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During our press trip to Dhigali Maldives, it became clear that the topic of sustainability is playing an increasingly important role. This prompted FrontRowSociety editor Andreas Conrad to interview Christian Szabo, General Manager of the Dhigali Maldives resort.

Exclusive Interview with Christian Szabo, General Manager Dhigali Maldives

Andreas Conrad: Speaking of your guests, generally speaking people staying in exclusive resorts, do you have the feeling that they look for sustainable arrivals to their destination?

Christian Szabo: Yes, our guests at Dhigali Maldives are increasingly concerned with their environmental impact and carbon footprint, especially in the context of their travel decisions. We’ve observed a significant shift in the mindset of travelers, who are now more informed and conscious about the ecological consequences of their journeys. This growing awareness is a reflection of a broader societal shift towards sustainability and responsible tourism.

At Dhigali Maldives, we recognize and appreciate our guests‘ desire to mitigate their environmental impact. In response, we’ve implemented comprehensive sustainability measures designed to align with their values and concerns. Our initiatives range from energy conservation, waste reduction, and water management practices to supporting local communities and ecosystems. We are also looking to facilitate carbon offset programs, allowing our guests to contribute to carbon-neutral projects, effectively balancing the carbon emissions associated with their travel to our resort.

Dhigali Maldives ocusses on sustainability
Dhigali Maldives ocusses on sustainability / © Editorial Office

Andreas Conrad: So would you agree that sustainable traveling starts with the actual travel itself or at the resort?

Christian Szabo: Sustainable traveling is a continuum that starts with the traveler’s choices before and during the journey and is complemented by the sustainability efforts of the accommodations and activities chosen at the destination. By considering sustainability from the outset and choosing destinations and resorts that prioritize environmental and social responsibility, travelers can ensure their journeys contribute positively to the conservation of the destinations they visit and foster a more sustainable tourism industry overall.

Andreas Conrad: In common sense most people connect luxury with wastefulness, of course we know and agree that’s not always the case. So how would you reconcile luxury and sustainability?

Christian Szabo New GM vom Dhigali Maldives
Christian Szabo, General Manager Dhigali Maldives / © Photo: Dhigali Maldives

Christian Szabo: Reconciling luxury with sustainability is not just about adopting eco-friendly practices but about transforming them into core components of the luxury experience. It’s about creating a space where guests can indulge in unparalleled comfort and service while being actively engaged in sustainability and conservation efforts. By embedding these principles into every aspect of the resort’s operation and guest experience, Dhigali Maldives can set a new standard for luxury travel that is both lavish and responsible, thus ensuring a sustainable future for the hospitality industry in the Maldives and beyond.

In this endeavor, it is vital to communicate effectively with guests, the resort team, and the community about the importance of sustainability and how each stakeholder plays a role in achieving it. By leading with innovation, commitment, and genuine care for the environment and local communities, we can inspire positive change that goes beyond the confines of the hospitality industry.

Andreas Conrad: Speaking of those refinements and ideas, does your resort have for example a two-year plan to operate more eco- friendly or sustainable? If so, are you comfortable sharing some with us?

Christian Szabo: This year we have signed up for the Green Globe certification and in addition to the existing efforts at conserving the existing island ecosystem, reducing and eliminating plastic usage, we will be focusing on all aspects of environmental impact from the activities of the resort operation as required by Green Globe certification. Our current plans include greater engagement with the community, sustainable sourcing of ingredients for offerings in all our restaurants and increased efforts to reduce, reuse, recycle and rethink ways in which the operation can be made more sustainable.

... und zum Schluss werden alle zubereiteten Speisen selbstverständlich verköstigt
Attention is also paid to sustainability in the food and its preparation / © Editorial Office

Andreas Conrad: In order to reach your goal, to what extent do you involve the local population in your sustainability strategies and is there government support for sustainability programs?

Christian Szabo: We work with community-based organizations and island councils to support them in their efforts to manage waste and control pests on the island. We also work on increasing environmental awareness among the public. We have regular programs with the schools in the neighboring islands to increase awareness and promote greater involvement of youth in sustainable development. Yes, there is government support to an extent for resorts wanting to invest in renewable energy. There is still room for cooperation between the public and private sector in areas such as waste reduction and waste management.

Andreas Conrad: Due to our profession we are at multiple exclusive resorts of the world. Sometimes we have the feeling that the thought of sustainability is only important for European/ German speaking guests. Would you agree?

Christian Szabo: I do not fully agree with this statement. While I agree that the European and German speaking guests have been consciously involved in the sustainability effort the longest, we see more nationalities and more international travelers joining this effort. Sustainable travel is now sought by many international travelers and the majority of our guests are very environmentally conscious.

Andreas Conrad: Speaking of your personal opinion, how do you think traveling and staying at luxurious destinations will change in the future? And where do you see the limits of sustainability in the luxury hospitality industry?

Christian Szabo: The future of luxury travel is dynamic, with sustainability at its core. The luxury hospitality industry must navigate the delicate balance between providing exceptional guest experiences and adhering to sustainable practices. As we look forward, continuous innovation, adaptability, and a commitment to sustainability will be key to overcoming the limits and embracing the vast opportunities that lie ahead. For luxury destinations like Dhigali Maldives, the goal is clear: to offer unparalleled luxury experiences that guests can enjoy, knowing they are also contributing positively to the planet and local communities.

Andreas Conrad: There are lots of environmentally conscious trends, which ones have you noticed in recent years?

Christian Szabo: In recent years, the luxury hospitality industry, including leaders like Dhigali Maldives, has embraced significant environmentally conscious trends, reflecting a global shift towards sustainability. These trends include a surge in sustainable travel and ecotourism, the adoption of carbon offset programs, zero-waste and circular economy practices, local and organic sourcing, investments in renewable energy and water conservation, sustainable architecture and design, active participation in conservation efforts, and a focus on educating guests about environmental issues. These initiatives demonstrate the industry’s commitment to reducing its ecological footprint, supporting local communities, and ensuring that luxury travel is both indulgent and responsible, aligning with the growing environmental awareness and expectations of travelers.

... oder vielleicht doch im Spa Garten der Insel...
Left to nature, only small interventions create beautiful refuges here / © Editorial Office

Andreas Conrad: Lastly, we are curious! There’s a current boom of luxurious hospitality facilities all over the world. Everybody wants to go higher, further, faster, chasing the sky. What does a luxury resort or hotel need to survive the tough competition?

Christian Szabo: To thrive amidst the intense competition in the luxury hospitality sector, a resort or hotel must deliver unparalleled and personalized guest experiences, integrate sustainable and ethical practices into its operations, and embrace innovative technology for enhanced convenience and personalization. Offering comprehensive health and wellness programs, exclusive and authentic local experiences, and maintaining distinctive design and aesthetics are crucial for standing out. Effective marketing and continuous innovation in services and amenities are imperative to remain relevant and appealing to luxury travelers. By focusing on these key areas, luxury resorts can not only survive but excel in the competitive landscape, ensuring they meet the evolving expectations of discerning guests and secure a unique position in the luxury hospitality market.

Andreas Conrad: Finally, we would like to know what unique selling point your resort has in terms of environmentally friendly tourism?

Christian Szabo: When this resort was built and developed, we preserved about 80 percent of the natural vegetation of the island. We are a very green island and still maintain typical island vegetation. Almost all machines in our laundry run on steam which is generated by the exhaust of the electricity generators, something that will otherwise go to waste. A very high proportion of our lights are LEDs and our guest rooms are optimized for cooling and ventilation through modern design principles. We work closely with local fishermen from the neighborhood to support them and ensure that our guests have fresh and responsibly caught fish. We bottle almost all our drinking water and use paper straws in all our bars.

We would like to thank Christian Szabo, General Manager of the Resort Dhigali Maldives, for his time
We would like to thank Christian Szabo, General Manager of the Resort Dhigali Maldives, for his time / © Foto: Dhigali Maldives

Here you can find our article about Dhigali Maldives in German

Andreas Conrad, Herausgeber des Magazins FrontRowSociety ist Advokat von Prevented Ocean Plastic

FrontRowSociety editor Andreas Conrad conducted the interview with Dhigali General Manager Christian Szabo in January 2024. These are the original, unedited answers.

Here you can find the interview in German

Dhigali Maldives
North Maalhosmadulu
Raa Atoll,21012
Republic of Maldives

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