In 2003, Banyan Tree commenced an effort to create a dedicated research facility in Banyan Tree Vabbinfaru. When the Banyan Tree Maldives Marine Lab officially opened its doors in early 2004, it became the first resort-based facility in the Maldives.
Serving both Banyan Tree Vabbinfaru and Angsana Ihuru, the Marine Lab was designed to provide basic facilities and equipment for important fieldwork conducted by visiting expert scientists, as well as to share the necessity of marine conservation and sustainable livelihoods with local communities.
Since inception, the Lab has grown to carry the banner for Banyan Tree’s sustainability efforts in the region, from hosting visiting experts, to sharing the message of marine conservation with local schools and communities, to promoting and test piloting sustainable livelihood options for communities.
Due to the success in contributing to both the scientific body of knowledge, as well as the community’s understanding of the importance of environmental conservation, this model was recreated in 2006 with the opening of the Banyan Tree Maldives Marine Lab, Velavaru to support Angsana Velavaru and then again to the Indonesian island of Bintan in 2007.
Launched in February 2007, the Banyan Tree Bintan Conservation Lab was the Group’s first research facility catering to terrestrial conservation in addition to its focus on marine conservation.
Supported by both Banyan Tree Bintan and Angsana Bintan, the Conservation Lab seeks to raise international awareness of the importance of Indonesia’s biodiversity, which is at risk due to unsustainable development practices causing habitat destruction. By focusing on three main aspects of research, education, and outreach, the Conservation Lab can host visiting scientists and other experts to research as well as implement strategies to promote ecologically sustainable social and economic development.
By the time the Lab finished construction and held a small opening celebration in fall of 2007, it had already hosted a number of studies which were also catalysts to sharing environmental and social practices with guests, associates and communities.
Set amid stretches of desert sand in tranquil Wadi Khadeja which is protected enclave of the evergreen ghaf tree, Banyan Tree Al Wadi also offers additional recreational opportunities including a private nature reserve within the resort grounds. Spanning over 100 hectares, of which 60 hectares are set aside for the dedicated nature reserve, Banyan Tree Al Wadi’s Nature Reserve is home to local desert wildlife such as Arabian gazelles and oryxes.
Offering guests a unique opportunity to interact with and observe these gentle creatures up close, guests can explore the nature reserve via walking trails leading through ghaf trees and native bushes which both give glimpses into the wildlife’s natural dwellings. The Reserve also features a specially designed “hide” near a water hole which allows for discreet and unobtrusive wildlife observation. The resort also offers a bird-watching programme which enables appreciation of breeds such as the Indian Roller, Blue-Cheeked Bee-Eater, the Arabian Babbler, and a host of others.