​​Raffaele Solferino – General Manager at Grand Park Kodhipparu, Maldives 

We had the pleasure of chatting with Raffaele Solferino, an industry veteran whose journey began on the stunning Amalfi Coast in Italy. With a career spanning multiple countries and continents, he brings a wealth of experience to his Grand Park Kodhipparu, Maldives role.

In this interview, discover Raffaele’s inspirations, the resort’s unique offerings, exciting upcoming developments, dedication to exceptional guest experiences, and vision for maintaining Grand Park Kodhipparu, Maldives as a leader in the hospitality industry.

What inspired you to pursue a career in the hospitality industry, and how has your journey shaped your approach to hotel management, particularly in unique destinations like the Maldives?

My inspiration for the hospitality industry comes from my childhood. I was born on the Amalfi Coast in Italy, where high-end tourist destinations like Capri, Positano, Amalfi, and Sorrento have set a high standard for the industry. From a young age, I knew I wanted to become a hotelier. Seeing these beautiful hotels and the international tourists they attracted sparked my passion.

I studied at a hospitality school in the area, and after completing my education, I began my career overseas. I started in Switzerland, moved to Germany, the UK, France, and Monaco, and have worked in 12 countries, travelling around Europe, the Middle East, and Asia. I have always been drawn to hospitality for its beauty, the joy of caring for guests, the appreciation of the lifestyle, and the opportunity to work in multicultural teams. This diverse experience has shaped my approach to hotel management, especially in unique destinations like the Maldives, by instilling a deep appreciation for international travel and cultural diversity.

What are the key factors/offerings that have contributed to Grand Park Kodhipparu, Maldives’ success under your leadership?

Several factors have contributed to our success. From a business perspective, the successful opening of our establishment in 2017, our strategic positioning, timely and successful launch, the development of dynamic and thriving teams, and consistent growth have been crucial. Implementing a new brand blueprint in the Maldives and instilling our unique work culture among team members have also been significant.

Our environmental efforts have gained us significant international recognition, including four consecutive Green Globe certifications in acknowledgement of our environmental management and one of the best house reefs. We are widely appreciated in all markets thanks to our commercial activities, excellence, and successful profitability. Additionally, I am delighted to report that a few talented local individuals who once worked with us have now attained Assistant General Manager and acting General Manager positions in the industry.

What aspect of working at Grand Park Kodhipparu, Maldives, excites you the most?

Our resort represents my second family. The people are the soul and the success of everything here, creating a unique energy for both team members and guests. Guest satisfaction is paramount, with our growing number of repeat visitors who highly appreciate our genuine service and loving hospitality. Our positive and flexible approach to guest needs allows us to create memorable experiences.

How do you ensure that Grand Park Kodhipparu, Maldives, provides exceptional guest experiences, and what strategies do you employ to maintain high guest satisfaction levels?

We put guests at the centre of everything we do. Our core value is that guests come first, which cascades into our four pillars: guest engagement and excellence, people care and development, digital platforms for building relationships, and financial intuitions.

We focus on engaging with the customer, personalising service, and paying great attention to details. Our digital management ensures that guests feel cared for even before they arrive and after they depart. This approach, combined with daily interactions and a flexible advisory role during their stay, drives both guest satisfaction and revenue generation.

Can you share any exciting upcoming developments or plans for the property that guests can look forward to?

We take pride in maintaining our property to the highest standards. Every year, we invest in updates to our villas, outlets, and facilities, such as the Marine Sports Centre and SPA, to ensure they are always up to date with the latest trends.

Phase one of our solar energy plant is complete, and we are planning phase two to increase solar energy production to 40%. We are introducing bikes, new facilities, and games at the kids’ club and for our team members. We also have a major refurbishment programme in the works, although it is still in the engineering phase and not ready to be disclosed yet.

What do you envision for the future of Grand Park Kodhipparu, Maldives, and how do you plan to continue positioning the resort as a leader in the hospitality sector?

We are committed to delivering our promises to our guests, team members, business partners, and stakeholders. Our robust blueprint is designed to foster profit and happiness. Central to our strategy is focusing on the well-being of our team members as their satisfaction is key to delivering excellent performance and outstanding customer service.

Our vision for the future is to lead with integrity, reliability, resilience, and flexibility. We believe flexibility is essential as we want guests to feel at home and not restricted by rigid policies. We listen to our guests and tailor our services to their needs, contributing to our success. By staying attuned to the latest trends in travel and tourism, particularly those driven by digital innovation, we ensure our top priority remains guest happiness and loyalty.

What advice would you give hoteliers or anyone wanting to enter the hospitality industry?

My advice to young people entering this industry is to give time the time it needs. Don’t rush your career by jumping from one job to another. It’s important to build a solid foundation and develop your career with patience. You need to learn the business from the ground up, including the back-of-house operations.

We develop training programmes that take a few years to prepare someone for leadership roles. It’s essential to allow the management company to guide and develop your career properly. While moving from job to job might seem like it offers better opportunities, it can prevent you from gaining the necessary experience and building a strong career path.

In the Maldives, where there are many resorts, it’s easy to be tempted by better offers. However, it’s important to apprehend the workings of each department and understand both the commercial and operational sides of the business. This comprehensive approach will help you grow and become valuable to your team and brand.