Adaaran resorts chief eyes significant expansion within Maldives

Aitken Spence Hotels has announced plans to expand its operations within the Maldives through its Adaaran resort brand in anticipation of increased tourist interest in the country, according to Sri Lankan media.

Chief Operating Officer (COO) of Adaaran Resorts, Upul Pieris, told the Sri Lanka-based Daily News publication that the hospitality company was considering creating an additional 400 rooms in the Maldives – either by developing new properties on uninhabited islands or through taking over an existing resort.  Negotiations on the proposed expansion were already said to be under-way in the Maldives.

As well as the potential for developing new resort properties, Pieris said that the company was also looking to expand the amount of high-end accommodation types like water bungalows that it presently offered in the Maldives at properties like its Adaaran ‘Prestige’ Vadoo resort.

The resort, which is the company’s latest property to be opened in the Maldives, consists solely of 50 water villa properties that are all based over the waters surrounding the island.

Having been operating in the Maldives since 1993, Pieris claimed that a decision to re-brand Adaaran’s operations in 2005 towards trying to provide a more high-end travel experience had “exceeded” the company’s expectations in terms of revenue.

Tourist demand

Despite growth in arrival numbers to the Maldives over the first eight months of 2012, the total occupancy rate for resorts, hotels, guest houses and safari boats was down 1.2 percentage points in total to 70.8 percent over the same period.

On a year-on-year basis, total average occupancy for August 2012 fell one percentage point to 68 percent.

Addressing this decline, Pieris said that higher occupancy rates were expected in the Maldives over the next quarter in line with plans to attract one million visitors to the country during 2012.


UK transplant surgeon dies while snorkeling at Meedhupparu

A top UK transplant surgeon has died while snorkeling on holiday in the Maldives.

Reports in the UK press claimed the 61 year-old consultant transplant and vascular surgeon, Ali Bakran, was on holiday with his wife Diane and daughter Miriam when he was pulled from the water and pronounced dead.

Police Sub-Inspector Ahmed Shiyam said the incident occurred at the Adaaran Meedhupparu Resort in Raa Atoll.

“The cause [of death] was most likely drowning but it is very difficult to confirm without a postmortem, and that is not something we can do here [in the Maldives],” Shiyam said.

Meedhupparu Resort’s management would not confirm that the incident had occurred, and said the resort would not release any information to the press until the matter had been investigated.

Bakran’s son Adam told the Liverpool Daily that the cause of his father’s death on August 27 was still unknown, and that the family was waiting for the results of a post-mortem to be conducted in the UK.

“We have no idea if he died before he drowned. My mum saw him snorkeling and then half an hour to 45 minutes later he was pulled from the water,” he said.

Bakran worked at the Royal Liverpool Hospital for over 20 years, and set up the charity Aequitas to help make careers in medicine more accessible to underprivileged students.

Fellow charity trustee Professor John Aston, also the UK’s North West Regional Director of Public Health, told the newspaper that Bakran “was a man who had quite humble origins overseas and was very committed to improving access to medical school among people from poor backgrounds. He wanted other kids to have the same chances as he had, and his commitment to social justice and equality and opportunity is something to be recognised.”

Registrar at the Royal Liverpool Hospital Ajay Sharma said the staff were very upset.

“At times, people in the hospital would be taken aback or a bit stunned because he would do whatever was necessary for his patients – he would bulldoze his way for patients,” Sharma said.

“When he was travelling, Mr Bakran would call me from America or Australia to check on his patients.

Balkran is the latest tourist to die in a series of snorkeling-related incidents this year.

In mid-August a Chinese couple holidaying in the Maldives disappeared from their resort after they went for a swim.

The 38 year old woman and 40 year old man were holidaying with their 13 year-old daughter on the Hilton Irufushi Beach and Spa Resort in Noonu Atoll.

On March 14, police received a report that a Chinese national, Rui Dai, died while snorkelling at Holiday Inn Kandooma Resort, South Malé Atoll.

Earlier that same month another Chinese man died while snorkeling at Chaaya Lagoon Hakurahura Island Resort, less than a day after a German tourist died in a snorkeling accident at Embudu Village Island Resort.

Mohamed Ibrahim ‘Sim’ from the Maldives Association of Tourism Industry (MATI) has previously stated that resorts need to ensure that inexperienced or elderly snorkelers are aware of the dangers, such as the country’s strong currents.

MATI is currently working with the Ministry of Tourism to make tourists more aware of the risks to snorkelers.

“Chinese guests in particular need to be made more aware because the Maldives is a totally different environment than what they are used to,” Sim said.

“The UK tour operators already pass on this kind of information, but China is a new market and the operators need to be made aware also,” he added. “Few resorts have reception staff or guides who speak Mandarin.”