World Sea Turtle Day today. And there are few better friends to the sea turtles’ in the Maldives than the Coco resorts Coco Bodu Hithi and Coco Palm Dhuni Kolhu. They have been long-time supporters of the Oliver Ridley Project with fund raising and public outreach, but this past year brought a pioneering, first ever in the Maldives “marine veterinarian”. Marine Biologist Dr. Claire Petros (from the Oliver Ridley Project) was appointed to operate turtle rescue centres at the resorts. Coco resort described their work in the blog…
- “Guests of Coco Palm Dhuni Kolhu and Coco Bodu Hithi have been incredibly generous in their efforts to support the project by donating funds directly and by purchasing signature Olive Ridley turtle toys at the resorts. In May 2016, we received the target of the funds required to start construction of the first rescue centre at Coco Palm….As planned, [the centre includes] a dedicated veterinary surgeon has joined our team to look after the rescue centre!”
She provides treatment and ever surgery to ill and injured turtles at the resort turtle rescue centres. Hotellier Maldives also did a profile on her work focusing on her clinic…
- “’My main role is to care for the injured turtles that we find around the country with the intention of being able to release them when recovered as quickly as possible.’ Injured sea turtles are not a rare sight in the Maldives waters. Though turtles are a protected species in the Maldives, their foes range from abandoned fishing nets, and people, who are hungry for their meat, eggs, and shells. Ghost nets are nets that have been discarded, abandoned or lost in the ocean. They can continue to entangle endangered and vulnerable animals such as marine turtles, birds, sharks, rays, dolphins and whales, long after they have been discarded, abandoned or lost. ‘Turtles are very attracted to ghost gear as it often contains an easy meal, but unfortunately during the process of trying to eat the fish entrapped in the nets, the turtles themselves become entangled,’ she explained. ‘Sadly, the effort to escape is so great by the animal that it exerts enough force to break its own bones and the extent of the injuries suggests that turtles may suffer for weeks before dying, or hopefully be rescued’.”
Resort islands face all sorts of new environmental challenges from COTS to rising sea temperatures taking their tolls on the coral reefs. But an endemic and ancient plague on the islands are the simple currents shifting the precious sands of their tiny plot of real estate all over the place. Of the over 100 active resorts, nearly 40 have either rock groynes (still vertically out from the beach) or sea walls (sit horizontally parallel to the beach)…or both…to limit this natural erosion. Unfortunately, these measures to keep the sand in place can keep guests away who prefer an unadulterated ocean vista.
Some resorts have gotten clever about turning adversity to advantage dressing their groynes up as everything from lounging areas to wedding pavilions. But Coco Palm Dhuni Kolhu is the first resort to address the less slightly seawalls by introducing ‘turtle-friendly’ submerged ones that wouldn’t impair the view over the water…
“This project consists of a ‘belt’ of breakwater walls built in the North Eastern side of the lagoon, at a distance of 100 meters from, and parallel to the shore line. The purpose of the wall is to control the sand movements by reducing the impact of rough seas and the strong circulating currents. The first phase of the project consists of 9 walls, each of 25 meters in length and with gaps between each wall to allow the passage of turtles and fish as well as a controlled amount of currents. With Coco Palm Dhuni Kolhu being a regular green sea turtle nesting ground, these gaps are very important for them to navigate their way onto the island. The wall is built with eco-friendly coir gunny bags filled with a mixture of sand and cement ; the bags will eventually dissolve naturally, leaving the cement ‘blocks’ in place. We are in phase one of this project and 5 walls are now complete, with the 6th at 90% and the remaining 3 all 50% completed. We have already started observing a stable beach near our Lagoon Villas which used to be severely affected. The image above is from a stay a couple of months ago in October, and the thin line that you see near the Lagoon Villas is the breakwater wall that has progressed.”
Sometimes the best resort innovations are hidden just beneath the surface.
Maldives resorts offer spa treatments from all over the world – Thai, Swedish, Balinese. A number of resort spas do offer Maldives treatments which are often variants of Ayurvedic practices from India. Coco Palm Dhuni Kolhu offers a very traditional Maldives treatment by a Maldivian practitioner…
“Having been practised in the Maldives as a traditional form of healing for many years, the roots of Maldivian alternative medicine also known as ‘Dhivehi beys verikan’, are slowly fading. As a result and in order to revive the tradition and culture of the local community, Coco Collection has invited a Maldivian alternative medicine man – Dhivehi beys veriya – to visit Coco Palm Dhuni Kolhu once a week. Mr. Ahmed Mohamed has experience of ‘Dhivehi beys verikan’ for over 20 years and will only be using locally grown and tested concoctions. Available therapies will include the treatment for asthma, joint and muscle pain, sunburn and many more. All of the treatments are personalised to the needs of the guests.”
Hashi himeynkan dhivehi.
If a running machine seems just too monotonous for you, you might want to go to the other extreme with Coco Palm Dhuni Kholu’s obstacle course (thanks Paola). Tumble in the jungle.
When I added the ‘Room Type’ database and profiles, two of the first characteristics that I catalogued were whether the room had (a) a Jacuzzi/pool, and (b) a glass floor (for water villas). Well, Coco Palm Dhuni Kolhu features a ‘two-for’…a water villa pool WITH a glass floor. Kind of an aqueous parfait. Look through water to see…water.
I was alerted to it by eagle-eyed Sakis Papadopoloous of Dreaming of Maldives in his post this week titled ‘Your TOP 10 Maldives Dreamy Resorts in 2012’ where his dazzling photo (see above) graced their runner-up entry.
"Thus we never see the true State of our Condition, till it is illustrated to us by its Contraries; nor know how to value what we enjoy, but by the want of it." – Daniel Defoe, Robinson Crusoe
This week (25 April 1719) marks the publication of the classic by Daniel Defoe, ‘Robinson Crusoe’, whose story epitomises idyllic, simple living on remote island paradise. Though set in the South Pacific, the story’s imagery pervades the Maldives with many resorts offering ‘Robinson Crusoe’ experiences and adopting the namesake. Such as the ‘Robinson Villa’ at Soneva Fushi and even the ‘Robinson Club’ resort itself.
And if the resorts themselves don’t offer enough isolated wonders of seclusion for you, most offer a ‘Robinson Crusoe’ excursion which take you to a deserted island all to yourself several hours or even a whole day. One of Lori’s and my favourite experiences was one of these outings when we stayed at Filitheyo and took the trip to Hamza island for the day (see pix below).
Again, I turned to leading authority on all things Maldivian resorts, Adrian Neville, to determine a top recommendation in this area and he called out was the island offered by Coco Palm Dhuni Kolhu…
“As to Medhufinolhu, what makes it so good is that it is very small but not too small, so it can feel like 'yours'. It has decent vegetation and a lovely beach. It is out of sight and sound. Crucially, it has just one building – a hut made of wood and thatch, with a simple shower behind. In front is a table and chairs, made of found wood and coir rope. This is the best I have come across for that mythical Robinson Crusoe experience. And not just me it would seem. It is so popular that during much of the year it is used twice a day. One couple during the day and one couple at night. And I got this beautiful picture. The island was pristine enough to have these terns lay their eggs on the beach. And then they bombed me as I approached.”
I’ve already highlighted Medhufinolhu as a top Overnight Escape (Coco Palm is one of a few resorts to offer an overnight option), but it is just as spectacular for day visits too worthy of a second shout out.
In the spirit of World Oceans Day, the Maldives established a record number of protected marine areas last week in what many consider to be the most spectacular atoll in the Maldives, Baa. The map above links through to the UNESCO map of the areas.
The first 5 areas are in a string right across the centre of the atoll, and at the eastern edge is Coco Palm Dhuni Kolhu. In fact, Dhuni Kolhu is right next to Hanifaru Reef, the closest any resort is to a protected area.
Speaking of French beauty and fashion lately, if you are looking for a different sort of ‘natural beauty’ or ‘stunning scenery’, then Coco Palm Bodu Hithi and Coco Palm Dhuni Kolhu is the place to go from 11-18th November when they are hosting the Miss France 2011 contestants for a range of activities and photo shoots.
PS. I think it is intriguing that the Soneva resorts (Fushi and Gili) and the Coco Palm resorts (Bodu Hithi and Dhuni Kolhu) seem to be vying for the title of most cool events (check out the ‘Events’ section of the ‘Best Of’ page).
With such direct and high profile self-interest, the Maldives have not only been leading the calls for environmental action, but have been leading the way with their own actions. I have covered many of these pioneering initiatives recently (Eco-Friendly Villas, Nature Conservation, Eco-Friendly Resort, Reefscaping, Marine Protected Reserve). Yesterday, 27th March, marked ’60 Earth Hour’ – “global event organized by WWF (World Wildlife Fund), inviting individuals, businesses, governments and communities to turn off their non-essential lighting and power for one hour, to show their support for action on climate change.”
Not only did Coco Palm Dhuni Kolhu mark the hour by switching off all lights, but they actually switched off all the islands generators and power. They further celebrated the occasion with tree planting that brought together the resort staff and the guests.
Many people think of a trip to the Maldives as a holiday *of* a lifetime, but now Coco Bodu Hithi are offering a trip *for* a lifetime.
“Would you like to win your holiday for a lifetime? Win a fabulous two week holiday on Coco Palm Bodu Hithi….EVERY YEAR…for a lifetime!!! The prize includes a stay for 2 persons at our Club Coco Palm on Coco Bodu Hithi for 2 weeks (14 nights) on half board, including airport transfers with a speedboat. Simply take part in our competition game and collect 10 “Coco Coins”. If you collect 10 “Coco Coins” you have a very good chance to win this fabulous prize. You can enter the competition at any point in time! Browse through our new website in the time period between January 25th and March 4th, 2010 and search for hidden suitcases. You will find a new suitcase every day from Mondays to Thursdays, somewhere on our English website. Simply click onto the suitcase and remember the item that is hidden in the suitcase. Every found item equals 1 “Coco Coin”. Repeat looking for hidden suitcases until March 4th and collect 10 “Coco Coins” in total. The last hidden suitcase will give you the chance to put your 10 collected “Coco Coins” into the competition draw, by filling out the provided form.”
I’ve looked several time through the website in the past few days and I couldn’t find a single suitcase, but maybe you all be more eagle eyed.