Words Of Wisdom By Alex: The visionary behind Cocoon Maldives
10 June 2017
Let’s begin with yourself, could you tell us a bit about how you got into the hospitality industry of Maldives and how you managed to gain such a success?
I have been in the Maldives since 1981, with Azemar which is one of the biggest travel agencies in Italy and we have been serving some of the biggest names in the local hospitality industry such as Bandos and Sun Travel since then.
I managed to develop excellent relationships from the business side as well as the personal side with the local leaders of the tourism industry. So by spending so much of my career in the Maldives, I have learnt a lot about the country. I have learnt how to approach the people, how to work with and make the most of this unique and amazing place.
How did you come up with the unique ideas and concepts behind Cocoon?
I first met Daniele Lago at a dinner in Milan, Italy. After that we developed a very strong friendship, however at first I was very nervous about bringing this new approach in terms of design and architecture to the Maldives, mostly because it wasn’t something that you would normally see here, it might have been more in harmony in places such as Milan and Paris but not here.
So, we decided to do a small mock up of our concept. The response was extremely positive and fantastic, and people were so enthusiastic about it, which made us decide to go with this new approach. We received comments such as ‘’Wow, finally something different’’, and we were very motivated by these comments. We wanted to be able to say that we completely different from other islands in the Maldives. We wanted to surprise and gain the attention of our guests.
We wanted to create a connection between nature and the lush vegetation of Maldives while relieving our guests of the stress of everyday life and bring out the inner child inside them along with the happiness. For instance, the swings in some of our rooms are designed especially for that, and the logo of Cocoon fulfills its purpose by grabbing the attention of our patrons, with its unique curious design.
The Journey to make your dream into a reality must have been a long and hard one. Could you tell us a bit more about it?
Yes, to turn this concept into a reality, it took just 16 months. So we had work hard to make sure that everything was perfect and in order. After the success of the mock up room, we moved on to designing the other areas of the resort, such as the reception area and the restaurants. The brilliance and innovative designs of LAGO can be seen everywhere on the island, making it the first ‘’design’’ resort of the country.
We tried to maintain a constant relationship with nature, when designing everything. Like when we situated the beach villas 5 meters inside the island. It would still give an amazing view but also maintain the natural beauty of the island at the same time. Little intricate details like this, matter a lot for us here at Cocoon and that is the secret that distinguishes us from other resorts, even if it takes a difficult journey to turn it into a reality.
Do you plan on expanding your business in the Maldives?
Yes, of course, since the Maldives is a fantastic place, I would like to stay here help my staff learn and implement what I am trying to bring about. A hotel for me, is not just a nice building, it is something that you pour your blood and sweat into in order to make it succeed and expand.
What are some of the challenges that you have faced in creating Cocoon Maldives?
There were many difficulties, but the biggest challenge would be the logistics. Maldives is a very complicated country and problems such as the shallow lagoon surrounding the island were extremely difficult to solve. But luckily, we found ourselves great partners such as Bison Maldives pvt.ltd. And with the help that these partners provided we managed to overcome such difficulties and open on schedule completely. There were no small openings and big openings, when we opened we opened fully with all 150 villas.
Maldives is famous for a lot of things such as diving, snorkeling and the sandy beaches. In your opinion, what do you think is the best quality of Maldives?
For me, every single time I come here, I go mad for the view. The nature, the sea, the dolphins and the sunset and sunrise that is what makes the Maldives so amazing for me. Everything is easily accessible here. In other parts of the world, you might have to travel 3 or 4 hours by boat to see a pod of dolphins, but not here. Here you just have to travel five minutes out to the sea and you can see dolphins everywhere.
The nature, the nature is something that can truly satisfy the eyes, and that is the most amazing thing about the Maldives for me.
How do you work in harmony with the nature of Maldives at cocoon?
That is a very important part of Cocoon Maldives. Rooms are as much a part of nature as can be. The whole mood of the island is created so that it is in tune with the fantastic nature of Maldives. We are trying to link everything at Cocoon with nature.
This can be seen in the furniture and design of the resort and the positioning of the villas as well. Villas are placed inside the line of vegetation in order to protect the astounding beauty of the island. So that the picture of the beautiful and spotless white beaches of the island with lush vegetation is not ruined with the buildings. So you can see how much we try to emphasize nature in our design of Cocoon.
Also, there are no umbrellas on the island, except the pool area. I hate umbrellas, they are not in line with nature. This is the Maldives, the sun is an important part of the country. People should try to understand what it is that we are trying to do, this is not like any other island. Here, we respect and display the Maldivian culture and traditions, the Maldivian food. We are just as much in touch with the Maldivian ways as we are one with nature. We are trying to teach our guests another side of life here. Which is the local ways, culture and food.
How do you try to fuse the cultural and traditional ways of Maldives and the contemporary experience of Cocoon?
Most of our employees are locals, and a lot of locals visit us from nearby islands, such as Olhuvelifushi. We invite dancers and Boduberu groups as well as local cooks, who come here and cook for the guests, the traditional and local food. Every week, we also have a Maldivian night, where our connection with the locals and the country is on full display.
Do you have anything else to add?
I don’t like to say, ‘’come to Cocoon’’, but I do want to say that Maldives, is the best and most beautiful country in the world, every island in the Maldives is a beautiful island, but Cocoon is unique.