Women’s leadership at The Ritz-Carlton Maldives, Fari Islands

Consistent expansion and diversification has made tourism one of the largest and fastest growing economic sectors in the world. Before the Covid-19 pandemic wreaked havoc on global travel, tourism was booming all around the world!

Tourism has become an engine for socio-economic development through direct and indirect employment, as well as income opportunities. Women’s participation in such a field of work can have a monumental impact on both their personal lives and their local communities.

Women are key participants in the tourism labour market. On this International Women’s Day, we speak to Juliana Salla, the Resort Manager (pre-opening) for The Ritz-Carlton Maldives, Fari Islands, the upcoming debut hotel in Maldives by Marriott International’s flagship luxury brand.

Maldives Insider: Tell us a bit about your background and where you are coming from.

Juliana Salla: I was born and raised in Brazil. My first time on a plane, I was six months old, and over the years I got the travel bug and never stopped. I studied Marketing, Public relations and Journalism. When I was 22, I left Brazil to join Disney Cruise Lines and have been abroad ever since.

MI: How did you choose your professional path? What motivated you to choose your profession?

JS: I think the profession kind of chose me. I completed my Masters in Journalism – so naturally I wanted to be a journalist. However, the call to travel was strong and I took a job in the cruise line industry. It’s there that I realised how much I loved the hospitality industry and wanted to explore it more. I ended up in New York working for the W Hotels and the rest is history. Today, having worked on five continents, for different brands and in different roles, I truly found what I love.

MI: How did you join the hospitality industry and how did your career develop? What were your first impressions and how they changed over time?

JS: I first joined in 2003 with Disney Cruise Lines and after four years I joined W Hotels in New York as a W Insider. This was a new position/concept the brand was launching; I feel very privileged to have been one of the first insiders. After spending a few years in the US, I moved to the Middle East, and from there Indonesia, Russia, Thailand and finally China (all for W hotels). I was part of a task force team assisting the brand team on the opening of new W Hotels around the globe. When Starwood merged with Marriott, I joined The Ritz-Carlton and have been with the brand ever since.

MI: During your time in the hospitality industry, what do you consider your biggest professional accomplishment and what were the lessons learnt the hard way?

JS: I feel my biggest accomplishment has always been developing my team. No one is successful on their own and the moment you learn this that’s when you can truly be a leader. Working in different countries and with different cultures teaches you how we are all similar yet different at the same time and how being respectful and humble will get you a lot further then using forceful methods.

MI: What do colleagues need to know about working with you?

JS: I would say that my colleagues should know that I value honesty extremely and hold those who are honest in high regard. I try to hold myself to the same standards and aim to be fair and righteous. I will always treat someone with respect no matter their positions (as we’ve all been there) and expect my team and colleagues to do the same.

MI: What advice would you give to the young women that are only starting their career in the hospitality industry?

JS: Follow your passion and do not be afraid of change or challenge. This is an industry that is always evolving; be yourself and work hard but never change your principles for anyone or anything.

MI: When you are not working, what are you most likely to do?

JS: That’s an interesting question! People that get to know me will find that one of my hidden passions are nature (I love diving the Maldivian waters) and science (Who wouldn’t want to go to Mars?). Other than that, I will always have stories to tell but that’s for another time.

MI: How is The Ritz-Carlton Maldives, and The Ritz-Carlton as a brand, helping advance gender equality in the hospitality industry? Any specific initiatives in the Maldivian context?

JS: The Ritz-Carlton has a long history of referring to its associates as Ladies & Gentlemen, and I would say is a key advocate of gender equality. At the Ritz-Carlton (and that includes our property in the Maldives), we believe that your ability and the way you hold yourself is what matters, not your gender. Both women and men deserve the same respect and opportunities.

The Ritz-Carlton Maldives, Fari Islands

Set to open June 1, The Ritz-Carlton Maldives, Fari Islands is ideally located at Fari Islands, in the North Male Atoll of the Maldives, which is a 45-minute journey by speedboat or a 10-minute seaplane flight from Velana International Airport.

The resort features white sandy beaches, turquoise lagoons and coral reefs with marine life.

Shaped by the Maldivian sun and shored by the Indian Ocean, guest villas at The Ritz Carlton Maldives, Fari Island are expected to range in size from one to three bedrooms, featuring the refined elegance and legendary service that define The Ritz-Carlton brand.

The property is also expected to offer a choice of outstanding culinary venues serving an array of international and local cuisines, in addition to a full suite of fitness and recreational facilities including a signature Ritz-Carlton Spa.

The Ritz-Carlton Maldives, Fari Islands is part of Fari Islands, an archipelago that features three world-class hospitality brands inclusive of The Ritz-Carlton.

The guests are expected to have access to a picturesque Fari Marina – the archipelago’s communal beating heart. Built around a vibrant Beach Club, Fari Marina features charming boutiques and a handpicked selection of dining options.

Spaces have been designed by the renowned Kerry Hill Architects, to bring about a delicate balance of serene and social.

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