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Keeping it simple, Glenn on a mission to ‘surprise’ guests at LUX* South Ari Atoll

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For a young boy from a small country town in New Zealand, an opportunity to travel to the United States came with a sense of excitement and a wee bit nervousness. Glenn Daniels took the year-long Rotary scholarship and saw his world open up in more ways than one. In the States, he had the opportunity to meet new people, immerse himself in new cultures, and most importantly serve as a true ambassador of his country.

That scholarship and another diploma he did after returning to New Zealand laid the foundation for Glenn to enter into the tourism and hospitality industry. From a porter at a hotel in New Zealand to be the General Manager at one of the most sought after luxury resorts in Maldives, Glenn’s 28-year long career has been marked by successes as well as challenges.

Maldives Insider sits with Glenn in the fresh setting of the recently upgraded LUX* South Ari Atoll to hear the story of his journey.

The tourism industry is a wonderful thing to be part of, and Maldives is as best as it can ever be.

 

Maldives Insider: What interested you to pursue a career in hospitality and tourism?

Glenn Daniels: My father was a detective back in New Zealand. During his annual leave, he drove tour buses and took people on holidays. He loved it and I got to hear him talk about it.

When I was 16, I was offered a Rotary scholarship to study in the United States. It was there I met all these different people and travelled to all these different states. I came from a small country town of just 5,000 people, and that opened up my world. I found out that I loved talking to people, meeting new people and being an ambassador for New Zealand.

When I came back from the States, I went back to high school and decided that I wanted to get into tourism. So I did a diploma in tourism. It has since been a great journey!

Glenn speaks at the relaunch party held at LUX* South Ari Atoll in September. PHOTO/ LUX*

MI: What were your earliest experiences in the industry?

I took up my first hotel job when I was 17 years old and moved up from there. My father knew a few people in the industry who could let me have some experience and for me to do some internships. I entered into the field as an outside porter for the THC Milford Sound. I drove a two-tonne truck in which I carried all the bins from the kitchen and took the rubbish to the dump, and cut firewood for the hotel.

From there, I moved up to the room’s division and did pretty much everything except work in the kitchen as a chef. I’m a terrible cook. So I always leave that to the experts.

I worked for 15 years in New Zealand for three different hotels. I worked at a couple of corporate hotels, but I have always found my heart in resort-style properties. So after my last posting in New Zealand, which was at this place called Hanmer Springs, my wife and I decided in 2006 that it was time for me to take the next step. I ended up going to Australia to work as the General Manager at Ayres Rock, which is a very isolated place with temperatures of 40-45 degrees celsius. After two and a half years there, I transferred to the Great Barrier Reef, and worked at the Heron Island.

I left Australia in 2008 and went to Fiji to work as the Resort Manager for the Worldmark Resort Denarau Island. That was a great experience because I was exposed to a whole new culture, which was amazing and very strong, and beautiful people as well. During the three years I spent in Fiji, I enjoyed my life as well as the challenges that came with it.

 

MI: What tempted you to come to the Maldives?

GD: I knew it was going to be a bit of a challenge and I understood the logistics. I probably did not understand quite as much as I know now, but I had some idea because I did a little research before I got here.

I first worked for Universal Resorts, which was a great company to work for. They were the pioneers of the tourism industry here in the Maldives, and that aspect alone gave me a sense of pride and honour. They provided an environment where you can learn and understand a lot about the industry. I was the General Manager at Universal’s Velassaru Maldives resort from September 2011 to April 2013. I went back to Australia for six months and came back to the Maldives for the relaunch of LUX* South Ari Atoll.

Maldives, for me, is a whole bucket list of different experiences for anyone with a genuine interest in the tourism industry. Being able to run a five-star, lovely resort in the Maldives is really the pinnacle of one’s career. I am so grateful to have the opportunity to do that in my career. I am also a guest here and I am being looked after very well. It has been a great experience so far.

 

MI: What is your experience as the General Manager for LUX* South Ari Atoll?

GD: Working for a company like LUX* has been very rewarding. They think a little bit of out the box. I love the freshness and the funkiness of the product that I have the opportunity to lead. Even before I joined LUX*, I knew that the training given to staff and the focus on service here at LUX* is second to none.

It has been an incredibly busy 18 months since I got here and probably the most challenging experience I have ever had in my 28-year long career. But that is probably why these have been the most rewarding times of my entire career as well. It was very challenging to try and complete the upgrade in just three months, but we did it. It was truly a team effort. We have an incredible team comprising of local and expats, and we are consistently assisted by the amazing team at our head office in Mauritius.

We now have this lovely new product that we are very excited about. Now we have to get guests to come and see it as well. We are encouraged more than ever to do so because of the incredibly positive feedback we have received from our guests after the upgrade.

A couple rests facing the ocean in an overwater villa in LUX* South Ari Atoll. PHOTO/ ASAD

MI: What is the major change that came with the upgrade?

GD: We have adopted a concept called, “Lighter, brighter.” You will see that everything is much lighter now. To be honest, the hardware has now been brought up to the level where the software already was. The staff here did such fantastic things. We have introduced a new concept along with a lot of new reasons to come here. We have repositioned ourselves amongst the hotels here in the Maldives, with a very strong focus on F&B. We have seven restaurants and five bars manned by a great culinary team that do some amazing things. That is one of the unique selling points; that we have such a great offering.

But most of all, it is the small surprises that truly set us apart. I want to surprise my guests. Guests can go to a resort operated by a big international chain, which deliver on their promises every single time. But as a guest, I do not want to go to a place that delivers exactly what I expect. I want to be surprised. Here at LUX*, we do these silly little things like disco toilets, gift in a bottle, etc.

The reality is that the success of any property here in the Maldives depends on making small differences that add up to an entirely unique, personal experience for the guests. We all have turquoise waters and white sand beaches. So what is gonna differentiate us from our competitors? It really comes back to the staff and the level of service they provide to the guests.

I also say that the success of any company is that we do not take ourselves too seriously. At LUX*, we make sure that we create an environment where members of our team can excel at their jobs, but also be themselves while doing so. I think if we try and put too much structure on the staff, we lose what is special about those individuals. So here at LUX*, we encourage them to showcase their individual touch in the service they provide and have fun while at it.

 

MI: What are you thoughts about the changing travel trends and the changes in the Maldives’ tourism industry?

GD: There is no doubt that the Maldives, as a destination, has been and will go through a major transformation. As a destination, we are not the cheapest on the map. A lot of new products are coming into play, and a lot of them are doing all these different things like shoving spas and restaurants underwater. The trends are constantly changing, and that is exciting.

We obviously have a lot of challenges, especially with a lot of new beds coming into the market in a very short period. So we need to get more people into the country and more airlines to come in. There has been some positive developments, with new airports being built and the main airport undergoing a major expansion. I think all these developments bode well for the future.

But part of this change should also include us doing things differently from Fiji, Seychelles and all the other island destinations. For that, we need to come together as an industry and see what we all can do collectively to support this destination. When travellers make a choice, they do not first choose a hotel; instead, they first choose a destination and then go on to choose a property in that destination.

As an industry, we should also focus more on expanding and improving the human resources available. More locals need to trained and opportunities provided for them.

This in turn should go hand in hand with a focus on giving back to the local communities that we operate in. Since this country revolves around tourism, we need to make sure that whatever we are doing flows through, and that everyone gets the benefit. Here at LUX*, we support the Maldives Blood Services by organising blood donation camps. We also have a Tree of Wishes on the island, where our guests donate money to the local community.

Glenn speaks at the relaunch party held at LUX* South Ari Atoll in September. PHOTO/ LUX*

MI: What is the one thing that defines your experience in the Maldives?

GD: I love working in the Maldives mostly because of the humbleness of the staff that I work with. You do not get that genuine experience anywhere else in the world. That makes you a better manager because you want to work harder for your staff in order to keep getting that experience. It is a very weird feeling, but I make the most memories when I get to share my daily life with my 600-strong team. I live and breathe with these guys, but I never have the same day twice.

For me, it is those little things that count, and certainly not meeting celebrities from around the world or princes. That is a false world. I love being immersed in what is genuine, and that becomes more and more important as you grow older.

 

MI: What is the next chapter of your career?

GD: It is very simple for me; as long as I enjoy what I do, I am going to keep doing it. I still love being here and coming to work every morning. So, for as long as I feel this way, I am going to keep doing it for as long as I can do it. Perhaps I might try and find a little bit of balance in life because eventually I will have to slow down a little.

I consider myself incredibly lucky to be where I am today and what I have done, especially here at LUX*. The tourism industry is a wonderful thing to be part of, and Maldives is as best as it can ever be.

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Experience All the Magic of Easter Candyland at Fairmont Maldives, Sirru Fen Fushi

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As the spring sunshine sparkles on the gentle waves of the Indian Ocean, Fairmont Maldives, Sirru Fen Fushi invites couples seeking the ultimate escapism and families looking to spend moments of togetherness this Easter break. Nestled in the picturesque Shaviyani Atoll, the private island retreat will transform into an Easter Candyland filled with sweet delights and confectionary creations. Whimsical and full of vibrancy, the extraordinary lineup of experiences promises guests of every generation an unforgettable escape, from indulgent feasts under the stars and colorful egg hunts to chocolate-infused treatments at Fairmont Spa. 

From 24 March to 12 April, the resort presents an immersive calendar of events and activities where guests can celebrate special moments in elevated luxury, savor exquisite culinary journeys, embark on new adventures, and make memories that will last for a lifetime. 

“Easter is a time of renewal and joyful reconnection, and our team has curated a program of experiences that celebrates the joy of Easter and the spirit of togetherness,” says Steven Stefaniuk, General Manager at Fairmont Maldives, Sirru Fen Fushi.

Dining is a sensational experience in this idyllic island paradise. Guests can savor local and global flavors at the beachfront Raha Market, indulge in Asian favorites at Kata, enjoy a spectacular by-the-sea dining experience at Azure, and taste a range of creative cocktails at Onu Onu. On 31 March, the island will host an extravagant Easter-themed lunch and pool party featuring a range of global Easter favorites and mouth-watering desserts, complete with fun activities, live music, and entertainment.

2 Fairmont Maldives Kids Club


Parents can watch in delight as their little ones spark their curiosity and imagination at the Kids’ Club and discover various Candyland-themed activities, such as arts and crafts, cupcake and cookie decorating, and egg and face painting. Furthermore, budding eco-warriors can participate in repurposing plastic waste into bespoke souvenirs at the Sustainability Lab and join ocean life conservation activities with the Marine Biology team. 

Guests can restore their inner balance and achieve renewed energy with the offerings of award-winning Fairmont Spa, including nature-inspired wellbeing sessions and the ‘Chocolate Indulgence’ treatment that soothes the body in smooth and revitalizing sensations. Moreover, active travelers can participate in sunrise yoga, beach game challenges, water sports, and interactive coaching with LUX Tennis. 

In the mood for adventure? Dive into one of the flourishing dive sites in Shaviyani Atoll with the resort’s dive partner, Sub Oceanic, snorkel the 9-km-long house reef to discover over 250 species of marine life, or join a sunset cruise in search of dozens of playful dolphins that love to leap out from the sea.

Timeless Family Fun Package – Children Under 12 Stay and Dine for Free 

The resort presents the ‘Timeless Family Fun’ package with a complimentary meal plan upgrade, Easter treats and amenities, and delightful dining experiences for the whole family. Book a 4-night stay or more in one of the resort’s spacious pool villas, offering the perfect blend of privacy and togetherness, and enjoy:

  • Complimentary upgrade from Bed & Breakfast to Half-Board package
  • Children below 12 years of age stay and dine for free    
  • Easter Sunday Lunch and Egg Hunt activity
  • Floating breakfast once during the stay  
  • Family-style beach dinner once during the stay
  • Guided tour of the Sustainability Lab and underwater Coralarium
  • 25% discount on spa treatments 

To renew and reconnect this Easter, please visit their website or email reservations.maldives@fairmont.com

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Celebrate Earth Week with Nature’s Embrace at Oaga Art Resort

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Join Oaga Art Resort from March 21st to 27th, 2024, for a week dedicated to connecting with the beauty and wonder of our planet. Immerse yourself in a program filled with creative activities, meaningful experiences, and a deep appreciation for Earth’s magic.

Unwind with Earth-inspired creativity:

March 21st, as the world celebrates Poetry Day, start your day with a poetic breakfast, followed by a lunchtime fusion of traditional Maldivian Boduberu beats and poetry called ‘Farihi’. In the evening, enjoy some poetry reading and a captivating performance by local duo “Something Lovely”.

On March 22nd, tap your feet to the lively rhythms of a Boduberu jam session at lunch. As the stars emerge, witness the artistry of a sand artist create their magic on the Raa Baa deck.

Connect with nature in a mindful way:

March 23rd, as part of Earth Hour, join a peaceful candlelit Earth Meditation and sound healing session. Later, light your own candle and take part in an art installation under the moonlight. Savour a delicious Earth-conscious buffet and enjoy unplugged music around a bonfire.

On the same day, a special coral planting cocktail is to take place during sunset at the beach. Witness firsthand the wonders of coral restoration as you help plant 60+ coral frames in Oaga’s reef nursery. This project, in partnership with Coralive, aims to completely restore the house reef by 2028. Savour refreshing cocktails and learn about the crucial role coral reefs play in our ecosystem while contributing to a sustainable future.

Celebrate Holi traditions with an eco-twist:

March 25th, witness the creation of a stunning sand mandala and participate in the traditional Full Moon ritual. Dance the night away at a vibrant Holi Full moon party with minimal lighting and glow-in-the-dark paint.

Reflect and reminisce under the stars:

March 26th, cuddle up for a captivating movie night featuring nature documentaries under the starlit sky.

A grand finale on World Theatre Day:

On March 27th, engage your children in a fun puppet show and enjoy a live performance by the energetic band Sky Rock. The week culminates with a special Earth-themed solo performance at the Kaa Kada dinner in celebration of World Theatre Day.

Beyond these highlights, Earth Week weaves its theme throughout Oaga’s daily activities. Whether it is to explore nature-inspired percussion in Take Notes sessions or to let your kids unleash their creativity with eco-friendly crafts in the Fiyoh Kid’s Club, there is something engaging for everyone.

Join Oaga and embark on a journey that reconnects you with nature, celebrates our planet, and leaves you feeling empowered to make a positive difference.

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Hurawalhi Island Resort’s Exemplary Commitment to Marine Conservation Shines in the Maldives

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Hurawalhi Island Resort, nestled amidst the stunning landscapes of the Maldives, proudly reaffirms  its steadfast dedication to marine conservation through pioneering initiatives aimed at  safeguarding the region’s diverse marine ecosystems. 

Saoirse Macklin, the esteemed Resident Marine Biologist at Hurawalhi Island Resort, emphasizes  the Maldives’ distinguished status as one of the world’s most biodiverse marine environments. “At  Hurawalhi, we prioritize the dissemination of knowledge and wonder about our marine world,”  states Macklin. “As a Marine Biologist, it’s been a privilege to inspire and educate guests about the  remarkable marine life surrounding our island.” 

Hurawalhi’s commitment to marine conservation materializes through a range of educational  experiences offered to guests. From immersive Turtle Tours, shedding light on the pivotal role of  seagrass in sustaining turtle populations, to awe-inspiring Manta Search excursions, each journey  represents an enlightening voyage of discovery. 

During these excursions, science and education take precedence, ensuring guests acquire profound  insights into the intricate ecosystems enveloping the island. As the resident Marine Biologist,  Macklin spearheads efforts to monitor and safeguard turtle and manta populations, employing  cutting-edge photo identification techniques to meticulously track and document individual  specimens during every expedition. 

Hurawalhi extends a warm invitation to guests to partake in Marine Biologist-guided reef  snorkeling experiences, providing an unparalleled opportunity to explore coral reef and seagrass  ecosystems while championing their preservation. Participants not only revel in the splendor of the  house reef but also actively engage in efforts to protect these delicate habitats. 

Furthermore, Hurawalhi’s commitment to marine conservation is evident in its ongoing projects.  The resort’s diligent monitoring and maintenance of its artificial reef program adjacent to the  iconic 5.8 Underwater Restaurant aim to rejuvenate and revitalize reef systems. In 2021, a total of  114 artificial reef frames were transplanted, laying the groundwork for reef regeneration. 

Recent initiatives include the creation of “festive frames,” crafted by guests during the holiday  season, with regular updates fostering continued guest involvement in conservation endeavors.  Annual monitoring of benthic habitats and species abundance by the Marine Biologist team is  pivotal, collecting data to track changes in habitats and biodiversity over time. This scientific  endeavor provides valuable insights into the health of Hurawalhi’s marine life and serves as a  cornerstone for future conservation efforts. 

The data collected holds immense potential, serving as a catalyst for initiatives aimed at securing  protected status for Hurawalhi and its surrounding waters. Through collaboration with  government-led conservation programs and local stakeholders, the resort aspires to designate  Hurawalhi as a protected area, ensuring its continued vitality and resilience.

In the face of unprecedented challenges to ocean conservation, Hurawalhi remains resolute in its  mission to preserve and protect the marine marvels of the Maldives. Through collective  understanding and concerted action, the resort endeavors to safeguard these invaluable ecosystems  for generations to come. 

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