On October 4, Shangri-La’s Villingili Resort & Spa, Maldives announced a new series of initiatives specifically designed to help support the local community and protect the natural environment. As the only resort in the Maldives’ Addu Atoll, which is the second most populated area outside of Male, Shangri-La’s Villingili Resort & Spa recognizes the importance of supporting its neighbors by investing in local industries and community projects. From the “Farm to Plate” journey and environmental protection to the Football Academy at nearby Feydoo School with professional coaching for children, the resort is taking a broad approach to corporate social responsibility.
Guests to Farm, Farm to Plate
Shangri-La’s Villingili Resort & Spa works with the local farmers of Medhoo Island who rely on agriculture as their main source of income. The farmers supply the resort with fresh fruit and vegetables on a weekly basis, creating a cooperative that is mutually beneficial. The process ensures the resort offers a menu using the freshest ingredients while reducing its carbon footprint by sourcing locally.
Launched in September 2018, the resort’s “Farm to Plate” initiative begins with a tour of the Chef’s Garden hosted by the resort’s head chef. Guests are invited to assist in collecting fresh bananas, radishes and lettuce in baskets made of woven coconut leaves. Later, the ingredients are transformed into delicious dishes and served at the resort’s three distinctive restaurants.
After visiting the Chef’s Garden, guests are transported via speedboat to nearby Meedhoo Island where they are greeted by local farmers and can pick melons, papaya, chili, Chinese cabbage, tomatoes and pumpkins. Guests can then relax in Meedhoo Park while enjoying a refreshing coconut drink before returning with baskets filled with fresh produce. At sunset, guests can join a traditional Maldivian fishing experience as they sail across the turquoise waters to catch fresh fish with a hand line, one of the most sustainable methods of fishing. In the evening, the resort’s chefs prepare a feast using the ingredients picked and caught during the day, and guests dine under the Chef’s Garden pagoda.
Protecting the Environment with Hands-On Activities and Programs
In 2017, the resort signed a Pledge of Commitment to the Maldives Initiative to become a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, committing to conserve and protect the biodiversity and associated ecosystems. The resort has implemented guest-facing projects to promote the cause, including the Reef Care project that gives guests insight into the global threats faced by marine life, and the Eco Centre that educates through reading materials and displays.
According to the United Nations Environment Programme, coral reefs, which are found throughout the oceans in the Maldives, are home to 25 percent of all marine life on the planet and form nurseries for nearly a quarter of the ocean’s fish. They are the largest and oldest living ecosystems on earth, forming huge structures over long periods of time. Guests can participate in reef planting activities through the resort’s Reef Care project, which focuses on the regeneration of reefs and marine life through replanting fragmented corals in the coral nursery. So far, over 300 pieces of coral have been planted at the resort’s coral nursery.
On land, Villingili Island is home to 45 registered species of plants, including stunning banyan trees and rare orchids. Through the resort’s Eco Centre, guests can enjoy tours of the island and its verdant environment, as well as tour the Orchid Nursery to view four different types of the flower.
Working With The Community To Build Brighter Futures
As the premier luxury resort in Addu, Shangri-La’s Villingi Resort & Spa is in a unique position to help local aspiring young hoteliers. Established in 2012, the resort offers a ten month apprenticeship program that serves as an introduction to the hospitality industry. Up to nine Adduans at a time receive on-the-job training and finish with a Shangri-La certificate in hospitality.
Soccer is the most popular sport in the Maldives, and with this is mind, the resort has created a soccer training ground at Feydhoo School where local students, from grade one through to grade ten, can receive professional coaching from national soccer players. The goal of the soccer academy is to train young people, helping them develop to a professional level.
The resort also implemented a partnership with the Al-Noor Centre at the Sharfuddin School in Addu City. Here, classrooms and an occupational therapy center are being developed to assist children with disabilities such as autism, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), cerebral palsy and Down syndrome.
Thank you to our colleagues at Shangri-La’s Villingili Resort & Spa, Maldives for expanding the resort’s CSR initiatives. We look forward to welcoming our guests for the many meaningful experiences that await.