Holiday Inn Resort Kandooma Maldives, General Manager, Mark Eletr celebrates his one year anniversary this month and has already clocked up a hefty list of achievements.
A seasoned hotelier, Mark arrived to the Maldives in November 2021 from Vietnam.
“I’ve worked in many luxury resorts around the world, completed refurbs and new openings and on joining Holiday Inn Resort Kandooma Maldives it was more about looking after a success story and taking the property into its next chapter.”
Talking about the achievements over the last 12 months, Mark is humble and only when prompted volunteers information on the projects that he has put into action, and there are many.
“I am particularly proud of our new Surf Corner located on the south east side of the island. It was a customer experience that was missing and also a revenue opportunity. We attract a large number of surfing specific guests to the island each year and giving them something that was barefoot and uber casual, nearby and desirable was key,” Australian-born, Mark explains that he talked to surfing guests and business partners to get a feel for their needs and could draw on his career experience working in island destinations to help him plan it out.
“I realised there was nowhere for friends, partners, parents or siblings to sit and watch their friends or family surf from the beach. I have kids and it’s my job to watch them have fun, so I got my thinking cap on, put myself into the same position as the guest. It inspired me. I planned new cabanas for relaxing, seating with permanent shade umbrellas to withstand the winds and a Surf Shack serving snacks like hot pies and drinks.” he said. “All the feedback we have received is extremely encouraging.”
Mark has grand plans for the venue and is currently considering some new additions to the area which overlooks a small inlet which attracts black tip sharks. But he says we’ll just have to wait and see.
Upkeep to any island resort takes hefty resources and funding. Since Mark’s arrival, and working closely with his on-property Engineering team he has prioritised and completed everything from re-roofing to painting as well as new flooring in the main restaurant and replacing decks throughout the property.
“Property maintenance is a big area that needs to be given constant attention and a rolling plan. We are playing a bit of catch up but we are getting there. Our climate is harsh and it does take a toll on buildings, decks and equipment.”
Regeneration is something which he is very keen about, which seems strange for a GM who is less about working within the lines and more about big ideas and making things happen.
“If you don’t try there is no risk or reward. Try and fail, well at least you know and go back to the drawing board. Try and win, then celebrate and look for the next opportunity.”
He seems to be winning.
In terms of regeneration you’ll see new Frond Circles where fallen palm tree fronds are arranged in a circle, much like a clock face, layer upon layer, to a height of 1.5 metres.
“We are monitoring how long it will take for them to decompose naturally and we take measurements regularly.”
He has also reduced daily path sweeping of the white sands, opting for enriching natural habitats and eco systems for small animals and insects, through using the rustic appeal of garden waste such as leaves, twigs and bark in garden areas to encourage natural seeding. So far the evidence indicates that it’s working.
Mark says, “by incorporating the regenerative areas into our landscape, we’ve also reduced the heat and bright glare for guests particularly during the hottest hours of the day when it can be both sweltering and blinding.”
The resort is currently doubling its renewable energy generated from solar power by adding corrosion proof marine grade photovoltaic panels to the roofs of 19 one-bedroom over water villas and the 2 bedroom overwater pavilion. This project will bring the resort’s solar power to 518.52 KWp.
Perhaps one of his favourite projects was the built-in barbecue area in the garden adjacent to the Crew Cafe (staff canteen).
“It’s a giant bbq that any Aussie would be proud of mate!” he says with a wide grin.
“Our engineering team built the structure out of bricks and mortar and then we installed the grill. It’s working a treat. We even incorporated a wok station.”
Delighting his own crew is important to him.
“Happy staff make for happy guests. It’s my commitment to my team to continue to try and improve their facilities on the island. I work very closely with our HR team and our owners,”
Under his guidance the Kandoo Kids’ Club has been upgraded with essential maintenance and a spruce up to delight the younger guests.
“Our Kids’ Club team don’t just stay within the confines of the Kandoo Kids’ Club venue on the island. We actively encourage kids to learn about the island, the different habitats and have fun, so treasure hunts and discovery walks are all part of our day to day.”
So what is next? Mark shares the projects he is currently advancing.
“I’m focused on our Chef’s garden and elevating it in terms of selection and production quantities and we are currently trialling our new guest app making all of the resort information, room service, mini bar and chatting to a team member in real time available from a guest’s smart device.”
Mark explains while the resort is in the final stages of the testing phase the guest app has been well received and the use of technology has been embraced by both the resort team and the guests.
Perhaps the most exciting project from a rooms perspective is that Holiday Inn Resort Kandooma Maldives will unveil a new 3-bedroom Beach Pool Villa towards the end of the year. Currently the pool element is under construction and the project is running to schedule.
“It’s already been sold for the festive season, so we have to have it ready in time. Nothing like pressure, eh?”
It’s easy to see why Mark has so quickly garnered the label the Change Maker, but he credits these successes and the ability to make change so quickly to the team and owners.
“I think it’s a journey. For me it was about earning trust and then getting our crew on board with the different ideas, working with the owners to prioritise the big spends on their asset and to build a culture which continually strives to maintain the property for a great guest experience.”
For information about Holiday Inn Resort Kandooma Maldives visit www.maldives.holidayinnresorts.com
Bandos Maldives Easter Eggstravaganza: A Celebration of Fun and Adventure
Bandos Maldives is thrilled to announce the Easter Eggstravaganza, set to take place on March 30th, 2024. This vibrant celebration promises an unforgettable Easter experience for guests of all ages. The event will feature an array of exciting activities designed to bring joy and excitement to the holiday festivities.
Guests are invited to step right up to the Kokko Club Playground and immerse themselves in a world of fun at our Mini Carnival. Additionally, participants can test their luck and skill at the Blackout Bingo Bonanza, where dabbing their way to victory awaits.
For those with a creative spirit, our Easter Art painting session offers the perfect opportunity to unleash their artistic talents and paint their way into spring. Meanwhile, adventure seekers can embark on a thrilling Bunny Trail Adventure, joining the epic Bunny Hunt Challenge to locate all the hidden bunnies lurking around the Kokko Club.
At Bandos Maldives, we are committed to providing our guests with extraordinary experiences, and the Bandos Easter Eggstravaganza is no exception. This Easter, make memories that last a lifetime at Bandos Maldives. Don’t miss out on the excitement!
Baros Maldives: The Perfect Setting for a Joyful Easter in the Maldives
Baros is a treasure nestled in the Indian Ocean, just waiting to be discovered. This Easter, uncover the myriad of delights on offer for guests celebrating the holiday on our pristine island shores.
From sunrise dolphin cruises to underwater marvels, serene spa journeys and delicious culinary sensations, every moment on Baros is a magical surprise. From 29th March to 4th April 2024, the Baros team has curated a special program of Easter celebration. Choose from a wide range of specially crafted experiences and curate your very own Easter escape of a lifetime.
Baros delights the senses. There is something for everyone to enjoy, from snorkelling, diving and exciting excursions to unparalleled destination dining experiences and sensational spa moments.
Guests are invited to harvest fresh and exotic ingredients from Baros’s Chef’s Garden for a unique meal preparation under the expert guidance of our award-winning chefs. Alternatively, they can immerse themselves in the allure of a specially curated menu, set by the seashore under a tapestry of stars. Every dish is a culinary masterpiece, creating unforgettable moments.
For adventure on the high seas, guests can spend the day exploring five traditional fishing methods across multiple stunning locations on a fishing extravaganza. Or set sail on Baros’s luxury yacht, Serenity for a sunrise frolic with playful dolphins.
At Baros, guests are welcomed to immerse themselves in the vibrant tapestry of Maldivian culture as local traditions come alive. Delve into the rich history and customs of our island sanctuary as you tantalise your senses with local delicacies, participate in interactive experiences and listen to captivating narratives from a local historian.
The Ritz-Carlton Maldives, Fari Islands Announces 2024 Masters of Crafts Program With Stellar Line-Up of Guest Experiences
The Ritz-Carlton Maldives, Fari Islands is set to welcome a shining season of global talent in its signature Masters of Crafts program for the second year running. Working with some of the world’s most talented masters of food and drink, wellness, adventure and environmental innovation, the resort’s curation of considered guest experiences has transformative travel at its heart. From epicurean journeys with Michelin Star chefs and award-winning bartenders, retreats guided by leading names in wellness, to adventure and learning with surf icons and environmental thought leaders, 2024 guarantees extraordinary memories of a lifetime.
The series, which last year included two Michelin Star British chef Tom Sellers with decorated bartenders from Singapore’s Vijay Mudaliar of Native, to Malaysia’s Jungle Bird and celebrity crystal healer Emma Knowles, will run throughout 2024 bringing a star-studded choice of dates to the luxury travel agenda.
The resort’s signature Behind the Bar series is set to impress in 2024. Opening on the 8th March and running through to the 6th December, this exclusive program promises an exquisite fusion of international mixology talent, sustainability-focused concepts, and a celebration of local ingredients. Guests will have access to some of the world’s most decorated drinksmiths with a line-up including; Stockholm’s Hampus Thunholm from Röda Huset, 8th-13th March, Paul Aguilar & Maros Dzurus from HIMKOK, 5th-6th April, Republic from Singapore, 24th – 25th July, Bangkok’s Matteo Cadeddu from Opium, 9th-10th August, New York’s Harrison Ginsberg from Overstory, 18th-19th September, Berlin’s Damien Guichard from Wax On, 22nd, 23rd November and Paris’ Hyacinthe Lescoet from The Cambridge Public House, 5th-6th December.
This Easter, from 27th March – 2nd April, New York based meditation practitioner and contemplative guide Kirat Randhawa, will inspire guests to approach life through a different lens. Randhawa will share practical tools for self-care on a journey of discovery where transformative sessions and empowering wellness practices will include; cultivating stillness, igniting and welcoming reflection, inviting expansion, practicing reinforcement and deepening integration.
From 23rd-27th May an immersive wellness retreat brings together global gurus of practice with The Essence of Balance – Elemental Harmony. A week-long program will follow a journey driven by the spiritual power of the number five and the five elements of earth, water, fire, air and spirit. Guiding a cosmic dance are five practitioners each custodians of an elemental force.
California-based international yoga teacher Josh Kramer brings the grounding element of earth with his celebrated practice blending Iyengar and vinyasa flow. Movement instructor and founder of the Jacy Method, Jacy Cunningham introduces his powerful method of physical movement representing the adaptability of water, while sound healer and Reiki master Nicole Rutsch will harness the intellect of air and the power of nature’s vibrations. New York’s Jackie Stewart will channel transcendence of spirit with guided meditation, while guests will be nourished by Nicole Berrie, founder of cult wellness guide, Bonberi, with a plant-based menu of her most celebrated dishes representing the transformative element of fire.
In a Summer of Renewal, The Ritz-Carlton Maldives, Fari Islands is committed to ensuring that all guests ‘Leave Better’. From 19th-23rd July, celebrity healer and founder of the sound healing school The Copper Vessel, Susy Markoe Schieffelin, will take residency with a soothing practice guided by the moon. Under Maldivian skies guests will bathe in Susy’s signature sound baths as enjoyed by millions worldwide, with her clients including Google, the Los Angeles Philharmonic and solo artist LeAnn Rimes. From 15th-20th August the Summer transformation continues with movement guidance from celebrated practitioner and founder of Project Woman, Abi Adams. During two programs guests will embark on an emotional journey and exploration of hormonal balance with tools of meridian dance, rhythm meditation, music, yoga and creative writing.
A first for the resort, 2024 sees the introduction of two retreats partnering with championship surf heroes Nic von Rupp and Victor Bernardo. During the Maldives’ optimum surf season of June and July, the exhilarating escapes led by von Rupp and Bernardo will allow guests to ride and master the four most popular waves in the North Malé Atoll comprising Chicken, Cokes Surf Break, Honkeys and Jailbreak.
With his trademark touch of Portuguese flair and German strength, Nic Von Rupp is one of the top ‘big wave’ surfers in the world. Two-time finalist of ‘World Surf League Big Wave Performance of the Year’, von Rupp spends his time in pursuit of the world’s largest swells and will take the helm at The Ritz-Carlton Maldives, Fari Islands from 4th-13th June. Brazilian big wave surfer Victor Bernardo was born on a board, surfing from the age of four and with global accolades under his belt, he is one to watch on the free surfer circuit. Bernardo will lead a guest retreat from 1st-7th July.
Growing its stable of exceptional gastronomic experiences, 2024 will see pop-up residencies with an impressive circle of culinary friends. From 27th July-3rdAugust, two Michelin Star and one Michelin Green Star, Chef Bruno Verjus brings a taste of his Paris restaurant Table by Bruno Verjus to the Fari Islands. For two nights only, an exquisite menu from the home of the famed ‘tarte au chocolat avec caviar’ will be created and served under the stars at the resort’s Beach Shack. Guests will also have the opportunity to join Verjus in an exclusive masterclass, and for the winning bidders of the Marriott Bonvoy Moments’ package, the chance to embark on a big game fishing excursion.
From 10th-12th August Chef Pam Soontornyanakij, newly crowned Asia’s Best Female Chef 2024, will bring her celebrated mastery from Bangkok’s Potong. The first and youngest female chef to receive both a Michelin Star and ‘Opening of the Year’ award from the Michelin guide in the same year will present a bespoke menu of her progressive Thai-Chinese cuisine in an exclusive two-night residency at Summer Pavilion.
Chef Rolf Fliegaulkf, founder and executive chef of Switzerland’s Ecco will take over the resort’s Beach Shack for two nights from 12th-14th November. The two Michelin Star and 18 Gault Millau points’ Fliegaulkf will unveil a creative menu bursting with exquisite flavour pairings demonstrating his signature approach of ‘purist aroma cuisine’.
The resort’s Visiting Heroes for 2024 bring inspired interactions with conservationists and environmental thought leaders. From 8th-18th April legendary ocean explorer, film maker and conservationist Jean-Michel Cousteau will be returning to the resort in continuation of the Ambassadors of the Environment program and to provide a truly unique residency. Cousteau will host several presentations focused on marine biology, lead a number of dives with guests including coral regeneration, and chair a thought-provoking panel discussion alongside marine biologists and representatives from the Ministry of Climate Change, Environment, and Energy. An exclusive Marriott Bonvoy Moments’ experience will be available to two lucky guests via bid application, closing on the 23rd March.
Joining the Visiting Heroes series, climate activist and Forbes 30 under 30 for social impact, Saad Amer will play a pivotal role in the development of the resort’s sustainability agenda this year. A UN consultant and named ‘most influential voice in ESG’ by WWD, Amer will be launching new sustainability initiatives while undertaking educational programming with local islands and schools as part of the resort’s Community Footprints program. Dates for guest presentations and exclusive panel sessions will be announced soon.
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