Going local: Coco Palm Dhuni Kolhu
My next Maldivian experience is taking me to Coco Palm Dhuni Kolhu on Baa Atoll, which is located in the central western part of the Maldives. It is the first biosphere reserve of the Maldives and consists of the largest group of coral reefs in the Indian Ocean. The reserve is home to a big diversity of marine life and numerous reefs, showing the balance of human interaction and environment for a lot of years.
The resort is located on a big isle, my first impression is „arrived in the jungle”.
It had been built in 1998, in only 11 months. No big machines were needed,
everything is being made by human labour. Hardly no tree had been felt, the
environment had been protected and respected, which was not common for that
time when people were not into protecting the environment.
Going local: Abdul
One of those workers was Abul Hussain from Comilla, Bangladesh. After finishing technical college, he came to Coco Dhuni to work in the hospitality industry and found himself working as a builder. When the resort had been finished at end of 1998, he wanted to leave, but was offered a position in the kitchen by the management. After giving it a thought he agreed and started a job in the kitchen, but soon changed to work in Food and Beverage, which he though was a better fit. Mr Patrick, the General Manager at this time saw his talent for bar tending and socialising with the guests, and made him a bartender at the beach bar. Teachers from all over the world had been brought to Coco Palm Dhuni Kolhu for extensive local trainings. One of those trainers from Canada helped him to overcome his shyness when taking to guests, as Abul always had the impression his English was not good enough. Since five years Abul is the bar captain and everybody knows him. As 65 percent of the guests are repeaters, Abul knows all of their drinking habits and favourites. One couple from Uk has stayed here for 39 times, they are like friends to Abul. His free time Abul spends snorkeling, sometimes he would go to Male or go for a picnic with some of his colleagues. He knows them for such a long time, they live together like a big family. Abul is going home to Bangladesh at least every 2 years to see his family, his wife and two sons, which whom he chats daily through Skype.
Most touching experiences
One of the things he will never forget is the Tsunami on December 26th 2004. Abul had just gotten married and returned from his vacation to the Maldives. He was at the beach bar at 9.45 a.m. and saw that on the two corners of the res
ort the sea was bubbling and the water moved back. He immediately called the General Manager, who advised him to leave the beach and also inform housekeeping to evacuate the people from the villas. It took 30 minutes for the water to come back, fortunately the water did not come until the middle of the isle. As the staff village is the safest point on the isle , just in the middle, the staff left their rooms to the guests, the resort even hosted guests from neighbor islands to be safe. For three days the resort was cut off the rest of the world, no one had been injured. Abdul’s wife and mother cried when he first reached them after three days. 60 percent of the staff members are Maldivians, 40 percent comes from Bangladesh, India or Sri Lanka. 28 local employees are home on the two neighboring islands and are being picked up by a boat from Coco Palm Dhuni Kolhu and being brought back in the evening.
Going local: Laleth
The resort consists of a joinery, where the whole furniture is being produced and repaired. For the wicker chairs a carpenter named Laleth from Bangladesh is responsible as an expert for wicker. The result of his work can be admired all through the resort. Also the engines of the boats are repaired here, some tools are being produced in the Resort. In a country where nearly everything has to be imported, it makes a big difference to be capable to produce and repair things that are needed for daily life.
Only about 5 to 8 percent of the vegetables could be sourced locally, Fish is being bought every day fresh from the daily’s caught by local fisherman. All herbs that are being used in the kitchen are from the own organic garden, the guests are being invited to stroll around and explore all the different herbs. The plans of Coco Chef Faiz Idrees is to grow more vegetables here in the near future. We will report more about this amazing Chef and his great cuisine including a Chef’s recipe in one of our next blogs.