For many travellers, luxury travel is synonymous to the Maldives. And, when on July 15, the island nation reopened its borders after four months of the pandemic-led shutdown, the international tourists were overjoyed to be able to visit the beautiful country once again.
And it now has another beautiful attraction as well. The Radisson Hotel Group recently launched its first ever resort in the archipelago, Radisson Blu Resort Maldives. It is a private island retreat in the Alifu Dhaalu Atoll with 128 beachfront/overwater villas that are outfitted with world-class amenities and experiences – think pools, spas, water sports, exotic dining and moments of bliss at a scenic yoga pavilion.
LuxeBook speaks to Zafer Agacan, General Manager, Radisson Blu Resort Maldives, to take a deeper, better look into what the luxury-loving travellers can expect from this new hotel.
Why did Radisson Blu Resort Maldives open doors in August, at a time when international travel remained partially suspended?
This is the first presence of Radisson Hotel Group and its Radisson Blu brand in the Maldives. Indeed, there are challenges at present, but despite that the resort team and the company are all excited about bringing this property to the market without delay.
From our initial opening on August 1 to now, the bookings and feedback we’ve received so far from guests, who have already enjoyed a superb experience here, have given us the confidence to launch the resort at this time.
Please take us through the special experiences that travellers can expect at the resort.
At Radisson Blu, our philosophy is “Yes, I can!” and this is very much the case with our island resort. It is located in one of the most ecologically bountiful parts of the Maldives. Alifu Dhaalu Atoll is abound with marine life and corals.
My young and enthusiastic team here, comprises of native Maldivians and international staff – so along with the local culture that is embedded in the resort, we ensure to be sensitive to the needs of guests who come from different parts of the world.
Just ‘being’ in the Maldives is a luxury experience in itself, but at Radisson Blu Maldives we take it to a higher level. Our two and three bedroom villas and Presidential villa, each has its own full size private pool.
The island has a unique range of restaurants and bars, including all-day dining at Raha and Alifaan (for Mediterranean) and Kabuki for a fusion Japanese and South American/European cuisine.
Mahurab is an overwater bar for fine spirits and, possibly, a cigar, whilst The Lab with its own wine cellar, is a haven for wines and cocktails, where one can indulge in a chef-special pairing dinner too. We also have an adults-only bar Crusoe, inspired by the adventures in the classic novel Robinson Crusoe.
Action-seeking guests can explore a plethora of water sports such as scuba diving, snorkeling, deep sea fishing and cruising to spot dolphins.
It has been some time since Radisson Blu Resorts opened. How has the business been?
We were very honoured to welcome our first guests on the first day of the opening itself! Being a new resort in the midst of a pandemic, our expectations were moderate, but we were overwhelmed with the response in the first month.
As of September 01, we’re already holding enough bookings for the month to meet our set budget. Upcoming bookings look positive, especially from couples and small groups.
How are you wooing travellers to choose to holiday at Radisson Blu Maldives?
We are wooing guests by offering attractive, competitive rates through all our markets and channels – be it our tour operator, an online company or the Radisson booking platform. This is the key and it has worked. We have guests coming from as far as Brazil.
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Radisson Blu Maldives packages are tailored according for specific markets. We regularly touch base with our travel partners to educate them about our resort and take their feedback, in terms of what extra refinements can be done to bring in more bookings.
What are the safety norms at the resort currently?
As a part of the Radisson Hotel Group, there are many health and safety protocols in place for all properties for our guests. The key is physical distancing, minimised contact and sanitisation. Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) is provided to our team members and there are strict cleaning procedures in place. Such practices and table spacing are also effective at our bars and restaurants.
Have you gotten any booking for a wedding party recently?
As a new property, attracting weddings requests is an important part of our business strategy. Being only a month old, the resort has not conducted any ceremonies yet, but we are thrilled at many enquiries coming from as far as the UK.
We are also working on special promotions in India with wedding planners. The basis of the offering is an authentic occasion enhanced by high service levels in a wonderful and memorable location.
From which countries are travellers coming to the Maldives at present?
Currently, we are aware that some countries are not permitting outbound travel to anywhere, while some other regions are imposing strict and, sometimes, costly rules upon returning home. So far though, we’re seeing good support from GCC and Middle East countries. There are many future bookings from the UK, Russia and the USA.
How challenging is it to operate as a resort property in Maldives at this time?
Certainly, it is not business as usual. But it is important that we ensure guests have an enjoyable and seamless experience. Impossibility of “normal operation” currently means that we must plan beyond normal. Most important is that we keep our guests and the team safe, which means extra effort and commitment.
According to you, what does ‘new normal’ for the Maldives’ travel industry look like?
The new normal inevitably means there will be change, and change means opportunity. As a business, we will remain flexible and adaptive commercially, but a lot of it will depend on what happens in our various source markets.
However, if you look at the Maldives itself, some things will barely change – it will always remain a destination with beautiful resorts, amazing service and an overall unique environmental experience. And, the Radisson Blu Maldives will be there for guests seeking a memorable stay here.
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