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True grit: Interview with Grand Park Kodhipparu Maldives’ GM Raffaele Solferino

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Raffaele Solferino, General Manager of Grand Park Kodhipparu, Maldives on adaptability in hospitality, ethical profitability and why true grit drives results.

2020 has been an incredibly challenging year. There have been many learnings and silver linings for the hotel industry, but what long-term impact do you think they’ll have?

Yes, it has been a very much unprecedented situation, even though in the beginning everyone was comparing it with SARS, 9/11 or 2007/2008 financial crisis. During this period, we learnt the importance of staying calm, and keeping ourselves up to date with, and adhering to, the latest policies and guidelines issued by the official authorities. We also put ourselves in the shoes of our team members and business partners and remain available for assistance when needed. I am glad everyone appreciates the effort we put in, as well as the value we bring to them. I believe that when things go back to normal, we will reap the rewards of building a meaningful rapport with them.

How did Grand Park Kodhipparu navigate its way through pandemic, the travel restrictions around it and the ensuing sharp decline in tourism?

Well, the Maldives has responded well, with a lockdown for three months. We are now seeing enthusiastic travellers visiting the paradise again. We have established our own Covid-19 Task Force Team, consisting of experts who are trained to handle emergencies of all aspects, to gain guest confidence. We showed empathy at every point and supported our business partners and tour operators through the challenges they faced. We continue to remain flexible and engaged, and provide assistance where we can throughout this period.

We also involve our team members to develop solutions and this gave them a sense of belonging, which resulted in high participation and engagement. Everyone was comfortable with the decision made and worked towards the same goal. To be able to welcome guests again after three months, it was like being reborn. A high level of energy and excitement was felt throughout the resort, from both guests and team members. While ensuring smooth operations, our team also took the opportunity to develop new experiences to enhance a guest’s stay.

It’s undeniable that the landscape of travel has shifted significantly this year – what have been your personal observations of changing traveller trends thus far?

Travel will return in stages. We are seeing leisure travellers at this point, MICE and corporate travellers with be the laggard. As international borders will largely remain closed or restricted in the short-term, and also with the high adoption rate of virtual meetings and events, we do not see a shift in this observation for now. We have been receiving positive feedback from travellers, noting that they enjoyed the relaxing stay surrounded by our natural environment. People are also starting to look at destination weddings, as they no longer wish to postpone their event further. Travel and tourism are now pivoting towards the digital economy and we should take this opportunity to upskill and relearn.

As we edge towards a time of vaccines, and therefore a hopeful return to normalcy, what are your predictions for 2021?

Well, I touched on how travel behaviour will be affected for a few segments of our guests over the next few months. At the same time, I see potential in the luxury and budget brands, as well as co-sharing spaces. Tourism has a huge contribution to the Maldives economy and we know that people cannot wait to travel again after months of pent up demand. If we can build synergy between business strategies, partnerships and digital transformation, we will be able to do better.

So, let’s more about Grand Park Kodhipparu… You’ve been at the property for four years now – what was the initial vision and mission, and what do you hope to achieve next?

Grand Park Kodhipparu, Maldives is the first resort by Park Hotel Group, a leading hospitality company in Asia Pacific, and I am privileged to be selected to open this property in December 2016. After six months of pre-opening planning, the resort opened its doors in June 2017, and had its grand opening in December the same year. We managed to achieve this within a considerably short timeline and it is a remarkable achievement. The resort had a successful first year, where we saw positive business performance and great brand reputation with good recognition from our guests and partners, and this continued until Q1 2020. This stellar performance was possible thanks to the support from HQ, as we continue to be guided by the company’s triple bottom-line business strategy, focusing on Profit, People and Planet. Of course, my team at the resort is also a key factor as I cannot achieve this on my own. I hope to continue to maintain such excellent results and good relationships with all stakeholders. I will also be planning ahead to uncover more opportunities that the destination can offer to our guests. We have demonstrated the capability of our resort and now it is time to bring it to the next level.

The Maldives is in abundance of beautiful five-star resorts, so what sets GPK apart from its peers? Let’s drill down to the nitty gritty of what makes it great.

Grand Park Kodhipparu, Maldives differentiates from the rest [of the resorts] with our personalised and private service, meaningful engagement with guests, distinctive design by world-class Hirsh Bedner Associates, and the continuous enhancement to our products. The property is also only a 20-minute ride by speedboat from the Velana International Airport. We have won many awards over the years, including the recent 2020 World Luxury Awards. And in just three years, The Spa has accumulated seven prestigious awards, which is testament to the dedication and commitment of our team members. Celebrities and chefs from Michelin-star restaurants visit us periodically.

Our resort is certified by Green Globe, a recognition for our sustainable management and operations, and we are working on various environmentally-friendly initiatives, including working with organic and eco-friendly cosmetic brands. In addition, our team members are known to deliver warm and genuine hospitality to our guests, and they are provided training opportunities year-long to grow their skillsets. All in all, we are committed in delivering the best service standards to our guests.

Assuming a guest has just 24 hours at your resort, how would you suggest they spend their time to truly maximise their five-star GPK experience?

Book one of the full-day wellness packages at The SPA, enjoy the sunset view at the private beach, and complete the day with a private dinner under the stars by the beach. Looking ahead again, what developments can guests expect at GPK in 2021? We provide pre-arrival assistance and will continue to enhance our safety measures according to the latest official advisory. We will also offer new experiences, such as new water sports and activities, and introduce attractive packages for our guests throughout the year.

A few more personal questions… What would you say makes a good GM?

A good GM builds teams and takes good care of them, invests in learning and development, empowers their team members to pursue performance excellence, is passionate about what he is doing, should not settle for mediocrity, focuses on guest engagement, and never forgets he is a businessman while having to manage the expectations of the stakeholders.

What gives you the passion for your role?

A long story, started 40 years back, in a few words; hospitality is a world which allows you to create, innovate, compete, work on challenges, meet many people from different cultural background, and travel the world.

Do you have a philosophy that you’ve subscribed to throughout your career?

Actually, more than one. The first, “If you focus on delivering quality with excellence, positive financial performance will be the result.” The second, “If you accept mediocrity, you are mediocre.” And lastly, “If you don’t look after your guests, someone else will.”

What is the biggest lesson you’ve learnt in the hotel game?

Adaptability. You’ve got to adapt yourself to changes, to others, to expectations, to judgments, but you always need to keep your objective alive and never, ever give up.

Lastly, what piece of advice would you give an aspiring GM?

Never forget the base and foundation of the role, invest in people, and with any operating decision always protect the planet, and deliver an ethical profitability. Be ambitious and remember that grit drives results.

Note: The above interview has been reproduced as it is from Destinations of the World News. The original article can be found here.

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Discover ultimate privacy at Nika Maldives

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Imagine a place where the world fades away, leaving you with nothing but the gentle sound of waves and the soft touch of sand beneath your feet. A place where privacy is not just a promise, but a guarantee. Welcome to Nika island Resort & Spa, Maldives, the only resort that offers private beaches for an unparalleled experience of seclusion and tranquility.

At Nika, your very own private beach awaits. Picture yourself enjoying a personalised BBQ under the stars or designing your own destination dining experience, tailored to your every desire. Whether it’s a romantic dinner for two or a family feast, the possibilities are endless.

John Miller, a recent guest at Nika, shares his unforgettable experience: “Staying at Nika’s private beach villa was the ultimate privacy I’ve ever experienced. Born in London, I’ve never known such seclusion in my entire life. The resort is lush with vegetation, and the fauna and flora are simply amazing. It’s a hidden gem in the middle of the Indian Ocean. The local stories and the museum displays are fascinating.”

But the allure of Nika doesn’t end there. The resort’s dive centre offers exceptional dive courses, taking you to spectacular dive sites that reveal the breathtaking underwater world. Whether you’re a seasoned diver or a beginner, the wonders beneath the surface will leave you in awe.

After a day of exploration, indulge in the Lotus Spa at Nika. Offering a range of excellent massages, from traditional local techniques to various modern varieties, the spa promises to rejuvenate your body and soul.

Nika is a small resort, yet it is brimming with entertainment and activities. From water sports to cultural experiences, there’s something for everyone. It’s a sanctuary where you can ground yourself, reconnect with nature, and discover a level of privacy that is truly extraordinary.

Escape to Nika and hide away at your secret beach. Here, the ultimate privacy and relaxation await.

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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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