Maldives Promotion House – Officially opened in 15th August 2001, Hulhulé Island Hotel (HIH) has gained a substantial amount of fame as an airport hotel. Known best for its culinary achievements and superior service, HIH continues to secure its famous reputation with countless awards.
Some of the awards include the World Travel Award of 2009. During 2006, 2008 and 2011 at the Hotel Asia Culinary Challenge, HIH was also awarded as the ‘Best Culinary Establishment’ in Maldives. Other notable awards include the ‘Luxury Airport Hotel’ award at the World Luxury Hotel Awards of 2008, 2010 and 2011.
Part of their success is due to their friendly and highly trained staff. However most of the credit goes to Mr. Utkarsh Faujdar, the General Manager at Hulhulé Island Hotel. Utkarsh joined the property as General Manager in 2004 and has since developed HIH and has succeeded in turning it into one of the best airport hotels, both in Asia and the world.
“I joined HIH during the end of October 2004. Before that I was working as General Manager at the Trident Hilton in Agra. I have also worked with Clarks Group of hotels and the Oberoi Group of Hotels,” the highly experienced GM Utkarsh said, during an exclusive interview with Maldives Promotion House.
Utkarsh studied hotel management at the Institute of Hotel Management in Lucknow, India. Since finishing in 1988 he worked in the industry for 16 years before he was appointed as the General Manager of HIH. By the end of this year he would have worked at HIH for almost seven years.
“If you are in a resort, seven years is a long time to be working in the same place. Normally after a while you tend to become monotonous, because everything is the same. But out here, we have expanded and developed. We have introduced new features such as the spa, the gym and also the beach area. We have also added 51 rooms of much better quality,” Utkarsh said.
According to Utkarsh the constant development of the hotel and the new features and the advancements has kept him going for the past seven years without even a hint of boredom. He also said that those achievements are some of the most satisfying achievements for him.
Over lunch Utkarsh explained to the Maldives Promotion House, the extreme diversity of the hotel’s menu. Unlike many other hotels which are focused on a particular nationality or target group, the menus at HIH aim to cater to all nationalities. With rare cuisines from all over the world, the menu also includes Maldivian dishes such as the ‘Malaafai’, which is currently unavailable in any other tourist hotel in the country. The ‘Malaafai’ consists of different varieties of Maldivian tastes brought together in a single dish, and is very popular among locals and tourist.
“There are lots of locals who come here to the restaurant for special occasions. Especially in Ramadan we have to deal with huge numbers of local customers. So I feel that by catering to the local tastes we also get much closer to the community. That is also the reason we keep the prices very economical,” he said.
“We also aim to create new experiences. Rather than copying something someone has already done, we create something new. That is what we have done with the ‘Malaafai’. It is Maldivian, yes, but there is no other resort or hotel that provides this dish. It contains most of the Maldivian tastes. And because it is our creation, we are confident about it,” he added.
While the culinary experience at HIH is a must have experience, there is more to the hotel than just the food. Hulhulé Island Hotel is more than just an airport hotel. It is just as luxurious as any resort and the friendly service adds to its grandeur. However this also creates a lot of challenges for Utkarsh and his team.
“Most of the travellers are very avid travellers, and short trips have become more common. Then there is the internet, where they can find out more about the hotels and destinations. So we have to be better than everyone else. We can’t just sell a product and tell them to be happy about it,” Utkarsh said.
“So the main challenge of running an airport hotel is that, travellers will usually stay here while they are in transit, or before they travel to the resorts. And since resorts these days have become extremely luxurious, we have to offer the travellers a product that matches with that kind of luxury. We need to maintain our competitive edge,” Utkarsh said.
Utkarsh believes that the vacation experience should start from the moment travellers land at their destination. He added that the idea was to not only to compliment but to surpass the quality and luxury offered by the resorts. However in order to cater for the up market, HIH had to be expanded. Despite being his first airport hotel Utkarsh succeeded in bringing about these major changes that has transformed the hotel into one of the most luxurious airport hotels in the world.
He also explained that the hospitality industry is not something someone can be pushed into. He noted the importance of having the passion to go into the industry. To be successful in the industry one must choose to be part of it. One must have the desire to serve. He further added that if taken lightly as a job, not only will you fail, but that you cannot survive as part of the hotel.
“I wouldn’t mind working for 24 hours a day. Of course, at the end of the day, it is a tough job. And if you just join in for the glamour, you will not survive. You need to be passionate about it. On the outside it might seem like a glamorous job. But that is in the perspective of the traveller. The Truth is that this industry is a very challenging, and for those who have passion, a very satisfying industry. If you are good at what you do, success will always follow you and no one can stop you,” he added.
Utkarsh is also a very fond sportsman and loves cricket and follows tennis and soccer. He is also a fan of the famous tennis player, Roger Federer. Apart from his sportsmanship he is also a fan of music and the songs of Bony M. When asked about his future plans Utkarsh said that he has no plans of leaving the industry, and that he would continue to work on his current assignment.
An extremely friendly man with a joyful personality Mr. Utkarsh Faujdar is a model for the tourism industry. In his time at HIH he has shown true dedication to his career. He has uplifted the entire team, pushed the hotel beyond the margins of the conventional airport hotel and has turned it into one of the best hotels in the country and the world.
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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