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Meet Nasrulla & Priya: the ‘Island Couple’ at OBLU SELECT Lobigili

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Nasrulla Mohamed and Priya Dubey, popularly known as the Island Couple, are a hospitality power duo at the adult-exclusive resort OBLU SELECT Lobigili, the Island of Love. Nasrulla Mohamed serves as the Island Chief – a role exclusive to OBLU SELECT Lobigili. His wife, Priya Dubey is the Front Office Supervisor. Married long before joining the resort’s pre-opening team, they leave no stone unturned in ensuring that guests have a memorable experience with every little detail taken care of.

Nasrulla Mohamed

Tell us a little about yourself, and how you started your career in hospitality.

Nasrulla: I was born in Ha. Dhidhoo, the northernmost atoll in the Maldives and I studied at the HA Atoll Education Centre. My growing-up years were different from the ones kids experience today: we had extra strong cultural influences and a unified community. Everyone was like family.

Upon finishing my education in 2000 and obtaining my London GCE O Levels, I gained valuable experience by working for renowned international hospitality brands. In 2004, I underwent training at the South African Butler Academy, specialising in butler services. Furthermore, I attended a course at the Australian Butler School in 2007 to further refine my skills. As a result of my dedication, I progressed from Junior Butler to Executive Head Butler by 2015.

My journey with AH&R began in 2015 when I joined the pre-opening team at OBLU NATURE Helengeli as an Assistant F&B Manager. Since then, I have worked at OBLU SELECT Sangeli, OZEN LIFE MADHOO, and for over a year I have been serving as the ‘Island Chief’ at OBLU SELECT Lobigili.

What does it mean to you to be an Island Chief?

Nasrulla: For me, it’s pretty simple: this island is my home, and I treat my guests like family. As the Island Chief and Island Couple, I’m all about making sure they have the best possible time here. It’s not just about guests. My team works very hard to make the magic happen, and I’m here to support them every step of the way. Because when we work together like a family, we can do anything.

Is the concept of ‘Island Chief’ connected to Maldivian culture, if yes, how?

Nasrulla: Yes, very much. Hospitality runs deep in our heritage, passed down from our ancestors. In Maldivian culture, the Island Chief is the leader of each island, and a women’s committee is also present to extend hospitality to important visitors, such as government officials and foreign delegates. They arrange warm welcomes, dining experiences, accommodations, and farewell ceremonies with great care.

What does a day at work look like for you?

Nasrulla: My day starts with a morning island round to ensure everything’s set for guests. I then join the operations meeting to address feedback, concerns, and solutions. We review the day’s highlights, including arrivals, events, and important movements. At breakfast, I interact with guests to gauge their satisfaction levels. I randomly inspect villas to prepare for guest arrivals and personally welcome guests, offering assistance throughout their stay. During the day, I assist colleagues in operational areas. In the evening, I check in with guests at the bar and restaurants. Lastly, I review the follow-up lists to ensure all issues are resolved and prepare for the next day.

Could you pick one element of Maldivian culture that you would most enjoy introducing to visitors?

Nasrulla: When it comes to the Maldives, it’s a true paradise of crystal-clear waters, pristine beaches, and azure skies. Personally, I often take pleasure in sharing my country’s stories and history with those who come to visit us.

Priya Dubey

Tell us a little about yourself, and how you started your career in hospitality.

Priya: I grew up in Bhopal, India. After completing my schooling, I pursued a course in Aviation, Hospitality and Travel Management at Frankfinn Training Institute. While I was pursuing my hospitality studies, I landed my first job as a Guest Service Associate at Radisson Blu. Apart from Radisson, I have also worked for ITC Hotels in Chennai before moving to the Maldives for work.

When did you join the AH&R family and what has been the experience so far?

Priya: I joined the pre-opening team of OZEN LIFE MAADHOO in 2016 as an F&B Attendant and worked at different F&B Outlets such as Tradition IndoCeylon and M6m, the underwater restaurant. When OBLU SELECT Sangeli was being launched, I got the opportunity to join the pre-opening team in a leadership capacity, as the F&B Captain at Simply Veg restaurant.

After a year, I was keen to work in the front office, and I got a role as the Guest Service Agent at the Front Office at OZEN LIFE MAADHOO. Working in F&B helped me a lot in handling guest relations, and I found that I have an intuitive knack for keeping guests happy.

Again, when OBLU SELECT Lobigili was being launched, I was able to join the pre-opening team as the Front Office Supervisor. I enjoyed rising to the challenge of setting up a new team.

What does a day at work look like for you?

Priya: The first thing to do in the morning is chart all the movements of the day. Followed by team briefing, attending all the arrivals and departures, and helping my team wherever they require assistance. Also, as the island couple, together with my husband, I meet all our guests to ensure they are having an amazing stay. Before I clock out, I prepare a plan for the next day’s operation.

What has been the highlight of your career to date?

Priya: The highlight of my career within AH&R is that I have been given the opportunity to join three pre-openings within the group which has taught me lots of skills and strengthened me as a person as well.

What motivates you the most?

Priya: It is the culture in AH&R, that we are like a family who takes care of everyone.

What is it like to be the island couple at OBLU SELECT Lobigili?

OBLU SELECT Lobigili is an adult’s exclusive island, and we host a lot of couples. When we introduce ourselves to the guests as the Island Couple, it is a very special feeling. Our guests usually become curious, interested and appreciate that Lobigili Island has everything curated for couples.

What advice would you give to young people looking to work in the industry, especially women? 

It would have been rare to see a woman in a leading role a decade ago, but now women are running five-star properties. I must say the hospitality industry in Maldives offers plenty of opportunities for girls, and as a woman, I am very proud that here at OBLU SELECT Lobigili the majority of our team members are women – who are successfully handling all aspects of operations!

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Prime Surf Season in Maldives: Niyama Welcomes Back Surf Pro Brad Gerlach and Surf Photographer Junior Gracia

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At Niyama Private Islands Maldives, surfing is a way of life. And with peak surf season fast approaching, two renowned surfies – Wave-Ki founder and instructor Brad Gerlach and whiz-behind-the-lens Junior Garcia – are set to take up residence.

Niyama Private Islands Maldives is the ultimate surf destination. Guests can jet in with their boards or get fully outfitted at the Rip Curl boutique, set up camp in one the specially outfitted surf villas, then hit the waves – including Vodi, a powerful and sometimes hollow wave that breaks right on shore. Afterwards, chill time awaits at the Surf Shack with rum and reggae, or at Drift Spa with a recovery back massage and sunburn-soothing aloe vera wrap.

In residence 10 March – 20 April to offer his revolutionary method of coaching is Brad Gerlach, the world’s #2 in 1991 after dominating the leader board for the majority of the year. He is the founder of Wave-Ki, a land-based method to perfect surf skills favoured by pros like Parker Coffin, with a martial art-like focus on slow, precise movements which create kinaesthetic motor memory for improved surfing once in the water.

There to capture guests mid-wave will be photographer Junior Garcia, at the resort 8 March 8 – September 30. Originally from Brazil, and now based in Bali, Junior has spent his life chasing the ultimate wave and the ultimate shot.

“The return of Brad and Junior to Niyama is epically exciting,” says Nathan Kemp, Surf Development Director at the resort. “Their unrivalled talents, combined with the perfect surf conditions and absolutely incomparable backdrop that is the Maldives, guarantees an unforgettable experience for all who will be staying with us during this time”.

While surfing in the Maldives can be enjoyed year-round, peak season runs from March to November. Brad can be booked for private or family coaching, first on land (USD 249) then in the water (USD 447). There will also be regular group land sessions (USD 74). Packages include a year’s access to Wave-Ki online, with video lessons, live sessions and Q&As, plus the option of one-on-one virtual coaching. Sessions with Junior begin at USD 249 per hour, or USD 489 for a week.

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Bunny hop to an Easter playground at Hard Rock Hotel Maldives and SAii Lagoon Maldives, Curio Collection by Hilton

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Easter is the calm before the storm, the perfect time to jet off for a memorable family holiday before the summer rush floods in. Balmy, warm beaches, long spells of sunshine, colourful reef and glimmering lagoons must be on the top of your agendas for this Easter especially with the incredible line up of festivities and events lined up at Hard Rock Hotel Maldives and SAii Lagoon Maldives, Curio Collection by Hilton.

Easter here is a very special holiday filled with energy and enthusiasm for adventure-making for the toddlers, teenagers, adults, or grandparents (or all of them). The secret ingredient to it all is embedded in the brand ethos itself.

Kid-Friendly, Teen Approved, Roxity Kids Club ™ & Teen Spirit ® Club for This Easter

Who says grown-ups get to have all the fun? Kids need a place where they can have an adventure that’s exclusively theirs. Hard Rock Hotel Maldives signature, kid-friendly hangouts are part of an adult-free zone, each with its line up of exciting Easter activities. Start your day with the Bunny Dance Fitness session at the Pool Deck, where you can groove to the rhythm and get energized for the day ahead. As the sun sets, join the Easter Sundown Ritual, a harmonious celebration of the holiday spirit against the perfect tropical sunset backdrop.

Indulge in a Mexican dinner at The Elephant and The Butterfly, accompanied by live band performances that will set the stage on fire. The family favourite Easter Pool Party, is a must try on the list where you can make a splash and enjoy the beats of the Bunny DJ I-MJAN. For the little ones, there is plenty of fun with Roxity Mini Fun Fair, Easter Bunny Cookie Making, and the Roxity Easter Egg Hunting. For the ultimate thrill-seekers, take on the Easter Limbo Challenge at the Pool Deck or try your hand at the Bunny Silk Climbing Aerial Class at The Stage. With live music, delicious dining experiences, and exciting activities for all ages, Easter at Hard Rock Hotel Maldives promises to be an unforgettable melody of fun and excitement.

Koimala & Maalimi’s Junior Beach Club and Camp’s SAiiSational Easter Line-Up

Celebrate Easter with a touch of heartfelt charm at SAii Lagoon Maldives, Curio Collection by Hilton. Start your day with a snorkeling house reef tour, where you can explore the vibrant underwater world of the Maldives. Join Saii Lagoon for Aqua Zumba and Water Polo at the Beach Club Pool, perfect for guests of all ages to enjoy some fun in the sun. Unwind with a cocktail-making competition and pool volleyball, promising exciting prizes for those who participate. For aspiring chefs, the SAii Master Chef Competition sets the perfect stage, where they can showcase their culinary skills and win fantastic rewards.

As the day winds down, indulge in the Easter Dinner Buffet at Tera and Mray, offering a delightful dining experience with live music. With its relaxed atmosphere and genuine hospitality, Easter at SAii Lagoon Maldives promises to be a truly SAiiSational experience, where every moment is a chance to reach out to the blue and embrace the beauty of the island.

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Maldives Association of Tourism Industry (MATI) holds its 34th Annual General Meeting

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The Maldives Association of Tourism Industry (MATI) held its 34th Annual General Meeting at Kurumba Maldives today, with a total of 100 members in attendance. 

The day’s events began with a welcome address from the Chairman of MATI, Mr. Mohamed Umar, who also presided over the session. The agenda included an address from the Secretary General, Mr. Ahmed Nazeer, the review and approval of the minutes of the 33rd AGM, the review and adoption of the Annual Report and Financial Reports for 2023, the approval of the 2024 budget, the appointment of auditors for 2024, the welcoming of new members and election of executive board members to the two vacant positions (by-election).

In the member discussion session, the following topics were covered: the Government’s aim to reach net-zero emissions by 2023 and renewable energy generation in the Tourism Industry, new terminal of Velana International Airport and developments, employment challenges, the Industrial Relations Act and trade unions, environmental conservation and the significance of creating and executing efficient management plans for protected areas like the South Ari Marine Protected Area (SAMPA).

Following the official proceedings, the Minister of Tourism Hon. Ibrahim Faisal and the Minister of Economic Development and Trade Hon. Mohamed Saeed joined the forum. The Ministers provided remarks and engaged in a Member Q&A session. This session provided members with the chance to directly engage with the Ministers and delve into crucial industry topics. The queries focused on the Economic Outlook, forthcoming development plans and  immediate challenges and issues affecting the Tourism Industry.

A video presentation was also showcased that delved into the extensive work undertaken by MATI in 2023. The video also touched upon the Tourism Industry’s performance over the past 5 years, as well as the current and projected human resource capacity of the sector.

In his closing remarks, the Secretary General highlighted the importance of collaborative efforts in addressing industry challenges and called for greater unison amongst industry stakeholders, ending with an acknowledgement of the promising start to the year in terms of arrivals.

Executive Board Members elected to the 2 vacant positions (by-election):

  1. Ibrahim Shareef, CEO and Managing Director of Maldives Airports Company Limited
  2. Renato De Olivera, General Manager of The Ritz-Carlton Maldives, Fari Islands and representative of Marriott International
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