Jim Dobson | Aug 31, 2022,11:56am EDT
The Maldives is sinking at a rapid pace. According to alarming reports released by NASA and the U.S. Geological Survey, nearly 80 percent of the popular destination could become uninhabitable by 2050. But that has not stopped the massive construction boom taking place throughout the 26 atolls linking 1,190 coral islands scattered throughout 35,000 square miles in the Indian Ocean.
This small nation hopes that world leaders will reduce their carbon emissions before it is too late. With the lowest terrain of any country in the world, many of the islands are only 3.5 feet above sea level and could become swamped by rising tides. The global climate threat has not swayed tourism, which is stronger than ever with record numbers of visitors despite the pandemic. Many travelers are eager to visit the luxurious island resorts with their stunning beaches and famed over-water villas.
Aerial view of Ritz-Carlton Maldives: RITZ-CARLTON
With the current construction boom, the Maldives will soon get at least 7 new island properties.
They join recent newcomers Patina, Ritz-Carlton, the refreshed Naladhu Private Island, Nova Maldives, and Joali Being. Many additional properties are also undergoing renovations and additions of private residences and villas.
Among the new arrivals are; Alila Kothaifaru in Raa Atoll, offering up 80 beach and waterfront villas designed by Singapore-based Studiogoto.
Avani+ from Minor Hotels Group will be located on Fares Island in Baa Atoll. This large property will include 200 rooms and villas. Opening in 2023.
Mandarin Oriental is developing a resort overlapping three private islands on the Bolidhuffaru Reef in the South Malé Atoll, all scheduled to open in 2025. The accommodations include 120 stand-alone villas, 56 overwater villas, 64 beachfront villas, and 10 branded Residences at Mandarin Oriental.
Six Senses Kanuhura, an avant-garde design with 80 over-water and beach villas, will join its sister property in Laamau. The resort encompasses three private islands; two deserted neighboring islands and Kanuhura itself. Plans are to add another 12 single and multibedroom villas. They are expected to open in December 2022.
SO/ Maldives from Accor Hotels will be over Emboodhoo Lagoon in Kaafu Atoll, with 80 luxury villas and opening in 2023.
Hilton has the brand new Hilton Maldives Amingiri Resort & Spa joining their Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi, which opened in 2019, and the Curio Collection by Hilton Hotel SAii Lagoon Maldives.
Conrad Maldives Rangali Island has 50 remodeled over-water villas, the now famous Muraka underwater suite, and new dining options, including the undersea restaurant Ithaa.
Capella Maldives is part of the one-of-a-kind Fari Islands development, which brings together four individual islands, including Capella Maldives, Ritz-Carlton Maldives, Patina Maldives, and the Fari Campus. Set to open in 2025.
The Bulgari Resort Ranfushi opens in 2025 and will be located in the Raa Atoll with 54 suites, including a Bulgari Villa on its own separate island; add that to the 33 Beach Villas, each with a private swimming pool, and 20 Overwater Villas.
Zazz Island opens in late 2022 and will be located in the South Ari Atoll with 101 overwater and beach villas.
Emerald Faarufushi Resort & Spa opens in late 2022 and will offer 80 villas on the beach and overwater. The resort will also have five restaurants and a large spa.
Oaga Art Resort opens in late 2022 and is located in the North Male' Atoll. The property will offer 60 villas on the beach and overwater. The focus here is offering creative spaces curated by local and visiting artists and craftsmen from the Maldives.
Look out for Banyan Tree Homm brand, Rosewood, Kempinski, and Nobu Hotels to join the party by 2028.
Maldives officials are touting a new 16 high-rise development called Hulhumalé, which was created out of sand pumped from the sea floor for residents to gradually relocate. And, architecture firm Waterstudio and Dutch Docklands announced another floating waterfront community called The Maldives Floating City to open in 2024, only 15 minutes from the capital of Male’.
According to the developer, “The floating city will consist of 5,000 apartments pieced together within a 500-acre lagoon with canals running between the structures. Inspired by the efficient patterns of brain coral, the floating buildings will include residences, hotels, restaurants, schools, boutiques, and a marina. As part of its commitment to sustainability and embracing the Maldivian lifestyle, only allow bicycles and noise-free scooters are allowed on the island. Coral banks will also be installed under the island, doubling as natural wave breakers.”
Jim Hepple is an Assistant Professor at the University of Aruba and is Managing Director of Tourism Analytics.