Maldives Promotion House – History teaches us that opportunities don’t always come running after us. It also teaches us that they don’t always last. While one human century maybe short, it is our efforts that grant us the long and fulfilling lives that makes great people. As gravity pulls us down, we must climb up, ever so slowly, up the ladder of success. Ms. Ursula Schoefl is one of those people who earned respect and greatness through hard work and kindness and friendliness to others.
Ms. Ursula Schoefl is the newest General Manager of Sheraton Maldives Full Moon Resort & Spa. After over two decades of hard working, Ms. Schoefl has become the person that most of us dream of becoming.
After graduating from the Hotel Management School Schloss, Klessheim in Salzburg, Austria, Ms. Schoefl began her career in 1988 at Sheraton Frankfurt Hotel. However that is not where her story begins. During an exclusive interview with Maldives Promotion House, Ms. Schoefl told us of her tale of success.
“Well, I started more than 20 years ago, in the hotel industry at the Frankfurt Airport in Europe, the largest airport hotel,” she began. “But I developed a taste for the industry much much earlier. I had to do a technical training and an internship when I was 17, in a hotel.”
Her internship was what sparked her interest in the industry. As her young age fuelled her curiosity and desire to explore life, she took the opportunity to experience the hospitality industry. Since then she set a goal in her mind, and went on with her journey to achieve it. Never turning back, and never giving up hope.
“I truly enjoyed doing it. There were two reasons, first of all I was 17 and I was allowed to leave home for three months. So being a teenager that’s an opportunity to explore life, and then I had a job which I truly enjoyed. So I came home from this practical training, saying ‘that’s what I want to do’,” Ms. Schoefl continued.
She then joined a Hotel Management School Schloss, Klessheim in Salzburg, Austria, where she studied for two years. She got her first job in Sheraton Frankfurt in Germany in the food and beverage department. After she switched to front office she also worked for night audit to receive two years of assistant controller training. When she returning to front office again she became Assistant Front Office Manager.
“I spent two years in a hotel management school in Austria before I started at Frankfurt airport hotel. I spent a lot of time there and I learnt quiet a lot. Then I spent some time rebranding a hotel in Germany for Arabella Sheraton, before I started moving internationally,” she said.
After ten years with Sheraton Frankfurt, she took up the position of Front Office Manager at Arabella Sheraton Pelikan Hotel in Hanover, Germany. Since then she has been to Egypt, Tanzania, China, Malaysia, Vietnam and Hong Kong.
“My first overseas was in Egypt, because Egypt isn’t far from Europe, so in case I got home sick, I could hopefully get on a plane. That was the first reasoning behind it, so to say. I really enjoyed it and I’d say that’s where I was bitten by the travel bug. Ever since then, I have been travelling the globe,” Ms. Schoefl further explained.
Prior to commencement of her leadership role at Sheraton Maldives, Ms Schoefl was Hotel Manager at Le Méridien Chiang Mai and served as Deputy General Manager at Sheraton Lagos Hotel & Towers, the only international five-star hotel in Lagos, Nigeria.
For Ms. Schoefl, being assigned to Maldives was like a dream come true. While this is her first time in Maldives, she confidently says that Maldives is beyond her expectations. “Maldives has always been on my list of destinations that I would like to visit as a tourist but I never expected I would get a chance to visit and work in Maldives. While I have never been to Maldives, when I was asked to come here, I said of course quickly, yes,” she humoured.
“Maldives is better than I expected. To be quiet frank, I think it has to do with the colours of the Maldives. I mean, when you look at the pictures, you know they can be adjusted and edited. So you don’t expect much, but when you sit here and when you look at those sun downs, you look at the day light set with all those colours, and on a sunny day how the sea changes its colours, it’s just amazing. It’s just breathtaking. It’s just beautiful,” Ms. Schoefl said.
She explained to me how she spends her days in Sheraton. “It starts simply in the morning when you walk here through the island. I usually would come here early in the morning and look at the surrounding and all you would see is the blue skies and the blue water and all the different shades of blue, obviously which is marvellous, and all the peace and quietness because no one is awake yet. Except maybe you’ll see a little bit of the wild life,” she marvelled at the beauties of Maldives.
However, enjoying herself and spending time alone to breath in the glamour of Maldives is not what she desires most. For Ms. Schoefl, the best part of her job is the time she spends with the guests and her team.
“After I go to my office, reality kicks in. I read my e-mails and then there comes the best part of my job, which is meeting guests and spending time with the team, and honestly I wouldn’t be able to count how many guests I meet,” Ms. Schoefl said.
Ms. Schoefl thinks of everyone working at the resort as one big family. If one link in the chain fails the chain has failed. She also observes her team very closely and looks after them.
“It’s like a big family. I make time for all the members of the team. I get to interact with them even if it’s a quick interaction. I get to ask them how they are. But I always get the same answer which is very well, but when you look in their eyes sometimes you see something very different. But I guess that’s part of the culture, but then again Maldivians are very humble and a little bit shy, I would say,” she said with a smile.
When asked about the various departments, their importance, and how they are trained, she simply replied saying that they were equally important.
“The whole team is equally important. It’s like a watch, you know, it like a clock work, if one piece doesn’t work the rest fails,” Ms. Schoefl said. “We take training very seriously but we do it by walking the talk. I observe them and if they do anything wrong, then I make sure that their supervisors are aware of it, and I have a little chitchat with them and work it out.”
When asked about her job as a General Manager and about the difficulties faced she pointed out that the rain is a major issue faced by the resort.
“Rain is one of the difficulties I would say but that’s something you can’t control. There are good days and bad days, so when you have a bad day in operations, you try to recover as much from it as you can, and you make the best of it,” Ms. Schoefl said. “But the rain here is warm rain so if the sea is not rough you still can go snorkelling and diving.”
She also noted that even the rain does not take away the beauty of Maldives but adds more flavour to it. “Again talking colours, it’s amazing what you see when the rain starts moving in. When it starts getting dark you can see the colour of the sea changing,” she added.
Speaking about how the resort handles their guests she said that it’s not difficult because of the nature of the resorts. “I have worked in secluded places but this is my first island resort. It’s easy to handle even a large number of guests because they come in boats. So we do the usual, we welcome them and immediately make them feel at home. Then we check them in and take them to their rooms,” Ms. Schoefl said.
Ms. Schoefl also admits that she has much to learn about the Maldivian culture, its rich heritage and its wonderful geography. “I haven’t explored so much so far but I have been to a couple of resorts so far and I know my way a little bit around Malé. But there’s so much more still to explore and to get to know,” she noted.
She also expressed her feelings about the opportunity to work in Maldives, saying that “things couldn’t get any better.”
“Having the opportunity to come to Maldives and work here, well things couldn’t get any better. It’s the best job you could ever ask for because this is the best place to be having a job as a general manager,” Ms. Schoefl said.
Ms. Schoefl also gave an inspiring message to those who want to become successful. Speaking from her own experience she speaks of passion as a path to achievement.
“It’s not difficult to run a resort, not when you have the passion for it. I think it doesn’t matter whether it’s a resort or whether you work at a post office or where ever it is. You need to have the passion for what you do, and as long as you have that you will enjoy what you do, when you have no passion anymore than its going to get difficult,” Ms. Schoefl said.
Ms. Ursula Schoefl’s story teaches us that while we can’t always have what we desire, our efforts will never leave us empty handed. Life is never a straight road, and success can be achieved with much hard work. You can’t build a reputation on what you are going to do, and plans are only good intentions unless they are modelled into hard work. You may not always win, but you can always stand up and try again, but above all, whatever it is, try it with passion.
We at Maldives Promotion House congratulate Ms. Ursula Schoefl on her achievements and wish her more success in her career. We also welcome her to Maldives and hope she finds us to be hospitable hosts. We thank her for her words of wisdom and advice and for her kind gestures, hospitality and time. Thank you.
Abdulla Wisam: A journey of excellence and growth in the Maldivian hospitality industry
In the heart of the stunning Maldives, where luxury resorts and crystal-clear waters come together to create a paradise on Earth, there are individuals who work tirelessly behind the scenes to ensure that every guest’s experience is nothing short of exceptional. One such individual is Abdulla Wisam, whose remarkable journey in the hospitality industry is a testament to his dedication, passion, and unwavering commitment to providing the best possible service to guests.
Abdulla Wisam’s journey in the hospitality industry began right after completing his schooling. In 2003, he embarked on his professional career by joining Dhoveli Beach Resort & Spa, where he gained his first taste of the world of hospitality. It was here that he discovered his passion for creating memorable guest experiences and building relationships with visitors from around the world.
After his initial foray into the industry, Wisam’s career path continued to evolve. His dedication and hard work caught the attention of industry leaders, leading him to take on roles of increasing responsibility. His time at Meeru Island Resort saw him as an Outlet Cashier and Night Auditor, roles that allowed him to develop a deep understanding of the operational aspects of a resort.
Wisam’s determination and eagerness to learn led him to the iconic Four Seasons Resort Maldives at Landaa Giraavaru, where he started as a Recreation Attendant. Over time, he showcased his exceptional skills in guest relations and management, and he was promoted to the position of Front Office Supervisor. His journey with Four Seasons served as a stepping stone for what was to come next.
In 2014, Wisam joined the W Maldives, a resort known for its luxurious offerings and unparalleled guest experiences. Starting as a Welcome Team Leader, he quickly rose through the ranks due to his impeccable guest service skills and innate leadership abilities. His promotion to Guest Experience Manager was a testament to his ability to not only meet but exceed guest expectations. He was then transferred to The St. Regis Maldives as the Assistant Front Office Manager with the pre-opening team.
As his career trajectory continued its upward trajectory, Wisam took on the role of Front Office Manager at prestigious resorts such as Milaidhoo Island, Raffles Maldives, and The Standard Maldives. These roles allowed him to refine his management style, hone his problem-solving skills, and contribute to the overall success of each resort.
Wisam’s journey eventually led him to COMO Cocoa Island, a resort renowned for its unparalleled luxury and exquisite attention to detail. Joining as the Front Office Manager, he embraced the challenges and responsibilities that came with the position. His dedication, combined with his innate ability to create genuine connections with guests, led to his promotion as the Director of Rooms.
Wisam’s journey in the Maldivian hospitality industry is a remarkable tale of perseverance, growth, and a genuine passion for creating exceptional guest experiences. His diverse roles, spanning from recreation to guest experience management, have equipped him with a holistic understanding of the industry. His commitment to continuous improvement and dedication to delivering top-tier service have not only benefited the resorts he’s been a part of but have also contributed to elevating the reputation of Maldives as a premier luxury travel destination.
As Wisam continues to shape the guest experience landscape at COMO Cocoa Island, one can only imagine the heights he will reach and the impact he will make on the ever-evolving hospitality industry of the Maldives. His journey stands as an inspiration to aspiring hoteliers and a testament to the boundless opportunities that await those who are truly passionate about their craft.
Hamzath Ameen: Elevating human resources
In the fast-paced and thriving hospitality industry of the Maldives, where exceptional service and guest satisfaction are paramount, there are individuals who stand out for their dedication, expertise, and leadership qualities. Hamzath Ameen is making his mark as a proficient human resources professional in island resorts of the Maldives. With an impressive career trajectory and a passion for excellence, Hamzath has become a respected figure in the industry.
Hamzath Ameen was born and raised in Addu Atoll, a region known for its stunning natural beauty and vibrant culture. Following his schooling, he pursued his higher education at Cyryx College in Male’, where he successfully completed an Advanced Diploma in Business Management. This academic foundation laid the groundwork for his future career in the dynamic world of hospitality.
Hamzath embarked on his professional journey at Dhonveli Beach Resort, where he assumed the role of Accounts Officer. This initial foray into the hospitality industry allowed him to gain valuable insights into the financial aspects of resort operations and the importance of maintaining accurate records and efficient systems.
Eager to expand his horizons and broaden his skill set, Hamzath sought opportunities at various reputable companies and resorts throughout the Maldives. His determination and exceptional work ethic caught the attention of industry professionals, leading to his appointment as the Human Resources Officer at Furaveri Island Resort. Recognizing his potential, Ameen quickly rose through the ranks and was promoted to the position of Assistant Manager, and subsequently, Human Resources Manager.
During his tenure at Furaveri Island Resort, Hamzath made significant contributions to the establishment’s human resources department. He spearheaded various initiatives to enhance employee engagement, streamline recruitment processes, and foster a positive work culture. Under his leadership, the resort witnessed an increase in employee satisfaction and a notable reduction in turnover rates, solidifying Hamzath’s reputation as a skilled people manager.
In 2022, Hamzath accepted an exciting new opportunity and joined Rihiveli Maldives Resort as the Human Resources Manager. With his wealth of experience and proven track record, he assumed a pivotal role in overseeing the resort’s human resources functions, including recruitment, training and development, performance management, and employee relations. Hamzath’s strategic approach and ability to build strong relationships with staff and management alike have made him an invaluable asset to the resort.
Hamzath Ameen’s journey from an Accounts Officer to a respected Human Resources Manager exemplifies his commitment to personal growth and professional excellence. Through his hard work, dedication, and leadership abilities, he has successfully carved a niche for himself in the competitive Maldivian hospitality industry. Hamzath’s passion for nurturing talent, fostering positive work environments, and delivering exceptional guest experiences continues to make a lasting impact on the resorts he has served.
Chef Mohamed Niyaz on celebrating authentic Maldivian flavours
Introducing the culinary genius who brings alive Kaagé specialty restaurant at VARU By Atmosphere
Chef Mohamed Niyaz is the Maldivian Chef who has breathed life into VARU By Atmosphere’s signature restaurant – Kaagé. In this interview, he speaks about his love for local cuisine and his inspiration. He also shares words of wisdom for budding chefs in the Maldives.
Where are you from? I was born and raised in the beautiful island of Ha. Dhihdhoo, in the Haa Alif Atoll, Maldives.
When did you first fall in love with cooking? Even when I was a kid, I used to spend a lot of time in the kitchen with my mom. I was so intrigued by her amazing cooking skills and how she would prepare all sorts of delicious dishes. I would eagerly watch and learn from her every time she cooked. That’s what inspired me to become a chef myself.
What motivates you? Ever since I was a child, I’ve had a deep passion for both art and cooking. My mother, who is incredibly creative, would whip up imaginative meals. I would often tell her that one day, when I grew up, I would become a chef and cook a special meal just for her. I’m proud to say that I’ve fulfilled that dream.
Tell us a little bit about your journey in the hospitality industry. In 2002, I had the chance to embark on my journey in the tourism industry when I began working as a Commis at Hulhule Island Hotel. Over 16 years, I climbed the ranks and eventually held the position of Chef De Partie at the same hotel. Then, in 2019, an exciting opportunity came my way as I joined VARU by Atmosphere as a Sous Chef. Currently, I am honoured to be working as a Maldivian Chef at the renowned Kaagé restaurant, which is the first of its kind in Atmosphere Core.
What are some of your achievements and awards? Throughout my 20-year career, I have had the privilege of receiving nominations and winning various awards in different competitions and ceremonies. The most recent and special achievement was when I was honoured with the CGM Chefs Award for Outstanding Achievement in 2022. The year 2016 proved to be another successful year, I achieved remarkable accomplishments in international competitions. Securing second place in the Team Challenge and first place in the Foreign Team Challenge at the Chinese Foreign Hotel’s cooking competition, CCTV ‘The Greatest Chefs.’ In addition, I have been participating in the Hotel Asia Culinary Challenge from 2012 to 2022 and have received 12 gold, silver, and bronze awards over the years.
Can you describe Kaagé restaurant for us? Kaagé is the signature Maldivian restaurant at VARU By Atmosphere. The restaurant is designed as a traditional Maldivian house adorned by heritage photographs and video storytelling. Guests can relish local flavours presented with a progressive twist. We use traditional home cooking methods to ensure the food is fresh, aromatic, and flavourful.
As a chef, what are your preferred local ingredients? Coconut, pandan leaves, Maldivian chilli, and curry leaves hold a special place in my culinary repertoire.
Which dish would you highly recommend to all guests at Kaage? There are a variety of local dishes on our menu. I would recommend guests try Gulha, a deep-fried pastry ball filled with smoked tuna or vegetables and flavoured with finely chopped onion, grated coconut, and chilli. And Kandu Kukhulu, our renowned Maldivian tuna curry, stands out as the most exceptional and beloved dish. It is one of our signature specialties and the rich flavours are sure to leave a lasting impression on our valued guests.
What are your plans for the future? At present, Maldivian cuisine is exclusively available in restaurants within our nation. My aspiration is to present Maldivian specialty cuisine on a global scale.
What guidance would you offer aspiring Maldivian chefs? To the younger generation, I would like to emphasize that Maldivian Cuisine is truly distinctive, and with unwavering dedication and perseverance, you can achieve remarkable heights. In line with a Maldivian saying, “Fass enburi nubala abadhuves hih varaa eku kuriyah dhaan masahkaeh kuraashey, ehves masahkathaky hadi masahkatheh nooney” (loosely translated as, always strive to move forward with courage, without dwelling on the past, as no task is ever considered insignificant).
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