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Do It From the Heart, If You Are True You Can Do Anything: Mark Hehir



Maldives Promotion House – Mark Hehir was born and raised in Australia, studied and worked as a chef for a number of years in Australia and around the world. Mark has served the Royals in Britain to working in top hotels. Though, Mark was never the average chef, as his ideals to go further and in time contribute to the development of the world tourism industry, drove him to achieve his goals. Mark’s career span of 29 years in the industry has seen him work all over the world with various companies and numerous positions. Today he is content and ready, to start aiming higher than he ever dreamed.

Mark came to the Maldives by chance; after working for a year at Hilton Colombo and in 1997 his company offered him to come to the Maldives to join the pre-opening team of Hilton Maldives Rangali Island (now re-branded as Conrad Maldives Rangali Island). Then, he had no clue as to where and what the Maldives had to offer. Blindly, he agreed to join Rangali Island as the Executive Chef for a three month period, which was extended to three years. From Rangali, he moved to work at Hilton Tokyo and Hilton Kuala Lampur. After four years he came back to Huvafen Fushi as the Area General Manager. From there he joined Anantara to open two resorts in Bali and Thailand. For the third time he got the chance to return to Maldives where he calls second home; as the General Manager of One&Only Reethi Rah.

To describe Mark as just a chef or general manager will not do justice to him. His creative intuition is always what keeps sets him apart from the rest. As the general manager at Reethi Rah, he has implemented various projects, concepts and ideas that are original as well as successful. At Reethi Rah, some of the more notable contributions by Mark would be the Chef garden restaurant, where the menu is designed to cater produce grown within the resort. Another would be the beach club, where guests can lay in the sun or be active with snorkeling or swimming and be served their favorite drinks right on the beach while a D.J plays the latest tunes. Marks contributions to the Maldivian tourism industry can be seen within the various resorts he has worked with.

Mark firmly believes that one should always be ready to get their hands dirty to do the job. His kind mannerism might be one reason why loyal staff follows him from one resort to the other. The soft spoken general manager of Reethi Rah inspires his staff with not only words but with action. Mark believes that with hard work and determination anyone can achieve their goals. Managing about 700 staff at Reethi Rah, it is no easy job to be the general manager and still have time to contribute to the society. Another ingenious idea of Mark is the apprentice program that Reethi Rah offers for about 20 young persons each year. The general manager is also going to be participating at the New York marathon in November 2012 to raise sponsors and funds for the young children at the Kuda Kudhinge Hiyaa children’s center in Villingili ward. He sets an example of physical maintenance of the body by training for the marathon and also offers staff and guests to join him for the training. Mark has the natural attributes of a true leader who leads by example. His marathon addiction began 2 years ago when he worked at Phuket, Thailand. Now he wishes to inspire more corporates and individuals to join him by running for a cause and raising funds and giving back to the communities and promoting Maldives at the international arena.

As a veteran within the tourism industry and as someone who has worked all over the world, Mark highlights that one global issue is the disposal of garbage. Refuse is not an easy thing to dispose but it is more evident, he says, in Maldives as our islands are smaller. He believes that it is an issue that can be solved with common thinking and working together. Mark does explain that political stability is needed to assure some tourists who have concerns to holiday in a country with instability. As identified by Mark, we should not be too hasty to implement new radical economic policies but be patient and carry it out with clear direction and across the board support. Mark believes that the future of energy production is green, hence at Reethi Rah they are now looking at the possibilities of installing solar energy and other renewable energy methods. The most important aspect to the tourism industry that he himself is now addressing via the Reethi Rah apprentice program is the development of local young workers. He assures that if we invest in the young and direct and guide them, we can produce quality staff to the needed requirements, within the tourism industry.

Mark does agree that at times he does miss cooking and being a chef. As a chef he was able to be more creative and directly in touch with creating. Now on Thursdays Mark does cook for the guests as a special dinner night. Mark has two loves in his life outside his work; his wife and his faithful dog, “Prada” who resides in Thailand. Mark is a chef who had the opportunity to be a general manager and now a leader within the Asian tourism industry.

Simply looking at where Mark Hehir came from and where he is now, is inspiring enough. The 29 year veteran of the tourism industry says that if you have a goal, work hard towards it, be focused and dedicated then there is no way you can fail. You do need to be strong in feet and head and be disciplined to maintain yourself if you wish to make your dreams a reality. We leave the readers with an inspirational line from Mark Hehir: “Do it from the heart, don’t fake it, if you fake it you will fall down but if you’re true you can do anything”.

Further reading: Mark Hehir is running at New York City marathon 2012 to raise funds for Kuda Kudhinge Hiyaa, a home for under-privileged children. (

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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