Martin van der Reijden MD of Cora Cora encourages the ethos of loosing your shoes, and his team at Cora Cora are keen to ensure you get the most from your stay whether it be a full on activity sporting break or rest and relaxation, Martin and his team are there to guarantee complete satisfaction.
Lets find out more about the man behind the scenes:
It’s Freedom Time is your motto, how do you ensure your guests achieve this from the moment they arrive?
Freedom can mean so many things to so many different people. Cora Cora opened on the 1st of October 2021 and at this point, travel had started to open to various countries, we decided that our focus was to ensure our guests start to feel free once more after the challenging COVID-19 restrictive measures on both travel and everyday life. However, ‘It’s Freedom Time’ is whatever the guest wants it to be from the freedom of choice we offer in our bars and restaurants to how they spend their time. It’s anything you want it to be-total freedom! We found that both introspective and stimulating activities can help guests achieve personal freedom once more. For Introspection, we offer activities such as sound healing, Lifeforce therapy, Wellbeing Tok-Sen, yoga, and meditation. For Stimulation, we encourage our guests to join our local dance classes and learn to play guitar with our in-house guitar teacher. We have a residential painter who offers guests art lessons, and we have a wonderful museum and heritage site that adds an education component completely unique to the Maldives.
Is there a perfect time of year to visit the Maldives?
The perfect time of year is truly dependent on various factors. Between October and April, there is less rain, however, between May and October, the Maldives is less busy and more affordable which is a significant consideration for families and guests who do not depend on 24/7 sunshine when on holiday. Personally, I prefer cloudier days as they make the skies beautiful and reduce temperatures.
What activities do you have for the children?
We have a fantastic Kids’ Club for children up to 12 years old which is centrally located within the resort next to the main pool and restaurants. We have received feedback from parents who have said they appreciated the location of the club as they were able to “supervise” their children from the pool area or Coffee Bar without being restricted to collect the children at a specific time. We encourage the children to spend time outdoors by visiting our small zoo, go up the Stargazing Tower, collect shells from the beach to make into presents for their parents, or participate in art classes with our exceptionally creative Kids’ club team. We ensure every child has a creative and fun experience in a safe and supportive environment.
Is there childcare or clubs available for when mum and dad need a little privacy?
Yes, we have a babysitting service for children up to three years old. This has proven to be popular for the occasions when parents wish to enjoy a quiet evening together or participate in one of many activities offered on the island.
Tell us more about the dining options and how to make the most of them?
We have a unique dine-around concept where guests can choose between Italian, Asian, Japanese, and Middle Eastern cuisine. In our Cora Cora Maldives app, guests can make reservations in advance should they wish. We also host two or three themed buffet evenings with the Maldivian evening being a firm favourite. We have an extensive international wine list and a wonderful selection of refreshing and delectable cocktails for our guests to enjoy at any time. To ensure we cater to all dietary requirements, we have comprehensive vegetarian and vegan dishes integrated into our menus and buffets avoiding the common occurrence where the ‘non-meat’ option is hidden away in the corner. Should a guest have a specific dietary requirement, our expert culinary team is prepared to cater to the request.
Does Cora Cora have a sustainability programme?
Our philosophy to protect the environment revolves around helping our guests understand the impacts we as a resort and individuals have on our planet. Our sustainability guidelines are in line with Green Globe, the Global Leader in Sustainable Tourism Certification and we are proud to have recently been certified by the organisation. Through Green Globe, we are self-monitoring our environmental protection programmes and subsequent progress in terms of waste management, energy efficiency, reduction of waste and packaging, sustainable sourcing, and use of chemical and cleaning products. In line with our environmental commitments, we also consider the wider social and economic impacts we have and how we can benefit the Maldives through our business.
Does Cora Cora support the local economy?
Having lived in the Maldives for the past 12 years, I strongly believe that the best way to support Maldivians is to provide employment, give them opportunities to grow, and participate in educational training and apprenticeship programmes. We are proud to have a strong Maldivian workforce with a high percentage of female employees, especially in managerial roles. Our priority is to offer our team members the best living conditions we can since many of them are working far from their families. We create a second home with a second family for each colleague to create a supportive and nurturing environment.
How do you see Cora Cora evolving?
Since we opened on 1st October 2021, we have been wonderfully overwhelmed with positive feedback from our guests and have been exceptionally well booked over the past eight months. This has resulted in our team being approached to see if we would consider managing other properties across the Indian Ocean. We are actively looking for investment opportunities and currently considering cooperating with partners we have a strong relationship with and forming new partnerships.
What is your biggest achievement to date?
I am a people person and if the team is happy and flourishing then I am happy. I believe that at Cora Cora, we have a strong team spirit, and we work together exceptionally well both in the good times and the bad. I believe that having a good team that trusts each other is the foundation to success. The “achievements” of financial success, awards, guests, and industry recognition are just a subsequential flow from that solid team foundation.
Who is your target market?
The reality of “target markets” is a complex concept that is always changing. We identify the markets with the highest demand for the Maldives, but we have found that this has changed, particularly over the past two years. For example, Chinese guests dropped from 25% to 0% since 2020 whilst Russian guests have increased to 20%. Currently, there are few Japanese or Australian people travelling but they will commence soon, meaning we are already preparing for these markets to begin visiting once again. Despite this, we have strong relationships with our traditional markets; UK, Germany, Italy, Switzerland etc. where we work closely with our business partners to market us as the preferred “All-Inclusive Resort” in the Maldives.
What sets Cora Cora above resorts in The Maldives, how is it special?
We have an incredible team and I truly believe you feel that the moment you step onto our jetty. We were the first and currently only resort in the Maldives to have a certified Museum and Heritage Site on the island. We have a 100-hectare Lagoon which is a paradise for snorkelling and diving. We offer delicious freshly roasted coffee and homemade vegan ice cream, as well as interesting, healthy, and authentic dining options. We have a spa which is more than just massages and treatments – it is a Wellbeing Centre. An exciting new addition to our resort is the 10-metre-high Stargazing Tower.
What is the best part of managing the inner workings of Cora Cora?
At the risk of sounding repetitive, it truly is the incredible Cora Cora team. Each of my colleagues has a genuine and authentic drive to work on making every guest’s experience at Cora Cora unforgettable and I find this inspiring. If I were to pick one specific project we have worked on however, we are currently organising the publication of our first Cora Cora Coffee Table Book. In line with this exciting venture, we are finalising a new Cora Cora merchandise line of clothing, bags, shoes, sunglasses, etc. with our designers Maja and Diego.
Is there anything else you’d like to add or want people to know?
Come and visit Cora Cora Maldives! The Maldives is a truly spectacular destination and should be at the top of travel bucket lists. If you visit Cora Cora, I can almost guarantee that you will go home with memories that will last a lifetime! It’s Freedom Time!