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An Insider

Nilesh Singh on Le Méridien’s milestone celebration in Maldives



By Ali Naafiz

Located on the Thilamaafushi Island in the Lhaviyani Atoll, Le Méridien Maldives Resort & Spa is a canvas inspired by the formation of the atolls, fringing reefs and marine life. Spanning nine hectares, the island is a true castaway experience abundant with indigenous flora and fauna enveloped by a shimmering lagoon and coral reefs teeming with marine life, including pods of rays and turtles. Taking cues from a mid-century design aesthetic and the rich European heritage of Maldives the island boasts 6 restaurants and bars.

This young property is manned by Nilesh Singh who brings his experience in taking Le Méridien Maldives Resort & Spa to new heights as it celebrates its one-year anniversary. Maldives insider takes a look at what the property plans for its future as it celebrates this milestone.

Maldives Insider: Tell us a bit about your journey leading up to this position.

Nilesh Singh: Before joining Marriott in 2012, I worked with an Oberoi Hotels, an Indian hospitality company operating in the high-end luxury segment. I worked with Oberoi from 2000 to 2012. When I was working at Oberoi Bangalore, Ritz-Carlton opened their first hotel in India, in Bangalore. I had the opportunity to be a part of the pre-opening team, heading food and beverage for the first Ritz-Carlton hotel in India. That’s when I made the move.

We opened the hotel very successfully and I spent around three years there. Then I started looking for what’s next for my career? That was the only Ritz-Carlton in India at the time; now there is a Ritz-Carlton in Pune as well. So, the obvious choice was to go out of India. The Ritz-Carlton Bali in Nusa Dua was looking for an F&B Manager. I applied and got the job; so, I moved from Ritz-Carlton Bangalore to Ritz-Carlton Bali.

Ritz-Carlton Bali was an outstanding experience. It was my first time out of India. Bali is a beautiful island. People are very nice and hospitable, so it wasn’t as difficult as I had thought it would be. I settled into the role quickly. It was a smooth transition.

A beach pool villa at Le Méridien Maldives Resort & Spa. (Photo/Le Méridien)

Bali gave me a lot of international experience because the guests who came to Bali were primarily international, mostly were from Australia, China and other countries. In Bali, I was promoted to the role of Hotel Manager. Being a hotel manager, the responsibilities became broader and I loved it.

During my time in Bali, I also had the opportunity to work at The St. Regis in Singapore for about four months. They needed help, so I went to The St. Regis Singapore and worked there handling the hotel operations. Again, that gave me a very good experience, as I had the chance to interact with a diverse international clientele and a workforce. While the hotel had many local Singaporeans, a lot of employees were from Malaysia, Philippines and South Korea. So, helped me to understand other nationalities as well.

Then I moved to The St. Regis in Kuala Lumpur as a Hotel Manager. Kuala Lumpur was another city altogether. It was my first time in Malaysia. The hotel is beautiful; that’s one of the best St. Regis hotels in terms of product I have seen. I worked there in 2019 and the hotel was relatively new; it had opened in May 2015, and it had seen a lot of management changes. Our role was to stabilise the operations of the hotel, retain the workforce and understand the business needs. I was in St. Regis Kuala Lumpur for two very productive years.

That’s when the Covid-19 hit. Those few months that I was in Kuala Lumpur during Covid was difficult because we were taking difficult decisions. We did not close at all; rather we got into the mode wherein we asked ourselves, what is it that we can do in this hotel to keep the cash flow coming in, so that we can keep as many associates in the hotel as possible. So, we quickly moved into the packed orders business. I still remember; April 2020 was Easter and in city hotels Easter is big. Easter brunches are quite popular because Kuala Lumpur also had a large expat crowd. But we couldn’t get anyone into our restaurants; so, we asked ourselves, why don’t we take the brunches into people’s homes? That’s when we started doing packaged orders. In the end, we did very well. Next came Ramadan month, and Ramadan is again very popular. All the hotels look forward to the Ramadan month because breaking the fast in the evening is a community event when a lot of companies host Ramadan breakfasts at hotels. So, we again did Ramadan breakfast boxes. From there on, we changed our gears to include a lot of packed orders because rooms were not producing any revenue as there were no guests staying in the rooms, but we could still keep the F&B operations running.

Then came the opportunity to move to the Maldives. I did not think twice.

I had never come to the Maldives. Forget having worked here, I had never even come here as a tourist. And then when this opportunity came up, I was completely in. I told myself, I have to do it. That was in January 2021. I wasn’t nervous at all, and I still remember when I landed here on the island. That probably was the first time a seaplane came here. When I set foot on the island, it did not even feel like that I was doing this for the first.

When I got to the island, then the real work started. We had 300 plus project workers on the island. From the Marriott point of view, the General Manager is the first one to arrive. Then we start setting up the team. We began by hiring the Director of Human Resources, Director of Sales and Marketing, Director of Finance, Director of Food and Beverage, and then they start building their own teams.

Being part of Marriott is a big advantage because we get a lot of help from the corporate, especially our regional offices in Singapore. If you have any questions that you need to understand in terms of the area, you have someone to whom you can reach out and get an understanding of the Maldives’ perspective because a lot of decisions need to be made keeping in mind how the location has behaved in the past. We worked hard, we got the place in order and we recruited the team.

Le Méridien Maldives Resort & Spa. (Photo/Le Méridien)

Having worked in different countries like Bali, Malaysia, Singapore and India, I had a lot of resources everywhere in terms of manpower. A lot of people who had worked with me in the past also wanted to come and be a part of this pre-opening team. To move people from Bali to Maldives and from Bangalore to Maldives, and shuffle the workforce from within Marriott is what we did. In the end, approximately 45% of the total workforce is from a Marriott background. They understand the Marriott culture, which made our life easier on the island. When we opened the resort on 1 September 2021, we were ready and set. We knew that we were absolutely in a space where we could welcome the first guests on the island. We had the first seaplane on the island, and the journey then began!

We just completed our first anniversary. It’s been outstanding. It’s been very rewarding from every perspective. How do we measure guest satisfaction? We use a tool called Guest Voice, which gives us a figure. We have done very, very well. The thing that gets highlighted the most about the resort is our associates, which is our strength. The attitude to serve is our strength and that gets mentioned in every forum, be it our internal Marriott Guest Voice, TripAdvisor or any other forum. In the past 12 months of operation, we have had guests who had come three times to stay with us. This speaks volumes; they are taking not a four-hour flight from Dubai, but taking 30-hour flights from the US. So, like I said, that speaks volumes about our service.

We are also adding 42 new villas, so our total inventory will be 141 villas. With new beautiful overwater rooms and the existing beach villas, we are all ready to get into the festive period. Starting November, we will ensure that every single guest who comes to the resort is happy, goes with great memories and comes back to stay with us here again.

An overwater villa at Le Méridien Maldives Resort & Spa. (Photo/Le Méridien)

MI: What do you focus the most on in leading your team here?

NS: Everything is linked. It is linked in the way that we need to take care of our associates, everyone who lives on the resort. This is a different environment. Unlike a city hotel where once the associate finishes their work they go back to their respective houses, then they are not the responsibility of the hotel. In a resort in Maldives, it’s different because everyone lives on the resort. So, a lot of focus is on associates and their well-being. Again, Marriott conducts an associate driven measurement which is called the Associate Engagement Survey, wherein we measure associate engagement in their department and hotel. We’ve done very well on that front as well, which is a testimony to the fact that the team is happy on the resort. As I said earlier everything is linked, so once your team is happy, they create happy moments for the guests. Guests who are being wowed return to the resort multiple times. This in turn helps you to generate revenues.

MI: With the changing trends in the Maldivain tourism industry, how do you see the Le Méridien positioned to these changes, especially the post-pandemic transformation?

NS: Covid taught us a lot. Especially to all of us in the service industry. We know one of the worst affected industries was hospitality industry. We are still recovering from it.

We had to make some difficult decisions and it made us think out of the box. Easter brunch guests come to the restaurant, enjoy the brunch, and from that you generate your revenues. None of us had thought that we could take that brunch to the guest’s home in take away orders as a luxury five-star hotel.

Covid also taught us a lot about hygiene and cleanliness. Cleanliness is a big focus now. As part of Marriott, we are committed to providing guests with a safe environment that aligns with expert protocols for working to defeat Covid. Consisting of in-house and outside experts in food and water safety, hygiene and infection prevention, and hotel operations, our global Marriott Cleanliness Council is redefining our cleaning and safety standards. Guided by our corporate colleagues, we will actively monitor and evolve our solutions to ensure a continued focus on the health and safety of our guests and associates.

Thinking out-of-the-box is another one. Yes, there are many resorts opening in the Maldives. I would also say that similarly the number of guests who are coming into this destination is also increasing. There’s room for everyone. We saw it in the number of tourist arrivals in 2021 and we are seeing that this year. The numbers are good despite what we see in many other destinations across the globe. We were all lucky in the Maldives that the destination was open, we could continue to go around our business in the normal way and the guests kept coming.

This is an upscale brand, and what is expected out of Le Méridien as a brand is what we keep delivering consistently. Quality of food and beverage is important because guests who stay in the resort don’t have an option to visit any other restaurant. We have a wide array of dining options, from international cuisine at Turquoise and Japanese fine-dining at Tabemasu to conscious dining at Waves Café and a relaxed café experience at Latitude. Our Velaa Bar + Grill and Riviera offer guests with a light, relaxed environment to enjoy snacks, light meals and drinks. As you can see, there is a lot of emphasis on the quality of F&B. Guests have praised us for our F&B quality, which makes us feel happy about the fact that we are not making the guests a captive audience on the resort and not giving them food which they like or which is of their choice.

Turquoise restaurant at Le Méridien Maldives Resort & Spa. (Photo/Le Méridien)
Tabemasu restaurant at Le Méridien Maldives Resort & Spa. (Photo/Le Méridien)
Latitude cafe at Le Méridien Maldives Resort & Spa. (Photo/Le Méridien)

MI: What are your thoughts as Le Méridien completes its first year and enter the second year of operations?

NS: A lot of thank you’s to every single individual who has been involved in the success of this resort. Our associates, owners, and regional team; everyone has supported us very well. The local community has supported us very well. We have a local island next door and we work very closely with them. Even during the pandemic, we worked very closely with them. So, it’s gratitude, it’s thank you to everyone. The idea is that we continue to grow our business and we continue to grow the local talent, which is a major focus on our island.

We work with the Maldives National University (MNU). We take interns from MNU and that is primarily done to ensure that we are growing the local Maldivian talent. The interns come here for six months. Based on their performance, we recruit them and they become a part of Le Méridien Maldives Resort & Spa team. We will continue to do that.

An Insider

Oriana Migliaccio: The Marine Guardian Transforming Conservation in the Maldives



At the heart of Anantara’s commitment to tailored luxury and authentic experiences lies the passionate work of Oriana Migliaccio, a marine biologist whose devotion to oceanic preservation resonates deeply in the sky-blue waters of the Maldives. Oriana, a PADI Master Scuba Diver Trainer with a PhD in Life and Biomolecular Sciences, embodies the spirit of discovery and conservation at Anantara Dhigu Maldives Resort, Anantara Veli Maldives Resort, and Naladhu Private Island Maldives.

Raised on the sun-kissed shores of Naples, Italy, Oriana’s early years were steeped in the wonders of the Mediterranean Sea, a rich biodiversity hotspot. She frequently spent winter breaks at the aquarium. “It is this deep love for the marine world that got me interested from an early age in pursuing a career in marine biology,” she reflects. Following her passion, Oriana earned her B.Sc. and M.Sc. in Marine Biology in Italy. Her journey then took her to the Maldives for an additional master’s in Tropical Marine Biology, where the allure of tropical environments steered her focus towards specialising in coral reef biology and conservation. This newfound dedication culminated in earning her PhD in the United Kingdom, solidifying her commitment to preserving marine ecosystems.

Oriana’s expertise, honed in the jungles of Borneo as a Conservation Manager and Dive Leader, now flourishes in the Maldives. Her initiatives span coral reef restoration, sea turtle protection, and sustainable practices, all pivotal to the region’s marine ecosystem. A crowning achievement is her creation of the “Reef Hero” PADI specialty, a course designed to educate divers on coral conservation, nurturing a new wave of ocean stewards.

“I created the ‘Reef Hero’ course during my time as a marine biologist and dive instructor in Malaysian Borneo. This course, focusing on coral reef restoration and rehabilitation, was inspired by my diving students’ desire to positively impact the oceans they love exploring. Witnessing the adverse effects of marine issues like debris, over-fishing, pollution, and global warming, this inspired me to create guidelines that can be used by recreational divers to save coral reefs around the world.” – Oriana Migliaccio

In April 2023, Oriana joined Anantara, where her role transcends traditional boundaries, as she immerses guests in a world of marine wonders through various interactive initiatives:

  • Marine Talk on Coral Reef & Marine Life: Weekly educational sessions that spotlight the vital role of coral reefs and the importance of responsible diving.
  • Discovering Marine Biology for Kids: Fun, interactive lessons that spark young minds’ curiosity about the underwater world.
  • Workshop on Repurposing Ghost Nets: Transforming abandoned fishing nets into bracelets, raising awareness about their impact on marine life.
  • Marine Biologist Corner: An open forum for guests to engage with Oriana, deepening their understanding of marine conservation.
  • Visit the Coral Nursery: Snorkeling adventures to coral nurseries, where guests explore coral species and participate in the resort’s coral restoration efforts.
  • Coral Adoption: Encouraging guests to play an active role in coral restoration, either by planting corals or sponsoring a coral rope, and tracking their growth.

“In the Maldives, a country faced with pressing environmental challenges, sustainability and environmental conservation are not just trends. They are a necessity,” Oriana emphasises, outlining the long-term goals for sustainability and marine conservation at Anantara’s Maldives resorts. “The survival of this tropical paradise is intertwined with adopting sustainable practices and reducing the anthropogenic impact on the environment.”

Following the devastating coral bleaching event of 2016, Oriana has been instrumental in Anantara’s HARP initiative (Holistic Approach to Reef Protection), aimed at rehabilitating damaged coral reefs. With over 10,000 corals grown and planted since 2017, the project is on course to double this number, enhancing marine biodiversity. Guests are invited to become coral gardeners, contributing to the project’s success while receiving progress updates on their adopted “baby corals”.

Collaborating with esteemed organisations like the Olive Ridley Project, Manta Trust, and the Maldives Whale Shark Research Program, Oriana’s work includes a photo-ID programme for studying sea turtles, manta rays, and whale sharks. She invites guests to join as citizen scientists, aiding in data collection during their underwater explorations.

Oriana Migliaccio’s contributions reflect the essence of Anantara’s luxury experience — unique, immersive, and deeply connected to the local environment. Her passion and dedication are not just preserving the ocean’s beauty but also inspiring guests to become active participants in its conservation, ensuring its wonder endures for generations to come.

For more information on Anantara Hotels, Resorts & Spas, please visit 

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An Insider

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.

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An Insider

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.

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