How did you get started in the hotel industry?
I come from a very small town in Eastern India and like any young lad after finishing school we try to find various options on what we want to do in the future and what career path to choose. After considering engineering, medicine, and other traditional paths, I chose hospitality. I enrolled in hotel school focusing on culinary arts as I wanted to be a chef. After graduation, I began my career as a trainee chef but after a few months, realized that I preferred to have more direct guest interaction. I then decided to move to the food and beverage department and gained experiences in big cities like Pune and Mumbai. Later on, I had the opportunity to expand my experience abroad to Dubai and had the amazing chance to open hotels in Dushanbe, Tajikistan, Mauritius, and Mumbai. I first joined Hyatt in 2003-04, when I was part of the pre-opening team at Grand Hyatt Mumbai.
What do you consider your biggest success?
2018 was a wonderful year for Park Hyatt Maldives Hadahaa as we achieved quite a number of key milestones. We successfully positioned ourselves as the number one hotel in the customer service index among Park Hyatt hotels worldwide. We were also one of the best scoring hotels in Hyatt for staff engagement and to top it all off, we were accorded Maldives’ Leading Resort 2018 at the annual World Travel Awards.
What are some of the notable challenges you faced?
When I first started my career in hospitality, the main challenge was the unknown. My family and friends were supportive but they were in government jobs and were unable to share much advice regarding the hospitality industry. However, this proved a positive challenge as you tend to be more open-minded and resourceful in overcoming obstacles. Part of the advantage in a hospitality career is the opportunity to travel and be based in different countries. Along with this advantage comes the cultural difference of language, lifestyle, work environment and more, which in turn teaches us diversity and when we are able to assimilate and adapt, it gives you a sense of achievement and fulfillment. In my case, I had the prospect to have worked in Russian and French-speaking countries, Middle Eastern countries, Maldives and in India.
What do you do differently from your competitors and what makes you stand out?
One thing that sets us apart is our customer service, our Maldivian and expat colleagues are so genuinely concerned about our guests. If you go through our hotel’s social media accounts, the one consensus you would find is the sincerity of care extended by our associates on a daily basis. At Hyatt we have a saying – We care for people so they can be their best, and this is very much exemplified with the team. The other unique point for our hotel is our location. You may have heard that the southern part of Maldives is still very much untouched and if travelers are seeking pristine surroundings, peace, and tranquility, the south is the place to be. Virgin dive sites, exquisite house reefs and trips to local islands are among the many things shared with our guests for a truly Maldivian getaway.
Do you have stories of the locals rising up or an inspiring story?
We are a people’s company where developing talent is one of the goals. For example, I started my career as a trainee and now I am the General Manager. At Park Hyatt Maldives, we have local colleagues that have been with this property from the beginning. One of our local associates from a neighboring island first joined as a trainee waiter 7 years ago and is now a manager and second in command in the Food and Beverage department. We also have our chief engineer who initially started off as the hotel’s Gardening Manager but is now in charge of the entire Engineering team, construction and renovation projects included.
Do you believe there will be more Maldivian General Managers in the future?
I am confident that one day one of my Maldivian colleagues will take over as General Manager of Park Hyatt Maldives. I will not be surprised as the authentic Maldivian hospitality is evident in their daily duties. The friendliness and genuine smiles they exude only adds to the charms of this little island that all our guests are able to experience. The number of local colleagues are growing and it is evident with Maldivian GMs heading hotels and resorts.
We are following the global trend of the millennials travel trend decreasing the night stays in terms of the previous year. In your personal experience, what do you think will happen in Maldives in the future?
In my opinion, Maldives will continue to be a bucket list destination regardless of travel trends. Having said that, with more millennials traveling now, combined with their tech savvy-ness and the potential reach of social media platforms, more and more travelers are being persuaded even convinced to visit a destination based on the influence of shared photos and stories. The prospect now is how, as an industry, would we be able to keep up and deliver on the continuous change in travelers’ needs.
What is your advice to the young hoteliers of tomorrow?
Have patience – irrespective of which industry you would like to build your career in. Nothing happens in a few hours, days or months. Whatever choices you make, have conviction, persistence, and dedication, the path will lead to success.