Geschätzte Lesezeit: 12 Minuten

During our trip to Kuramathi Maldives it became clear that the topic of sustainability is playing an increasingly important role. This prompted FrontRowSociety editor Andreas Conrad to interview Ibrahim Ali, Executive Resident Manager Kuramathi Maledivs.

Exclusive Interview with Ibrahim Ali, Executive Resident Manager Kuramathi Maldives

Sehr exklusiv sind die Poolvillen auf Kuramathi, mit freier Sicht auf den Indischen Ozean und direktem Zugang zum Strand
The pool villas on Kuramathi Maldives are very exclusive, with a clear view of the Indian Ocean and direct access to the beach / © Editor

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?

Ibrahim Ali: Certainly, it appears that guests at exclusive resorts in the Maldives do appreciate sustainable efforts, although it may not be the sole factor influencing their decision. We do see a shift in guest preferences towards sustainable travel practices, This shift is indicative of a broader trend in the travel industry where travellers, particularly those frequently visiting exclusive resorts, are increasingly prioritising environmental responsibility and ethical considerations in their travel decisions.

At Kuramathi, we’ve maintained a strong focus on sustainability from the outset, with initiatives like our Eco Centre, which was among the earliest establishment of its kind in the Maldives. Set up in 1999, following the El Nińo and the subsequent coral bleach, the management of Kuramathi wanted to better understand this fragile ecosystem and how to protect it best. Kuramathi Eco Centre currently led by a small team of professionals including our Resident Marine Biologist and Horticulturist. The Eco Centre operates all year long and plays a vital role in providing the guests with insightful information about biodiversity of Maldives and ensuring guests are aware of proper snorkelling behaviour, and offering guided snorkelling safaris. The centre also conducts marine biology presentations on a weekly basis to educate guests about the fascinating underwater world of Maldives. We see a significant interest in guests’ participation in the presentations and currently, we conduct three presentations on a weekly basis.
We’ve observed a high level of appreciation for our sustainability initiatives, as evidenced by the enthusiastic participation in back-of-house tours. Back of the House Tours provides guests an opportunity to understand how the island runs self-sufficiently in many areas. In response to the significant demand, we’ve even increased the frequency of these tours to accommodate our guests‘ interest. This demonstrates a genuine enthusiasm among our visitors for engaging with and learning about our sustainability efforts.

At Kuramathi, we are committed to providing our guests with a memorable experience that aligns with their values of environmental stewardship. We believe that sustainability is an integral part of the guest experience, and we will continue to innovate and implement initiatives that promote responsible tourism while delivering exceptional service and comfort.

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

Executive Resident Manager Kuramathi Maldives
Ibrahim Ali: Executive Resident Manager Kuramathi Maldives / © Photo: Kuramathi Maldives

Ibrahim Ali: Absolutely, I completely agree with your perspective on sustainable travel. It’s essential to consider sustainability throughout every aspect of the travel experience, starting from the very moment travellers begin their journey. At Kuramathi Maldives, we wholeheartedly embrace this ethos and strive to integrate sustainable practices into our operations.

Transparency is a cornerstone of our approach to sustainability. We believe in being open and honest with our guests about our efforts and initiatives. That’s why we display our sustainability reports and policies on our website and in our Kuramathi app for everyone to see. By doing so, we aim to educate and inform our guests about the steps we’re taking to minimise our environmental impact and contribute positively to the local community.

Furthermore, we understand the power of influence and advocacy. That’s why we actively promote our sustainable activities through various platforms, both online and offline. Whether it’s through social media, newsletters, or direct communication with our guests, we emphasise the importance of responsible travel and encourage our visitors to join us in our efforts to protect and preserve our precious natural resources.

By starting the conversation about sustainability from the moment our guests embark on their journey, we hope to inspire them to adopt a mindset of conscientiousness and mindfulness throughout their entire travel experience. From choosing eco-friendly sustainable activities and supporting local initiatives, every decision counts.

Fine dining at „The Reef“ with a view is breathtaking / © Editor

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?

Ibrahim Ali: We understand the perception that luxury is often associated with wastefulness, but we firmly believe that it doesn’t have to be the case. We see luxury and sustainability as complementary rather than contradictory. While some may assume that high-end accommodations inherently lead to excess, we strive to demonstrate that luxury and sustainability can indeed coexist harmoniously.

Regardless of the level of luxury, there are always opportunities to minimise environmental impact. Even though we may not classify ourselves as a top-tier luxury resort, we recognise that every resort, including ours, can take steps to be more sustainable. From energy-efficient practices to waste reduction initiatives, we’re committed to implementing measures that align with our values and sustainability.

By embracing sustainable practices  without compromising on the quality of the guest experience, we aim to redefine the relationship between luxury and environmental responsibility. Our goal is to provide guests with the ultimate best experience while demonstrating our dedication to preserving the natural beauty of the Maldives for generations to come.

Gemüse und Kräuter werden auf Kuramathi selbst angebaut, ...
Vegetables and herbs are grown on Kuramathi itself / © Editor

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?

Ibrahim Ali: Certainly, I’d be delighted to share some of the ongoing sustainability initiatives and projects we have at Kuramathi Maldives. While we don’t have a specific two-year plan outlined, sustainability remains a constant focus for us, and we are continuously evolving and refining our efforts.

One significant project we’ve been working on is our hot water supply system. Initially conceptualised as an idaea, it has now become a substantial investment for us. What makes this project unique is our innovative approach to utilising excess heat generated by powerhouse generators to produce hot water. By eliminating the need for traditional electric boilers, we not only save time but also conserve water and electricity. While it has required significant time and resources to implement, we’re proud of the progress we’ve made thus far, with a large majority of the island already benefiting from this eco-friendly system. Our goal is to extend this system to cover the entire island in future.

Another noteworthy project is our hydroponic garden. What started as a small experimental bed for growing salads has blossomed into a diverse array of beds producing various edible salads and herbs. Currently we harvest more than 500 kilogrammes of salad greens and herbs every month served in our team and guests restaurants.

Last year on the World Ocean Day, we launched our Muraka Project a pioneering coral propagation initiative. The programme is utilising advanced techniques and methods to propagate and grow new coral colonies, while also rehabilitating damaged and degraded reefs in the surrounding waters of the resort.

Moreover, we’ve taken steps to reduce plastic usage, such as installing a bottling plant to produce our potable water already back in 2011. We’ve also transitioned to paper straws and refillable containers for guest toiletries, significantly reducing plastic waste. Our plastic waste is collected and sent to Parley for recycling, further contributing to our sustainability efforts. Additionally, we’ve implemented measures for greywater recycling and composting organic waste as well. Our planned solar power project, set to commence this year, will involve installing solar panels on the roofs of staff accommodation and service buildings, generating approximately 500 KW of solar energy.

At Kuramathi Maldives, and we’re committed to continuously improving and implementing initiatives that benefit both our guests and the environment.

Ein Highlight in den Poolvillen ist sicherlich das Floating Breakfast
A highlight in the pool villas is certainly the floating breakfast / © Editor 

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 programes?

Ibrahim Ali: Engaging with the local community is fundamental to our sustainability efforts. We prioritise sourcing locally whenever possible, whether it’s purchasing fish from neighbourhood fishermen, procuring goods from nearby islands, or maintaining standing orders of vegetables from Thoddoo. By supporting local suppliers, we not only reduce our environmental footprint but also contribute to the livelihoods of residents.

Furthermore, we actively collaborate with local schools and institutes on sustainability initiatives. Our focus begins with schools in our immediate vicinity, such as Thoddoo, Ukulhas and Rasdhoo, and extends beyond if opportunities arise Recently, we collaborated with the Alif Alif Atoll Education Centre to host an event commemorating World Environmental Education Day and International Day of Women & Girls in Science

Rasdhoo Island is one of ourour closest neighbour we   provide employment opportunities to the islanders of Rasdhoo and support initiatives for island development. Additionally, we financially support organisations responsible for keeping the island clean.

While government support may not be financial, their recognition of our sustainability efforts encourages us to continue our commitment to responsible practices. By working hand in hand with the local community, we strive to achieve our sustainability goals while positively impacting the region we call home.

Sara Scroglieri ist renommierte Meeresbiologin mit langjähriger Erfahrung in der Erforschung und Erhaltung der Unterwasserwelt
Sara Scroglieri is a renowned marine biologist with many years of experience in researching and conserving the underwater world / © Editor

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?

Ibrahim Ali: We don’t agree that the importance of sustainability is solely significant for European or German-speaking guests. While it’s true that there may be a higher level of expectation and awareness from these demographics, we’ve observed a growing recognition and interest in sustainability from guests of various nationalities.

Regardless of their origin, guests from all around the world are increasingly interested in learning about sustainable practices and how they are implemented in resort operations. While the level of emphasis on sustainability may vary among different markets, the overall trend is clear: sustainability is becoming more important across the board.

We are committed to ensuring that all our guests, regardless of their background, have the opportunity to engage with and appreciate our sustainability efforts. By fostering awareness and understanding among our diverse clientele, we aim to create a more sustainable future for our planet together.

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

Ibrahim Ali: In considering the future of luxury travel and hospitality, I believe sustainability will increasingly become a significant factor for travellers. While there are currently various influences that shape guests‘ holiday decisions, I anticipate that sustainability standards will take on greater importance in the future. However, it’s essential to acknowledge that factors such as price and accessibility will continue to play significant roles in travel choices.

As for the limits of sustainability in the luxury hospitality industry, I don’t foresee rigid boundaries being set. While Kuramathi is not exclusively a luxury destination, we understand that for some, it may be perceived as such. However, we are committed to evolving our destination policies and practices to meet guest expectations, including those related to sustainability.

I believe that as guest expectations evolve, destinations will adapt to meet these demands. While sustainability may present challenges, I’m confident that the industry will continue to innovate and implement practices that align with both luxury and environmental responsibility. Ultimately, the goal is to ensure that luxury travel remains both enjoyable and sustainable for generations to come.

Mit dem resorteigenen Boot geht es raus zum Schnorcheln
The resort’s own boat takes you out snorkelling / © Editor 

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

Ibrahim Ali: In recent years, there has been a notable interest for environmentally conscious trends within the travel and hospitality industry. One significant trend is the increasing demand for sustainable travel options among guests. Travellers are becoming more mindful of their environmental impact and are seeking accommodations and experiences that align with their values.

Another noticeable trend is the adoption of eco-friendly practices by hospitality providers. From implementing renewable energy sources to reducing single-use plastics and promoting local sourcing,  hotels and resorts are making concerted efforts to minimise their environmental footprint.

Furthermore, there is a growing interest in immersive and educational experiences centred around sustainability. Guests are seeking opportunities to learn about local ecosystems, conservation efforts, and traditional practices that promote environmental stewardship.

At Kuramathi, we’ve observed a rising interest in eco-conscious activities such as coral reef restoration programmes, marine conservation initiatives, and guided nature walks focused on biodiversity and conservation. These trends indicate a shift towards more responsible and sustainable travel practices among guests.

As we look towards the future of luxury travel and hospitality, sustainability will undoubtedly play a crucial role. While challenges may arise, I’m optimistic about the industry’s ability to innovate and adapt to meet the evolving expectations of travellers while remaining committed to environmental responsibility.

Ob im Restaurant
The finest dishes in the „Siam Garden“ restaurant / © Editor 

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?

Ibrahim Ali: In the midst of the current boom in luxurious hospitality facilities worldwide, the market is undoubtedly competitive. Not only to just survive but thrive in this highly competitive landscape, a luxury resort or hotel must prioritise several key factors.

First and foremost, exceptional service is paramount. In the luxury sector, guests expect nothing short of impeccable service that is personalised, anticipatory, and exceeds their expectations at every turn. From the moment a guest arrives until their departure, every interaction should be characterised by warmth, attentiveness, and a genuine desire to meet their every need.
Moreover, offering unique and unforgettable experiences is essential for standing out in this highly competitive landscape. Luxury travellers are seeking more than just accommodation; they crave exclusive, immersive experiences that create lasting memories. Whether it’s bespoke culinary experiences, private excursions or wellness retreats tailored to individual preferences, providing guests with unparallelled experiences is key to success.

Attention to detail is another critical aspect of luxury hospitality. From the design and decor of guest rooms to the selection of amenities and the presentation of culinary offerings, every aspect of the guest experience should reflect sophistication, elegance, and meticulous attention to detail.

Furthermore, embracing sustainability and responsible tourism practices is becoming increasingly important in the luxury sector. Guests are increasingly mindful of environmental issues and expect to demonstrate a commitment to sustainability through eco-friendly initiatives, such as energy-efficient operations, waste reduction measures, and support for local communities.

In addition to these factors, strategic marketing and branding, continuous innovation, and a focus on high-quality facilities and amenities are essential for staying ahead of the competition in the luxury hospitality industry. By prioritising these elements, luxury resorts and hotels can not only survive but thrive in the competitive global market, attracting travellers and securing their position as leaders in the industry.

... Suites am Strand ...
Not only villas, on Kuramtahi there are also suites on the beach/ © Editor

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

Ibrahim Ali: At Kuramathi, our unique selling point in terms of environmentally friendly tourism lies in our comprehensive range of initiatives and experiences that allow guests to engage with and appreciate the natural beauty of our island.

Through the nature walks on the island, marine presentations, and informative botanic tours, we offer guests the aim to raise awareness among guests on the environment.
Moreover, our dedicated team, including marine biologist and eco-centre coordinator, works tirelessly throughout the year to enhance guests‘ understanding and appreciation of our marine ecosystem. Guests can participate in initiatives like the coral adoption Muraka Project, allowing them to directly contribute to the preservation of our precious coral reefs.

In terms of fishing practices, we follow ‚catch and release‘ policies in Big Game Fishing. Furthermore, we refrain from offering Night Fishing excursions, which is an activity that can cause damage to the reefs.

We offer engaging programmes through our Eco Centre and Bageecha Kids Club to raise awareness among guests, particularly younger visitors, about our environment and especially focused on marine life, flora and fauna of Kuramathi Maldives.

Overall, our environmentally friendly tourism initiatives at Kuramathi encompass a holistic approach that prioritises conservation, education, and community engagement. By offering meaningful and immersive experiences that showcase the beauty of our natural environment while promoting sustainability, we aim to inspire guests to become more eco conscious.

Thank you very much for your time and the answers Ibrahim Ali.

Here you can find our reports about Kuramathi Maldives: (in German)

Kuramathi – unvergesslicher Urlaub unter und über Wasser

Kuramathi: Schnorcheltour im Hausriff und das Muraka-Projekt

Universal Resorts – paradiesische Rückzugsorte auf den Malediven


Andreas Conrad, Herausgeber des Magazins FrontRowSociety ist Advokat von Prevented Ocean PlasticFrontRowSociety editor Andreas Conrad conducted the interview with the Ibrahim Ali, Executive Resident Manager Kuramathi Maldives, in April 2024. These are the original, unedited answers.

Here you can find the interview in German.

Kuramathi Maldives
Rasdhoo Atoll

Print Friendly, PDF & Email