FeaturedSeptember 1, 2021

Jesper Soerensen — General Manager of The Standard, Huruvalhi Maldives

Jesper Soerensen is the General Manager of The Standard, Huruvalhi Maldives, a glamorous boutique resort nestled in the idyllic Raa Atoll. Our team had a chat with Jesper to find out more about his career and experience in the Maldives so far.

Could you tell us a bit about your career thus far? How did you get into the hospitality industry?

I fell in to the hospitality industry in 2004 as a front desk supervisor at Ian Schrager London hotel St Martins Lane. This was my first job in hospitality. Prior to this I was in Fashion & Beauty industry but my path lead to hospitality and that’s how it began. I have a big love for people and that’s essentially what drove me here today. As the years have passed, 17 years to be exact, the layers of knowledge have become many but it always ties back to my love for people. My career path has been amazing and I consider myself incredible lucky and grateful to have been able to do this. Nothing ever came easy and still doesn’t but if your desire to succeed is bigger than fail then it’s endless. Failures are important as they shape you and become learnings. I’ve had learnings which gives me the ability to add dimension to everything I do as a general manager today but also throughout my career.

The hospitality industry is amazing and has so many different sides to it, as we cater to various types of dreams that anyone might have. At The Standard, Huruvalhi Maldives we have Guest Villas, Restaurants, Spa & Wellness, Watersport & Dive, Bars, Live Music, Kids Activities, and so much more  – in short – there is literally nothing we can’t provide and there isn’t much we can’t offer. From a career perspective, this is my heaven.

How has your experience in the Maldives been like so far?

It has been incredible. There is nothing in the world like this. Or shall I say in my world there’s nothing like it. Paradise in short. I’m in love with the local culture, the local people and our surroundings. The white sands and ocean makes everything vanish and become less important when you realize you are just a small piece in this magnificent paradise. We’ve been sheltered a lot from what the rest of the world have been and still is going through. Maldives was always a safe place to be and still is simply because of the 1000s of individual islands that makes up this beautiful country.

At The Standard, Huruvalhi Maldives how has the brand interpreted a more laidback island environment in the Maldives? How do you differentiate yourself from other luxury resorts here?

Our design is like nothing else in the Maldives, where else can you find a disco ball above your bathtub? Our culinary offering is also very different than the typical resort. Our signature restaurant Guduguda is a gorgeous space that showcases the delights of Maldivian cuisine which is shockingly very rare to find in the Maldives at a resort. We also bring an element of fun for singles and groups rather than solely focusing on couples like many other properties do. We have an incredible array of activities available that you just won’t be able to find anywhere else, such as diving with the majestic Manta Rays off the Hanifaru Bay, and starlight snorkeling with nocturnal marine life under the beautiful Maldivian sky filled with more stars than you’ve ever seen.

What sort of challenges did you face as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic? How did you overcome them?

It was incredibly difficult to suspend operations of a hotel we had just launched so successfully. It was particularly difficult for our hotel staff, who live and breathe The Standard, Huruvalhi Maldives experience, daily. Additionally, the COVID-19 pandemic has incredibly constrained international travel. Our approach to sales, marketing and PR has adapted to engage travelers who are able to make the trip based on the availability of flights and their governments regulations regarding travel to the Maldives. For those looking for longer stays, we’ve re-invigorated our Stowaway program, which allows guests to stay longer more affordably, and our kid’s program provides the perfect complement to remote education. On property we are laser focused on creating a safe and restorative experience for our guests so they can be free to relax, which is what the Maldives is all about.

What can we expect to see from The Standard, Huruvalhi Maldives in the future? What’s next?

We’re excited about a return to more active socializing with fewer restrictions. We have some exciting activations planned for the fall including our first ever Celebrity Guest Chef Residency! We also have a plethora of activities planned for Festive Season including wonderfully curated dining experiences, guest DJ’s and live entertainment. Beyond that our commitment to health and wellness on property remains strong. We have a robust offering of activities from sunrise yoga and CBD massages to retreats and workshops with world-class practitioners.

What do you consider to be your biggest personal success?

My ability to adapt, listen and make changes. I can apply this to any personal achievement or success I can think of. As a world we’ve adapted to a new “new” due to COVID-19. Look how far we’ve come. I listen to everyone around me and see what I can do to make someone feel better about any given situation. I apply change where necessary for a greater benefit for someone or everyone. I can apply these 3 to any successes I’ve had with guests, team, businesses or personal life. The biggest personal success would be that  I love what I do!

Do you have any words of advice for those looking to join the industry?

 Yes – do it!! You are the creator of your own success. This industry offers so many paths for anyone to move on which is incredible freeing and liberating. We are creative and we are nerds. We are everything. Anyone wanting to join, call me anytime.