As more affordable accommodation options spring up in the Maldives, hoteliers at the recent Hotelier Maldives GM Forum – which took place last week at Kurumba Maldives – remain positive the destination will continue to attract luxury travellers.
Vlad Reyes, general manager at the JA Manafaru agreed that the Maldives is still a strong luxury destination despite a growth in the mid- to low-end segments.
“Many tour operators and travel agents have told us that their clients still treat the Maldives as the highest aspiration where they can be in ‘a little patch of Paradise’ during their holidays. Nowhere else can you find the same sun, sand, surf and sea experience as you have here in the Maldives,” he said.
Andrew Ashmore, group head of sales and marketing at Coco Collections, observed that resorts such as the Cheval Blanc Randheli, One&Only Reethi Rah, Soneva and Velaa Private Island are likely to maintain their rates and continue to have an edge in the luxury sector.
He pointed out that growth is seen from “all areas”, with India showing luxury potential and the Middle Eastern markets being “the big focus for summer”.
But with the Maldives becoming more “mainstream”, Ashmore acknowledged that the share of luxury travellers could be spread thinner, albeit still significant.
Outside of the forum, hoteliers like Dilip Rajakariar, CEO of Minor Hotels Group, expects strong demand will continue in the luxury segment in the Maldives over the coming years. The growth seen in the mid-tier segment is only a natural progression for an aspirational destination like the Maldives, he opined.
Likewise, Sonu Shivdasani, founder and owner of the luxury resorts Soneva Fushi and Soneva Jani, added that the Maldives remains associated with “rarity” that many luxury travellers seek.
The luxury offerings in the Maldives continue to grow, with the Conrad Maldives Rangali Island resort, which already boasts the undersea restaurant Ithaa, scheduled to roll out underwater villas too in November.
Meanwhile, the lure of the Maldives for the rich and high profile remains strong, as the destination is seen to afford both security and privacy away from the prying paparazzi. In February/March, a tour party comprising a “royal” visitor and his entourage of around 2,000 including security was cancelled due to the state of emergency, although payments for his bookings at several luxury resorts were retained.
Update: The story has been updated to indicate that additional comments were gotten from outside of the Hotelier Maldives GM Forum.