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World's first 100% solar powered luxury resort: Finolhu Villas, Maldives

Posted by
on February 04, 2016 at 05:43 PM

Finolhu Villas on Kaafu Atoll, Maldives- is the world’s first five-star resort to be powered completely by solar energy. Designed by a New York based firm Yuji Yamazaki Architecture (YYA) on a 13-acre island the resort is now opened for guests and is certainly one of the first successful attempts in achieving an unusually high quotient of luxury and sustainability - in the same project! Maldives is extremely sensitive to the effects of rising sea levels and also marks as the lowest average ground level in the world and with such alarming global warming and climate issues Finolhu Villas by Club Med has achieved carbon neutrality on this small island and has set a fantastic example of sustainable resorts for other countries with similar climates. “This project was an architect’s dream come true,” states Yamazaki.

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The resort, with 52 solar-powered waterfront villas located on the Gasfinolhu Island in the Indian Ocean, is a Club Med-managed property, where the villas branch off into the water like a vertebral column from the central jetty. Each villa has three rooms, having 12-feet ceiling that curve up like cresting waves, and shingles cover the entire roof. Besides the wondrous ambience, a private beach and a freshwater pool are added attractions - where visitors can enjoy unhindered views of  glorious sunrises and sunsets.

The combined effort to attain energy-efficiency in a high-luxury setting - makes it a vital destination for eco-cognisant tourists. The interiors of the villas are extravagant; and include a lounge, patio, private pool, dressing room, and a mini-bar measuring a total of 168 sq m (1,807 sq ft). The gym, spa and restaurant facilities are located on the main island. The striking feature of the villas is the deliberately-placed operable windows and wooden shade screens, where the screens on two sides of each villa cut off direct sun before reaching the exterior walls and patio - which aid in keeping the inner temperatures low. Thus, despite the hot and humid climate of the region, the air-conditioning usage in the villas is fairly low.

Spanning an area of approximately 67,000 sq ft. the installed solar panels generate 1 mega watt on an average sunny day, sufficient enough to serve 100 guests and 100 staff occupying the resort at any time. The solar panels are treated as an architectural adornment in the resort’s design where as any surfeit solar energy that is produced gets stored in the resort’s battery system for use in extreme cryptic, stormy days. Although sustainable the preliminary investment is expensive (including the batteries and monitoring system) and the investment will get redeemed in seven to eight years; by eliminating the need to import diesel fuel.

The resort will be Club Med’s second facility in the Maldives after the 240-room Club Med, located just five minutes away which gives the visitors a stunning impression of the entirety of architecture on the island. The shape of the buildings and the gently curved roofs are inspired by organic forms - from the flkora and fauna found near the sea and in the tropical environment - such as banana leaf, hermit crab, ocean wave, sea turtle. "These are all interesting reference points that guests have pointed out to me after they have observed the resort, but the shape is really a function of efficiency in this case.” Says Yamazaki. The island also has a desalination tank that yields a self-sufficient water supply, an efficient waste management system, and landscaping designed to minimize erosion, with littoral plantings, coconut groves and interior forests also keeping the native plant palette alive at the unique site.

Designed by New York based architectural firm Yuji Yamazaki Architecture PLLC in partnership with local firm Design 2000 and Italian engineering firm T&D Water Technologies the resort was inaugurated with a three-day festival of special events and ceremony. The Maldivian hospitality pioneer and the ideologist behind “the 100% solar resort”, Champa Hussain Afeef said that the island was “a simple sandbank with coconut trees when we first saw it.” at the event. With this project, he concluded, “We wanted to do something different and sustainable. I believe renewable energy is not just the future for tourism, but for all other industries as well.”

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