Geschätzte Lesezeit: 8 Minuten

During our trip to The Westin Maldives Miriandhoo Resort it became clear that the topic of sustainability is playing an increasingly important role. This prompted FrontRowSociety editor Annett Conrad to interview Vijay Kumar, General Manager of The Westin Maldives Miriandhoo Resort.

Exclusive Interview with GM Vijay Kumar, The Westin Maldives Miriandhoo Resort

Ankunftsterminal am The Westin Maldives Miriandhoo Resort
Arriving Terminal at The Westin Maldives Miriandhoo Resort / © Redaktion

Annett 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?

Vijay Kumar: As the General Manager of The Westin Maldives Miriandhoo Resort, I can attest to the growing preference for sustainability among our guests, who seek unparalleled experiences in exclusive Maldivian resorts. The modern, responsible traveler values not only luxury and comfort but also a strong commitment to environmental and social responsibility.

Our guests not only appreciate the pristine natural beauty of the Maldives but also recognize and commend the dedicated efforts we undertake to preserve and protect it. Our commitment to maintaining the ecological integrity of this paradise provides our guests with a profound sense of fulfillment, knowing that their stay aligns seamlessly with their values.

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

Vijay Kumar: I would say that sustainable traveling begins with conscious decision-making even before the journey commences, such as researching and selecting transportation options that have lower carbon footprints, such as trains or buses over airplanes whenever feasible. Consideration of accommodation options that prioritize sustainability, such as eco-friendly hotels etc.

Exclusive Interview with GM Vijay Kumar, The Westin Maldives Miriandhoo Resort
General Manager Vijay Kumar, The Westin Maldives Miriandhoo Resort / © The Westin Maldives Miriandhoo Resort

Annett 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?

Vijay Kumar: Reconciling luxury and sustainability is a crucial aspect of responsible tourism, and it involves integrating eco-friendly practices without compromising high-quality experiences associated with luxury.

How we approach this reconciliation at The Westin Maldives Miriandhoo Resort is by embedding sustainability into every aspect of our resort operations, from energy-efficient technologies to waste reduction initiatives.

We also take the opportunity to educate our guests about the local environment, marine conservation, and cultural heritage of the Maldives, which enhances the overall luxury by providing a sense of purpose and connection. We prioritize local and sustainable sourcing for our culinary offerings, ensuring that guests savor the finest quality while supporting local communities and reducing the carbon footprint associated with long-distance imports.

Luxury, at its essence, is about delivering exceptional experiences and a profound sense of well-being. At The Westin Maldives Miriandhoo Resort, we reconcile luxury and sustainability by seamlessly integrating responsible practices into the guest experience. By doing so, we not only redefine luxury but also contribute to the well-being of our environment and local communities.

So gut der Tag im Restaurant „Island Kitchen“ beginnt, geht auch hier zu Ende
As well as the day begins at the restaurant ‚Island Kitchen,‘ it also comes to an end here/ © Redaktion

Annett 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?

Vijay Kumar: At The Westin Maldives Miriandhoo Resort, we have some eco-friendly plans implemented as well as some new initiatives we plan to implement or in the process of implementation. Here are a few highlights for information.

  • Utilizing a Reverse Osmosis (RO) plant since 2022 to desalinate seawater into drinking water, while also implementing a glass bottle-recycling program.
  • Employing a food composter to repurpose organic waste into fertilizer for the hotel garden, promoting sustainable practices in waste management.
  • Implementing a solar hot water system in associate accommodations, harnessing renewable energy to reduce environmental impact.
  • Embracing a „Fish to Table“ approach by collaborating with local seafood vendors to source fresh seafood locally, supporting the community and promoting sustainable seafood consumption practices.
  • Green Delight – hotel own garden was constructed using recycled wood and equipment. It serves a dual purpose with supporting our sustainability efforts while aligning with the Westin brand pillar of Eat Well. By cultivating fresh produce onsite, we not only minimize environmental impact but also ensure that guests can indulge in healthy, locally sourced ingredients, embodying our dedication to wellness and responsible hospitality. Weekly cooking demonstration highlighting the rich flavors of Maldivian cuisine is organized for in-house guests. Led by our talented culinary team, these interactive sessions offer a delightful opportunity to explore the vibrant local flavors and traditional cooking techniques unique to the Maldives.
  • Utilizing treated sewage water for garden irrigation, resulting in a conservation of 2 million litres of fresh water per month.
  • Implementing a system to repurpose leftover food as garden compost, thereby reducing costs associated with fertilizer purchases.
  • Recycling dry leaves for gardening fertilization, contributing to sustainability efforts and waste reduction.
  • Enhancing the resort’s appearance and sustainability by installing wooden borders made from recycled wood along alleys, repurposed from jetty pathways, ensuring an improved and neat ambiance.

Initiating a solar project for completion in 2024, with the goal of reducing diesel consumption by approximately 30%, thereby advancing towards greener energy practices and environmental conservation.

Heavenly Overwater-Villa - stilvoller Rückzugsort
Heavenly Overwater-Villa – luxury retreat / © Redaktion

Annett 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?

Vijay Kumar: At The Westin Maldives Miriandhoo Resort, our commitment to sustainability extends beyond the boundaries of our resort, actively involving the local population and collaborating with government initiatives. Baa Atoll, where our resort is situated, is designated as a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve.  We actively adhere to the guidelines set by UNESCO, which include fostering sustainable development, conservation of biodiversity, and promoting the well-being of local communities.

As mentioned previously, we collaborate with local communities for initiatives such as marine conservation, cultural preservation, and sustainable crafts.  For instance, our partnership with craftsmen for the Liye Laajehun workshops not only preserves traditional Maldivian lacquer handicraft but also provides a platform for local artists to showcase their skills.

We also work closely with government bodies to align our sustainability programs with national initiatives. We recognize the importance of fostering partnerships that extend beyond the immediate community and engage with global entities committed to sustainable development. Our ongoing dialogue and collaboration with USAID, through the Marriott International Maldives Business Council, exemplify our dedication to broader environmental and community initiatives.

Ob Floating Breakfast in der Overwater-Villa, ...
Floating Breakfast at the Overwater-Villa, … / © Redaktion

Annett 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?

Vijay Kumar: While sustainability preferences can vary among individuals, cultures and economic backgrounds, it’s essential to recognize that the importance of sustainability is not exclusive to any particular nationality of guests. The global awareness of environmental issues and the desire for responsible tourism practices have been on the rise across diverse demographics. 

Annett 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?

Vijay Kumar: As the General Manager of The Westin Maldives Miriandhoo Resort, I foresee several shifts in the future of luxury travel. The discerning traveler of tomorrow will likely place an even greater emphasis on sustainability, seeking authentic and meaningful experiences that align with their values. At the same time – maintaining the highest standards of luxury while implementing sustainable practices can be challenging. Some locations, especially remote or island destinations, may face resource and cost constraints that limit the extent of sustainability initiatives. While challenges exist, the luxury hospitality industry has shown a commitment to overcoming them and evolving towards a more sustainable future. It will require continuous innovation, collaboration, and a shared commitment from both the industry and travelers to navigate these challenges and redefine luxury in a more sustainable light.

Eintauchen in die wertvollen Stunden der Ichzeit im Heavenly Spa des Westin Maldives
Indulge in precious moments of self-care at the Heavenly Spa of The Westin Maldives / © Redaktion

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

Vijay Kumar: In recent years, the luxury hospitality industry has witnessed a surge in environmentally conscious trends, including adopting zero-waste practices and investing in renewable energy sources. Luxury resorts are increasingly engaged in biodiversity conservation and restoration efforts. This includes initiatives such as protecting and rehabilitating coral reefs, supporting local wildlife conservation projects, and promoting sustainable practices to preserve natural ecosystems. The farm-to-table concept is also gaining popularity in luxury resorts, emphasizing locally sourced, organic, and seasonal ingredients.

Annett 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?

Vijay Kumar: In the midst of the current boom in luxurious hospitality, survival in the competitive landscape requires a multifaceted approach that goes beyond physical amenities. A luxury resort must focus on delivering exceptional experiences – from the moment guests arrive to the time they depart, every interaction, service, and detail should reflect a commitment to exceeding expectations. Additionally, creating a distinctive brand identity, forming strategic partnerships, a commitment to sustainability and staying attuned to evolving market trends are essential elements for long-term success.

Hochwertige Materialien und viel Platz zeichnen die Overwater-Villen des 5 Sterne The Westin Maldives aus
High-quality materials and ample space distinguish the overwater villas of the 5-star The Westin Maldives / © Redaktion

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

Vijay Kumar: Our unique selling points in terms of environmentally friendly tourism are anchored in our commitment to sustainability, conservation, and responsible tourism. For one, our resort is nestled within the UNESCO Biosphere Reserve in Baa Atoll, a designation that underscores our dedication to preserving the natural beauty and biodiversity of this unique environment. Guests can experience the wonders of one of the largest concentrations of manta rays and whale sharks in the world. We also actively engage in marine conservation efforts, including coral reef restoration activities. Guests can participate in interactive reef restoration experiences, contributing directly to the preservation of the underwater ecosystem.

Here you can find our article about The Westin Maldives Miriandhoo Resort in German.

Annett Conrad, Redakteurin und Mitherausgeberin von FrontRowSociety - The Magazine FrontRowSociety editor Annett Conrad conducted the interview with GM Vijay Kumar, The Westin Maldives Miriandhoo Resort in April 2024. These are the original, unedited answers.

Here you can find the interview in German

The Westin Maldives Miriandhoo Resort
UNESCO Biosphere Reserve in Baa Atoll
Republic of Maldives

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