Before the 1970’s, Maldives was literally just another small archipelago that existed lonely in the Indian Ocean. Only traders who used routes that passed through the country were aware of its existence and its beauty – untainted throughout time. But ever since the launch of the first resort in Maldives in 1972, the scene began to change dramatically as tourism in the Maldives flourished. Today, the island nation has become one of the premier destinations across the globe and is regarded as ‘Paradise on Earth’ – and it all began here, in the heart of “Vihamanaafushi”, which is now known as Kurumba Maldives.
It all began with a small meeting between an Italian travel agent, George Corbin and Ahmed Naseem, then a junior with the Maldives Embassy who later went on to become the Foreign Minister. At the time, Corbin was seeking pristine islands where he could bring Italians to swim and hunt fish. For Corbin, the idyllic Maldives archipelago was love at first sight. Upon his first visit to Malé, with Naseem by a cargo ship in 1971, he immediately vowed to return with more guests.
With February of 1972, Corbin brought the Maldives its’ first tourists; mainly journalists and photographers. Their stayed in a humble lodging in three houses in Malé and were looked after by Mohamed Umar Maniku and his friends including Hussain Afeef, who is currently the successful owner/operator of several resorts. Perfect for swimming, sunbathing and fishing, the Maldives enthralled them and soon Corbin promised to bring more tourists if Maniku, Naseem and Afeef could find them proper accommodation, and thus Kurumba was born. From its humble origins accommodating only 60 guests a month, Kurumba has since come a long way.
“In the beginning we didn’t know what to cook for these tourists from overseas, or how to deal with them. I had a recipe book in English which I translated into Dhivehi so the boys could understand, I was cook, gardener and room boy. We had to do everything ourselves” – Mohamed Umar Maniku
Surrounded by the crystal clear waters of the Indian Ocean, Kurumba underwent a complete transformation in 2003, to meet the demands of the 21st century. The result; a world-class resort with 180 rooms, including the Royal Residence, Presidential Suites, Pool Villas, Family Villas and beach and garden superior rooms. It is safe to say that Kurumba has without a doubt matured into the Grand Hotel of the Maldives, setting the benchmark for hospitality in the region, and in the tropics at large.