Beyond Earth Hour: Conservation efforts prove “challenging”, but vital for Maldives resorts

For 60 minutes on March 23 this year, resorts across the Maldives attempted, on a voluntary basis, to throw their guests into darkness – or at least dimness – for the high-profile Earth Hour event, reports Minivan News’ spin-off travel site, Dhonisaurus.

Earth Hour, established by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) NGO, aims to encourage cities, organisations and households all over the world to simultaneously turn off lights and other electrical appliances for a single hour in an attempt to raise the profile of energy conservation measures.

Public and private sector organisations were among those participating across the Maldives’ capital and other islands this year, which was celebrated afterwards, somewhat paradoxically, with a dance event complete with a large sound system in Male’.

However, attempts at cutting the use of artificial lighting at resorts across the Maldives to celebrate this year’s Earth Hour have been claimed by hospitality groups to be reflective of wider efforts across the country’s lucrative tourism industry to better balance sustainable operations with high-end luxury.

Starwood Hotels, which operates both the W Retreat and Sheraton Maldives Full Moon Resort and Spa, claim to have participated in Earth Hour for the last five years – commitments the company has claimed are well appreciated by guests.

“Year on year, we’ve seen positive responses from the guests regarding the various [sustainability] initiatives,” stated a spokesperson for the group. “Naming for example the ‘Coral Planting Project’ at Sheraton Maldives was very well received by some guests who found it very informative and rewarding as well to contribute back to the nature.”

“Quite challenging”

Beyond occasional, high-profile commitments such as Earth Hour, Starwood Hotels said that trying to balance more sustainable operations in the Maldives with consumer expectations of luxury and fine dining was not without its challenges.

“It’s quite challenging being in the Maldives due to its geographical nature, but being in the Maldives gives us an even greater meaning to work towards a more eco-friendly holiday experience and sustainability through efficiency and better use of resources in order to reach our goals by 2020,” stated a company spokesperson.

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