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Award-winning UK photographer Matt Porteous becomes first Soneva Namoona Guardian

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5 July, 2020

Soneva Namoona is a Soneva initiative that seeks to radically change the way the Maldives manages its waste, has announced its first Soneva Namoona Guardian: Matt Porteous, the founder of Ocean Culture Life and the Managing Director of Studio M.

In April, Matt Porteous headed out to the Maldives to meet the creators of the Soneva Namoona Project, exploring the ways in which islands in the Northern Atolls are improving and overcoming waste management issues. Soneva Namoona is a partnership between three local islands (Maalhos, Dharavandhoo and Kihaadhoo), Soneva, marine plastic foundation Common Seas, and the government of the Maldives. The Studio_M team helped to put together a proposal for President Solih of the Maldives, to highlight the devastation and impact of plastic across the beautiful Maldivian islands, and how they can be protected and restored through the Namoona Baa project.

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The goal of Namoona Guardians is to build a network of like-minded people around the world who are committed to making Soneva Namoona is a success. Namoona Guardians can be environmentalists, conservationists, surfers, sailors, athletes, and artists who have a passion for safeguarding the environment. They are innovators, leaders, visionaries and pioneers. Matt recently did a takeover of the Soneva Namoona Instagram account, @namooonabaa, to talk about his work documenting how the Maldivian islands of Maalhos, Dharavandhoo, and Kihaadhoo have become pioneers of the waste-to-wealth philosophy and setting examples in reducing marine plastic waste.  

I’m incredibly fortunate as a photographer to spend time with amazing people. In the case of Soneva Namoona, this means telling stories of the real heroes of Maldivian islands – the community collecting ocean plastic for the benefit of future generations, the team mentoring children on neighbouring islands to become ocean stewards, the waste experts at Soneva who are designing a sustainable way of managing waste that can benefit the whole country,” said Matt Porteous. “Change starts with individuals and passion. Programmes like Soneva Namoona are so important for creating the systems needed to tackle complex problems. But what is so exemplary about it is the focus on nurturing people and their passion. My passion is in sharing these stories, connecting like-minded individuals and corporations, helping create ripples of change across the world.” 

Matt’s love and delight in his surroundings are evident in his work. He captures and reveals the expression and detail that is seldom evident to the naked eye. Matt is one of the UK’s leading photographers both in and out of the water, where his passion for oceans has taken him to some of the most beautiful places on the planet and connected him to some of the world’s greatest changemakers.  

 The Jersey-based photographer was chosen by The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge as the official photographer to photograph Prince George to mark his Hi third birthday and fifth birthdays. Matt was also commissioned to shoot Prince HLouis’ christening at Clarence House. Later in 2018 he was tasked with capturing last year’s Christmas card photograph for the Duke and Duchess’s family portrait in their country home, in Norfolk. 

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Soneva in The Maldives

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World-leading luxury resort operator Soneva runs two resorts in the Maldives, Soneva Fushi and Soneva Jani.

In 1995, the award-winning luxury resort Soneva Fushi set the standard for all desert island barefoot luxury hideaways in the Maldives. Located in the Baa Atoll UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, Soneva Fushi pairs Robinson Crusoe fantasy with intelligent luxury. If the experiences are magical, the philosophy is simple: No news, no shoes. No pretensions either.

Sixty-two private villas with their own stretch of beach are hidden among dense foliage within touching distance of a pristine coral reef. Intuitive service is provided by Mr./Ms. Friday butlers.

Highlights include the open-air Cinema Paradiso, counting Saturn’s rings in the high-tech Observatory, the home-made chocolate and ice cream rooms, five hundred wines to choose from, six different restaurants and countless destination dining options. In November 2015, Soneva launched a floating villa concept, Soneva in Aqua, a treasure trove children’s Den and a multi-purpose facility encompasses a glass gallery, boutique and studio where guests can learn the art of glass blowing. READ FULL REVIEW

The perfect combination of luxury and nature, Soneva Jani offers guests an unparalleled experience in idyllic surroundings. Opened in December 2016, Soneva Jani is Soneva’s newest property and the world-leading luxury hotel group’s second resort in the Maldives. This resort doesn't just have character, it has charisma. Soneva Jani is like someone with personal magnetism, someone who knows themself, knows the world and greets it with a big, welcoming smile.

Meaning ‘wisdom’ in Sanskrit, Soneva Jani currently comprises 24 overwater villas and one island villa. Each of the 24 water villas is superbly designed and has a private pool that looks out onto its own lagoon site, and some villas are equipped with water slides from the sun deck down to the lagoon. Feature of the villas is a retractable roof in the main bedroom, which is retracted at the touch of a button so guests can lie in bed and count the stars. Five islands encircle the lagoon, each one with soft white sands and covered in rich tropical vegetation. Four of the five islands will remain untouched, making Soneva Jani the lowest density development in the Maldives. The overwater villas are spaced across the expansive lagoon, offering privacy and extensive views over the Maldives’ turquoise waters. The island villas will be tucked into the lush greenery, providing the ultimate privacy, and all within steps of the beach.

Soneva Jani’s main guest facilities are located at The Gathering, the heart of the overwater villas. This dramatic three story structure is home to the main dining outlets, in addition to the Soneva Spa, library, retail area and wine cellar. It is located next to the Maldives’ first overwater Observatory.

The luxury resort is located on the island of Medhufaru within a 5.6 kilometre lagoon in the Noonu atoll, and has uninterrupted ocean views in all directions. The lagoon is 35 minutes by seaplane from Malé International Airport and one hour by speedboat from Soneva Fushi. Facilities on the island include the overwater Cinema Paradiso, the Eco Centro Waste-to-Wealth centre, organic gardens, tennis courts, water sports champa and Zuhair’s Beach on a desert island in the lagoon. READ FULL REVIEW

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