Forming part of the coveted Fari Islands’ lifestyle concept, The Ritz-Carlton Maldives, Fari Islands, has been championing environmental education since its opening in 2021. A destination that’s fast become an iconic addition to the Indian Ocean, it is also home to a hub of innovation when it comes to environmental conservation. The resort steps lightly into 2024 to celebrate its continued dedication to the protection of the natural world.
Spearheaded by resort naturalists and a progressive research community, The Ritz-Carlton Maldives, Fari Islands’ sophisticated ocean plastics’ monitoring program works to conserve one of the world’s most fragile ecosystems with the use of drones. In partnership with British PhD researcher Melissa Schiele, drone technology has been developed and deployed in and around the atoll to better understand the location and movement of ocean plastics, including discarded fishing nets (ghost nets). With immediate impact, resort teams are able to locate and remove otherwise hard-to-find debris identified by drones.
In 2023, the resort’s naturalist team and dive network removed 19 ghost nets with an estimated weight of 1100kg. These ghost nets travel into the east Indian Ocean via strong ocean winds and currents experienced in the region from mid-December. In 2023, the resort successfully rescued five olive ridley sea turtles found entangled in abandoned nets. Two turtles were released immediately, with three rehabilitated by the Olive Ridley Project’s veterinary team at the Marine Turtle Rescue Centre in Baa Atoll, before a successful reintroduction to the ocean. A rehabilitated turtle named ‘Muraka’, released on the 16th of August 2023, was fitted with a GPS tracking device to allow guests and followers to trace her journey.
Since opening, the resort has achieved 751 drone flights aiding critical research into plastic aggregation, location of ghost nets and ongoing monitoring of wildlife. In a first-of-its-kind image collection and data processing project, impressive data from the drone initiative was drawn for collaborative use to inform, educate, and drive positive long-term change. Over 21 ocean species were observed in 2023, from the Ornate Eagle Ray, Black Tip Reef Shark to Melon-Headed Whale.
Home to the Maldives’ first Jean-Michel Cousteau Ambassadors of the Environment program, The Ritz-Carlton Maldives, Fari Islands continues to collaborate with the world-renowned oceanographic explorer and environmentalist to provide guest experiences with preservation of the planet at its core. In 2023, the program planted 40 coral frames as part of its coral regeneration initiative, using coral frags from the Pocillapora (Cauliflower corals) and the Acropora (Table coral). Twenty-five of these abundant nursery frames and successful new habitats for ocean life can be seen by guests in the shallow waters of the resort’s welcome jetty on arrival.
The resort will welcome Jean-Michel Cousteau in 2024 from the 8th to 18th April. An inspired educational residency will include exclusive guest experiences and Q&As with the legendary explorer.
As part of its Community Footprints’ programming, and with focus on environmental awareness for the planet’s future generations, the resort’s relationships with local schools enable visits with its naturalist teams to share research and educate. In 2023 five educational excursions to local islands took place, including schools in Dhiffushi and Gaafaru. The visits took a deep dive into ocean conservation, from the environmental impact of ocean plastics to insights from the resort community’s drone research and shared observations of wildlife in the surrounding atoll. Presentations of ground-breaking research from the resort’s ‘Visiting Heroes’ programme included the work of renowned shark scientist Gibbs Kuguru and his conservation work tagging Blacktip Reef Sharks.
Closer to home, the resort was proud to engage in ten global environmental dates. Educational and inspired activities worked to raise awareness surrounding key calendar dates, including; World Shark Day, World Dolphin Day, Ocean Clean Up Day, and Earth Day. A continuation of its Community Footprints programming, 11 beach clean-ups invited guests to support ocean debris collection on resort shores and the local islands of Dhiffushi and Gaafaru.
The resort continues to grow its commitment to sustainable practices in its day-to-day operations, from increasing its production of renewable energy via its solar power infrastructure, purification of still and sparkling drinking water at its dedicated plant, treating greywater for landscaping, and a robust composting programme for daily food waste.
With a considered approach to luxury living, guests can expect to use reusable glass water bottles, bamboo-based personal consumables, refillable jars of amenities, and bamboo and stainless-steel straws. Organic Bamford amenities, with shared sensibilities of living consciously and in harmony with nature, are replenished on-site, while the resort’s desalination plant reduces the amount of plastic imported into the country.