Six Senses Laamu has been named Marine and Coastal category winner at the 17th Skål International Sustainable Tourism Awards, held at the at the 79th Skål World Congress in Kenya. Three independent sustainability experts judged 62 entrees from 31 countries, placing Six Senses Laamu top in its category.
The award recognizes the resort’s commitment to protect the Laamu Atoll's marine environment, spearheaded by the efforts of a nine-member marine team, the Maldives Underwater Initiative. The team has been regularly monitoring the health of reefs since 2012. Their conservation and research efforts have since expanded across numerous disciplines, including coral restoration, seagrass, turtles, dolphins and manta rays.
Marteyne van Well, Six Senses Laamu general manager says, “Being the only resort in the whole of Laamu Atoll we have a responsibility to the surrounding environment and communities. The resort prides itself on its marine conservation efforts and the award recognizes the tireless work of our team.” Marteyne emphasized the importance of the team's community outreach and education initiatives, adding, “Inspiring the next generation of Maldivians to be stewards of their oceans will be a critical step in protecting Laamu’s marine life.”
Since the bold pledge over one year ago to protect their 538,195 square feet (50,000 square meters) of seagrass, the resort has been reaping the benefits, including additional protection to their beaches and their guests enjoying snorkeling with grazing green sea turtles. Encouraged by the results of the pledge, the team is working on launching a nationwide campaign to encourage other resorts to join them in protecting this vital, yet highly undervalued ecosystem.
As a further commitment towards their marine conservation efforts the resort is in partnership with three international NGOs: Manta Trust, Blue Marine Foundation and Olive Ridley Project. All three are working towards the long-term protection of Laamu's precious marine resources, with a focus of Blue Marine Foundation being with the local community to create a network of marine reserves.
The marine team recently held Laamu's third annual turtle festival with their partner NGO Olive Ridley Project, where more than 1,000 community members and all of the Atoll's 13 schools came together to celebrate the importance of sea turtles.
A key driver in the success of their community involvement has been the Eku Eky program that brings together local government councils from all 11 of Laamu Atoll’s inhabited islands. The program has provided a platform to build strong relationships with the community, discussing solutions to goals such as making Laamu the first single use plastic-free Atoll in the country. As part of their vision to increase involvement by the community in their efforts, the team are working on developing education programs targeted at creating the next generation of Maldivians to be guardians of their oceans.