat to get to the proposed site, which features 27 holes spread across three islands, all connected by underwater tunnels.

It is believed that the Maldivian government supported the idea of the floating course, noting that the project would be more environmentally friendly than reclaiming land, the tactics used by Dubai for its offshore developments.

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Hilton Maldives Iru Fushi Resort Bags Agoda Gold Circle Award for Second Consecutive Year

Five star luxury resort Hilton Maldives Iru Fushi Resort has been presented with another Gold Circle Award from Agoda for the second year running.

Sprawled over 52 acres of powder white beach and abundant tropical vegetation, the Hilton Maldives Iru Fushi Resort & Spa is discreetly tucked away on an island within the pristine Noonu Atoll, and is accessible by a scenic 45 minute seaplane ride.

One of Hilton Maldives / Iru Fushi’s key strengths is its range of accommodation that varies from outstanding private villas set on the beach to the quintessential Maldivian over-water villas on stilts over the lagoon. This outstanding choice of villas, all spacious, exquisitely luxurious and with the latest high-tech features, give visitors to the five-star resort some of the best accommodation options in the Indian Ocean.

Each year, recognizes outstanding hotel partners by presenting them with a Gold Circle Award. The awards, launched in 2009, are unique to and are intended to honor hotels that show commitment to providing a superior online product.

Winning hotels must meet certain criteria to qualify for an award.  They must have worked closely with to offer consistently competitive room rates and must have earned positive reviews and comments from customers.

This year, a few carefully selected hotels worldwide received Gold Circle Awards. The awards themselves sport a sleek new design and were presented to the winning properties by a local representative of the Hotels Team.

“It is a great privilege to be presented with this award for the second year running, it shows that we have been recognized in committing to our guests and have proven our track record with the exceptional feedback received via Agoda,” General Manager, Jean-Sebastien Kling said.