A delicate necklace of 1,190 islands off the southern coast of India, the Maldives are surrounded by some of the most crystalline sapphire seas and bleach white beaches on earth. The highest point across the entire archipelago is 7.5 feet above sea level, making it the lowest country in the world. And over 80% of the land mass consists of living corals encircling teal blue lagoons thriving with marine and bird life. It’s a tenuous balance here in the middle of the Indian Ocean affecting every aspect of culture and commerce.
Concern that the Maldives will disappear by the end of the century due to rising sea levels has garnered intense worldwide attention, although there are those who question the degree of annual rise. However, the corals, like in many other coastal regions around the world, are on the decline. The difference here is that the corals are the only home and source of subsistence that Maldivians have.
Perched on the lagoon-rimmed Haa Alifu atoll, the 83-villa Waldorf Astoria Maldives offers a Coral Reef Regeneration Project for visiting groups of up to 20 people. It starts with pieces of living but damaged coral collected by resident marine biologists. Your attendees will help attach the coral to a collection of delicate pyramid-shaped frames, which everyone then takes out into the lagoon to help rebuild the reef.
This is also a popular program for honeymooners, so you can tell your couples incentive winners that sustainability saves marriages, as well as the planet.
“Coral reefs are one of the most spectacular and fragile environments on this planet,” says general manager Frederic Lebegue. “Coral that takes decades to grow can be destroyed so easily which is why we support this project.”
Plus, your people can follow their reef’s progress on the hotel’s website. “The Maldives depends on tourism and fishing, which are the two largest contributors to the economy,” says Lebegue. “Both of these industries rely on the continued existence of healthy, vibrant reefs.”
Meanwhile, the 221-villa Hilton Maldives Iru Fushi Resort & Spa on Noonu Atoll launched a “Barefoot MICE” program, inviting guests to kick off their shoes and enjoy the resort’s open-air meeting spaces, such as luxury tents on the beach. Groups also have exclusive use of a private island for beach barbeques, spa treatments and water sports.
GM Jean Sebastien King says that while the Maldives is not traditionally seen as a typical MICE destination, the hotel intends to change that with the new program.
“We pride ourselves on being specialists in creative and innovative meetings and we promise organizers that no event will take place in a dull, stuffy room,” he says. “Instead, all meeting activities can be done barefoot around the resort.”