By THE NATION
The official inauguration on September 19 of the largest integrated leisure and lifestyle destination in the country, is expected to open up a new market segment for local and international travellers.
The megaproject highlights a strategic move by Singha Estate and is the company's largest investment in a foreign country with Phase 1 comprising two resorts (SAii Lagoon Maldives, a Curio Collection by Hilton, and Hard Rock Hotel Maldives) and The Marina @ CROSSROADS, worth a total of US$ 300 million.
The location of Emboodhoo Lagoon is a mere 15-minute speedboat ride from Velena International Airport and Malé capital city.
The first island is home to the vibrant lifestyle district and heart of the megaproject, The Marina @ CROSSROADS – an 11,000 sqm retail and entertainment space.
Due to its proximity to the city, the attraction serves to inspire the meeting of cultures between locals and visitors, very much the same way the country had done in the past, catering to a variety of lifestyle inclinations including luxury shopping, fine dining, a state-of-the-art event hall, and PADI-certified water sports and dive centre.
A transit hotel, SAii Lagoon Maldives, a Curio Collection by Hilton, targets short-term visitors who can enjoy the facilities at the town centre during their stopover for connecting flights.
The sustainable development aspect of the project can be seen at the Maldives Discovery Centre, an interactive educational-centre-cum-museum that promotes environmental conservation and local arts and crafts.
Another is the Marine Discovery Centre, a coral conservation hub that hosts biologists who carry out research through a Junior Coral Curator programme and a clownfish release initiative. It covers an area of 64,000 square metres.
The second island is Hard Rock Hotel Maldives, developed and managed by S Hotels & Resorts.
The hotel pioneers music-inspired stays featuring a full range of signature experiences and facilities for all ages. Hard Rock Hotel Maldives is also considered to be the brand's first Maldivian outpost.
Crafted under the tagline “CROSSROADS: Where Cultures Meet”, the project honours Maldives’ historical greatness as a crossroads of ancient maritime trade routes between the East and the West, resulting in a glorious marriage of old-world French designs and design concepts from Portugal, China, and Britain.
At the official opening ceremony, the CROSSROADS executive team was honoured by the presence of His Excellency Faisal Naseem, vice president of the Republic of Maldives.
Chutinant Bhirombhakdi, Chairman of Singha Estate Public Company Limited, said: “With CROSSROADS, we are making history. The project has been an exciting and challenging venture to plan and implement for all parties involved: Thai, Maldivian, and international. And today officially marks our first outstanding achievement. By being the largest integrated leisure and entertainment destination in the Maldives, CROSSROADS will help maintain the notable and continuously rising tourism markets such as China, India, and Middle East, and attract new market segments of family and locals to the Maldives. CROSSROADS is going to redefine vacation experience in the Maldives and the entire Indian Ocean region while also being deeply sustainable and considerate of its environment, history, and culture.”
Naris Cheyklin, the company's chief executive officer added that while setting sight on promoting tourism and the local economy, CROSSROADS’ is also committed to sustainable development through the balance of business, the local community, and the environment.
“Throughout the development, we ensured that the project will have the least minimum impact to the community and the environment. The balance of the ecosystem is fundamental to Singha Estate’s development philosophy and maintaining that balance is our main goal. All of the projects’ megastructures were made in Thailand before being shipped to the Maldives in giant container vessels to avoid harming coral reefs and sea-life. Successively, CROSSROADS will be home to the eight new wonders of the Maldives consisted of coral village, iconic tuna sculptures, sunset point, and Emboodhoo canyon, for instance.” said Naris.