OZEN by Atmosphere’s indulgent luxury with GM Nishant Agarwal

No surprises, no shocks, no hidden extras – all included in one price! You may have come across this tagline from tourism-related advertisements, and if you have, you shouldn’t be surprised or shocked. After all, that’s very true, but only if you have chosen a resort run by Atmosphere Hotels and Resorts.

Since opening its first resort in 2013, Atmosphere Hotels and Resorts have been making waves within the local and Indian Ocean hospitality industry. Especially OZEN by Atmosphere at Maadhoo, the flagship of the Indian Ocean Hotel Group, has established itself as one of the top luxury resorts with a very special holiday plan according to the brand’s core philosophy: ‘The Joy of Giving’.

Amongst Atmosphere Hotels and Resorts’ five properties already in operation, its flagship luxury all-inclusive resort, OZEN by Atmosphere at Maadhoo, stands out in particular.

Having opened its shores to the world in 2016, on the tranquil island of Maadhoo in South Male Atoll, OZEN by Atmosphere at Maadhoo offers the discerning traveller a uniquely exclusive holiday plan — the Atmosphere Indulgence, where guests will experience the ultimate hassle-free beach holiday in the Maldives. The contemporary design style of the resort’s 90 standalone luxury villas and overall ambience of OZEN complements the naturally-blessed surroundings of Maadhoo island,

We speak to Nishant Agarwal, the General Manager at OZEN by Atmosphere at Maadhoo, about what makes OZEN and its sister resorts a favourite amongst holidaymakers from the world over.

Maldives Insider: Atmosphere Hotels and Resorts is known for its guiding core philosophy, the ‘Joy of Giving’. Could you please explain how this philosophy shapes the guest experience?

Nishant Agarwal: Atmosphere prefers to go beyond the typical all-inclusive philosophy and is more extensive than what it is typically known as. Instead we refer to it as an all-encompassing Holiday Plan – custom tailored to each island’s unique experiences and for the type of guests that would come to the resort and to include elements of what they would like to experience on their holiday. We continue to strive to offer best in class experience for each uniquely positioned sub-brand of the Atmosphere Hotels & Resorts brand. In OZEN by Atmosphere we even top this, by having even included services, where people don’t think about. It’s called the Atmosphere Indulgence plan. It includes dine-around at four restaurants when you stay for minimum four nights. The only restaurant restricted to only one meal per stay is the M6m Underwater Restaurant. That’s because of the demand and we want to give all our guests the chance to have this experience. We have more than 80 labels of wine included in the package. There is no end when it comes to food and beverage. You can visit our a la carte restaurants or buffets and order whatever you want, with unlimited alcoholic beverages such as worldwide known exclusive wines, branded champagnes, high level whiskeys, gins, etc. Additionally, minibars are replenished twice a day with Champagne, wines and snacks. Sixty minutes’ spa treatment is included. You can even go for a dive – for every four nights stay.

With this plan, we are transparent in all our marketing collaterals. Whatever mentioned will be delivered and there will be no hidden costs. It’s about delivering more than what you promise. That gets incorporated in the entire service culture of the hotel where everyone serves you from their heart in order to make sure that our guests have the best experience.

MI: Maldivian resorts have traditionally focused on revenue from extras such as excursions, and food and beverage. As the ‘Joy of Giving’ philosophy stands to change that approach, what are the advantages offered by this new philosophy compare to traditional package holidays?

NA: Our Managing Director Salil Panigrahi and team wanted to create a truly luxurious lifestyle experience with no surprises, no shocks, no hidden extras – all included in one price. Where guests might usually spend up to an extra 50 per cent on top of the normal room rates to experience everything else, OZEN’s Indulgence Plan stands out as remarkably different. And so do our other four resorts – all in its own categories.

MI: What are the culinary highlights of OZEN?

NA: Variety of culinary options and restaurants — all included in the Indulgence plan — is a highlight of our resort. M6m Underwater Restaurant is without doubt the jewel in the crown of the fining dining experiences available at OZEN. This is the only underwater restaurant in the world that is included in an all-inclusive package. With a mesmeric view of the lagoon and ocean, M6m strives to deliver some of the finest modern seafood cuisine in the world. The creation, vibrant design and amazing presentation of dishes showcase the exemplary use of fine dining cooking techniques with quality ingredients, whereby drawing a fine line between gastronomy and art!

Besides that, our main restaurant, The Palms, offers international cuisine, with changing themes every day. IndoCeylon restaurant goes to traditional culinary roots of South Asia with Indian, Sri Lankan and Maldivian flavours. Peking overwater restaurant takes guests to a culinary journey to the origins of Far-East cuisine, showcasing authentic Chinese dishes. Apart from that, our ‘Joie De Vivre’ pool bar and pizzeria serves a vast selection of signature cocktails, drinks and snacks throughout the day. And every Friday – when all outlets are closed – we celebrate the Indian Ocean Nights – with live cooking stations open-air, live music, BBQ and much more.

MI: What is being done to maintain and further advance OZEN’s current standing amongst Maldivian resorts?

NA: We are well-positioned in the market. So, the challenge is to sustain the position. One thing we don’t compromise is our service philosophy and culture, which comes from our people. As food and beverage is one of our biggest strengths, we keep on enhancing what we offer. We regularly change the menus at the restaurants. And in addition to providing some of the world’s finest Champagne, guests at OZEN by Atmosphere at Maadhoo can enjoy a variety of exclusive foods from Italy, Spain, Germany and France; all of which come from regions that are well-known for producing the highest-quality products. So we have very special bread, meat, olive oil and balsamic vinegar in OZEN by Atmosphere. Last year, we introduced a gin bar with more than 40 varieties of gin — also included in the Indulgence package. We are also working on introducing more services, including a new restaurant and a visiting celebrity chefs programme. The latest addition to OZEN’s extensive beverage menu is a selection of Guy Charbaut Champagne from one of France’s finest wine-making regions, Mareuil-sur-Aÿ. This region is known worldwide for producing superior quality Terroir Champagne. So again, this will be also part of our Indulgence Plan. We are constantly improving and thinking about how to make our offer better. There is always room for improvement; and this exactly is our challenge.

MI: What do you focus the most in leading the team at OZEN?

NA: The essence of our service and guest experience is based on our team. To have a great team, you need to motivate and keep them engaged. Since we are away from other islands, we have to ensure that they feel like being part of one big family. At OZEN, we have a separate island for team members. In fact, we are the first resort in Maldives with a separate island for the team. We have a recreation centre with a fully-equipped gym and other facilities. Our HR team is trying to keep them involved with recreational activities such football, cricket, etc. We also organise regular fishing trips, island trips and picnics to nearby islands. We have a diverse team, comprising of 26 nationalities and more than 30 languages. We provide equal opportunities to both genders and try to maintain a good gender balance at all times. For instance, at M6m, we have an international all-female team So you will be served from maybe someone from Azerbaijan, Brazil or Uzbekistan. I believe in empowering the team by giving the authority to make decisions.

MI: Atmosphere Hotels and Resorts is arguably one of the most successful hospitality brands from the Maldives. What’s next for the brand?

NA: We have ambitious expansion plans for the Maldives and Sri Lanka. In Sri Lanka we will open another OZEN by Atmosphere – which will take our brand to the next level of hospitality with our first international venture. Our newest addition VARU by Atmosphere just opened on October 17, 2019, it is already a success. Further to come – stay tuned.

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