Some cancellations at Maldives resorts owned by Singapore firms

A file photo taken on Sept 11, 2013, shows an aerial view of the Maldivian capital Male. PHOTO: AFP

Several resorts owned by big Singapore hospitality players in the Maldives have seen some cancellations following a state of emergency imposed on Monday, and a travel advisory issued on Tuesday by Singapore's Ministry of Foreign Affairs against non-essential travel there.

Meanwhile, Singapore Airlines said although there were a few cancellations, the impact has not been too significant. The international airport, located on another island separate from Male, the capital, remains operational.

President Abdulla Yameen had declared a state of emergency after a shock ruling by the Supreme Court which ordered the release from jail of former president Mohamed Nasheed - its first democratically elected leader - and eight other political prisoners, on grounds that the cases against them were politically tainted.

Singapore travellers were advised to avoid excursions to the town area. Three resorts operated by AccorHotels, the largest hotel operator in Singapore, saw a handful of last-minute cancellations. They are Mercure Maldives Kooddoo, Dhevanafushi Luxury Resort, and Fairmont Sirru Fen Fushi, which will open with 120 luxury villas in April.

Mr Denis Dupart, general manager of the Fairmont, said three advance bookings for the new resort have been cancelled. The Fairmont is owned by Singapore real estate private equity firm SC Capital Partners, while Dhevanafushi is owned by CDL Hospitality Trusts.

But for the most part, bookings are strong especially for Chinese New Year, he said. Hotel Properties, owner of Four Seasons resorts in the Maldives, including Four Seasons Private Island at Voavah, has seen "minimal queries for cancellations".

Banyan Tree Holdings executive chairman Ho Kwon Ping said his hotels there have not been affected so far. "It's early days yet. If anything, the hotels on Male may be affected a bit, but all the resorts on their own islands will not feel any impact unless the main airport is disrupted," he said.

Most local travel agencies have not seen cancellations in tour bookings yet. "Maldives is popular among honeymooners and some luxury incentive corporate groups. But we foresee that inquiries and bookings will decline significantly for the next two to three weeks," Dynasty Travel's marketing communications director Alicia Seah said.

Chan Brothers customer Arvin Shan Kastanja, 25, arrived on Monday but managed to avoid the unrest. "We were taken by boat to Velassaru resort on one of the islands, and told that we are not allowed to go to Male, although we had wanted to," he said.

Mr Foon Weng Cheong, a project manager for a new resort in Male, has not seen much disruption. "We are near the main jetty, which is fairly safe. We are not expecting any delays in construction unless there is a riot at the ports... But I don't think it's that serious," he said.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 09, 2018, with the headline Some cancellations at Maldives resorts owned by Singapore firms. Subscribe