Feature image: Niyama Private Islands Maldives
Many of us are bunkered down in the comfort our of homes as global efforts are made to flatten the curve of COVID-19. But a rare few are living life in isolation in utter utopia – the deserted Maldives.
Usually a tropical destination popular with honeymooners or families wanting to escape reality, those who are lucky enough to work and live at the luxury resorts have found themselves experiencing quarantine unlike anyone else.
At Anantara Dhigu Maldives Resort, Anantara Veli Maldives Resort, Naladhu Private Island and Niyama Private Island Maldives resorts, Deveekaa Nijhawan, Cluster Director PR & Communications, is blissfully secluded from the rest of the world and the health crisis that follows.
"It’s very strange to be on an almost deserted island with little or no activity, and I miss interacting with guests and colleagues," Deveekaa tells The CEO Magazine. "I do miss my family and home, however, until the curve flattens and countries open up their borders again, I am making the most of my time here in paradise.
"In fact, with no movement in and out of the resorts, there couldn’t be a safer place to be isolated."
International travel has been banned or restricted by much of the world – not a desirable outcome for a nation that relies almost exclusively on tourism.
"The situation is unprecedented," Deveekaa says. "Never before has the travel industry, nor the world, faced a crisis of this magnitude – geographically as well as from a health, social and economic standpoint."
Anantara Dhigu Maldives Resort, Anantara Veli Maldives Resort, Naladhu Private Islands Maldives and Niyama Private Islands Maldives are among the exquisitely secluded luxury resorts affected by the spread of the infectious virus.
In the Maldives, with a population of more than 500,000, the health of the Maldivians has been prioritised by the government. Early travel restrictions from high-risk countries was implemented early in the pandemic while movement between islands was limited.
"With no movement in and out of the resorts, there couldn’t be a safer place to be isolated." – Deveekaa Nijhawan
As a result, the south Asian atolls recorded less than 100 COVID-19 cases in the early stages of the outbreak, but saw a spike in cases at the end of April with now 527 cases and one death. It’s a small figure in comparison to much of the world – a credit to strict precautionary measures, restrictive movement, daily temperature testing stations and accessibility to hand sanitisers.
While the opulent overwater villas and warm azure waters remain guest-free until 30 June 2020, it is comforting to know companies are not alone.
"We are not alone in this situation," Deveekaa shares. "Other businesses have ceased operations entirely and made employees redundant. For us, protecting our workforce and continuing to deliver exceptional service standards to our guests once we rebound is of paramount importance."
Last year the Maldives welcomed a record-breaking 1.7 million tourists – a history first for the archipelago. But for now, the tropical oasis is closed off from the world, leaving room to dream about future holidays in paradise.
"With hardly any people around I am able to go on long walks, runs and enjoy the sunset without any risk of coming into contact with anyone else," Deveekaa says. "The island is my playground – it’s very serene and peaceful."
Living in iso: Lessons to learn from the Maldives
Use the crisis for change
"We are doing well against our current financial year targets, but in the last few weeks, we have been impacted due to the travel restrictions being enforced around the world," Deveekaa says. "Even though our revenue will be impacted in the short-term, we will be investing our resources to renovate, upgrade and reinvent our facilities to deliver an enhanced experience when we open again soon."
Find the silver linings
"It’s very easy to let negative thoughts overtake your mind, especially if you are away from family and are unsure of when the situation will improve," she explains. "I always focus on the positive.
"I focus on activities which are in my control and identify ways in which I can make a difference, rather than get stressed and worried about things that are dependent on external factors.
"Work is an escape for me and helps me divert my attention. I have in fact become more productive due to limited distractions."
Staying healthy is paramount
"Being an optimistic individual, I have used this as an opportunity for self-reflection – to work on my health and wellbeing and participate in meditation against the backdrop of the turquoise-blue waters and white sandy beaches."
This story is part of our Life in Isolation series. Find out how the world’s most prominent figures are working smarter in today’s pandemic.