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Qaisar Naseem: example, hope, mentor for aspiring locals

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The Maldives is a development success story. From one of the poorest nations in the world to one of the wealthiest in the region, the country has completely transformed over the course of a few decades, all thanks to its world-famous upmarket tourism industry.

Despite this remarkable growth of the tourism industry, it has always been dominated by expatriates, especially in managerial positions. They undoubtedly deserve our praise and appreciation for so many reasons; for bringing along with them wealth of experience and know-how, for guiding and leading local hospitality professionals, for passing their knowledge onto passionate locals and most importantly for genuinely representing this country as their own — all of which have led to the Maldives making its mark on the map as one of the ultimate destinations in the world.

But Qaisar Naseem is an exception. If there is any one success story of locals in an industry dominated by foreigners, there simply is no perfect example than this misfit who entered the industry in 1997, shortly after being expelled from the school in his native island of Fuvahmulah. He did not look back, and his dedication to self-development and enrichment has seen him rise through the ranks in the industry to become the General Manager of Paradise Island Resort.

“Motivation and commitment to self-develop and improve are the key here. You have to be willing to start from the very bottom and work your way through until you reach your goal. It might be a long journey. So, you have to be committed all the way,” Qaisar says.

Qaisar receives the Indian Ocean’s Leading Conference Hotel 2013 award for Paradise Island Resort at the World Travel Awards. PHOTO/ WORLD TRAVEL AWARDS

His 20-year long career in the tourism industry is a testament to those ideals he so passionately preaches. After spending a year in Thundufushi as a receptionist, Qaisar joined Villa Hotels to work as an Administrator at Royal Island Resort and Spa which was under construction. He oversaw several aspects of the project, including construction, earning himself the position of Assistant Manager when it opened in 2001. While officially holding the title of Assistant Manager, he served as the Acting Resort Manager when the Resort Manager left in 2004.

It was a great opportunity for him to prove his leadership skills. But for someone who has always had the neck for self-development, it was not quite enough. He moved to Malaysia in 2006 to pursue a degree in hotel management. When Qaisar returned to the Maldives in 2009 after successfully completing his degree, he was appointed the Resident Manager at Paradise Island Resort. His commitment and massive transformation to the island both in terms of landscape as well as in administration in keeping with the current trends in the industry was another success story of him. A year later, he assumed the post of General Manager — a title he has since held, and deservingly so.

“Managing a resort like Paradise Island Resort isn’t easy. Apart from the day-to-day operations, there are so much going on here that visitors don’t see. For instance, this is the central hub of maintenance for all Villa properties. We have to manage everything, from carpentry to maintenance of our boat fleet, in such a way that it doesn’t affect the guests’ stay here,” Qaisar explains.

“We also conduct regular training sessions for our existing staff as well as for new recruits. We take in school leavers with no prior training and give them the skill set necessary to join the industry.”

A guest on holiday at Paradise Island Resort. PHOTO/ ASAD IBRAHIM

Over the past eight years, Qaisar has transformed and overhauled Paradise Island Resort. Rooms have been renovated and upgraded. New room categories have been introduced. The main restaurant and bar as well as the Italian restaurant have been upgraded. The Dive and Water Sports Centre have been brought under the parent company’s management with Maldivians tasked to operate it. A state-of-the-art convention centre is being built and is set to play host to its first event — a regional conference by a multi-national development agency — in a few months.

All these changes have greatly increased the resort’s revenue and made it one of the highest performing resorts in the Maldives in terms of occupancy and guest satisfaction. It has several local and international accolades, including several recognitions in the World Travel Awards, World Luxury Travel Awards and Maldives Travel Awards, to its name as proofs of its success.

“This is all because of the team’s work. I don’t just give commands. I have to share and discuss with my team, be it about any concerns they might have or about any operational aspects. We have to work as an extended family. That’s how we have been able to achieve such phenomenal results,” Qaisar explains his management philosophy.

At a critical juncture where a number of new properties, especially those managed by international hotel chains, coming up across the archipelago, in top management positions are on the rise. But in an industry driven by large international hotel chains and expatriate managers, especially general managers, Qaisar has proven over and over again that local brands and talent can be as successful and as prominent in the excellence of service, just as them.

“The number of Maldivians in position such as GMs are very few, but there are some. Most resorts, especially those run by foreign parties, have foreign GMs. I think it’s because of the mentality. But if you look at the industry as a whole, you can see that Maldivians can deliver just as well. Villa is an example. All of our resorts are headed by locals. It’s so much easier to work with Maldivians because I think hospitality is in our DNA. With personal efforts towards self-development and motivation from the leaders, every Maldivian who joins this field is golden,” he says.

“At the same time, resort operators need to provide more opportunities for locals to reach top positions. Of course, commitment and dedication are required from the employees. But the extra push by owners, especially Maldivian hoteliers, to promote local talent in the management has to be there as well.”

Qaisar receives the Tourism Personality of the Year award at the Maldives Travel Awards – People’s Edition gala on July 13. PHOTO/ MATATO

As a top executive in the industry, Qaisar sees his career as being bigger than himself. His personal achievements, including the Best General Manager in Indian Ocean title at World Luxury Travel Awards in 2015 and the recent Tourism Personality of the Year award Maldives Travel Awards, are to him more about inspiring locals to make their mark in the industry. His journey alone is a testament to the fact that hard work and dedication pays off no matter where you start from.

“I see several Maldivians who worked with us at Royal Island Resort are now in senior positions like HR Managers, F&B Directors, Resident Managers, Assistant Mangers and so on. For instance, our current Executive Chef is a Maldivian who had worked as a Sous Chef at Royal Island Resort and later at several high-end properties in the country. Whenever I go to another property, I always meet people I have had the opportunity to train and work with. That’s the biggest pleasure in winning an award,” Qaisar says.

For the next generation of local executives, he advocates self-development, dedication and commitment — qualities that have made him who he is today. For hoteliers, he preaches the ideals of staff motivation, training and guidance, and team work — qualities of led. A team leader whose career is a story in itself of a self-made man, Qaisar stands as a beacon of hope for aspiring local hospitality executives; that locals can be just as good or perhaps even better at driving the local tourism industry forward.

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Unwind and Explore: Hilton Maldives Amingiri Resort & Spa Invites Families to a Rejuvenating Summer Escape

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Hilton Maldives Amingiri Resort & Spa, an all-pool villa haven nestled amidst the breathtaking natural seascapes of the Indian Ocean, invites families to embrace the joy of relaxation and the spirit of adventure this summer with a slew of experiences designed to inspire playful discoveries and foster tranquil reconnections with the mind and body.

Fun for All Ages

Budding adventurers and creative little spirits alike can discover new adventures at Krakengiri Kids’ Club, one of the largest kids’ clubs in the Maldives. Led by a multilingual team of certified childcare professionals, young guests can engage in an exciting array of daily activities that combine learning and play.

Upstairs, Re:Fuel, a rooftop lounge for teens, hosts engaging milkshake-making workshops and fun family movie nights under the starry Maldivian sky.

In June, the resort offers a Holiday Camp for teens, who can personalize their wellness experiences as follows:

  • Pick up new sports such as tennis, pickleball, and badminton on the multi-purpose court with the hotel’s resident Sports Animator
  • Work out with a personal trainer at the fitness center
  • Try aerial yoga for beginners, yoga for better sleep, breathwork, and meditation with the resident yoga practitioner
  • Enjoy a restorative massage in the overwater treatment villas of Amingiri Spa.

The experience is available at USD 150++ per person for a combination of any two 30-minute sessions.

Restful Retreats

Amingiri Spa introduces Water Connect, a private in-villa pool experience guided by a certified water shiatsu specialist. The gentle movements and targeted massage techniques melt away tension and create a deeply relaxing sensation akin to being cocooned in the womb. The serene escape is available between 4:00 pm to 5:30 pm at USD 150++ for 30 minutes.

Starting in June, guests can indulge in a brand-new Sleep Wellness menu designed to ease the mind and body into a state of deep and rejuvenating slumber. Guests can choose to unwind with a calming signature massage on the spa’s Skye Deck, bask in the timeless glow of an evening hammam ritual in the modern hammam room, or embrace tranquility with an in-villa session incorporating guided meditation, yoga, and breathwork.

Exclusive Offer

Guests who stay a minimum of four nights enjoy the added value of a half board meal plan and complimentary shared roundtrip speedboat transfers with Maldivian Bliss. This offer is available for stays through to December 20, 2024.

From May through to September 30, 2024, children stay and dine free: parents staying with two young children ages 11 years and below in an Overwater Suite with Pool and any of the Two-Bedroom Beach and Overwater Villas will also enjoy the half board meal plan and complimentary shared roundtrip speedboat transfers when booking Maldivian Bliss. Hilton Honors members enjoy full points for their stay. Terms and conditions apply.

Hilton Maldives Amingiri Resort & Spa is part of Hilton Honors®, the award-winning guest-loyalty program for Hilton’s 22 distinct hotel brands. Members who book directly on the hotel’s website will have access to instant benefits, including a flexible payment slider that allows members to choose nearly any combination of points and money to book a stay, an exclusive member discount, free standard Wi-Fi and the Hilton Honors app.

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Maldives Madridistas: Patina Maldives, Fari Islands Nets Exclusive Football Camp Partnership with the Real Madrid Foundation

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Younger guests at Patina Maldives, Fari Islands can embrace new patterns of play this summer at an exclusive, Maldives-first Real Madrid Foundation football camp. From 4 July – 12 August, a youth coach will lead a comprehensive Real Madrid Foundation programme of daily soccer sessions for ages 5-9yrs, 10-14yrs, and 15-17yrs. The coach will be joined by an elite player ambassador from UEFA’s all-time no. 1 ranked football club toward the end of the programme.

This summer’s inaugural Patina Maldives x Real Madrid CF Foundation football camp is the first edition in an ongoing partnership, with additional future football camp dates to be confirmed. Led by a licensed Real Madrid Foundation coach, sessions will focus on developing each participant both individually and as part of the group, in order to ‘Play The Real Way’ – the training methodology that combines play, as well as sports values.

Sessions will take place on a new, purpose-built 6 a side astroturf pitch located near the Fari Marina Village at Patina Maldives.

All participants will receive an official camp football camp shirt, shorts, socks, drawstring bag, sweatbands, and cap; while those completing a minimum of four days’ coaching will also be presented with a Real Madrid Foundation participation certificate.

Real Madrid Foundation football clinics at Patina Maldives, Fari Islands are priced at USD195++ per child per session for guests of the resort. Bookings are also open to guests from neighbouring resorts, from USD250++ per child per session.

Rates at Patina Maldives, Fari Islands start from USD2,054 (approx. GBP1,620) per night based on two adults sharing a One Bedroom Pool Villa including daily breakfast, complimentary Guest Benefits, tax, and service. Terms and conditions apply.

For more information and reservations, please visit https://patinahotels.com/maldives or contact reservations.maldives@patinahotels.com. For more information on Pathways, please see here.

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A blissful island Easter celebration at Alila Kothaifaru Maldives

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Experience unique and enriching getaways at Alila Kothaifaru Maldives, as the luxury resort unveils exciting benefits for family getaway packages launching this season. Guests are invited to immerse themselves in the ethereal charm of the Maldives.

Nestled in the pristine Raa Atoll, Alila Kothaifaru Maldives seamlessly blends eco-friendly architecture with contemporary sophistication, complemented by the untouched, rugged beauty of the Raa Atoll. Situated amidst miles of untouched marine life, Alila Kothaifaru invites guests to reconnect with nature in the most extraordinary ways. With spacious villas and private pools, guests can truly experience the essence of a getaway where luxury and adventure harmoniously coexist.

Surrounded by azure skies and the turquoise waters of the Raa Atoll, Alila Kothaifaru Maldives offers an idyllic setting for a family escape during the Easter break. Here, guests can unwind in luxurious, nature-immersed surroundings, embark on exciting adventures together, and indulge in unforgettable wellness and culinary experiences.

During Easter weekend, Play Alila will delight young guests with a diverse range of festive island-inspired activities, including Easter egg decorating, arts and crafts, face painting, and more. For those seeking relaxation, Spa Alila offers enticing packages for parents and children to enjoy quality bonding time.

For the adventurous souls, do not miss the chance to join our Sparkling Underwater Egg Hunt. Hidden throughout one of our nearby dive sites, these eggs hold a special surprise. The lucky diver who discovers the egg with a unique mark will win an exclusive clutch made of Swarovski crystal valued at EUR 1,800!

Embark on an Easter journey to remember at Alila Kothaifaru Maldives. Explore all of the Easter events and activities at Alila Kothaifaru Maldives here 

Family Getaway Package

  • Booking Period: Until 30 October 2024
  • Stay Period: Until 25 December 2024

Experience a family holiday rich with memorable moments. From nature walks to energetic beach activities, Alila Kothaifaru Maldives’ offerings extend to the whole family. Indulge in a host of fun adventures together, or relax while your children participate in creative indoor and outdoor activities. Enjoy special family welcome amenities upon arrival, return seaplane transfers, daily full-board meals, and a special offer on wellness treatments. Experience the beauty of our island while creating lasting memories to be treasured!

Stay with us during the Easter period from 25-31 March 2024 and be treated to a wide range of festive island inspired activities such as Easter egg decorating, arts and crafts, egg hunting around the island and underwater, wellness offering, and many more!

For more information and reservations, please contact kothaifaru@alilahotels.com or visit alilahotels.com

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