In the enchanting land of the Maldives, where the Indian Ocean dances with vibrant corals and marine marvels, there lies a hidden treasure known as OBLUnatureHelegeli by SENTIDO. This luxurious haven, located a short 50-minute speedboat ride away from Male, offers more than just its exotic setting. It promises a sanctuary of peace and indulgence for tourists seeking solace and relaxation in utmost style and comfort. To gain insight into the enchanting world of OBLUnatureHelegeli, Anirban Dasgupta had the privilege of speaking with Ali Shakir, General Manager at the OBLU NATURE Helengeli by SENTIDO. Mr. Ali, an intelligent, composed, and experienced personality, shared his views on the property and tourism in Maldives as a whole.
Managing and marketing a property in a competitive market like the Maldives must be a very different experience. If you could share your thoughts on that?
In this industry, everyone strives for success and maximizing revenue, but what sets us apart is our philosophy of “The Joy of Giving.” We ensure that every guest feels welcome, taken care of, and leaves with the desire to return. This philosophy is ingrained in our corporate culture and is reflected in every aspect of our property. Our marketing efforts and product launches focus on delivering an experience that guests will never regret. We have made the property accessible to a wider target group, including families, while still maintaining the high standards of quality and luxury that the Maldives is known for.
With the expansion of your target audience to include families, how do you address the common perception among Indians that the Maldives is a highly premium destination?
Mr. Aly: Our strategy has evolved to cater to a diverse range of travelers. While our island, Helegeli, has long been a favorite among European couples, we have now made it more affordable for the younger generation. We offer a variety of accommodations, including water villas and beach villas with pools, providing a five-star experience at a four-star price. Our packages include unlimited beverages, meals, and additional experiences such as fine dining, snorkeling trips, sunset cruises, and fishing trips. The overall pricing is attractive, making it accessible to those who want to stay for 3 to 5 nights.
Can you elaborate on the experiential options available at your property?
We understand that guests seek more than just a comfortable stay and good food. We offer two types of private dining experiences: Raga Route, a modern fusion restaurant combining Western and Indian flavors, and Just Grill, a beachside dining experience with a Maldivian ambiance. Additionally, we provide a range of excursions and activities, such as morning fishing, sunset experiences, scuba diving, snorkeling with dolphins, and turtle spotting, to cater to different interests and adventurous spirits.
As a property surrounded by nature, what steps are you taking to ensure sustainability?
Sustainability is a priority for us. We are certified by Green Globe, an international organization that evaluates and audits our sustainability practices. Installed solar panels are in process to reduce carbon footprint and have initiatives in place, such as no-waste days in our canteen and water filtration systems. We are also working towards using biogas for cooking. Additionally, we have stopped using plastic water bottles by implementing a bottling plant that serves water in glass bottles. Recycling programs are also in place, and we continuously educate guests and staff on energy conservation and responsible waste management.
How do you plan to maintain a balance between tourism and preserving the environment in the face of potential issues like over-tourism?
Educating tourists about the value of nature and the sensitivity of the destination is crucial. We have educational programs in our Nature Center, where we teach children about agriculture, mariculture, and recycling. Travel agents and operators need to emphasize sustainability and the importance of respecting nature to all travellers. By instilling this knowledge at a young age, visitors will also understand the basics like the fragility of coral reefs and the need to preserve the environment.