Think that eco-living and luxury travel are poles apart? Think again! Environmental concerns are hugely important to the residents of the Maldives, and this tiny island is going all out to preserve its beautiful but fragile marine resources. Off to the Maldives on your honeymoon? Why not indulge in a five star break at a resort that's leading the way in sustainability initiatives? So we've compiled a list of hotels that offer the best in eco-luxury in the Maldives, as well as ideas on how you can help preserve the splendour of this paradise destination.
Soneva Fushi, Maldives
You might be familiar with the Good Life, but how do you glam it up in the Maldives and still remain ethically on point? Soneva Fushi has the answer: the SLOW life. It's a combination of sustainable, local, organic, wellness learning, inspiring and fun experiences. Easy! Soneva Fushi's philosophy is all about 'illuminating people's lives while treading lightly on Earth', which might sound like a fairy-tale, but Soneva has absolutely proven the concept can exist on a luxury island.
You can start your day with a gentle cycle around the island (the chosen mode of transport to ensure good air quality and low noise levels) before meeting the island's resident Marine Biologist for a scuba diving session and lesson about the coral reef. Large stretches of the island's shoreline have been left undeveloped, so that turtles can continue to nest on the beaches. Soneva Fushi has also banned shark fishing and actively campaigned for years for the Government to impose a ban. In 2010, the Maldives became only the second country in the world to implement an outright ban on shark fishing. Round-off the day with fresh fish caught sustainably and prepared by local chefs who are part of the island family.
This environmentally conscientious way of living can be found in every detail of the accommodation: fussy and ornate interiors are out and stripped back Robinson Crusoe-style villas are in.
Six Senses Laamu
Six Senses hotels have a habit of popping up in the most beautiful and exclusive places in the world and Six Senses Laamu is the only property in this southern Maldives atoll. Home to one of the most beautiful and untouched reefs, it was only right that our resident Malidves expert Katie had the tough job of checking out the island's eco-luxury credentials. Katie was won over by the island's dedication to sustainable practices: plastic is banned (don't worry, you won't have to ditch the sun cream and cosmetics before you arrive, just make sure it goes home with you when you leave) and Six Senses Laamu is the first property in the Maldives to implement a Code of Conduct for dolphin watching.
All of Six Senses' luxurious touches immerse you in the great outdoors and the spa's treatment 'nests', are hidden amongst the tropical vegetation. Staff will also arrange picnics to a deserted tropical island with a packed lunch and privacy, or a party and butler service. Yoga and personal training programmes are offered on the raised meditation pavilion with views over the ocean - it's all just one big love-in with the great outdoors.
Baros was the first luxury eco resort in the Maldives nearly 40 years ago but you certainly won't be dusting off any island cobwebs. Baros' bright blue lagoon is one of the most impressive in the Maldives. As well as an extensive sustainability policy to protect the island's waters, Baros has a few quirky ways of educating its guests about the island itself. Join the twice weekly guided nature walk to swot up on your flora and fauna. You'll soon be sampling some of the island's edible plants and learning about plant based medicines (no biology degree required).
The island has constantly evolved to remain a leader in the luxury stakes and their latest infinity pool is poised perfectly at the edge of the island - simply sublime. Perhaps the most iconic of Baros' architecture is The Lighthouse restaurant, an over-water pavilion with a white sail roof and a bounty of colourful fish swimming beneath you. Sneak back to your villa and you'll find all are equipped with special touches like wine chillers and your very own host.
So there you have it, our very favourite hotels for eco-luxury in the Maldives.