Updated: July 29, 2021
Although the ‘New Normal’ in the Maldives will be different from the normal life we enjoyed before COVID-19, the country remains extremely lucky as its 1,200 islands provide a natural defense against the spread of the disease. The Government’s ‘One Island, One Resort’ policy has served them well. Due to swift and effective action from the Government, the Maldives has been able to successfully contain the spread of the virus, mainly through extensive testing and a significant increase in the capacity of its hospitals. Soneva tests all guests upon arrival using our very own PCR testing machine. Watch our CEO demonstrating how fast and efficient the PCR sample collection is.
To ensure the highest standards of safety and wellness for our guests, we have made some changes to our existing procedures, which are outlined below. These have been made following best practices recommended by the US Centre for Disease Control (CDC) as well as our numerous consultations with leading experts in both virology and infectious diseases in the United States, Singapore, India and the United Kingdom. Our goal is to make our private islands COVID-19 free environments, so that all guests can truly relax and feel comfortable in the knowledge that we are doing everything possible to prevent COVID-19 reaching our shores.
The World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) has recognised the efforts of the Maldives in implementing enhanced health and safety measures, in line with the WTTC global Safe Travels protocols, and creating a safe plan by rebuilding confidence among travellers and ensuring a coordinated approach in restarting the tourism industry. The Maldives achieved the Safe Travels Stamp, which is endorsed by the World Tourism Organization and more than 200 travel companies. The objective of the Safe Travels Stamp is to provide consumer confidence and ensure travellers that enhanced standards of hygiene are in place. It is the world’s first-ever global safety and hygiene stamp for the travel and tourism industry, designed to address COVID-19 and similar outbreaks.
FULLY VACCINATED GUESTS
In accordance with the new guidelines released by the Maldivian Health Protection Agency (HPA) on April 21, 2021, all fully vaccinated visitors to the Maldives will no longer have to quarantine as part of the entry requirements. Fully vaccinated means receiving two doses of WHO-recognised COVID-19 vaccines two (2) weeks prior to travel. According to government requirements, all fully vaccinated visitors will still also need to show a negative PCR test upon arrival into the Maldives. However, as it is still possible to catch and transmit COIVD-19 after being vaccinated, and our goal is to maintain our COVID-19 free destinations, all Soneva guests and Hosts will still undergo PCR testing on arrival at our resorts even if they have been fully vaccinated.
• All guests landing in the Maldives will be greeted by one of our airport Hosts. All our airport Hosts, lounge Hosts, and transfer Hosts will all be wearing masks, disposable gloves and always follow the highest standards of hygiene.
• In accordance with the health requirements of the Maldives Government, all guests travelling to the Maldives are required to submit the health declaration form at this link within 24 hours prior to their departure to and from the Maldives.
• All guests must present a negative PCR certificate, and the test must be conducted within a maximum of 96 hrs prior to departure to the Maldives. **
• Screening procedures are in place for passengers on arrival, with quarantine facilities set up to isolate any suspected cases of COVID-19.
• All passengers and airline crew are also required to complete an Immigration Arrival Card when arriving in the Maldives.
• Travellers presenting symptoms of COVID-19 upon arrival will be subjected to isolation until testing has been completed.
• We would request that all guests wear a face mask until arriving in their villa. Our Hosts will also be wearing masks.
• All vehicles used by Soneva for airport transfers (including our Tesla cars) will be operated with the windows down, and they are thoroughly sanitised after every ride.
• Soneva aircraft and transfer/excursion boats will also be thoroughly cleaned and sanitised after each ride.
AT OUR RESORTS
• On arrival at the jetty, guests will be greeted by a Barefoot Butler who will be handling all arrivals for that day, and who will take guests to our private island.
• All guest luggage will be thoroughly sanitized before it reaches the resort or the villa. The guest villas are exhaustively sanitized/disinfected and are thoroughly cleaned before and after every check-in and check-out.
• Soneva’s exclusive safety & comfort privilege No. 1: Guests will be escorted to their villa, where they will be asked to complete a PCR test using a throat and nasal swab, and we request that guests remain there until the test results are received and are negative. This should take less than 12 hours. Guests can order from the In-Villa Dining menu at the published prices and the food will be delivered according to our health and safety protocols designed protect our guests and our Hosts. On receiving NEGATIVE COVID-19 test results, our Hosts will come to the guests’ villa to extend a warm welcome. Soneva will also conduct an additional PCR test on the sixth day of the guests’ stay, the results of which can be used for departure from the Maldives (this is dependent on individual airline requirements which may stipulate that the test be done 72 or 96 hours prior to travel, please check with the airline). This is Soneva’s exclusive safety practice for our commitment to the safety and well-being of our guests.
• Soneva’s exclusive safety & comfort privilege No. 2: In cases where the COVID-19 test result is POSITIVE, the resort will ask the COVID-positive guests, his/her family, friends and others in their travel party to isolate in their villa. As an exclusive privilege, (i) Soneva will immediately waive the daily room rate of the villa for the next 14 days and will only charge guests for meals and other incidentals; and (ii) all guests in isolation are welcome to make full use of the facilities within their villa, the surrounding private gardens and adjacent beach. To ensure guests’ comfort and enjoyment, even while in isolation, our full In-Villa Dining service, as well as general housekeeping services, will continue to be available to isolating guests, delivered in line with our strict delivery and service operating procedures. On the 14th day, we will send the release form to the HPA and upon their response (usually 24 hours) the guests can circulate around the resort as normal.
• Soneva’s resort-based medical team have been trained to look after COVID-19 positive guests and observe them. If there are no serious complications, guests will be allowed to socialize around the resort 14 days after a negative test or 10 days after the outset of the first symptoms, following the recommended guidelines by the US CDC. Should any guest develop severe symptoms and have to be hospitalised, the Maldives has built up sufficient hospital and medical capacity to treat COVID-19 effectively. In fact, the hospital on Eydhafushi (Soneva Fushi’s neighbouring island), only 10 minutes away by speedboat, has a new ICU unit with 20 beds. Furthermore, there is a new, state-of-the-art hospital in the capital, Malé, with 159 beds and international healthcare standards. If required, we are also able to organise emergency, private jet repatriation or medevac for our guests. We remind guests to ensure that they organise appropriate travel insurance ahead of their visit.
• Soneva’s exclusive safety & comfort privilege No. 3: We also require that all guests have their temperature taken daily. Our Barefoot Butlers will provide a digital thermometer each morning and will be in touch later that day to ask for the results. On the fifth day of stay, we ask guests to take another real-time PCR test depending on the circumstances prevailing then. To enhance our guest safety and comfort, Soneva purchased a Life Cycler 96 testing machine from Roche, and we built a COVID-19 lab at the Maafaru International Airport in association with ADK Hospital to facilitate safe, faster and convenient testing of our guests. Although this could be considered as being slightly excessive or over-cautious, both Soneva Fushi and Soneva Jani are ‘One Island, One Resort’; it is our goal to make our private islands COVID-19 free environments, so that all of our guests can truly relax and engage with our Hosts and fellow travellers, and not feel any concern about the risk of infection. Guests will not need to isolate in their villa while waiting for the results of the second PCR test.
• We also have implemented enhanced cleaning and sanitation protocols across our resorts in collaboration with hygiene certification organisations, and there will be plenty of hand sanitizer available for guest usage at all times. We are working with one of the world’s leading inspection, testing, verification and certification companies to provide enhanced control in the current Hygiene Protocols to manage and reduce COVID-19 risks, and to provide increased assurance to our guests.
• All cutlery and crockery will be thoroughly sanitized in accordance with internally accepted guidelines. All our resort restaurants, facilities and experiences remain open and operational, with some modifications. For instance, our chocolate rooms will now be manned by our Pastry Chefs, who have moved there so that you can watch them making (and serving!) the chocolate. Our famous breakfast, lunch and dinner buffets continue; however, our Hosts are on hand to serve guests. In our spas, even though our therapists are tested regularly, guests will have a choice on whether they wear a face mask or gloves.
•We have strict deep-cleaning and disinfection protocols at all our common areas, specifically high touchpoint areas, such as door handles. Our Hosts are also required to undergo the same COVID-19 testing procedures as our guests, while all materials and produce brought to our islands will undergo proper cleaning and sanitation procedures prior to being brought onsite.
• In any instances where a guest comes into contact with another guest who tests positive, the Maldivian Health Protection Agency (HPA) requires that they isolate in their villa for 14 days. In these incidences, the HPA will conduct thorough contact tracing to ensure that all guests and Hosts who interacted with the positive case/s are found and isolated for the required 14 days. While guests isolate in their villa they will be able to enjoy In-Villa Dining, as well as the use of their pool and the beach outside their villa. We will need to follow our standard COVID-19 response protocols which includes limited contact with housekeeping, daily temperature checks and some limitations of services to reduce contact with hosts.
SONEVA IN AQUA
When booking a Soneva in Aqua charter please be aware that all guests are required to stay one night at Soneva Fushi or Soneva Jani while awaiting negative COVID-19 PCR test results. Once the negative results have been received, guests can board Soneva in Aqua the very next morning. While isolating in their villa, guests can make full use of the facilities, pool, beach, and enjoy In-Villa Dining.
Wellness has always been at the core of what Soneva offers to all guests. This is now even more important. From a holistic wellness perspective, clean sea air and daily sunshine that generates Vitamin D is just what the doctor ordered.
We encourage our guests to enjoy the healthy foods we serve, whether it is the Ayurvedic elixirs at breakfast, the Andrographis Paniculata (a known Ayurvedic immune booster) that we offer on a complimentary basis, or the many other anti-viral ingredients that feature in our food such as turmeric, garlic, ginger, red onions, cinnamon and cardamom.
Furthermore, our menus use predominantly seasonal, fresh ingredients grown in our organic gardens or caught in the sea surrounding our resorts. We limit the amount of sugar, dairy, white flour, and beef in our menus, instead opting for high protein white meat, complex carbs and grains, and sugar alternatives. We also offer a regular programme of yoga and meditation, as well as numerous visiting wellness practitioners taking up residencies at our spas.
While there will be small changes to what would normally happen during your stay with us, on the most part things will remain the same. Which is exactly how we want it to be. Your health and wellness are our priority and we hope that our rigorous standards will reassure you that you will have a safe and unforgettable holiday with your loved ones during your next stay with us.
Based on the evolving situation, we will regularly update this document based on the latest news and recommendations.
** COVID-19 PCR Positive Test Result Variances
The Maldives Government follows the guidelines set by the World Health Organization (WHO) in determining a positive case. According to the WHO, they recommend that patients that have a Real Time PCR test CT/CQ level of less than 35 should be declared positive for COVID-19. We understand that in some countries, this threshold is lower and that patients are only declared positive if their CT/CQ level is below 25, and that levels between 25 and 35 are often considered negative. We highly recommend that when you obtain your test results prior to travel, that you double-check your CT/CQ levels and confirm that they are above 35 before arriving in the country to ensure you do not test positive on arrival in the Maldives.