Construction of the first integrated resort in the Maldives is underway in the Emboodhoo lagoon near the capital Malé.
The US$311.5 million project by Thailand’s Singha Estate was launched by Tourism Minister Moosa Zameera at an official groundbreaking ceremony on July 30.
Phase one of the project comprises “a three-island-resorts concept, with a core island township bringing a veritable wealth of world-class food and beverage, retail, entertainment, recreation and leisure-lifestyle experiences to the Maldives for the very first time,” according to the Thai developer.
The township is expected to be complete by the third quarter of 2018 and the second phase within the next five years.
“The overall development which, when fully completed, will ultimately extend across nine islands, has been conceived to meet the leisure-destination desires of the world’s large and rapidly-growing medium to upscale leisure segment,” Chutinant Bhirombhakdi, chairman of Singha Estate, said at the groundbreaking ceremony.
The integrated resorts would be “a game-changing project that will elevate the Maldives’ position as one of the popular tourist destinations in the world,” he said.
Singha has also partnered with Hard Rock International Hotel Group to “open a ‘new DNA’ resort concept featuring Rock Star suites and a secluded upscale lifestyle resort that offers guests highly-exclusive water villas.”
A 50-berth marina would meanwhile be developed at the township in partnership with Camper and Nicholsons, a renowned UK-marina management specialists.
In late April, Singhai also announced a partnership with Café Del Mar to develop a beach club. Other plans include establishing a Maldives cultural and Indian Ocean marine learning centre.
Reclamation of the lagoon by Belgium-based Dredging, Environmental and Marine Engineering NV began in early January.
The Emboodhoo lagoon is a short distance from Malé and the Velana International Airport.
Speaking at the groundbreaking ceremony, Tourism Minister Zameer suggested that the project was a testament to President Abdulla Yameen’s stewardship of the economy.
“Maldives has become a close destination for investors. We have won over the confidence of many local and international investors,” he said.
Yameen meanwhile said at a ruling party event on Sunday that the 50-year lease agreement for the lagoon is worth US$40 million, of which US$30 million has been paid so far.
Previous administrations planned to lease the lagoon was as low as US$3 million, he claimed.
A similar integrated tourism development project by Singapore-based developer Pontiac Land Group is also underway in the Rah Falhu lagoon near Malé.