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1. Maldives scoops major tourism awards

The Maldives won a host of travel industry awards at the 24th annual World Travel Awards held recently at the JW Marriott Phu Quoc Emerald Bay Resort & Spa in Vietnam. The island group was voted World’s Leading Honeymoon Destination, World’s leading Dive Destination and Indian Ocean’s Best Spa Destination, and also won ten other awards in various categories.

The Maldives’ success at the event, widely regarded as the Oscars of the travel industry and attended by hundreds of industry leaders from around the world, follows many accolades in 2017 including the Condé Nast Traveller Best Islands for Places to Stay Award, and Best in Travel’s Best Holiday Destination, where it came second overall in Asia.

The awards come at a good time for the Maldives’ tourism industry, which has seen year-on-year growth of 7.7 per cent over the last five-year period and the opening of 27 resorts since 2013.

There are plans for another 23 resorts to open in 2018 and 2019 including the Waldorf Astoria Maldives and the Italian-designed Baglioni Resort Maldives with 96 villas. The LUX* North Malé Atoll resort is scheduled to open early this year offering tourists penthouse residences, luxury yachts and sweeping ocean views. Projects by Riu Hotels, Pullman, Mövenpick Resorts & Spa and Atmosphere at Sangeli are also underway. Maldives President Abdulla Yameen says his goal is to develop 50 new resorts within his five-year term, generating 18,000 new job opportunities.

2. Six Senses Fiji opens in April 2018

Located in a magnificent secluded bay on Malolo Island in the Mamanuca Group, the first phase of Six Senses Fiji is scheduled to open in mid-April 2018, marking the arrival of the Evason Hotels and Resorts brand in the South Pacific.

Comprising ten private residences of two-, three-, four- and five-bedroom configurations (with another 50 scheduled to be built during phase two of the development) the accommodation includes private pools, barbecues, fully equipped kitchens and the choice of either beachfront, ocean or marina views. All residences and villas come with a guest experience maker (GEM) and the option of a complimentary nanny.

The property will offer a range of culinary and beverage options including two restaurants and a café highlighting local ingredients, plus an outdoor pizzeria and grill, and two bar options. Activities include all-tide swimming on the resort’s golden sandy beach, tennis, snorkelling, scuba diving, surfing on the nearby reef breaks, and a kids club called Grow With Six Senses. The Wellness Village at Six Senses Fiji will include a Six Senses Spa, a state-ofthe- art gym, an extensive wet area with hot and cold whirlpools, an alchemy bar and an elevated treetop yoga pavilion.

As with all Six Senses properties, sustainability is a key theme: the resort is 100 percent solar-powered by the largest micro grid in Fiji using Tesla batteries. Access from the mainland is easy via a 35-minute private speedboat from Denarau Marina and a ten-minute helicopter transfer from Nadi International Airport. The resort also hosts two fullservice marinas for guests’ private yachts.

3. New Club Med Ski Resort Tomamu Hokkaido

Set in 582 hectares of pristine mountain range in Japan’s northern island of Hokkaido, Club Med’s new ski resort, Tomamu Hokkaido, opened its doors in December 2017. The second all-inclusive Club Med ski resort in Japan (the other one is Sahoro Hokkaido) Tomamu is a perfect premium ski destination for families, offering 145 hectares of skiing, snowboarding, sledding and trekking as well as a spectacular ice village and Japan’s largest indoor wave pool located at the nearby Hoshino Resort.

Club Med Tomamu’s two accommodation buildings offer 341 rooms and suites including Club rooms sleeping up to six persons, Deluxe rooms for up to five, and Suites for up to six. Three age-specific Kids Clubs cater for children from two to 17 years of age. In addition to many winter-oriented activities at the resort guests can visit the nearby ice village for skating, ice slides, dining and even cocktails served in ice glasses. An ice wedding chapel is an elegant choice for sharing vows in a space as memorable as the occasion.

For activity-honed appetites, Club Med Tomamu’s main Itara buffet restaurant offers a variety of international and Japanese dishes in four distinct spaces, plus a Baby Corner and a terrace also available in the summer months. Haku, the resort’s speciality restaurant, offers authentic Japanese dining experiences including yakiniku grills. The resort’s bars include tasting experiences of award-winning locally brewed spirits.

4. Enhanced meetings and convention spaces at Sheraton Waikiki

A recent month-long, US$1.4 million refurbishment of the ball room and convention facilities at Sheraton Waikiki has underscored its status as one of Oahu’s pre-eminent meeting places. The enhancements, which include new furnishings, sophisticated new meetings technology, and 100,000 square feet of custom-designed carpet, have given the function spaces a welcoming new look.

The 1,636-room Sheraton Waikiki, which includes the 26,000-square-feet Hawaii Ballroom – one of the largest in Waikiki – is an established top choice for meetings of any size between ten and 2,500. In addition to the ballroom the hotel offers a variety of suites and breakout spaces for every budget and size from large corporate events to small, intimate gatherings. Several of the venues have spectacular ocean views.

The upgrade also includes more than US$200,000 of state-of-the-art buffet equipment for the Sheraton Waikiki’s food and beverage operations, whose 26-strong catering & event management team also oversees events at beachfront sister properties The Royal Hawaiian and the Moana Surfrider where groups can spread out if required.

Recently voted the third-best Hotel Pool in the United States by readers of USA Today, the Sheraton Waikiki’s Infinity Edge Pool is also now accessible to hotel visitors who rent one of the four oceanfront cabanas at Rumfire, the hotel’s posh beachside lounge. The cabanas, which fit up to six people each, can be rented between noon and 5 p.m. daily for a minimum of US$400 in food and beverage from RumFire.

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