Travel

Bringing Business To Life: The Westin Maldives Miriandhoo Resort

Eva Ramirez speaks to Brendan Corcoran, General Manager of the newly opened The Westin Maldives Miriandhoo Resort, about the role of sustainability and the environment in the design and running of this resort.
By Eva Ramirez
07.12.18

The recent opening of The Westin’s Maldives Miriandhoo Resort has challenged the notion that large hotel chains do not operate with a sensibility towards their environmental impact and ethical practices. Located in the Baa Atoll UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve, the 14-acre island has been elegantly transformed into a modern yet timeless hideaway. The architecture mirrors the aquatic environment, taking natural elements of the island and translating them aesthetically. Winding staircases are reminiscent of seashells and rich, deep tones of dark blue seem to mirror the Indian Ocean. With 70 villas and suites, a two-story gym, three dining options, a sunset bar, overwater spa and many a hidden nook to relax in, The Westin Maldives is a dream island escape. What made my experience extra special was seeing the rich and vibrant marine life which call the Baa Atoll home, from manta rays and turtles to sharks, dolphins and endless schools of beautiful, rainbow-coloured fish. I sat down with General Manager Brendan Corcoran to find out how sustainability and the local environment play a role in more than just the design inspiration for the resort. 

What makes the location of the resort so special?

We are lucky to be the only resort in the Baa Atoll, a UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve which supports one of the largest groups of coral reefs in the Indian Ocean, accounting for 5% of the world’s reef area. We’re in very good company in terms of marine life as we share the area with over 1,200 fish species and animals. In this central western part of the Maldives you’ll often see green turtles, hawksbill turtles, whale sharks (don’t worry, they’re docile!) and some of the largest gatherings of graceful manta rays worldwide.  

How did sustainability influence the design of the hotel?

All the buildings on the resort are built with sustainability in mind. Waterproof concrete cubes are topped with a timber roof, creating natural ventilation systems through the double roof and material combination, where the timber absorbs heat and the concrete acts as a coolant. As for our interiors, we’ve used a ceramic product for floors, pool and bathrooms that is more sustainable than real stone or marble without compromising on the look and feel. Teak wood is often used for decking, however this is rare and endangered, so we opted for engineered and treated fast-growing timber which came from controlled forestation areas.

As you’ve only been open for just under 2 months, are there any upcoming sustainability projects you are particularly looking forward to implementing? 

Certainly! The flat rooftops of many of the back-of-house buildings where our staff live are already used for solar panels, as we certainly get a lot of sunlight here in the Maldives! In future we plan to expand this and we also have ambitions to use some of these spaces for hydroponic cultivation of fruits, vegetables and herbs for the resort, which we will use in the kitchens.

How did you combat waste reduction when building the resort?

A mechano-style of construction was used, which means that prefabricated buildings were pieced together on site to reduce waste, energy usage and transportation needed during building. We gave a second life to as many materials as possible too, for example using piling waste (generally 50% of all piling is wasted) to create fencing. Our diving centre is made from a repurposed shipping container which we used to bring over building materials too.

How did you lessen the environmental impact of the resort when building?

Protection of the local habitat is a key pillar for us and so minimising the resort’s impact on the area was an intrinsic part of the design brief. Our architects PEIA Associati worked closely with local environmental expert Prof. Sahig to find concrete solutions to combat coastal erosion, working to calculate the wave pressure on the shore, to understand how best to use winds within the architectural design and how to adhere to the seasonal changes of the island itself. We considered things like the geometry and size of the island, which are completely different during the dry season and the monsoon season.

What are your recycling methods?

Aside from actively moving from single use plastic to glass bottles for our water and amenities – often the biggest sources of plastic waste for hotels - we also have two Carbonators® on site which turn waste into ashes with no smoke or wastewater pollution. Glass is reduced to power, tin is flattened, the little plastic that is used is crushed and recycled, and grey water is used to water the island. 

What are your sustainability priorities?

Our ultimate goal is to be entirely plastic free. This is across the hotel, from the kitchens at the restaurants to the bathrooms in each of the rooms. We are about to implement refillable bottles in all bathrooms over the next couple of weeks and the plan is to make all bathroom soaps and liquids plastic-free, and all bottled on the island. We have a desalination system which uses reverse osmosis to turn seawater into drinking water, removing the need to transport it from the mainland. It is then bottled into our reusable glass bottles. We are also in the process of purchasing electric boats to further reduce our carbon footprint.

What is the biggest sustainability challenge you face?

Almost everything we use on the island travels a great distance to get here. An ongoing challenge is to minimise our consumption so we can contain our impact.

How have visitors responded to your sustainability initiatives so far?
The modern-day traveler is very aware of environmental impact and are curious to know what initiatives are undertaken to minimise the impact from our operations. The are pleased to see the initiatives undertaken in the development of the resort and learn if the initiatives used to limit negative impact.

 

Nightly rates at The Westin Maldives Miriandhoo Resort are from £608/$800 for two people on a B&B basis. For more information or to book visit marriott.com
@thewestinmaldives


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Bringing Business To Life: The Westin Maldives Miriandhoo Resort