Rakitha Jayawardena – Resort Manager at Mercure Maldives Kooddoo

Meet Rakitha Jayawardena. The Resort Manager at Mercure Maldives Kooddoo. He shares his experience of working in Maldives for over 13 years and about Mercure Maldives Kooddoo.

What makes Mercure Maldives Kooddoo unique and a favourite among travelers and repeaters?
Mercure Maldives is located in one of the best atolls in Maldives, known for its white sandy beaches, pristine lagoons and rich underwater bio diversity, the Gaafu Alifu Atoll. Professional SCUBA divers and marine biologists have praised this atoll and lagoon for the unique beauty and what it has to offer. Another aspect that make us a favourite among our guests is the boutique and cozy environment with a local touch, thanks to the Mercure brand concept.

The last aspect I think makes Mercure Maldives unique is the direct accessibility from the airport once the guest lands at Kooddoo airport.

As a Resort Manager, how has your experience been so far working at one of flagship properties of Accor Group?
Working in the Maldives for over 13 years, this has been one of the best experiences ever. I have worked with various brands under different ownerships but the level of professionalism and the clear-cut approach Accor has, is not something you get to see very often. Here, we have many Accor global standards put in place to ensure smooth functioning of all the processes and that we are looking after all the details to make the guests have a memorable stay.

Mercure Maldives Kooddoo ­­is the first Accor brand and the only four star property to set its feet in the Maldives. Since then we have added 4 more properties and working under the leadership of our Cluster General Manager, Mr. John Bendtsen, has been a great experience.

What are the challenges you face in the day-to-day operations at Mercure Maldives?

One of the main challenge is the logistics in wet weather. The rough seas make it challenging especially during the times of supply and hence it is imperative that we plan ahead. Since the resort is not close to Male city, food and other supplies have to be stocked keeping the changing weather conditions in mind. There is also a risk of damage and loss during transportation in the sea. Hence, we plan our supplies and its frequency.

What are the key USP / Offering of Mercure Maldives Kooddoo?
Mercure Maldives Kooddoo is a home away from home. It is one of the finest Mercure resort in the portfolio with a 4 stars boutique resort concept in the Maldives. The welcoming vibe, the cozy landscape, white sandy beaches, incredible dive spots, the generous food and beverage, everything you see and experience here is detail oriented and well thought through. At Mercure Maldives Kooddoo, we believe in focusing on everything local and beautiful. From the Maldivian Nights at Alita to specifically selected local beverages; all this combined with the local art influence in the decors of our villas; we have added an exclusive Maldivian touch everywhere in the resort.

Away from Male and in the South of Maldives, is this a boon or a bane?
It is indeed a boon. We are not surrounded by other resorts and it gives you a clutter-free experience. You cannot see another resort just over there. At night, you cannot see the other resort’s lights all around you so you genuinely get that full Maldivian experience.

The untouched ocean is teeming with life. Considered to be one of the fines atolls in the Maldives, the rich marine bio diversity is a key attraction. Guests are keen to dive and explore the blue waters.

What precautions are taken by the resort to ensure guests have a great time holidaying at the resort?
The Accor Group has been stringent with all the safety protocols and have implemented ‘All Safe’, a program that is dedicated to ensure all the safety precautions are in place at different touch points throughout the customer journey. This is also in accordance with the HPA safety regulations. In fact, it is a great mix of both standards and we have incorporated

Sky diving was one of the key events that happened last year in the Maldives. How was it different operationally? Do you plan to have more such events in the coming days?
The skydiving event was one of a kind event organized by a group of professional skydivers from around the world and  they meet here in Mercure to enjoy their passion in one of the most beautiful destinations of the world. We received more than 200 skydivers from different corners of the world during 3 weeks where we combined the best views, with exclusive service and unique experiences like group diving and excursions. The weather was great and perfect for diving throughout their stay. It was beautiful to see the sky filled with so many divers with their colourful chutes.

Operationally, all we had to do was just planning big and in advance. With a very efficient team, experienced and always ready to go the extra mile, we were flexible to accommodate all the needs and function around the requirements of the group.

The group was so happy that the entire staff members were given a standing ovation during the farewell dinner.  It was a remarkable event and we are open for more of this kind of events in the future

What has been the overall feedback and reaction of guests after their stay at Mercure?
The guest feedback has been incredible. With our doors open now and with guests in the house, we have been flooded with so much love for the effort we put in to ensure guest comfort and satisfaction is never compromised. We start taking care of our guests from the time they land in the Maldives at Velana International Airport. Our airport team escorts them to the lounge (where free food and wifi is provided) and then to the domestic air terminal for their domestic transfer to Kooddoo.

Once the guest arrives at Kooddoo, our team is ready there to welcome them to the resort and are briefed at entirety about everything the resort has to offer. Our staff members are also briefed about arrivals and are ready to offer personalized services.

Every feedback is well received and responded. Our OTAs, Social Media handles are all testament to the amazing guest feedback.

With so much experience in the hospitality industry, what would be your advice to aspiring hoteliers?
I always tell this to my team during the orientation – Not everybody can be hotelier and do the hospitality job because hospitality starts from within. With the rest of the world changing to different dynamics, I think hospitality is also changing and hence it is important to embrace these changes if you want to succeed.

You have to take positive and negative feedbacks alike and be open-minded. You have to create things, think out of the box and be dynamic.