Singapore Airlines’ A350-900 Medium Haul Aircraft on its maiden voyage to Colombo

1 Oct

Singapore International Airlines (SIA) will introduce the new Airbus A350-900 medium haul aircraft to Colombo on the 1st of October 2019.

The new medium-haul Business Class seats have been manufactured by Stelia Aerospace. Features of the aircraft are built to enhance the overall in-flight experience by optimising comfort and reducing jetlag, providing better entertainment and personalisation.

The A350-900 medium haul aircrafts are also fitted with the latest Thales AVANT in-flight entertainment system – a first in SIA’s fleet. Passengers onboard will have the pleasure of enjoying Singapore Airlines’ specialised myKrisWorld platform and its selection of more than 1,800 movies, TV shows, audio programmes and games with even greater flexibility. Personalised content recommendations will be based on passenger preferences and viewing history. KrisFlyer members and Business Class customers will also have access to additional in-flight entertainment content choices.  In addition, customers will have access to high-speed in-flight WiFi service on the new A350-900, equipped with Inmarsat GX Aviation’s broadband connectivity system offered through SITAONAIR.

Commenting about this feat, Mr. Hu Hongyao, General Manager of Singapore Airlines Sri Lanka added “Singapore Airlines will celebrate its 50th year in Sri Lanka in 2020. As part of the lead up to our Golden Jubilee celebrations, we are pleased to introduce the A350 Medium Haul aircraft on the Colombo-Singapore route. Singapore Airlines is confident of the country’s recovery in the immediate future and we look forward to be a part of the Sri Lanka success story in the many years to come.”

It is a fitting tribute to the fleet’s loyal passengers to and from Colombo where SIA has maintained a strong relationship for almost half a century, through Aitken Spence Aviation.

“We are extremely delighted to introduce the A350-900 medium haul to Colombo. Customer experience is priority to us; this is articulated strongly in our values as quality and reliability are hallmarks of the SIA service. Our unbroken partnership with Singapore Airlines, spanning over four decades as the longest serving General Sales Agent in the SIA network, reflects the trust and confidence one of the best airlines in the world has placed in our country. We take pride in this and we will continue to set higher benchmarks in the industry,” commented Mr. Vasantha Kudaliyanage, Managing Director of the General Sales Agency for Singapore Airlines.

SQ 468 will take its maiden voyage to Colombo from Singapore Changi Airport at 2200hrs local time on 01 October 2019 and arrive in Colombo at 2335 hrs local time. The return flight, SQ469, will depart from Colombo at 0050 hrs local time and arrive in Singapore at 0720 hrs local time on 02 October 2019.

 

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Aitken Spence and its Chairman receive awards at the Most Admired Companies and Leaders of Sri Lanka 2019

30 Sep

Aitken Spence PLC was ranked among the Top 10 Most Admired Companies of Sri Lanka 2019 for the second consecutive year by International Chamber of Commerce, Sri Lanka (ICCSL) and The Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA) Sri Lanka.

The Most Admired Companies of Sri Lanka 2019 awards was held on the 25th of September 2019 at BMICH to celebrate the best in Sri Lankan business. The Chief Guest, Honourable Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe was present at the event. This award recognises organisations that promote the best sustainable practices and have the highest standards of ethics and governance. Moreover, it distinguishes companies that have built strong reputations and drive prosperity in Sri Lanka through the creation of long-term value.

In addition to recognising the Most Admired Companies of Sri Lanka 2019, the Most Admired Leaders of Sri Lanka 2019 were acknowledged at this award ceremony. A special award under the category of ‘Business Accomplishments – Entrepreneurship’ was presented to Deshamanya D.H.S. Jayawardena to pay tribute to a business leader in Sri Lanka for unparalleled success over many years. Mr. Jayawardena is the Chairman of Aitken Spence PLC, the founding director and current Chairman/Managing Director of Stassen Group and other notable business entities in the country. His inspirational leadership has been the underpinning of the noteworthy milestones that the Company has achieved. Furthermore, his entrepreneurial spirit, business acumen, foresight has fueled a capable team at Aitken Spence that are passionate, and purpose driven to reach excellence in every sphere of their work. Ms. Stasshani Jayawardena, Director of Aitken Spence PLC, collected the award on his behalf.

“Aitken Spence has always been a cut above the rest in terms of financial performance and value creation for shareholders, customers, employees and the general community while protecting the environment that sustains us. This award is a further testimony that as a responsible organisation, we create positive impact for all our stakeholders and we have and always will be committed to the development of our nation,” commented Dr. Parakrama Dissanayake, Deputy Chairman and Managing Director of Aitken Spence PLC.

“This is the second consecutive year to have been selected amongst the 10 most admired companies in Sri Lanka. With over 150 years of business experience in not just Sri Lanka but also internationally, we will continue to raise the benchmarks to excel through sustainable value creation. I wholeheartedly thank the organisers ICC Sri Lanka and CIMA Sri Lanka, and all our stakeholders that have contributed to this end,” he added further.

Listed in the Colombo Stock Exchange since 1983 and marking its 150th year milestone in 2018, Aitken Spence is a blue-chip conglomerate with a strong regional presence in the Hotels, Travels, Maritime Services, Logistic Solutions, Plantations, Power Generation, Financial Outsourcing, Insurance, IT, Printing and Apparel sectors. The Company is empowered by a team of over 14,000 individuals, with a geographical presence in 8 countries and growing, creating opportunities for Sri Lanka across new frontiers.

Aitken Spence Hotels introduces LEED certified architecture to Maldives with Heritance Aarah

26 Sep

Aitken Spence Hotels, a subsidiary of Sri Lankan blue-chip conglomerate Aitken Spence PLC, took its premier brand Heritance beyond the shores of Sri Lanka for the first time, with the introduction of Heritance Aarah earlier this year.

Heritance Aarah embraces the brand promise of the Heritance chain of hotels, where tradition is alive.  The property is nestled in an island in Raa Atoll, just a 40-minute seaplane ride away from the Male International Airport. With five successful Heritance properties in Sri Lanka, each boasting of inimitable stories of culture merging with hospitality and comfort, the move to open this latest resort comes with the expansion plans of Aitken Spence Hotels.

Coincidentally, Aitken Spence Hotels was also the first Sri Lankan resort operator to venture overseas for hospitality services with its entrance to the Maldives with the Adaaran hotel chain. The well-established Adaaran Resorts includes the stunning Adaaran Prestige Vadoo, Adaaran Select Meedhupparu, Adaaran Club Rannalhi and Adaaran Select Hudhuranfushi. Heritance Aarah joins this élite group of properties with a unique proposition of quintessentially traditional, curated experiences delicately woven into a five-star luxury resort.

Akin to the Heritance properties in Sri Lanka, each strategically designed in exciting locations, the island of Aarah on which the resort lies is home to a large lagoon and reef, welcoming guests to a tropical tapestry of the perpetual paradise that is Maldives.

Operating as a premier all-inclusive resort, Heritance Aarah consists of 150 villas including 26 intimate luxury duplex ocean suites, 56 sunset ocean villas and 68 land villas ranging from beach villas to pool beach villas, family beach villas and family pool beach villas. Designed to inspire and custom-built to immerse guests in the scenic sights and soothing sounds of the ocean surrounding the island, Heritance Aarah is adorned with earthly hues and vibrant blues.

Guests can indulge in the many charms of the island at a poolside bar and an open-air rooftop venue while ocean suite guests can enjoy a more exclusive space with three separate bars. With nine outlets for guests to experience diverse cuisines, the culinary culture unfolded at the resort is intended to promote exclusive gastronomic delights from around the world. The six restaurants offer a wide range of flavours from Asia, Europe, Middle East to Latin America. The award-winning F&B team of Heritance Aarah has illustrated their exceptional culinary skills clinching 19 Golds at the Food and Hospitality Asia Maldives (FHAM) 2019 competition, the highest number won by an individual property.

Accentuating this impressive offering are the the overwater infinity pool and the medi-spa equipped to cater to the rising demand in the wellness segment with state-of-the-art treatments and equipment. The spa, with six treatment rooms set over the lagoon with views of the eastern coast of the island, provides a range of high-end wellness and pampering treatments, salon services, beauty treatments and programmes. From weight loss to anti-aging treatments, massage therapy to body care, facial care to revitalisation programmes, Heritance Aarah is set to become a destination for those pursuing wellness combined with leisure and luxury.

With variety being the spice of life, the resort hosts a dive and water sports centre, a range of excursions and adventures, an interactive and engaging kids club, and traditional local activities to present a unique luxury holiday experience to guests. Keeping with the brand promise of Heritance to promote culture and tradition at the forefront, the resort unveiled an exciting calendar of daily activities including coconut leaf art workshops, cookery demonstrations for traditional sweets and dishes, traditional Maldivian bodu beru drumming and a memorable local island dinner.

The resort also follows the ingrained ethos of sustainability and ethical commitments of the Aitken Spence Hotels group. Heritance Aarah has drawn the best practices from the Group and has successfully implemented many an initiative which includes (but not limited to) reduction of single use plastic, coral reef restoration and sustainable sourcing with close integration with local communities. Heritance Aarah is the first property in the Maldives to attain the LEED Gold Certification (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design – the most widely used green building rating system in the world).

Heritance Aarah is the first property in the Maldives to receive the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Gold certification.

LEED buildings save energy, water, resources, generate less waste and support human health. Given the increasing demand and pace of green building in the hospitality sector, LEED is an official recognition that a project complies with the requirements prescribed within the LEED rating systems by the U.S. Green Building Council. Having achieved the Gold level certification from the most widely used green building rating system reiterates the sustainability commitment of Aitken Spence Hotels group.

“Our strategies to expand are led by guests’ expectations and design-led refurbishments to enrich the experience at our properties. A key priority is to ensure our resorts contribute positively to protect and preserve the environment and the ecosystems we operate in. We are proud that we were able to introduce the Heritance brand to the Maldives as the first LEED Gold certified property in the islands,” commented Ms. Stasshani Jayawardena, Aitken Spence PLC Director, Head of Tourism & Leisure, and Chairperson of Aitken Spence Hotels Management.

“I give credit to the team that has worked tirelessly and conducted extensive research and integrated innovative and sustainable strategies to reduce the carbon and water footprint by 30% and 55% respectively,” she asserted. “These have been successfully implemented and have aided in creating a healthier and safer working environment while maximising guest comfort. These strategies I believe, have contributed towards achieving this milestone for Heritance Aarah.”

Heritance Aarah has opened its doors with a distinctive experience, offering guests a truly one of a kind holiday.

For more details, visit www.heritancehotels.com/aarah.

Aitken Spence Hotels’ Oman sector GMs recognised

30 Aug

Leading hospitality chain Aitken Spence Hotels’ Oman sector was recognised for their service excellence at the recently concluded Oman Leadership Awards 2019 with two of their General Managers being awarded as ‘Oman’s Best General Managers’ in the ‘Hospitality’ category.

The Company’s Al Falaj Hotel General Manager – Hotel Operations and Sales, Praveen George and Desert Nights Camp General Manager Anurin Jansen – Oman Hotels and Tourism Company SAOC, were acknowledged at the award ceremony at Crowne Plaza Muscat by CMO Asia. CMO Asia is the only global network of executives from 110 countries specifically dedicated to high-level knowledge exchange, thought leadership and personal relationship building among senior corporate marketing leaders and brand decision-makers. Held as part of CMO Asia’s 10th anniversary, the awards were endorsed by World Sustainability, World CSE and World Federation of Marketing.

A true trendsetter, Aitken Spence was the first Sri Lankan company to venture into hospitality services in Oman (2008), adding to its credentials of being the first to enter the Maldives (1993) and India (2007) in the same industry, creating avenues for international exposure for our skills. Part of the Company’s prestigious portfolio of properties, Desert Nights Camp is the only luxury desert camp in Oman with 39 Bedouin-style tented luxury accommodation in 10 acres of golden sands in Al Wasil. Al Falaj Hotel is a renowned business hotel in Oman catering to the business and corporate segment of the market. Both hotels are differentiated by their unique offering, standing true to the Aitken Spence promise of delivering distinct experiences.

The award winners – George and Jansen – boast of 3 and 8 years with Aitken Spence respectively and counts over 60 years in experience collectively.

Speaking of the achievement, Aitken Spence Hotels Chief Executive Officer for Middle East, Srinith De Silva commended the duo for their hard work and commitment to excellence. “It is indeed a proud moment to have our General Managers appreciated among the best in Oman. Both George and Jansen have worked tirelessly to achieve excellence in service quality at our properties in Oman, keeping the banner of Aiken Spence flying high beyond the shores of Sri Lanka,” he said.

The awards are initiated to acknowledge those individuals who have achieved extraordinary success from innovative and effective people management and customer satisfaction practices in Oman. “It reinforces the quality of the experience and the development of our hotel brand in this region.” asserted De Silva.

Aitken Spence Hotels manage two other properties in the Middle East, Sur Plaza in Sur and Al Wadi Hotel, located in the ancient maritime capital of Oman and home to the legends of Sinbad, Sohar. The Company owns and manages 11 hotels in Sri Lanka including the famed ‘Heritance’ chain of hotels as well as Turyaa Kalutara, five resorts in Maldives with four under the ‘Adaaran Resorts’ and one, its latest property, under the ‘Heritance’ brand – Heritance Aarah; and Turyaa Chennai in India.

 

Aitken Spence Hotels’ sustainability ethos commended yet again!

22 Aug

Premier hospitality chain, Aitken Spence Hotels, reaffirmed their position as leaders in sustainable hospitality with four Heritance Hotels & Resorts properties walking away with multiple accolades at the National Sustainability Tourism Certification (NSTC) ceremony held on 5th August 2019.

Heritance Kandalama was the only property to be recognised in the Platinum category, the highest accolade awarded at the NSTC, whilst securing a special award for Environmental Preservation. Heritance Tea Factory was placed in the Gold category followed by a special award for Effective Sustainability Management. Heritance Ahungalla and Heritance Ayurveda were commended as Bronze winners.

This recognition programme was convened by the Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority (SLTDA) with the technical and financial assistance of Biodiversity Finance Initiative (BIOFIN) of UNDP in mid-2018. The efforts capture the industry’s stance towards the global movement for sustainable tourism and to successfully compete as a high-demand destination.

Aitken Spence Hotels, having operated on a comprehensive sustainable model that takes into account the varied attributes that encompass the triple bottom line, has been a forerunner in the industry for its long-term vision supporting a well-balanced business ecosystem. Moreover, the hotel chain has been recognised both locally and internationally for its efforts. In particular, Heritance Kandalama pioneered the integration of environment and social conscious practices into hotel operations and implementing an extensive 7R system (Reject, Reduce, Reuse, Reclaim, Repair, Replace and Recycle) to reduce carbon and waste footprint.

Among its many accreditations are Heritance Kandalama being the first Green Globe 21 certified hotel in Asia, the first Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certified hotel in the world and the first hotel chain in the World to have a certified energy management system (ISO 50001:2011). All Heritance Hotels and Resorts in Sri Lanka are Travelife Gold certified, while also adhering to ISO standards in environmental management, HACCP food safety and energy management.

“We are elated to be recognised in the National Sustainability Tourism Certification awards. It attests the hard work of our teams to provide exceptional hospitality services while also protecting the environment and empowering our communities.” Aitken Spence PLC Director, Head of Tourism & Leisure, and Chairperson of Aitken Spence Hotels Management, Ms. Stasshani Jayawardena said.

“Aitken Spence Hotels have carved a niche in the industry for its forward-thinking holistic sustainability practices that goes beyond the general understanding from an ‘eco’ perspective. The practices have been firmly established within the core of our operations, enabling us to lead from the onset. Our teams continually work towards improving the processes year on year, combining our expertise with emerging trends to serve the industry in the most sustainable manner.” she added further.

More on the hotels’ sustainable endeavours can be viewed at http://bit.ly/33grgzY  (Annual Report 18/19).

The Heritance Hotels and Resorts is part of the hospitality arm of Sri Lankan blue-chip conglomerate Aitken Spence PLC which operates 21 hotels and resorts across Sri Lanka, Maldives, Oman and India. The Company’s owned hotels are reflected under the Heritance, Adaaran and Turyaa brands, popular around the world for its exceptional service and undisputed product and curated lifestyle experiences. The Company’s Sri Lankan portfolio includes 11 resorts spread across the island, whilst the Maldives resorts totals to five, four in Oman and one in India.

Heritance Kandalama General Manager Priyan Wijerathne receiving the award

 

Heritance Tea Factory team receiving the award and certification

 

Heritance Ahungalla General Manager Sisira Senarath receiving the certificate

 

Heritance Ayurveda General Manager Janaka Buddhakorala receiving the certification

Aitken Spence Travels, recognised as a ‘Best Employer’ in destination management

13 Aug

The largest inbound tour operator in the country, Aitken Spence Travels was recently recognised with a ‘Sri Lanka Best Employer Brand Award’ by World Federation of HR Professionals, endorsed by CHRO Asia. Aitken Spence Travels was the only destination management company to have been conferred as Sri Lanka’s Best Employer Brand in this platform.

This was awarded at the 4th edition of the Sri Lanka Best Employer Brand Awards 2019, held at Taj Samudra hotel recently. This is a regional platform linked to the Employer Branding Awards 2019-2020 (currently in its 14th edition) convened by the Employer Banding Institute of India as a build-up to the Global Employer Brands programme, part of the World HRD Congress which is into its 28th Edition in 2020.

This programme was launched in Sri Lanka to recognise the top companies and brands in Sri Lanka that have exemplary HR practices and have effectively used marketing communications for human resource development. Winners are selected by drawing reference from research illustrating highest regard for organisations as preferred employers among diverse stakeholders.

Commenting on this recognition, Mr. Nalin Jayasundera – Managing Director of Aitken Spence Travels said, “We are humbled by this recognition. Our employees are our most cherished asset. In an industry with the highest rate of turnover, and a high representation of millennials, it is common knowledge that Aitken Spence Travels is seen as a training ground of sorts for the best talent. Regardless of the length of time served with us, we have consistently worked towards empowering our workforce with the required skills, experience, industry exposure and information and it is that commitment that has resulted in producing an award winning team. We appreciate these endorsements by globally reputed influencers, which serve to reinforce the Company’s commitment to continuously elevate its performance in the industry by drawing on the expertise of its partners and principals.”

Aitken Spence Travels, part of the diversified blue-chip conglomerate Aitken Spence PLC, is a joint venture with TUI Travel PLC, and is the leading destination management company in Sri Lanka. Undoubtedly the largest inbound tourism operator in the country, Aitken Spence Travels affirmed its market leadership position by facilitating over 200,000 visitors to Sri Lanka within the 2018/2019 financial year, surpassing the previous year’s record number of 178,000 happy visitors.

In 2018/2019, Aitken Spence Travels invested over Rs. 250Mn to promote Sri Lanka as a destination in overseas markets. To manage ISO 9001:2015 Travelife Partner certified quality of service, every effort is taken to educate and equip employees, from top management to tour guides, with the required skills, knowledge and information.

Catering to a varied number of segments in the travels industry from cruise to special interest groups, sports tours, nature and luxury tours, Aitken Spence Travels continuously provides unique propositions to its clientele in order to maintain a competitive edge in the market. The company’s ability to deliver a distinctive value proposition to each market is a testament to its ability in drawing on the capabilities of its talent pool to deliver a competitive advantage for its customers.

Strength in Diversity: Aitken Spence Shows Resilience with 17.5% Revenue Increase in 1Q

8 Aug

In the aftermath of the devastating events of 21st April in Sri Lanka, the first quarter of 2019 was adversely impacted. As the country copes with multiple challenges, Sri Lanka’s economic growth is forecast at 2.7% in 2019. Overall, the performance of the services sector in the country declined to 4.1% year-on-year, compared to 5.5% GDP growth last year. Among other industries, tourist arrivals to Sri Lanka in May 2019 recorded a drastic decline of 70.8% from the arrivals in May of 2018. Although the arrivals increased by 19% by June 2019, it is yet 57% less compared to the arrivals in June 2018. Earnings from the country’s agricultural exports declined during the first five months of 2019 due to poor performance observed in tea, minor agricultural products and rubber exports.

Against this challenging macroeconomic backdrop, Aitken Spence PLC reported a 17.5% growth in Group revenue during the first quarter of the year at Rs. 12.4 billion compared to Rs. 10.6 billion recorded in the previous financial year.

Aitken Spence continues to manifest its dominance in overseas markets that has generated approximately 75% of the Group’s overall profits in the first quarter of 2019 compared to 60% in the first quarter of 2018. Overseas expansion, and thereby creating opportunities in local and overseas markets, is a vital aspect of the business strategy of Aitken Spence and it has strengthened the company’s resilience amidst a turbulent economic environment.  At present, Aitken Spence has a presence in Asia, Middle East, South Pacific and Africa and the efficacy of this strategy is evident to date.

At the same time, profit-before-tax for the quarter was Rs. 475 million from Rs. 538 million over the previous year. This is after accounting for an additional charge of Rs. 36 million for the quarter, due to the adoption of the new leasing standard SLFRS 16 as required. There was no corresponding adjustment made in the previous year.

“Aitken Spence is a company that has proven that our strength is in our diversity. The devastation of the Easter attacks should motivate unity, resilience and continual progress. With normalcy being gradually restored, we are confident that business will bounce back, and our efforts will continue to this end,” said Dr. Parakrama Dissanayake, Deputy Chairman and Managing Director of Aitken Spence PLC.

“We are pleased to be seen in the forefront of showcasing business resilience amidst challenging times. Following the Easter attacks, Aitken Spence Maritime facilitated the first luxury cruise ship carrying 350 passengers to call on Sri Lankan ports and Aitken Spence Travels Cruise team was responsible for the operation of all the shore excursions for its passengers,” he added further.

The tourism sector was significantly impacted by the Easter attacks that resulted in a loss of Rs. 385 million for the quarter, over the loss of Rs. 204 million in the previous year. However, the resorts in the Maldives recorded a strong growth with the newly opened Heritance Aarah which is the first overseas operation to carry the premium brand ‘Heritance’. The hotel property recently opened in March 2019 and is the latest addition to have been ‘Gold’ certified for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED). LEED buildings save energy, water, resources, generate less waste and support human health. Only three months into its opening, Heritance Aarah marked a landslide victory at the Food & Hospitality Asia Maldives 2019 winning 33 awards, the highest number won by an individual property.

Despite the travel advisories issued for Sri Lanka in the aftermath of the Easter attacks, the inbound tourism segment has performed well. The destination management segment has also set up a new venture in Myanmar and operations are expected to commence shortly. This is a further testament to expansion overseas which help to offset negative impacts faced in the domestic segment. Moreover, this promotes our skills and expertise in a fast-growing tourist destination such as Myanmar.

Amidst the sluggish economic growth and stiff competition, the maritime & logistics and services sectors recorded increments. The quarterly profit-before-tax of the maritime & logistics sector increased by 21% to Rs. 528 million, over the previous year. The sector’s revenue increased by 4.4% to Rs.2.8 billion, mainly driven by its overseas operations.

Strategic investments and services sectors also recorded profit growth, of 8.4% to Rs. 242 million and 11.1% to Rs. 91 million respectively, in the first quarter.

Aitken Spence PLC won the Best Corporate Citizen Sustainability Award 2018 for the second successive year, the 3rd win overall for the company, and has been ranked among the Top 10 Corporate Citizens for an unprecedented 13 consecutive years. Aitken Spence PLC has also been ranked Platinum and among the top 5 companies in the STING/ LMD Corporate Accountability Index for 6 consecutive indices. Recently, Aitken Spence was adjudged the overall winner at the ACCA Sustainability Reporting Awards for the year 2018.

Listed in the Colombo Stock Exchange since 1983 and marking its 150th year milestone in 2018, Aitken Spence is a blue-chip conglomerate with a strong regional presence in the Hotels, Travels, Maritime Services, Logistic Solutions, Plantations, Power Generation, Financial Outsourcing, Insurance, IT, Printing and Apparel sectors. With a geographical presence in 8 countries and growing, creating opportunities for Sri Lanka across new frontiers, Aitken Spence PLC remains committed to the development of our nation.

Deshamanya D.H.S. Jayawardena – Chairman Aitken Spence PLC

 

Dr. Parakrama Dissanayake – Deputy Chairman and Managing Director Aitken Spence PLC

 

Landmark victory for Heritance Aarah and Adaaran Resorts at an International Culinary Challenge

30 Jul

Culinary prowess of the leading hospitality chain Aitken Spence Hotels was recognised with an impressive 94 awards at the recently concluded Food & Hospitality Asia Maldives 2019 (FHAM) competition, with its new entrant, Heritance Aarah clinching 19 Golds – highest number won by an individual property.

Heritance Aarah is the latest addition to the noteworthy hospitality portfolio of Aitken Spence Hotels. Opened in end March 2019, Heritance Aarah is Aitken Spence’s first ‘Heritance’ brand in an overseas operation. Heritance Aarah showcased its versatile food and dining offering through the 33 awards won in total. The team, trained and led by culinary maestros of the Group, brought home six silver awards, five bronze awards, three merit awards and 11 special individual awards; a testament to the superior F&B offering at the resort which features six (06) restaurants and four (04) bars. The culinary experience at the premium, all-inclusive resort includes international buffets such as French and Italian cuisines, Middle Eastern flavours, street food favourites, and many innovative dishes among the fusion of flavours offered.

Aitken Spence Hotel’s long-standing brand in the Maldives ‘Adaaran Resorts’ added to the overall jubilation with 62 awards, totalling the Group’s win to 94. Adaaran Select Meedhupparu won 19 awards, Adaaran Prestige Vadoo 14 awards, Adaaran Select Hudhuransushi 12 awards and Adaaran Club Rannalhi five awards. Additionally, Aitken Spence Hotels received 11 Special Awards.

The team competed with 500 chefs from international and local hospitality chains in diverse categories assessed by a panel of industry experts. The event was held from 15th-17th July 2019 in Dharubaaruge, Maldives.

“This recognition is a further testament to our exceptional culinary offering in the Maldives, which is a hallmark of our properties. I am delighted at this significant win. With Heritance Aarah shining at FHAM just three months since it opened doors, guests from around the world would have got a glimpse of the quality and creativity they can experience at a Heritance or Adaaran property.” said Aitken Spence PLC Director, Head of Tourism & Leisure, and Chairperson of Aitken Spence Hotels Management Stasshani Jayawardena.

Whilst congratulating the team, she also noted the commitment of the Group to offer innovative culinary wonders to the industry. “The awards highlight our continued efforts to raise the bar in service, quality and the overall experience. As a hospitality group that is globally renowned for superior service and unique offerings, our continual efforts are focused towards transcending guest expectations at every turn. With lifestyle experiences being a key deciding factor, our resorts in the Maldives deliver the finest curated excursions through exhilarating activities and memorable gastronomic experiences.”

FHAM International Culinary Challenge & Exhibition is recorded as the premier event experienced by the hospitality industry and is the largest gathering of the industry in the Maldives. The event is endorsed and certified by the World Association of Chefs and Society (WACS) and is organised in partnership with Chef Guilds of Maldives (CGM) and Chef Guilds of Lanka (CGL), in association with the Faculty of Hospitality and Tourism Studies of the Maldives National University, the Ministry of Tourism Arts & Culture and the Ministry of Economic Development – Maldives, and the Maldives National Chamber of Commerce & Industry. The involvement of all these organisations and institutions of Maldives makes it the official exhibition and culinary challenge for the hospitality industry of Maldives.

Ladies first! Aitken Spence Hotels invests Rs. 70 Mn in ladies’ accommodation facility at Kandalama

24 Jul

The tourism industry generates income and employment worldwide. According to global statistics published by the World Travel and Tourism Council in March 2019, 1 in 10 jobs overall in 2018 and 1 in 5 new jobs created over the last five years were attributed to the tourism industry. It has also created a plethora of direct and indirect opportunities across Sri Lanka. However, similar to global statistics, female representation in the tourism sector is considerably low.

When more women work, economies grow. Enabling economic participation for women pays enormous dividends for families, communities and economies. However, the gender parity in the workforce is the widest in emerging economies such as Sri Lanka due to many reasons. These reasons could range from social and cultural limitations to a dearth of required skills.

Premier hospitality chain, Aitken Spence Hotels has worked over the years to bridge the gap of required skills among youth. In their efforts to create and promote a conducive work environment as an equal opportunity employer, Aitken Spence Hotel Holdings PLC opened a well-equipped ladies’ accommodation facility at its most iconic property, Heritance Kandalama. This is yet another benchmark in the tourism and hospitality industry as this iconic property marks 25 years.

“Aitken Spence Hotels have always been a Company that valued and promoted equality and non-discrimination,” Aitken Spence PLC Director, Head of Tourism & Leisure, and Chairperson of Aitken Spence Hotels Management, Ms. Stasshani Jayawardena said “The Company’s decision to invest Rs. 70 Mn in infrastructure is a reiteration of its commitment to enable greater access to our immediate communities to opportunities in the tourism and hospitality industry, and our effort to ensure women also benefit from those opportunities. We are confident that our proactive efforts towards enhancing accommodation and amenities will increase the female representation within our workforce.”

The hotel maintains a close relationship with its immediate community and regularly conducts educational programmes at local schools to enhance skills and knowledge among youth. With their employment policies giving priority to local applicants, over 60% of its workforce is from the community within 35-40km radius. Families of new recruits are invited to observe the working environment at all properties to allow them the peace of mind of their child’s safety and wellbeing.

“Competitiveness of Sri Lanka’s tourism and hospitality workforce weighs heavily on promoting employment for women and youth. Encouraging higher involvement from these two demographics, however, remains a challenge. Young women are hesitant to pursue a career in tourism and hospitality due to a myriad of socio-cultural views. It is our belief that all efforts must be made to welcome more women into the industry and to create a working environment where they feel safe and comfortable; thereby making a positive ripple effect on the economy.” She asserted that the ladies’ accommodation is but one area of the Company’s investment towards attracting a more diverse workforce.

The newly launched facility can accommodate over 40 females and offers three room categories – for Executives, Supervisors and Non-Executives. Comparable in design to a guest room, this ladies’ accommodation is fully equipped with all amenities for the comfort of the employees. The facility also consists of two common lounge areas designed for rest and relaxation.

This initiative is a testament to the company’s commitment to empower greater female representation in the hospitality and tourism industry. Currently at Aitken Spence Hotels, 15% of the Management is represented by women, with 24% in the Executive cadre and 7% at Associate level. Aitken Spence Hotel Holdings PLC has set an ambitious target to achieve 20% female representation by 2020 and hopes to continue improving on that. This initiative to build accommodation facilities for the female workforce will be gradually rolled out at the hotel chain’s other owned properties.

As one of the first signatories of the UN Women’s Empowerment Principles and a trendsetter in the industry, Aitken Spence is confident that the efforts thus unrolled will bear fruit in the future by setting a precedent for establishing tourism as a tool for promoting gender equality and women’s empowerment.

Heritance Kandalama ladies with their parents, Aitken Spence PLC Director, Head of Tourism & Leisure, and Chairperson of Aitken Spence Hotels Management Ms. Stasshani Jayawardena, General Manager Mr. Priyan Wijerathne

Exterior

Indoor lounge area

Outdoor lounge area

 

 

Aitken Spence Travels continues to be Carbon Neutral

4 Jul

Aitken Spence Travels, Sri Lanka’s largest inbound tour operator has achieved “Carbon Neutral” status for the financial year 2018/2019. The Company offset its carbon footprint by purchasing United Nations Certified Emission Reductions (CERs) through biomass-based power project. The carbon neutrality status has been achieved for organisational level operations within the boundary of Aitken Spence Travels (Pvt) Ltd, 4th floor, Tower 2, 315, Vauxhall Street, Colombo 2.

The organisational level greenhouse gas emission and removals were assessed in accordance with ISO 14064-1: 2006 & Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) guidelines for National Greenhouse Gas Inventories and been verified by the National Cleaner Production Center in Sri Lanka. The Scope covered in the assessment includes company-owned vehicle fleet, employee commuting, employee business travels, fire extinguishers, water consumption, grid electricity and its transmission and distribution loss.

The journey of reducing its carbon footprint started six years ago when Aitken Spence Travels took measures to mitigate the impact it made on the environment. In 2012, the entire process was audited by the Sri Lanka Carbon Fund. Going forward, Aitken Spence Travels intends to offer carbon neutral tours as part of the larger sustainability initiative titled as the ‘Travel Kindly’ brand. This initiative is in place to promote responsible travel options.

Tourists visiting Sri Lanka through Aitken Spence Travels can choose to be a part of the Company’s sustainability initiatives such as minimising carbon footprint when partaking in tours and excursions designed to have minimum impact on the environment. Moreover, Aitken Spence Travels promotes nature-based excursions, and educates tourists on best practices to follow and to influence responsible tourism practices in the industry. The destination management operation also promotes less visited national parks in Sri Lanka to reduce congestion in popular national parks that tends to impose a strain on the wildlife of these locations. The dedicated team of Aitken Spence Travels is empowered with insights to responsible tourism through employee engagement campaigns and educational discussion forums with industry experts.

“Our carbon neutral status affirms Aitken Spence Travels’ commitment towards environmental protection and promoting eco-friendly business and production practices. This wouldn’t have been possible without the support from the top management and dedicated staff members which have collectively been the success factors in achieving the carbon neutral status. commented Mr. Nalin Jayasundera, Managing Director of Aitken Spence Travels.

“We actively promote sustainable tourism practices as we understand our impact to the community and environment when carrying out our operations. Aitken Spence Travels takes proactive steps in creating a demand for environment conscious tourists while ensuring its tourism practices are sustainable”, he added.

Aitken Spence Travels obtained the Travelife Partnership Certification for the operations keeping in line with global sustainable tourism practices and has a longstanding partnership with TUI, the world’s largest integrated tourism company. Aitken Spence Travels won the Best Inbound Tour Operator award under the category of Travel & Tourism Operator – Large, at the National Tourism Awards 2018 conducted by The Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority. The first destination management company to obtain ISO 9001:2008 was none other than Aitken Spence Travels. Furthermore, the Company’s operations are ISO 14001:2015 certified for their efforts towards environmental impact control.

Aitken Spence Travels affirmed its market leadership position by facilitating over 200,000 visitors to Sri Lanka in the financial year 2018/19. The Group’s destination management arm, handles inbound and outbound tour packages for groups, FIT and the MICE segments which operates in a highly competitive business environment.

Officials of Aitken Spence Travels and National Cleaner Production Center (NCPC) at the presentation exchange of the Endorsement of Greenhouse gas inventory of Aitken Spence Travels.

L-R

Rumalka Amanthi, Junior Executive, Aitken Spence Travels, Upul Kumara, Assistant Manager, Aitken Spence Travels, Tikiri Ellepola, Chief Operating Officer, Aitken Spence Travels, Samantha Kumarasena, Chief Executive Officer, National Cleaner Production Center Sri Lanka and Harshini Rananjali, RECP-technologist, National Cleaner Production Center Sri Lanka