Villingili resort in southernmost Maldives atoll up for sale

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The Villingili Resort & Spa in Addu Atoll, which operated under the Shangri-La brand before it was shut down due to the pandemic in April 2020, has been made available for acquisition.

The resort’s leaseholder, Addu Investment Pvt Ltd, enlisted the American agent CBRE to oversee the sale. The Texas-based real estate and investment firm invited expressions of interest from potential investors earlier this month.

Built on one of the largest islands in the Maldives at 50 hectares, the resort comprises of 132 luxury overwater, private beach, tropical tree house villas and two presidential villas as well as six restaurants and bars, an award-winning spa, two tennis courts, three natural lagoons and a nine-hole golf course.

“Available with the benefit of vacant possession, Villingili Resort & Spa gives an incoming investor the opportunity to gain immediate exposure to the best performing resort market in the world, creating a market-leading product under their chosen brand,” according to CBRE.

“The untapped development potential to substantially expand the resort’s existing footprint, without the need for land reclamation or substantial development works, makes this a strategic, once-in-a-lifetime acquisition opportunity.”

Villingili can be reached either via a 70-minute flight from the Velana International Airport or a five-minute speedboat ride from Gan International Airport in Addu City, the southernmost atoll in the Maldives located just south of the equator.

In February, Tourism Minister Dr Abdulla Mausoom told parliament that the government was in the process of selling its 32% stake in the resort.

“Under the agreement with Addu Investment Pvt Ltd, in a situation where the resort faces a loss, the government has to participate in the loan issued for financing the loss. As such, the government now owes US$68 million to the company as loan financing,” he said.

As the presently available legal “formula” for divesting the stake would cost US$80 million, the tourism ministry has drafted amendments to the tourism law to facilitate the share transfer at a lower cost, Dr Mausoom revealed, adding that the legislation would be submitted to parliament in two weeks.

After renovations, the resort is expected to be reopened by the end of the year, he said at the time.

The South Palm resort was the only property in operation in Addu Atoll before Canareef resort – which also shut down with Shangri-La after the pandemic struck in 2020 – reopened in January this year.

The government’s target remains developing 8,000 beds in the southernmost atoll as a “critical volume” is necessary for tourism to take off in Addu City, Dr Mausoom said. Together with the introduction of homestay guesthouses and integrated tourism projects in Hankede and Sawahili, the minister expressed confidence that the southern atolls could become a “separate independent hub” for tourism.