Crystal-clear waters lapping at white sandy beaches fringed with palm trees – these are the hallmarks of the Maldives, the world’s lowest-lying country, consisting of 1,192 coral islands in the Indian Ocean. The recently opened Reethi Faru resort, on the tiny island of Filaidhoo, is no ordinary tropical paradise. It offers not just luxury, seclusion and relaxation on a stunning blue lagoon, but something unique – staying at a tropical bio luxury resort and being part of a project to protect the environment that gives Reethi Faru (“beautiful reef”) its name.
When construction began in 2014, the owners were careful to protect the island’s natural heritage. Excavators were floated on platforms so as not to damage the reef underneath, uprooted trees were replanted elsewhere and building materials were sourced locally whenever possible, using sand and soil from the island. Reethi Faru has an organic water treatment plant, its kitchens run on biogas made from food waste and it uses solar power to lower its carbon footprint.
The resort also employed a marine biologist to assess the ecosystem and identify areas that needed protection. She stayed on (doubling as a yoga instructor) and now leads guests on excursions to plant trees and on dives to identify manta rays or visit the reef “garden”, where damaged coral is helped to re-grow. “After a day with Smrutica Jithendranath, known to guests as ‘J’, it can really spark something in them,” says Riddian Davies, Group General Manager and Commercial Director. “It is an incredible experience for our guests, who then realize the challenges that are facing the reef and that it requires everyone’s support and involvement to protect it.”
Accommodation is available in Water Villas (built on stilts above a turquoise lagoon), Beach Villas or Garden Villas (hidden among lush green foliage, including freestanding and interconnected villas for friends and family groups). There are six restaurants, six bars, a health centre, spa, a five-star accredited dive centre and a fully equipped watersports facility, but the location is the main attraction. “People are mesmerized by the water, the colour of the ocean and the sky, and how it makes them feel when they are staying with us,” says Riddian. “It is a very special experience.”