Paradise worth preserving

Friday, 2 October 2009 12:34

Fringes of reefs encircle the islands, forming startling white ribbons beside a deep blue ocean. Somewhere, among the 1,000 or so islands of the Maldives, lies the sandy isle of Reethi Rah, home to the One&Only Resort.

When viewed from air, all of the islands, big and small, are beautiful to behold. Stretching far into the calm waters, the island is encircled by a reef rich with coral and sea life.

Four years in the making, Reethi Rah is a labour of love. The resort made headlines when the One&Only opened its tall teak doors to those seeking peace and solitude.

Filled with swaying palm groves and thickets of shrubs, the resort sits on a Maldivian emerald, completely aware of its stunning location.

The Garland of Islands, as it is called in Dhivehi, the Maldives is the lowest lying country in the world with an average height of just two metres above sea level. This means the islands will be the first to be impacted by rising sea levels. The Maldives are a good model for sustainable tourism in a world feeling the effects of rapid climate change and global warming.

When tourism boomed beyond anyone’s wildest expectations, the Maldivian government put laws into place to help preserve its most precious asset — the sea and its flora and fauna.

In 1988, the government announced a series of wildlife and environmental laws to protect the islands from overfishing and pollution, as a burgeoning and unchecked tourism industry could easily spell disaster for this pristine paradise.

Sustainable tourism is vital in today’s world, and a resort that implements an eco-friendly philosophy is a high priority for many travelers in this day and age. Set in the spectacular surroundings of the Indian Ocean, the One&Only Reethi Rah is committed to becoming a Green Globe resort, a certification which entails a dedication to reducing and recycling waste on the island, which is in keeping with the country’s environmental laws.

A lot of effort has also gone into maintaining the resort’s lush gardens, with an expert team on hand to make sure the greens, trees and 2,600 orchards flourish. As plants cannot survive on desalinated water, a special rainwater collection system is used to sustain them.

The island is a haven for those seeking privacy. Many famous personalities, such as Elizabeth Hurley and Sienna Miller, have graced Reethi Rah with their presence. The resort also arranges snorkeling excursions and guided tours of the reef. Pedalos or kayaks are exciting and eco-friendly ways to explore the coral reef and its stunning sea life.

With walking, cycling and golf carts as the only means of transportation along the sandy routes, Reethi Rah is unspoiled and free from the smog of traffic.

In keeping with the programme to reduce its environmental impact, the resort’s villas are fitted with sensors that switch off the air conditioning once you open the doors to the cool sea breeze.

If you prefer outdoors living, make your way across the white sand to the hammocks, which gently sway under a clear blue sky, a perfect place to appreciate this paradise on earth.


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