The best hotels from 47 countries across the world have been competing to achieve one or more coveted International Hotel Awards. Winners initially have to prove they are the best nationally before competing against other top scoring hotels from across Asia Pacific, Europe, the Americas, Arabia, Africa and the UK. In the sustainability category Soneva Fushi won three awards:
- 5* Sustainable Hotel Maldives
- Best Sustainable Hotel Asia Pacific
- Best International Sustainable Hotel
Soneva Fushi was honoured as the world’s best sustainable hotel for its breadth and depth in its sustainability practices. Situated in beautiful Baa Atoll, Maldives, Soneva Fushi has for the past 20 years taken good care of the environment. The founders took a conscious decision to build a limited number of villas despite having one of the biggest islands.
Soneva Fushi has always protected its own 50 ha island and 119 ha of house reef, and worked with five other resorts to secure recognition for Baa Atoll as a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. Its marine biologist serves on the Baa Atoll Advisory Board and they are in dialogue with the minister of environment to increase support of the area.
Slowly but surely progress is seen but there is still more to be done. For instance, Soneva Fushi is the only Baa Atoll resort that has banned night fishing due to its destructive attributes.
In 2014, Soneva Fushi ran a two week intensive programme to teach 44 Maldivian children and 17 mothers how to swim. The aim is to teach children and parents living on an island surrounded by water to swim, and to gain a confidence that will keep them safe in the ocean and encourage them to be better protectors of the ocean. Soneva Fushi’s goal is the make this a nationwide initiative.
Waste to Wealth
Through its state-of-the-art Eco Centro Waste-to-Wealth programme, Soneva Fushi recycles over 80% of its waste. 100% of food waste is composted and the fertile soil produced is reused in their 1,500 m2 vegetable gardens.
Soneva Fushi follows organic principles to grow over 10,000 kgs of produce per year to a value of nearly USD 50,000. The resort has received numerous guest comments praising Soneva Fushi’s rocket salad as tasting far better than top city restaurants, despite being situated in the Maldives far from good agricultural land.
This is a clear example of the most sustainable solution being the most luxurious.
Soneva Fushi is committed to leading the fight against climate change within the hospitality sector. In addition to dealing with operational matters such as energy, water and waste, Soneva Fushi has gone beyond its remit and addressed the CO2 emissions derived from guests’ international air travel.
In 2008 Soneva Fushi introduced an environmental levy of 2% of room revenue, a pioneering initiative in the hospitality industry. To date Soneva Fushi and its sister properties have raised USD 5.5m which is invested via the SLOW LIFE Foundation in projects that will mitigate around 1m tonnes of CO2 over the next seven years, far more than Soneva’s total carbon footprint.
Soneva’s environmental levy compensates for unavoidable CO2 emissions at the same time as improving the lives of families trapped in energy poverty. The Myanmar Stoves Campaign, which is the first Gold Standard carbon credit project in Myanmar, is a prime example.
Benefits of the project to the local community are extensive including monetary savings for households, protection of biodiversity, training and employment opportunities and health benefits from significantly reduced indoor air pollution. So far the programme has improved the lives of 150,000 people.
Soneva Fushi strives to provide a blueprint for the hospitality industry. Soneva founded the SLOW LIFE Symposium as a means to have influence beyond its own networks and beyond the hospitality industry.
In 2008, Soneva banned imported bottled water and now bottles drinking water on site. As a result, 800,000 plastic bottles have been deferred from landfill in six years – and stopped the practice of shipping water bottles around the world.
Soneva Fushi together with sister properties have donated a significant proportion of water revenue to help over 600,000 people access safe water. Soneva Fushi has done this without sacrificing profits as our spend on water has gone down significantly.
The success inspired the establishment of the WHOLE WORLD Water campaign, an initiative that arose out of the 2011 SLOW LIFE Symposium. Through the SLOW LIFE Foundation, founder Sonu initiated and funded the establishment of the WHOLE WORLD Water campaign, which aims to unite the whole hospitality industry to address global water challenges. The simple concept follows Soneva’s model of bottling water, selling it and contributing 10% of revenue to clean water projects.
Soneva Fushi parent company Soneva has recently been selected as finalist in the Tourism for Tomorrow Awards 2015.