This week LATTE chats with the General Manager of one of the Maldives’ newest luxury retreats, the InterContinental Maldives Maamunagau Resort which opened officially opened on 1 September 2019.
Stefan Huemer is no stranger to luxury hotels and resorts, with his extensive hospitality career including long tenures with InterContinental Hotels Group, Wanda Hotels & Resorts and Jumeirah Hotels & Resorts.
What sets the InterContinental Maldives Maamunagau Resort apart from other luxury properties in this atoll and the wider Maldives as a whole?
At InterContinental Maldives, we offer our guests a 360 wellness experience all under one roof, allowing guests to stay as healthy as possible whilst still enjoying a luxury getaway. We have an on-site Traditional Chinese Medical Doctor and six overwater spa treatment rooms. Our Spa & Wellness offering is complemented with our chef’s ability to tailor any menu for any diet – enabling our guests to take on a self-imposed wellness retreat whilst still enjoying the company of friends and family.
Why was it important for InterContinental Hotels & Resorts to extend its footprint to the Maldives?
The Maldives is an iconic destination and no better place to introduce our first all-club InterContinental concept. With 70 years’ experience in the global luxury arena we are a reputable brand for travellers and owners alike and it has been hugely exciting to expand into the Maldvies with the first InterContinental in the region.
What are some of the characteristics of the Maldives’ Raa atoll that makes it so appealing to travellers?
Our resort is located on the southernmost tip of the Raa Atoll near Baa Atoll, a UNESCO biosphere reserve, and one of the most secluded locations in the Maldives. It is also home to Hanifaru Bay, one of the very few places in the world where visitors can snorkel amongst feeding congregations of whale sharks and large groups of enigmatic and graceful reef manta rays.
What range of accommodation is available for travellers?
The resort has 81 Beach, Lagoon and Overwater Villas. We also have four exclusive two & three-bedroom Residences with kitchen, dining and spacious in and outdoor living spaces. Our three-bedroom Beach Royal Residence has a personalised butler, private kitchen and expansive terrace with a private pool.
Can you tell us about the dining options available to guests and what makes them special and unique?
Food is an art at InterContinental Maldives Maamunagau Resort. We have six restaurants and bars offering culinary experiences which range from fine dining, live cooking to relaxed poolside dining. Our Lighthouse restaurant offers a Mediterranean journey with 360 views of the Indian Ocean whilst our Fish Market restaurant has a unique ‘sea-to-table’ and interactive kitchen concept. The Retreat, is an adults-only enclave with a private bar and its own infinity pool at the water’s edge and Café Umi, a Japanese-inspired restaurant providing elevated comfort and classic favourites, inspired by natural, organic and sustainable cuisine.
The property boasts being the first all Club InterContinental resort in the world. What does that mean?
As the first and only All-Club InterContinental experience from IHG (InterContinental Hotels Group), guests will enjoy the heightened experience of personalised service from a talented Island Curator and complimentary benefits throughout the hotel, such as daily breakfast, afternoon tea, evening digestive and all-day refreshments at the pool and beach area.
Can you tell us about the sustainability projects that are being undertaken at the resort?
Committed to preserving the ocean for future generations and guests, InterContinental Maldives has launched two key conservation initiatives. The first is a dedicated manta ray sanctuary in partnership with the Manta Trust. The partnership, which is in support of the Maldivian Manta Ray Project, will nurture a safe habitat for the manta rays within the resort’s lagoon as well as providing guests with invaluable information and an opportunity to swim alongside these graceful creatures and snorkel over underwater coral gardens.
InterContinental Maldives is also focused on minimising its environmental impact with a commitment to reducing waste from both plastic and glass, composting bio waste and giving it new life with the IHG Green Engage system. The resort has also entered into an agreement with Parley Maldives, which works to reduce reliance on single-use plastics, intercept sources of plastic waste, and prevent it from entering the oceans or being disposed of in destructive ways. Parley will take the resort’s plastics and recycle them to make usable products.
What does the resort’s conservation program entail?
The Manta Trust Partnership, the first of its kind for InterContinental Hotels & Resorts, has been created to conserve a large area in the Raa Atoll, previously unmonitored. This involved a two-month scoping project to gauge the magnitude of new discoveries and findings relating to manta rays in this area. In this time period, the number of manta sightings in the Maamunagau Lagoon increased from a handful of sightings to the highest recorded number in the whole Raa Atoll, with many juvenile manta rays, making the area one the most important nursery sites in the country. The InterContinental Maldives and Manta Trust are dedicated to protecting and managing the site, so disturbance is kept to a minimum.
Does the resort cater for adults-only, or are there family activities in place?
We welcome families at InterContinental Maldives. We have an exclusive Planet Trekkers kids’ club with games, arts and crafts, and mini expeditions for children aged 4-12. Older adventurers are offered supervised water activities, and bespoke storytelling or glamping days. Children under-4 can benefit from the 24-hour babysitting service. Other activities offered by the resort include a movie night under the stars, local island-hopping excursions, cooking classes, and local handicraft courses.
How has the Australian market responded to the debut of the resort? Are you pleased with the sales coming from this market, and on average, how long are Australian guests planning to stay?
Australia is one of our top key markets. We have a healthy list of enquiries for the festive season and they usually stay 4 to 5 nights stay in Maldives throughout the season.
LATTE’s signature question : What coffee is used in InterContinental Maldives?
Julius Meinl. I like my coffee decaffeinated with soya milk. My favourite coffee place is Dallmayr in Munich.