Hozpitality Interview :- With Jason Kruse, GM, Amilla Fushi Maldives about preparing for the new normal
At Amilla Maldives we remain committed to curating a relaxing and highly-personalized holiday experience for you, says Jason
The Maldives, a splendid island with white sands and turquoise water has been a preferred destination for tourists around the globe. Sadly, Maldives closed their borders with the rest of the world due to the unprecedented global pandemic in March. As the economies around the world are re-opening and the Coronavirus cases are going down, the Government of Maldives has announced to open the border for International tourism on July 15, 2020. The country has introduced new guidelines and procedures and has also made it mandatory to book the tourist facility that has obtained, "Safe Tourism License". Earlier, the Government of Maldives announced that travelers can get special tourist visas by committing a minimum of 2 weeks in paradise and the guests will have to present the PCR report or any recent antibodies test at the airport, temperature, and flu symptoms will also be checked at arrival.
However, in the recent report, its no longer valid as the Maldives has lifted all restrictions on tourists entering the Maldives. However, visitors who have a history of contact with someone with a confirmed case of coronavirus, or has had visible symptoms, within the last 14 days are advised not to travel to the country. Tourism represents 70 percent of the business in the Maldives, with this announcement there is a possibility of some enthusiastic summer travelers flocking into the island, who have been anxiously waiting for the paradise to open.
After the announcement, many hotels chose to act immediately and are reopening in July but a few are weighing their options and have pushed the opening date to October. Hozpitality Group spoke to the General Manager of Amilla Fushi Resort and Residences, Jason Kruse. Jason happens to be the longest serving expat General Manager in Maldives. He moved to Fiji after spending a few years in Maldives and the love of the island brought him back to the paradise once again. Jason is now happily working with Amilla Resorts and team work has always been an essential part for him. He likes to hold his people together and empowers them. Jason is a true leader who exceeds the guest expectations. His work ethics has made him a passionate hotelier. " As you pack your bags to get ready for your next Maldivian adventure and we all adjust to new global travel standards and expectations, at Amilla Maldives we remain committed to curating a relaxing and highly-personalized holiday experience for you. When you stay at Your Island Home we'll give you the peace of mind to unwind, knowing you're in a comfortable and safe environment", says Jason. Amilla Fushi resort owns 67 magnificent Villas and residences on the island, 40 of which being over water.
Amilla Fushi is lush, natural, spacious Maldives island with the virgin landscape; nestled in the Baa Atoll UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve, it's locally owned and managed. Amila actively supports local arts, crafts, musicians and promotes local products and suppliers. In the local language, Amilla Fushi means 'your island home' and we strive to offer a highly personalized Maldives holiday experience. Amila Fushi thrives with luxury Maldives pool villas and private residences, an expansive havens of tropical bliss and serenity.
Hozpitality Group: Has your hotel received the "Safe Tourism License", what is the requirement to attain the certificate?
Jason Kruse: We are working towards COVID-19 certification prior to full reopening in October 2020. There has been a comprehensive review of our internal processes with new SOP's formulated and will be combined with training of all staff currently on the island and those returning to work.
Hozpitality Group: Do you expect to see the repeated guests or new crowd as the hotel reopens? Are you expecting more of couples or families during the summer?
Jason Kruse: We are pleasantly surprised to see the level of repeater guest inquiries, particularly for our multi-bedroom residences. This is for European Summer and winter holidays. Demand over the festive season is good and again, particularly for the Amilla Residences. We anticipate our guest profile in the short term to be high net worth individuals, looking for personalized experiences.
Hozpitality Group: What are your target markets, Asia, Middle East, Europe, or North America?
Jason Kruse: This will greatly depend on airlines and governments. We are looking for target markets with flight access and a safe travel window where they are not expected to quarantine upon their arrival home. Our focus will be gusts from the Middle East, Europe, and Russia to begin with.
Hozpitality Group: How do you plan the retain the staff post-pandemic? Do you have enough staffing to sail the summer or you would have to rehire? How do you ensure good health for staff?
Jason Kruse: We are looking at optimizing our manning levels as we do not anticipate a return to prior occupancy in the short to medium future. We have maintained a high level of communication with our team which we hope to assist us when we are looking for staff to return. Our staffing levels are sufficient for our projected reopening occupancies and we will only be looking to hire in a couple of key roles. We are planning to provide PCR testing for our staff and guests, once upon arrival and again after three days have passed. We are completing comprehensive training for our team in hygiene practices and have new guidelines and checklists that will be completed by dedicated hygiene officers.
Hozpitality Group: How do you define the new normal for your hotel? What are the new norms post-pandemic?
Jason Kruse: Whilst we are working on new strategies to enhance our hygiene, we truly believe that our guests would like to escape to constant worry and stress of COVID-19 that is present in larger cities. Maldives Resorts are blessed with the one island - one resort model, with most islands offering detached accommodation. At Amilla, we are even luckier as we have one of the more spacious islands in Baa Atoll with only 67 Villas and residences on the island, 40 of which being over water. Hence, we can naturally offer social distancing and space, which is the new luxury of our time.
Our new normal will see enhanced hygiene practices alongside PCR testing for all guests and staff. With this, we will be able to offer an experience for our guests which is closer to the old normal in terms of the freedom to move around the island, the ability to engage with our team and to experience all the services and amenities our guests would expect to have on a luxury island resort.
Non Promotional interview by Vandana Raj Bhatt