Choose a work that you truly enjoy: Dominik Ruhl

Maldives Promotion House – Dominik Ruhl’s hotel career started about two decades ago in Germany with further studies in the Unites States. From young on he wanted to find a work that would allow him to explore different places in the world. Little did he know back then where his career path would take him. Quickly he learned that this was a work that changes constantly and provides both new challenges and opportunities every single day.

He has often decided his work places based on the location rather than purely based on a career path. He believes one must be completely satisfied in what he/she does to truly excel. With this in mind he followed the advice of a colleague (with whom he worked in Mexico) to ‘try the Maldives for a year’ as he was told it provided not only exotic hotels but also great diving and windsurfing. Dominik first came to Maldives in the year 2000 as the Rooms Division Manager to work at Rangali Island for a year and one year became two, then 5 years and…. he is still here in Maldives after 12 years. Over the years he has been managing different properties and was lucky enough to work with some amazing people and island owners that provided him with opportunities to use his creativity and energy in implementing his visions and ideas. He believes that he would not be where he is today without the trust that those people have given him, for which he is very grateful. He had visited ‘Ari Beach/White Sands’ resort often in the past and always thought that this was an amazing island with much potential, so it was an easy decision to accept, when he was offered the opportunity to join the LUX* family as the General Manager.

What do you know about Maldives before you arrived? And what were your impressions when you arrived?
I knew very little about the Maldives prior to my arrival, but I knew that this was the perfect place for me the moment I stepped out of the plane. Of course the sheer beauty of the islands, the constant warm weather are things that bring tourists here, but I quickly learned that this is a place where I was made feel at home and was surrounded by people that were genuinely eager to impress every visitor with their hospitality, which is the secret of the success of this country when it comes to hospitality!

You have spent over 10 years in Maldives. How do you enjoy island life and what keeps you motivated?
One must choose a work that they truly enjoy and if you find this work, it is easy to remain motivated. Luckily I have found just that and being able to help our guests spend an unforgettable time with us is something very rewarding indeed. What motivates me also is to see that this is a career where we can see people develop from a waiter or villa attendant to very senior management positions without any (or limited) formal education but purely due to sheer determination, energy and hard work. Seeing colleagues grow in such a way is very rewarding and knowing that I am able to play a small part in their developments is very special indeed. At LUX* Maldives we have several Maldivians in senior management posts that should serve as an example to every young hotelier. Of course there is another side to my motivation: I have always loved island life, even when I worked in other island destinations before. I think one must appreciate the many things that the Maldives have to offer and take advantage of these. A few hours kite surfing or an afternoon diving are just some of the ways that remind me every day how lucky we all are to be living in such an amazing place.

Tell us what you feel is the most distinctive or unique feature of your resort?
LUX* Maldives is one of the larger islands and gives people a wide choice of things to do. For our island, of course the physical beauty and the lagoon are amazing, but perhaps even more so the authenticity of our team. All guests rave about the friendly team and the genuine service that is being provided. Some people have the preconception that a week in the Maldives could be boring with not much to do. While I always encourage our guests to ‘explore the many different ways of doing nothing’ we also understand that some guests want to be active and eat well. A wide range of activities in the water and on land keep everyone busy during the day while a choice of 7 restaurants and 6 bars ensures that even guest staying for longer periods will have a new choice every day. Visitors to Indian Ocean islands are always interested to learn more about the local culture and customs, including the flavors of the local islands nearby our resort. Island Kitchen is our way of bringing these exciting taste sensations into our resort once a week. Our chefs showcase food stalls and researched Maldivian cuisine and cooking methods to produce many different local dishes which can be found outside the resorts accompanied by traditional entertainment of ‘Bodu Beru’ the local drums, together with the traditional songs and dances

If you were considering staying at the resort as a guest, what would you want to know about the resort before checking in?
What I would want to know about the island is the fact that it is situated directly at the only reef on the planet (known so far) where guests can snorkel and dive with the amazing Whale Sharks. Maybe I am biased as I am a passionate free diver myself and cannot see enough of these amazing animals, but every guest is totally in awe when meeting these gentle giants. Of course the frequent Manta Rays that visit our lagoon also provide a nice change of the usual little fish one can see during the usual snorkel trips.

What are your hotel guests?
Our guests come from all parts of the planet. While we have the majority of our visitors coming from Europe, new markets such as China, Korea, Brazil and United States are now more frequently seen on our island. Of course honeymooners are very often seen, but we also welcome families with children of all ages as our island is big enough to provide enough attractions for our little guests and an amazing kids club will ensure that the parents can have some time to themselves while the kids are well taken care of. And of course we have our loyal divers that come year after year due to the amazing underwater world in South Ari Atoll.

What are the main challenges?
The main challenges change every single day. Just maintaining an island resort provides constant challenges that make every work day different from the past. We try very hard to promote environmental awareness and get our guests to participate in key actions. As all other resorts in Maldives, we rely entirely on diesel generators to provide energy and hence must be careful in conserving energy through proactive measures. Water recycling, heat recovery generation, solar initiatives and many other activities are implemented in an effort to reduce the dependency on regular fuel.

Your resort was re-branded recently, how effective is it?
Not just our resort was rebranded, but the entire company. Having managed 9 properties under individual names provided many challenges in creating brand awareness. Now all properties operate under the LUX* Resorts umbrella and this has already provided many advantages. Guests now choose our resorts due to past experiences in sister properties and of course PR and marketing has become much more effective for all our resorts. However the rebranding had another purpose as we entirely revamped how we manage our resorts. We now provide many new and not-before-seen initiatives, services and gimmicks that surprise our guests throughout their stay. Some of these are free phone calls around the world (yes free, no strings attached), coffee roasted directly on the island, hidden bottles with messages or gifts for guests to find, ice cream trolleys roaming the island, herb gardens, where guests
can assist in making their own meals and a completely new look at wellbeing and fitness. These are just very few of the 50 reasons why guests should come and visit us in our resorts. To find out many more of the reasons, just have a look at our website.

Over the years due to world economy main markets are changing, how are you adapting to this?
In today’s world, one must be ready to adapt to new trends. Europe is clearly struggling and we must be ready to welcome other markets. We have been very proactive in marketing our resorts in Asia and hence managed to welcome guests from all parts of the planet. Also the new concept has provided us new clients that would previously not have looked at our resorts. Today, guests want an experience and not just another hotel stay. We must be ready to surpass all expectations as today, each and every guest automatically becomes a sales person or ambassador. Facebook, Twitter, Tripadvisor and many other web portals made sure that we cannot allow any guest to leave the property unhappy and I am glad to see that our online ratings have increased tremendously in the recent past.

What is the hardest part about being Hotel Manager? If you could change one thing about the hotel, what would that be?
There are many hard things about being a hotel manager, or being in this industry as a whole. We work when others celebrate special holidays, we are away from family and friends and for many of us we work in foreign countries. However one must always measure the positives and negatives and in my opinion having the opportunity to work in this business overweighs the few drawbacks by miles.

Other than your own, can you share your choices of two or three of what you consider to be the greatest hotels in the world and Maldives? And why you think they are special?
You have no idea how often I am being asked about the best hotel in the Maldives. In my opinion there are no such things. Some may be more luxurious than others, but may not have the Maldivian charm or may not provide the same ambiance. Some have amazing Spas, others the best reefs, yet others provide more sport activities. The perfect island is a different one for each visitor. Luckily the internet provides many ways to search for one’s very own piece of paradise.

Anything else you would like our readers to know about LUX* Maldives? Can you give some interesting trivia about the island?
As previously mentioned LUX* Maldives is one of the bigger islands. Here is your trivia: if you add the two water villa jetties on each side of the island, the walk from one end to the other is longer than to walk from one end to the other of the capital island Male. However we ensure that during that walk our guests can encounter many little surprises to entertain them on the way!

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