With the news that nearly all of the resorts in the Maldives will reopen by the end of October, winter travel is looking up. Olivia Palamountain reports
When the Maldives opened its borders to international visitors on July 15, 2020, only a handful of its resorts were in a position to welcome guests.
Today, many of the islands’ ultra-luxe properties (and its budget-friendly options) are now open and the Maldives Marketing and PR Corporation (MMPRC) has confirmed that 146 of its 156 resorts will be operational by the end of October 2020.
This follows health and safety measures set out by the Ministry of Tourism in June, requiring all 156 resorts to take protective measures, ensuring the safety of tourists and also staff working in the industry.
Speaking about the reopening of the resorts, Thoyyib Mohamed, managing director of MMPRC, said: “Following the issue of detailed COVID-19 safe tourism guidelines and the reopening of our international borders on July 15, we are now fully prepared to welcome back tourists to our island nation, with safety being the destinations’ top priority.
“Over 40 resorts in the Maldives are already open to guests and a further 103 will reopen before the month of November, so we look forward to welcoming back UK holidaymakers to our beautiful islands.”43 resorts have already opened, including Kudafushi Resort and Spa, Lily Beach Maldives, LUX* North Male Atoll, OBLU by Atmosphere, Soneva Fushi, Angsana Resort & Spa, VARU by Atmosphere, Jumeirah Vittaveli, and both properties owned by Four Seasons.
A further 28 resorts opened their doors to the public in late August, including Joali Maldives, all four properties in Coco Collection and Centara’s Maldivian portfolio of resorts, as well as the recently launched Emerald Maldives Resort and Spa.
In September, 29 Maldivian resorts will welcome back tourists, including Hideaway Beach Resort and Spa, four of Aitken Spence Hotels’ Maldivian properties and the Nautilus.
When an additional 46 resorts open in October, including Outrigger Konotta Maldives Resort, Reethi Faru Resort and Niyama Private Islands Maldives, 94 per cent of resorts will be open for business ahead of the winter travel months.
For outsiders, there will, however, be entry requirements. For tourists from the UK, a negative PCR test for Covid-19 must be presented on arrival. (The test and negative PCR certificate must be issued no more than 72 hours prior to departure.)
Screening procedures will also be in place for passengers on arrival, with quarantine facilities set up to isolate any suspected cases of Covid-19.
One resort, Velaa Private Island, actually remained open throughout the pandemic – and even functioned as a place of refuge for quarantining guests.
George Dammers, director of sales, says: “We were happy to see that many guests from closing resorts came to Velaa during this time as they were looking for a safe haven for them and their families, with no compromises on the quality of food, service or activities.
“These guests were staying for longer periods, some even beyond three months and in higher room categories, meaning that we were able to keep a reasonable occupancy for the whole lock-down period.
“During the peak of the crisis we were running an occupancy between 40 per cent and 50 per cent, and the month of July was our best July ever recorded.
“To continue ensuring the safest service possible, we opened our own Covid-19 laboratory at Maafaru airport (30 minutes by speedboat from Velaa) where we can conduct Covid-19 testing of our employees and guests. We have also invested in accommodation at Maafaru where our employees go into 14 days quarantine and make a negative test before they return to Velaa.
“At the moment many countries also require a negative Covid-19 test when the guests return to their home country and with this lab we have the possibility to make this happen smoothly for our guests.
“We conduct the test on the island, send it to our laboratory and before departure, the guest will have the results and can travel home safe without quarantine upon arrival in their home country.
“During the last months we have proven to be a one of the world’s safest destination and at the same time provide the maximum quality, service and comfort to all our guests and you can be rest assured that we will continue in this manner.
“Current arrivals needs to show a negative Covid-19 test made five days prior to departure and the minimum stay at Velaa is restricted to seven room nights or more until further notice. Velaa is the safe haven not only for families but as well for groups, couples and naturally island buyouts.”
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