An Interview with Sheraton Maldives General Manager Emilio Fortini

By Paul Joseph

Sheraton’s reputation as one of the world’s finest luxury hotel brand is long-standing and the brand continues to extend its reach across continents.

Opened in 2010 and fully renovated in 2018, Sheraton Maldives Full Moon Resort & Spa is widely considered one of the most impressive properties in the Sheraton portfolio. We caught up with the hotel’s General Manager, Emilio Fortini, to find out what makes it so special.

SY: Can you start by telling us what guests can expect to find at Sheraton Maldives?

EF: “Sheraton Maldives offers 176 guest rooms designed to blend into the surrounding turquoise waters, pristine beaches and lush greenery. Also boasting 7 unique restaurants and bars, the Shine Spa for Sheraton located on its very own island and 3 outdoor tropical fresh water pools, the resort caters for all guests and is the perfect destination for honeymooners, families with young children or teens and solo travellers alike. As of last year, we now also provide guests with our villa host service to ensure that each need is well catered for.”

What can you tell us about the local area, what is on offer?

“The five-star resort is situated on the private island of Furanafushi in the Republic of Maldives 1km and a 15 minute speedboat ride away from Malé International Airport. This not only makes the property ideal for families who are already exhausted after a long international flight, but it means we are able to visit Male City Centre on a regular basis and integrate ourselves a bit more with the local community. This ranges from visiting the market to supporting in local orphanages. We also offer guests the chance to take part in our Male Capital City Tours and Local Island Visit Experience to Himaafushi Island. On top of that, we offer your quintessentially Maldivian watersport experiences, dolphin cruises and sandbank picnics.” 

Are there any aspects of the Sheraton Maldives – perhaps the decoration or the food - that have been curated to be unique to the local area?

“Just last year, Sheraton Maldives Full Moon Resort & Spa completed a $20 million renovation which has significantly transformed the hotel. Our accommodation areas now feature outdoor spaces so our guests can truly immerse themselves in their luscious green surroundings. Our brand new restaurant, Feast, has also been designed to emulate the local culture and now boasts a cadent coconut roofing and a sophisticated white colour scheme. Offering both breakfast and dinner, Feast restaurant comes to life with chefs creating dishes from around the world from live-cooking stations from cleanly cut marble surfaces. Similarly, the Anchorage Bar has been elegantly renovated with a light and gentle colour palette that does not detract from the panoramic view of the stunning Indian Ocean.”

What would you say are the main USPs of the Sheraton brand?

“Sheraton Maldives is proud to form part of the Marriott brand which enables us to take part in various schemes that keep our resort growing and developing. Just last month, we were proud to launch our ‘water bottling plant initiative’ as part of a wider sustainability programme that is dedicated to removing large amounts of plastic bottles from the resort. This new initiative is an important aspect of the property’s commitment to protecting and preserving their environment through day-to-day operation, encompassing Marriott's wider “Serve 360: Doing Good in Every Direction” campaign. The new water bottling facility uses reverse osmosis technology by eliminating the need to transport water from the mainland. This advanced technology utilises high pressure to clean and purify seawater by driving it through an eco-friendly water filtration system. The water is then mineralised, chilled and bottled in reusable glass containers ready to be enjoyed by guests.

“Last year, we also removed all disposable plastic straws and stirrers, replacing them with stylish paper straws, as part of Marriott International’s worldwide ‘Plastic Straw Initiative’, enforcing the company’s commitment to reducing its environmental impact. Similarly, in 2017, Marriott set its most ambitious sustainability & social impact goal as part of their “Serve 360: Doing Good in Every Direction” initiative - addressing social, environmental and economic issues. This particular objective is to reduce landfill waste by 45% and responsibly source its top 10 product purchase categories by 2025.”

Are there any exciting new developments planned for the Sheraton Maldives over the coming months or years?

“Absolutely! As a renowned family resort, we are proud to say that in the last six months we have taken on a brand new Recreations Manager, Marco Rawhy. Marco is a rained dance choreographer and a former member of the Egyptian National team in Taekwondo and he is already implementing a wide selection of new exhilarating activities for our younger guests. These range from shark feeding to eco-focused arts and crafts activities and water sports too.

“Similarly, this month we are looking forward to the completion of our spa renovation. Our Shine Spa for Sheraton is situated on its own private island and as part of its revamp we are introducing a brand new yoga pavilion along with a VIP suite featuring its own steam room, outside area and relaxation zone. We are also in the process of launching a coral propagation programme to take place throughout 2020!”

As we’re approaching the Christmas and New Year period, what do guests visiting during this time have to look forward to?

“Children staying at the Sheraton Full Moon Resort & Spa this year will be offered a jam-packed itinerary of activities to keep them entertained all week long. To get into the festive spirit, kids will embark on a Christmas scavenger hunt, before sitting down to make their own Christmas cards, lanterns, hats and masks and even their very own Mocktail. Activities will also include friendship bracelet making, shell painting, island gardening and photo frame making, while aspiring chefs will love learning to make pizza and decorate cupcakes. Each day will include a more active session to keep kids moving – whether it’s a pyramid workout, Zumba or water splash games.

“On Christmas Day we are also treating guests to a Santa Claus’ BBQ Island where families will be taken to an uninhabited island to meet Santa, who has been secretly preparing his special gift bag. Santa’s Magician friend Assad will fly-board into the party and dazzle the audience with his magic as they feast on a delicious BBQ.”

By Paul Joseph