Ahmed Zahir – Hotel Manager at Angsana Velavaru

Ahmed Zahir is the Hotel Manager at Banyan Tree Group’s Angsana Velavaru. He joined Banyan Tree Group in 1995 and currently has over 27 years of experience with the Banyan Tree Group in the Maldives. Ahmed Zahir started his career as a laundry supervisor and was appointed the role of Hotel Manager at Angsana Velavaru in April 2021.

Could you tell us a bit about your career so far?

I joined Banyan Tree group on 16th July 1995 as a Laundry Supervisor and have over 34 years of experience in the industry.  Before becoming the Hotel Manager, I have filled many positions such as Housekeeping Supervisor, Assistant Housekeeper, Executive Assistant Housekeeper, Executive Housekeeper, Front Office Manager, Rooms Division Manager and Executive Assistant Manager.

Banyan Tree is among the very first international hotel brands that came to the Maldives. What sets Banyan Tree resorts apart, and how does it compete with other international brands in Maldives?

Banyan Tree focuses on developing local talent since the very first day, while making the team’s safety and wellbeing their first priority. As a result, in all Banyan Tree properties, most of the leaders (HODs) are locals today. The company’s culture is authentic, and provides stewardship of cultural and natural heritage. Day by day the company’s purpose of “Embracing the Environment & Empowering the People” is becoming more meaningful than ever.

From housekeeper to hotel manager — as we are celebrating housekeeping week, how do you describe your housekeeping journey and the role of housekeeping management in the resorts?

I would describe housekeeping journey as enriching and exciting. The responsibility of housekeeping department is much more than making up the guest villas/rooms twice a day. Observant customers can judge how good the housekeeping department of the property within few minutes of their arrival. Therefore, the housekeeping management has to ensure that the entire hotel including back and front of house is always spotless at all times, not to mention the uniforms, linen, upholsteries, walkways as well as beach. They should empower and encourage the staff to be innovative while maintaining the standards of the hotel, and coordinate preventive maintenance of guest villas, laundry as well as public areas with property maintenance team is one of the key roles of the housekeeping manager. Of course, managing departmental budget responsibly has to be on top of the list.

You have been working in one of the leading international hotel chains for the longest time. What have been the biggest challenges so far in your career?

I would say the 2004 tsunami and the recent COVID-19 pandemic were the most difficult times I have seen so far during my 34 years in the industry. Since we are very much dependent on tourism, both the Tsunami and Covid-19 had a negative impact on our lives as a whole. We had to take some tough decisions in order to sustain the business. During the pandemic I wasn’t able to meet my family for more than a year which was very tough for me. I try to stay positive in difficult times which helps me to overcome any challenges I may face.

What do you consider to be your greatest personal success?

When colleagues approach me and tell me that I have inspired them to move forward in the industry, it makes me so happy. That is what I consider to be my greatest personal success.

Do you have any words of advice for those looking to succeed in this industry?

Hard work with dedication and full commitment will make you succeed. Understand that nothing can be achieved easily, hence the road to success will be bumpy and long. Those who strive harder will eventually survive. The people around you will always play a huge part in your success, so be humble and treat everybody with respect.

I would like to share a very good quote from Robert Kiyosaki: “When you are young, work to learn, not to earn” so do not miss any learning opportunity. Knowledge will be your biggest asset; the rest is secondary.