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Local stories: Zakwan Ahmed, Assistant Director of Sales & Contracting for THE OZEN COLLECTION



Zakwan Ahmed is the Assistant Director Of Sales & Contracting at THE OZEN COLLECTION, a brand by the hospitality company Atmosphere Core. He has achieved remarkable career growth in the Maldives’ hospitality industry through unwavering dedication and perseverance. In this interview, Zakwan (Zack) shares his journey in the hospitality industry and his approach to sales and contracting.

Can you tell us a bit about yourself and your journey in the tourism industry?

I began my professional journey in the tourism industry as a waiter, but my ambition pushed me to transition into the sales field. In 2017, I successfully landed a role as a Sales Coordinator, and through perseverance and dedication, I gradually advanced to the position of Assistant Sales Manager. I joined THE OZEN COLLECTION when the brand was introduced in 2020, comprising two resorts: OZEN RESERVE BOLIFUSHI and OZEN LIFE MAADHOO. Since then, I have continued to progress within the company and currently hold the position of Assistant Director for Sales & Contracting.

What do you think it takes to succeed in the field of sales?

I am a testament to how internal opportunities can shape a career, and my dedication to the field of sales has been key to my success. Passion and love for the field of sales are essential for success. Combined with effective communication, resilience, product knowledge, adaptability, and a growth mindset, they form the foundation for a thriving sales career. It not only works in the sales field. I would say in any field, if you love the work, you grow even faster.

What does your role as Assistant Director of Sales and Contracting entail?

As Assistant Director of Sales and Contracting, my responsibilities include overseeing sales operations, managing relationships with key partners and travel agencies, negotiating contracts, and collaborating with various teams to ensure successful sales outcomes. I work closely with the sales team to develop strategies and achieve sales targets. Additionally, I frequently act as a brand representative at industry events, trade shows, and sales missions.

Can you tell us what is unique about THE OZEN COLLECTION resorts?

I would say, personalised attention to detail and harmonious indulgence. The resort’s exclusive holiday plans encompass all that guests need for a memorable holiday. From rejuvenating spa treatments and exhilarating water sports to cultural experiences and excursions, there is something for everyone to enjoy. The resorts also boast breathtakingly beautiful locations, with pristine beaches, crystal-clear waters, and stunning coral reefs.

How has your career in sales allowed you to fulfil your dreams?

Working in sales has been a dream come true for me, especially because it has allowed me to travel the world for work. This field has opened doors for personal and professional growth, and I couldn’t be happier with the path I’ve taken. My very first business trip was to OTM Mumbai in 2019 and ITB Berlin in 2019. Since then, I have represented THE OZEN COLLECTION at various sales events including Loop events in Tirol, Hungary, UNIQUE Event in Neuschwanstein, SOUL Berlin, ILTM Cannes, and a 3-week Europe Roadshow. Connecting with partners in their home base makes it easier to understand the nuances of the market, leading to more effective sales strategies. At the same time, it gives me a chance to immerse in a new culture.

What advice would you give to someone who is just starting their career in the hospitality industry?

Working in the hospitality industry may not be a smooth journey, but it is worth it. Venturing into unfamiliar territory can be daunting, as it requires stepping out of one’s comfort zone. However, when you look back after about a year, you will see what kind of a person you have become and you will be proud of yourself. I would just say don’t give up, work hard, and the final result will be very sweet.

Atmosphere Core, representing Atmosphere Core Private Limited, offers world-class hospitality inspired by the ‘Joy Of Giving’ philosophy. Atmosphere Core operates eight resorts in the Maldives within a powerful brand portfolio comprising THE OZEN COLLECTION, Atmosphere Hotels & Resorts, and COLOURS OF OBLU.

The company is poised for strong growth in South Asia, with three THE OZEN COLLECTION properties in the pipeline. OZEN MANSION KOLKATA opening in Q1 2024 in India, OZEN PRIVÉ ATHIRI GILI set for Q4 2024 in the Maldives, and OZEN SECLUDED TANGALLE in Sri Lanka.


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.

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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.

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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

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