New golf course opening in the Maldives

Any island resort of note usually has at least one golf course to its name, but some are better than others, valuing what an 18-hole course can do for its fortunes and prestige. Many small island nations who are worried about sinking below sea level as a consequence of global warming are thinking of innovative solutions to their problem. The Maldives is one such country, and to try and ensure that it remains a popular tourist destination for golf breaks with yourgolftravel.com, it has come up with a radical idea.

In conjunction with a major architectural firm, the Maldivian government are to start work on a multi-million pound floating golf course as part of a series of floating islands. As many of its islands are just five feet above sea level, the powers that be in the Maldives are trying to find ways of maintaining its status as a top destination for tourists who love to play golf with spectacular views of the Indian Ocean, soak up the sun or sample a different culture to their own.

Golf is just one of many things tourists can see and do when visiting this group of islands. The Maldives have so much to offer visitors, whether they want thrills at every turn or are in need of a relaxing week or fortnight away from the daily grind at home. First gaining independence from the British Empire in 1965, it quickly became a tourist hotspot, despite being the lowest-lying country in the world. Aside from its largely sunny climate, the nearby marine life and innovative cuisine in capital city Malé all make it a place worth visiting.

Visitors can visit many of the islands’ main attractions including its many mosques and Islamic centres, as well as restaurants such as the Ithaa Undersea Restaurant on Rangali Island. Being composed of many small islands, the Maldivian beaches are a great place to spend some quiet time alone. Although there are fears that all of that could go if environmental experts are correct, it remains to be seen whether the new floating islands will match the original Maldives in terms of beauty, tranquillity and enjoyment.

Tour operators in SAARC nations to jointly promote tourism

Tour operators conducting business in the SAARC nations have agreed to jointly promote tourism in the region.

A Tour Operators Conclave was convened by the Ministry of Tourism, Government of India in New Delhi earlier this month, and in the conclave tour operators were urged to work with each other to promote tourism in the SAARC nations.

The minister for Tourism in India, Subodh Kant Sahai, said, ‘We must motivate each SAARC country in such a way that tourism becomes the focus of economic and political agenda. SAARC region has immense growth potential. If it could be fully utilized in all possible ways, the SAARC region has the potential to steer the economy of the world. The cultural diversity of the SAARC region is unique, and the combination of scenic landscapes, natural beauty, and ethnic multiplicity – only add to its international appeal. All these facts unite to make the SAARC region a great tourist attraction. In fact, most SAARC nations have already realized this potential at individual level but with a concerted effort, the success culminated would be many folds.’

The minister also lamented that the tourism sector still lacked due political and economic recognition. He also announced the launch of the ‘Global Leaders for Tourism Campaign’ that is expected to expand tourist activities in the region.

About 45 tour operators from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal and Sri Lanka participated in the conclave.

According to official figures, international tourist arrivals to Asia and the Pacific are to increase from 204 million in 2010 to 535 million in 2030.

Baby turtles latest guests at Centara Grand Maldives

They were, in some ways, like any other newly-arrived guest at the Maldives: blinking in the sudden golden sunlight, easing their way across the soft, warm sand, and heading instinctively for the sparkling ocean.

These were, however, not tourists, but newly-hatched sea turtles that emerged to the delight and wonder of staff and guests at the Centara Grand Island Resort&Spa.

To the great surprise of everyone on the island, which is located in the South Ari Atoll, the mother turtle had come ashore in the early hours of March 15, dug a hole in the sand with her flippers, and laid more than 100 eggs before making her way back to the ocean.

Staff, acting on the advice of the local sea turtle conservation center, had covered the eggs with netting to protect them against predators and then waited.

Four species of turtle roams the Maldivian sea and nests among the islands, namely the Green, Hawksbill, Olive Ridley, and Loggerhead turtles. A fifth species, the Leatherback, visits the archipelago from time to time but does not nest there.

The female laying her eggs here was a Green turtle, a species that can nest three or four times a year. The female does, however, not nurture her young, and never sees the nest site again. Consequently, the eggs and newly-hatched babies are very vulnerable.

Centara Grand Island Resort has its own house reef, complete with its own shipwreck, and a diverse collection of aquatic life swims around the resort, including turtles. This, however, was the first time anyone at the resort had seen a female come ashore to nest.

As the weeks passed, staff and guests kept anxious eyes open for any trouble. Usually, turtles lay eggs on uninhabited islands, far away from human beings, but very much at the mercy of crows and shoreline birds always on the lookout for the next meal.

On the afternoon of Saturday May 7, to the sheer joy of everyone watching, 102 baby turtles hatched and emerged tentatively from their sandy nest, heading towards the waves. It was an emotional moment for everyone. The babies all made it safely into the calm waters of the lagoon, and from there, once they had gained their sea-legs, made their way into the open ocean.

Set among the perfect islands and blue ocean of South Ari Atoll in the Republic of Maldives, 25 minutes by seaplane from Male, Centara Grand Island Resort&Spa Maldives offers 112 suites and villas. The resort offers diving and snorkeling enthusiasts outstanding opportunities including an excellent house reef complete with a dedicated sunken ship wreck, and is within easy reach of the top dive spots in the Maldives.

Centara Maldives offers free night

Centara Grand Island Resort & Spa Maldives has a special summer offer in which guests staying between April 28 and July 31, 2011 pay for two nights and receive the third night free of charge, with all benefits included.

During this period, the rate per room night for a Beach Suite is US$699 net, with service charge included but subject to government bed tax of US$8 per person, per day.

The accommodation is on the basis of two adults and up to two children aged 12 years or under sharing their parents’ room. A charge of US$180 per extra adult and US$90 per extra child is applicable.

All guests receive full benefits that include daily buffet breakfast, lunch, and dinner at the resort’s main restaurant; afternoon tea with an ice cream station for the children; pre-dinner snacks; all-day soft drinks; and an open bar serving house-pouring brands, cocktails, wines, and beers.

Guests wishing to dine a la carte at any of the resort’s three restaurants may select a US$40 per adult/US$20 per child alternative.

Centara Grand Island Resort & Spa is located in the South Ari Atoll, a prime spot for diving and snorkeling. Designed in the colonial style, with timber buildings and walkways, the resort is family oriented with plenty of activities for children.

Roundtrip seaplane services from Male Airport are operated during daylight hours at US$326 net per adult/US$163 net per child, and speedboat transfer is available during day and night at US$260 net per adult/US$130 net per child.

Centara Grand Island Resort & Spa Maldives is located in the South Ari Atoll and offers the ultimate in barefoot island luxury along with a range of exciting activities that will appeal both to couples and to families.

Featuring 112 suites and villas, with a choice of beachside or over-water accommodation, the resort has its own house reef complete with a dedicated sunken shipwreck and is within easy reach of the top dive spots in the Maldives.

For more information and reservations, please contact: tel. 02 101 1234 ext. 1 or email to reservations@chr.co.th or visit the website at www.centarahotelsresorts.com/package/MaldivesFreeNight.asp or www.facebook.com/centarahotelsresorts