From 'sustainability to sustainaquality'

Published: 01-04-2013
Source: Marina World

Nestled in the Indian Ocean between Minicoy Island and the Chagos Archipelago, the Maldives comprise a chain of 26 atolls made up of islands and reefs. Tropical weather, white sane and clear water make the islands a popular holiday destination and a haven for divers but, while the surrounding ocean teems with life, home to coral reefs, eels, sharks, turtles, dolphins, manto rays and over 1.00 other species of fish, rising sea levels pose serious threat. Charlotte Niemiec reports on an ambitious community and tourism project aimed at keeping the Maldives afloat.

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The average ground level in the Maldives is just 1.5m and the island's president, Mohammed Nasheed, has warned that even a 'small rise' in sea levels would eradicate large parts of the area. Envisioning a future for its people of "climate refugees living in tents for decades" the Maldivian Government has teamed up with Netherlands-based company Dutch Docklands International in a Joint Venture Project to build a solution to the problem in the form of man-made floating islands. The '5 Lagoons Project 'will provide housing, entertainment and guests complexes for visitors to the Maldives, expanding its footprint and further bolstering the area's tourist economy.

A star-shaped hotel and conference centre - the "Green Star" - symbolises the Maldives route to combat climate change. Its many five-star facilities will include pools, beaches and restaurants. A 'plug and play' system allows for each leg of the star to be removed for easy refurbishment and a temporary one floated in and placed in position. It is hoped the centre will play host to international conferences on sea level rise, climate change and environmental issues. It is scheduled to open in 2015.

Across the water, relaxation is to be found at an 18-hole floating gold course. With panoramic ocean views, golfers can enjoy the driving range, short games practice areas, putting townhouses in Venetian style, in a village offering boutiques, ice cream parlours, restaurants, bars and ultra-luxury palatial style villas. Movement around the island - assembled in archipelago form - is via bridges or glass tunnels in the ocean, which give guests the opportunity to enjoy the area's sea life up close. A marina of international standard will also be built on this island. 

Amillarah - the Maldivian word for private island - will consist of 43 floating islands offering luxury $10 million villas for sale to the public. Facilities will include a private beach, pool and green area, private jetty and small pavilion on a purpose-built island (the shape of which the buyer can design in advance), situated in the centre of an exclusive, large private water plot just a short swim away from the coral reefs.

For those who baulk at the price tag, a separate development, the 'Ocean Flower' offers less expensive housing starting at $1 million. The Ocean Flower is located upmarket the North Malé atoll, 20 minutes by boat from the capital and airport, and will offer villas on three different scales. All have private pools and terraces and are fully furnished, while shared facilities include a beach, shops, restaurants, a diving centre, spa, swimming pools and easy access to the surrounding private islands. The Ocean Flower will open mid-2014, with construction beginning soon.

Finally the White Lagoon project consists of four individual ring-shaped floating islands each with 72 water villas connected. The rings function as beach-boulevards with white sand and greenery. A marina will be built inside the rings and a variety of restaurants, bars, shops and boutiques will be available.