The Westin Maldives Miriandhoo Resort: Sustainable Practices in a UNESCO-Protected Location
The Westin Maldives Miriandhoo Resort, which welcomed its first guests in October 2018, has sustainability as the driver for its design and the core of its ethos. Located in the Baa Atoll UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve, the 14 acres of previously undeveloped land have been transformed with typical Italian flair into 70 villas and suites, 41 on island and 29 overwater. Every step of the process as had sustainability and protection of the habitat as a key pillar.
UNESCO Recognised Location
Located in the Central Western part of the Maldives, the Baa Atoll supports one of the largest groups of coral reefs in the Indian Ocean, accounting for 5 per cent of the world’s reef area. The 250 species of coral create a magical underwater home and habitat for over 1,200 fish species and animals including many threatened and endangered such as the green turtle, hawksbill turtle, Napoleon wrasses and Tawny Nurse Sharks.
Many flora and fauna are unique to the Baa Atoll, including pink hydrozoan corals, Bryozoans and sea slugs whilst it is also one of only two roosting sites for the frigate bird in the Maldives. Hanifaru Bay, known locally as Vandhumaafaru Adi, sees annual congregations of the huge and yet docile whale sharks and also regularly sees some of the largest gatherings of graceful manta rays worldwide with up to one hundred individuals in the small inlet when the tide pushes plankton into the bay. The designation of Baa Atoll as a UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve in June 2011 was a significant achievement for the Maldives, placing it in the company of world famous sites such as Komodo Island in Indonesia, Uluru (Ayer’s Rock) in Australia and the Galápagos Islands.
Sustainable Design & Construction
Minimising the resort’s impact on the area was a key part of the design brief, and architects PEIA Associati worked closely with local environmental expert Prof. Sahig to find concrete solutions to combat coastal erosion. They worked to calculate the wave pressure on the shore, to understand how best to use winds within the architectural design, how to use the wind to your advantage within architecture and how to adhere to the seasonal changes of the shape of the island itself (sand beaches, the island geometry and sizes are completely different during the dry season and the monsoon season).
All the buildings on the resort are built with sustainability in mind; waterproof concrete cubes are topped with a timber roof, creating natural ventilation system through the double roof and material combination, with timber absorbing heat and concrete acting as a coolant. The flat rooftops of many of the back-of-house buildings can be used for solar panels or for hydroponic cultivation of fruits and vegetables for the resort.
PEIA Associati worked with its suppliers to source innovative and durable materials for the resort, creating a ceramic product for floors, pool and bathrooms that is more sustainable than real stone or marble without compromising on the look and feel. Where rare and endangered Teak is often used for decking, the company opted to use engineered and treated fast-growing timber from controlled forestation areas.
A mechano-style of construction was used, with prefabricated buildings being pieced together on site to reduce waste, energy usage and transportation needed during building. The team used the second life concept for as many materials as possible, for example using piling waste (generally 50% of all piling is wasted) to create fencing or other structures within the resort.
Sustainability on a Day to Day Basis
The resort’s commitment to sustainability continues beyond the construction through to day to day practices. The Westin Maldives Miriandhoo Resort has the ultimate goal of being entirely plastic free.
All water and amenities – often the biggest sources of plastic waste for hotels – are bottled on the island into reusable glass containers, whilst two Carbonators® on site turn waste into ashes with no smoke or wastewater pollution. Meanwhile glass is reduced to power, tin is flattened, the little plastic that is used is crushed and recycled, and grey water is used to water the island. A desalination system uses reverse osmosis to turn seawater into drinking water, removing the need to transport it from the mainland. The resort is also in the process of purchasing electric boats to further reduce its carbon footprint.
The project is the work of Award-winning Milan-based architects PEIA Associati, with Giampiero Peia, CEO and chief architect, and Marta Nasazzi, partner and interiors director at the helm, who won the fiercely competitive tender of developers Belluna Co. Ltd, Japan and Asia Capital PLC, Sri Lanka and Westin Hotels & Resorts.
Giampiero Peia, CEO and chief architect comments: “To design a resort in the Maldives is one of the most challenging architectural projects, particularly if you are really conscious of the positive or negative impact you can have on the people and the planet through your choices. We have created a resort that is unique, tropical and contemporary, innovatively local and in the meantime timeless.”
Nightly rates at The Westin Maldives Miriandhoo Resort start from £608/800 Dollars for two people on a B&B basis. For more information or to book visit www.westin.com/maldivesmiriandhoo.