Steve Ng – Group General Manager at Maldives Inflight Catering, Hulhule Island Hotel and Madifushi Private Island 

Our team had a chat with Steve Ng, Group General Manager at Maldives Inflight Catering, Hulhule Island Hotel and Madifushi Private Island Maldives to find out more about his 33-year career in the hospitality industry. He began his career in accountancy, but a part-time job at a hotel sparked a passion for culinary arts and hospitality. Since then, he has held various positions in esteemed companies across Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Seychelles, the UK, and the Philippines. We talked about his career, at Madifushi Private Island, the key to providing excellent hospitality, his achievements, plans for Madifushi, and advice for those looking to excel in the hospitality industry.

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

I began my career in Accountancy, with plans to pursue the ACCA program in Singapore. However, after taking a part-time job at a hotel while waiting for the program to begin, I discovered a passion for the hospitality industry. This led me to shift my focus and pursue a career in culinary arts within hospitality. I started as a kitchen helper and worked my way up to become an Executive Chef. From there, I transitioned into roles such as Food and Beverage Director, Resort Manager, Hotel Manager, and General Manager, and currently hold the position of Group General Manager. My career spans over 33 years, I started in Malaysia and then worked in Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, and the Philippines. I have also had the privilege of working in Seychelles and the UK before my current role in the Maldives. Throughout my career, I have had the chance to work with esteemed companies such as IHG, Hilton, Minor International, Mauritius, Shangri-La Group, and Berjaya Hotels & Resorts, while gaining invaluable experience managing teams and operations in different cultural contexts.

Can you tell us more about Madifushi and how do you think it’ll be different from other properties in the Maldives?

Madifushi Private Island is a unique and exclusive private island that aims to provide its guests an unparalleled experience. The resort’s focus is on creating a serene, rejuvenating, and relaxing environment that allows guests to re-energize and unwind from their busy lifestyles. The resort does not categorize itself as a luxury property, as they believe luxury can be easily replaced. Instead, Madifushi emphasizes the importance of letting nature take over and allowing guests to disconnect from the stresses of everyday life. Guests come to Madifushi to cool down and experience a sense of tranquillity that they cannot find elsewhere.

You have been in the industry for a very long time now, as you said, 33 years. What do you think is the key to providing good hospitality?

Providing great hospitality involves several key factors. Firstly, it is crucial to have a customer-centric mindset, where the needs and preferences of the guests are at the forefront of every decision made. Building and maintaining strong relationships with guests is also important in creating a welcoming and personalized experience. Attention to detail is another vital element, where every aspect of the guest experience, from the quality of the amenities to the presentation of the food, must be carefully considered. Good communication skills, including active listening and effective problem-solving, are essential to ensuring guest satisfaction. Finally, a positive attitude and a willingness to go above and beyond to exceed guest expectations can truly set a hospitality provider apart from the rest.

In addition to the factors mentioned earlier, it is also essential for hospitality providers to have a team of staff who love what they do. When employees are passionate about their work and enjoy providing great service to guests, it translates into a positive guest experience. Providing employees with the necessary training, resources, and support to excel in their roles is crucial for ensuring their job satisfaction and enabling them to provide excellent service. By fostering a positive work environment and encouraging employees to take pride in their work, hospitality providers can create a culture of excellence that benefits their employees and guests.

What do you think is your greatest personal achievement?

Throughout my accomplished career in hospitality, I have had the privilege of working on several remarkable projects. I have successfully rebranded seven resorts, built two new properties, and expanded one. These projects often come with short deadlines, some as little as two months, but with hard work and dedication, I have been able to deliver exceptional results.

My most recent achievement, Madifushi Private Island, presented numerous challenges, including navigating the COVID-19 pandemic and overcoming contractor issues. However, I relished the opportunity to tackle these obstacles head-on and get things done efficiently. I am passionate about leaving my unique signature, my footprint, on all my projects, and I take immense pride in my work. My unwavering commitment to excellence and taking ownership of my tasks have led to several notable achievements in my career, and I am excited to continue making a meaningful impact in the hospitality industry.

What are the future plans you have for Madifushi Private Island?

At Madifushi Private Island, we are continuously looking for ways to enhance the guest experience and provide the ultimate luxury getaway. With our current island spanning 16.8 hectares and having only 80 villas, we plan to expand our facilities with an additional 80 villas or fewer. Our focus is on creating comfortable spaces that promote exclusivity, privacy, and tranquillity, providing guests with the ultimate escape from their busy lives.

Furthermore, we are planning to develop a small nearby island that will serve as a romantic getaway for couples and honeymooners. This new development will offer an exclusive experience, complete with personalized service and unique amenities that cater to the needs of our discerning guests.

We are committed to providing an exceptional stay for our guests and are excited about these future plans, which will only enhance the already unparalleled experience at Madifushi Private Island.

Do you have any words of advice for those who want to excel in this industry?

If you’re looking to excel in the hospitality industry, there are several things to keep in mind. Firstly, it’s important to have a genuine passion for hospitality and a desire to provide exceptional service to guests. This industry is all about making people feel comfortable and creating memorable experiences, so a positive attitude and a friendly demeanour are essential.

Secondly, be willing to put in the hard work and dedication required to succeed. The hospitality industry is known for its long hours and demanding schedule, so you need to be prepared to work hard and put in the effort required to make things happen.

Thirdly, always be open to learning and growing. This industry is constantly evolving, and there’s always something new to learn. Attend training sessions, seminars, and conferences to keep up with the latest trends and best practices.

Finally, build relationships with your colleagues, supervisors, and guests. Hospitality is all about people, and building strong relationships is key to success in this industry. Be kind, courteous, and respectful to everyone you encounter, and you’ll be well on your way to excelling in the hospitality industry.

My advice for those who want to excel in the hospitality industry is to always put themselves in the shoes of their guests. It’s important to understand the needs and expectations of the guests and to anticipate their desires even before they are expressed. This requires being attentive, empathetic, and always willing to go the extra mile to exceed their expectations.

Another important aspect is to focus on creating a memorable experience for the guests. This can be achieved through attention to detail, personalised service, and offering unique and authentic experiences. It’s also crucial to maintain a positive attitude and a willingness to learn and adapt to changes in the industry.

Lastly, I would advise aspiring hospitality professionals to cultivate a passion for the industry and never stop striving for excellence. Success in this field requires dedication, hard work, and a genuine love for serving and satisfying guests.