Le Méridien Maldives Resort & Spa is a luxurious haven for travellers seeking an unforgettable experience. At the helm of this paradise is Nafiu Ahmed, the Assistant Director of Rooms, whose journey in the hospitality industry is nothing short of inspiring. In this exclusive interview, Nafiu shares his career progression, what motivates him, and his message to young Maldivians who wish to pursue a career in tourism and hospitality.
Nafiu’s career began in 2009 as a Front Office Agent at Rihiveli Beach Resort (now Rihiveli Maldives Resort). He recalls, “I was always fascinated by the idea of working in a beautiful environment and meeting people from different cultures. My first job at Rihiveli Beach Resort was the perfect opportunity to turn my passion into a profession.” After a brief stint at Rihiveli, Nafiu joined Sheraton Maldives Full Moon Resort & Spa in November 2009 as a Guest Service Duty Manager. Over the years, he climbed the ranks, becoming the Assistant Guest Services Manager in October 2016 and eventually the Front Office Manager in December 2018.
In May 2021, Nafiu took on the role of Front Office Manager at Le Méridien Maldives Resort & Spa, where he continued to excel. In March 2023, he was promoted to Assistant Director of Rooms, a testament to his dedication and hard work. “I believe that success in the hospitality industry comes from a combination of passion, perseverance, and a willingness to learn. I’ve always been eager to take on new challenges and grow both personally and professionally,” Nafiu shares.
When asked about his motivation, Nafiu explains, “What drives me is the opportunity to create memorable experiences for our guests. I take great pride in ensuring that every guest leaves our resort with a smile on their face and a desire to return.” He adds, “I also find motivation in mentoring and developing the talents of my team members. Watching them grow and succeed in their careers is incredibly rewarding.”
Nafiu’s journey is an inspiration to young Maldivians who aspire to join the tourism and hospitality sector. He offers valuable advice, saying, “The hospitality industry is a dynamic and exciting field with endless opportunities for growth. My message to young Maldivians is to be passionate about what you do, be open to learning, and never be afraid to take on new challenges.”
He continues, “It’s essential to understand that success doesn’t happen overnight. It takes time, dedication, and a strong work ethic. Embrace every opportunity to learn and grow, and always strive for excellence in everything you do.” Nafiu also emphasises the importance of networking and building strong relationships within the industry. “Networking is crucial in the hospitality sector. It opens doors to new opportunities and helps you stay informed about the latest trends and developments.”
As the Maldivian tourism and hospitality industry continues to thrive, Nafiu believes that young Maldivians have a unique advantage. “Maldivians have a deep understanding of our culture, traditions, and the natural beauty of our islands. This knowledge, combined with a passion for hospitality, can help create truly exceptional experiences for our guests,” he says.
Nafiu’s dedication to his craft is evident in his meticulous attention to detail and commitment to providing exceptional guest experiences. As the newly minted Assistant Director of Rooms, he is responsible for managing the resort’s reputation by ensuring exception guest experiences, ensuring that all aspects of guest rooms are consistent with the brand’s values and ethos. “I work closely with my team to ensure that our guests receive a consistent and memorable experience that aligns with the Le Méridien brand,” he explains.
In an ever-changing industry, Nafiu highlights the importance of adaptability. “The hospitality sector is constantly evolving, and it’s crucial to stay ahead of the curve. I’m always looking for ways to improve our services and adapt to new trends and challenges,” he says.
Nafiu Ahmed’s journey in the Maldivian hospitality industry is a shining example of passion, dedication, and hard work. His story serves as a powerful reminder that with the right mindset and determination, young Maldivians can achieve great success in the tourism and hospitality sector. As Nafiu puts it, “The sky’s the limit. Believe in yourself, and you can achieve anything you set your mind to.”
Vakkaru Maldives welcomes Sampath Hewawala as New Head Sommelier
Vakkaru Maldives has announced the appointment of Sampath Widana Hewawala (Sam) as the resort’s new Head Sommelier.
Sam’s appointment promises a new level of unparalleled wine experiences at Vakkaru, where he will oversee the award-winning Vakkaru Reserve wine cellar as well as orchestrate wine programmes across the resort’s six restaurants and bars. Moreover, Sam is set to elevate the team’s expertise through innovative wine educational programs.
With over a decade of experience as Head Sommelier at some of the most prestigious resorts, including One&Only Reethi Rah and Desert Islands Resort & Spa by Anantara, Sam is the epitome of excellence in his field. Holding certifications such as WSET Advanced Level 3, Court of Master Sommelier Level 1, and B & G Château Wine Certification, he brings a wealth of knowledge to the resort’s ever-evolving wine culture.
Speaking about his appointment, Sam said, “I am thrilled to join the team at Vakkaru Maldives. My mission is to create a top-tier wine philosophy that aligns with Vakkaru’s distinctive brand identity. With Vakkaru Reserve’s expansive wine portfolio, I believe our collection opens up opportunities for an innovative, immersive and high-class experience that will make Vakkaru stand out in this highly competitive industry.”
Besides hosting a regular wine tasting and wine degustation dinner at Vakkaru Reserve, Sam also introduces a new event, the Sunset Sandbank Wine Tasting, an unforgettable sensory experience in an idyllic setting of the natural sandbank. Just a mere boat ride from the resort, the pure-white sandbank located within Vakkaru’s lagoon will transform into a wine lover’s paradise. Here, Sam will curate a selection of fine wines from the Old and New Worlds, accompanied by an array of delectable cheeses and charcuterie, promising an extraordinary journey of taste and luxury at Vakkaru Maldives.
Learn from the best at Soneva with rare experiences by Daniil Medvedev and Sir Robin Knox-Johnston
The legendary British sailor and international tennis icon are both set to host exclusive coaching sessions in the Maldives this November
As part of Soneva’s upcoming Winter Collection in the Maldives, tennis icon Daniil Medvedev and renowned British sailor Sir Robin Knox-Johnston will be visiting Soneva Fushi, the award-winning barefoot luxury resort in the Maldives’ Baa Atoll UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, to host a series of exclusive guest experiences.
From November 22 to December 1, 2023, Sonevians of all ages at can take part in one-on-one coaching sessions and friendly matches with Daniil at the resort’s openair or covered Olympic-sized tennis courts. Currently ranked world No. 3, the 27-yearold Russian player and former world No. 1 made history in 2022 by becoming the first player outside of the ‘Big Four’ to claim the top spot in over 18 years. This year alone, Daniil has already won the Rotterdam Open, Qatar Open, Dubai Tennis Championships, Miami Open as well as the Italian Open, which is regarded as one of the world’s most prestigious clay tennis tournaments, and reached the semi-finals of Wimbledon.
To continue this stellar line up, from November 23 to December 1, 2023, guests at Soneva Fushi will also be able to join celebrated British sailor Sir Robin Knox-Johnston to hear thrilling tales from his voyages and take part in one-of-a-kind sailing lessons aboard the luxury 23-metre Soneva in Aqua, exploring the waters of the Indian Ocean like never before. Sir Robin is renowned for taking on the legendary Sunday Times Golden Globe race and becoming the first man to sail non-stop solo around the world by finishing on April 22, 1969, after 312 days at sea. In 1994, he won the Jules Verne trophy, alongside Peter Blake, for the fastest non-stop circumnavigation of the world in just 75 days. Knighted in 1995, he went on to create the Clipper Around the World Yacht Race a year later, offering amateur sailors the chance to experience the thrill of ocean racing. He also became the oldest yachtsman to complete a round-the-world solo voyage in the Velux 5 Oceans at the age of 68.
Sir Robin first sailed onboard Soneva in Aqua in 2017, experiencing Soneva’s signature hospitality combined with the freedom of a private charter first-hand. Setting sail from Soneva Fushi in the Maldives, the luxury two-bedroom yacht is available for bespoke voyages that range from serene day trips to longer, liveaboard adventures complete with an experienced crew that includes a dedicated Barefoot Guardian for 24/7 butler service, a private chef and wellness therapist.
These are just two of the many rare experiences on offer as part of the ever-evolving Soneva Stars calendar, which features culinary pop-ups by Michelin-starred chefs, coaching with sporting legends, wellness journeys by acclaimed therapists, and much more.
Marriott International names Jan Wagelaar Market Director for Revenue Strategy in the Maldives
Marriott International has announced the appointment of Jan Wagelaar as the Market Director, Revenue Strategy for its portfolio of resorts in the Maldives. With an impressive industry experience spanning over 15 years, Jan’s journey with Marriott International began in 2007 as an Inventory Manager with Marriott’s London hotels. His dedication and exceptional performance led to multiple internal promotions, and in 2014, he moved to Dubai to spearhead revenue strategy and analysis for 9 hotels, showcasing his versatility and expertise.
Most recently, Jan served as the Director of Revenue Strategy for The Ritz-Carlton, Millenia Singapore where his strategic acumen helped to consistently deliver outstanding business results across all key performance indicators (KPIs). His accomplishments were recognized with the prestigious APEC Revenue Strategy Leader of the Year for Luxury hotels award, which he won twice in 2018 and 2022.
Jan’s appointment as the Market Director, Revenue Strategy for the Maldives follows the successful tenure of Frank Ehret, who held the position for four years before moving for an internal promotion. Commenting on his appointment, Jan expressed his enthusiasm, stating, “I’m thrilled to begin my new role working along the talented sales, marketing & revenue teams for the Maldives. With seven stunning resorts in the island nation, each with its unique offerings, I am excited to collaborate with the resort teams on revenue strategies to continue driving exceptional results in the Maldives.”
Outside of his professional endeavors, Jan indulges in his passion for travel, exploring new culinary experiences at restaurants and bars. Additionally, he is an avid cyclist and takes an interest in collecting sneakers.
Marriott Bonvoy’s portfolio of resorts in the Maldives comprises of The Ritz-Carlton Maldives, Fari Islands, The St. Regis Maldives Vommuli Resort, JW Marriott Maldives Resort & Spa, W Maldives, Le Meridien Maldives Resort & Spa, Sheraton Maldives Full Moon Resort & Spa, and The Westin Maldives Miriandhoo Resort each located on their own private island and offering the ultimate dream getaway. For further information, visit www.MarriottBonvoy.com/Maldives
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