Archive | September, 2010

Six Senses partners Aitken Spence Hotels to unveil Six Senses Ahungalla

30 Sep

[Colombo, 30 September 2010]: Six Senses Resorts & Spas, together with the Favourite Group and its associates has signed an agreement with Aitken Spence Hotel Holdings PLC, a subsidiary of Aitken Spence PLC today to establish the first Six Senses property in Sri Lanka as a Board of Investment approved, 50:50 joint venture, worth USD 35-40 mn.

The project will comprise a Six Senses resort and spa as well as beach front residential villas on a 10.5-acre plot, both adjoining Heritance Ahungalla on the Southern coast and on a 27-acre island nearby. The proposed opening date is 2012. Six Senses expects the average revenue per room to be in the range of USD400-450. Sonu Shivdasani, Chairman and CEO of Six Senses Resorts & Spas, said, ‘I am absolutely delighted to be opening a Six Senses resort in Sri Lanka, a wonderful country which Six Senses has been interested in for some time. To be working with Aitken Spence on such a project and in such a beautiful area of Sri Lanka is doubly exciting. Aitken Spence shares the core values which Six Senses is based upon, a full commitment to supporting both the environment and local communities, whilst developing a successful luxury operation.’

Six Senses currently operates thirteen high-end resorts branded as Soneva, Six Senses and Evason in the Maldives, Thailand, Vietnam, Oman and Jordan. There are also several new developments underway in locations such as Morocco, Turks and Caicos and China. The Six Senses Spa division has twenty-seven company-operated spas, with new spa developments underway in several locations, including India, Morocco and Oman. The group recently launched the Six Senses Destination Spa brand.

Mr. J M S Brito, Deputy Chairman and Managing Director of Aitken Spence PLC said, “We are extremely pleased to bring Six Senses to Sri Lanka. The entry of a high-end international resort operator with a truly exceptional track record in sustainable tourism certainly strengthens Sri Lanka’s destination brand”.

Aitken Spence Hotels presently owns or manages twenty seven hotels and resorts under the brands Heritance, Adaaran and Aitken Spence Hotels & Resorts in Sri Lanka, the Maldives, India and Oman with a total room capacity of 2300. It is the largest resort chain in Sri Lanka and the largest international resort operator in the Maldives. Its pioneering sustainable tourism practices and exceptional service standards have set industry benchmarks and won many global accolades.

“The journey that commenced with Six Senses to create Sri Lanka’s best beach resort sees a key milestone today. Both Aitken Spence and Six Senses share a common philosophy for tourism based on sustainable development. Aitken Spence Hotels has an enduring commitment to cause unforgettable experiences to our guests in tune with nature. We look forward to continue working on exceptional projects with Six Senses in the future”, said Mr. Malin Hapugoda, Managing Director of Aitken Spence’s hotels sector.

“We are happy to associate with Six Senses in their first project in Sri Lanka”, said Suren Mirchandani, Managing Director of Favourite Growth Capital.

Following the opening of its first property in 1995, Six Senses has been recognized as the global benchmark for eco-responsibility in the hospitality sector. Its philosophy is developed around the core purpose of creating innovative and enlightening experiences that rejuvenate their guests’ love of SLOW LIFE: Sustainable, Local, Organic, Wholesome – Learning, Innovative, Fun, Experiences.

Common to both Six Senses and Aitken Spence, sustainability is a key aspect of the design philosophy. From the earliest point in the design process, qualities specific to the environmental surroundings and localized knowledge were incorporated into project development, perfectly aligned with Six Senses’ environmental commitment – intelligent luxury.

The project will look to use locally sourced materials and labour, reducing the construction footprint and supporting local commerce. Six Senses Ahungalla will feature produce and materials from the region.
Six Senses villas are designed to exceed the highest expectations of guests. Offering all the comforts of a home away from home, the villas are generously equipped and offer a diversity of experiences to be discovered by the guests. From an architectural perspective, the villa components have drawn their inspiration from the region’s world-famous architect, late Geoffrey Bawa. Materials for interior design will, where possible, be sourced locally and reflect traditional handicraft techniques indigenous to the area. The resort will also look to establish a collective amongst the local farmers to supply fresh fruit and vegetables. The project will comprise a total of 40 one-bedroom villa suites and 14 two-bedroom beach front residential villas in Ahungalla as well as 15 island villas.

In line with Six Senses award winning standards of food and wine, the resort at Ahungalla will be a reflection of local and national cuisine with international twists. Six Senses Ahungalla will aspire to provide a variety of flavours and textures whilst honouring the sustainable, local, organic and wholesome tenets embodied in the SLOW food concept, via an array of food & beverage outlets.

A special feature of Six Senses Ahungalla will be the Six Senses Spa. A team of highly skilled international therapists will take guests on sensory journeys with Six Senses’ signature and local salt-inspired treatments for balancing the senses. The Six Senses Spa, located between Six Senses Ahungalla and Heritance Ahungalla, will serve both the resorts; making it the best beach resort complex in Sri Lanka.

Media Release – 30 September 2010

Gold for TNT Express at NCE awards

29 Sep

TNT Express, who are represented by Ace International Express(AIX),- the Express delivery arm of Aitken Spence Cargo walked away with the 2009 Gold Award for Support Services to Exporters in the extra large category at the National Chamber of Exporters Award Ceremony held on the 17th of September, 2010.

Apart from TNT’s international express delivery services, AIX also provides comprehensive delivery, logistics, storage and mailroom management solutions for the local market through Ace Xpress Domestic Delivery and Supply Chain solutions. Such an array of services available to exporters under one roof certainly tipped the scales in favour of AIX at the NCE awards. AIX is no stranger to exporters, having won the 2007 Gold award in the large category for support service providers to exporters. In addition AIX was also presented with the most outstanding provider of support services to exporters in 2007.

Acknowledging the recognition of the NCE Gold award, Mr. Jerome Brohier, Country Manager of TNT Express and AVP of Ace International Express stated that “TNT Express is among the world’s four largest integrators and Europe’s leading B2B express delivery and mail company. We are renowned for time-definite, day-certain and on-demand deliveries, Our exporters rely on us to deliver their important documents and time sensitive samples promptly and intact so that they have a competitive edge with their potential buyers. With our presence in over 3000 locations in over 200 countries worldwide, TNT provides door-to-door express delivery using it’s vast fleet of over 43 aircraft’s, over 26,000 ground vehicles and 163,000 employees around the globe. Elaborating further, Mr. Brohier stated “We also support exporters with their import of raw materials or, for that matter, any importer– for example an importer who needs an urgent spare part for a machine or anything from any part of the world can avail of our Receiver Pays import service by just picking up a phone and talking to us. We will simply arrange the pick up from their supplier in whichever country, take care of all customs formalities and ensure a speedy delivery to the local location of their choice. With almost three decades of local presence, TNT Express continues to render valuable services to the local exporters enabling them to reach new markets and expand businesses all over the world.”

Apart from international express delivery, Ace Xpress has been in operation for over 2 decades and is a pioneer in the field of domestic delivery. Ace Xpress has an island wide network and can boast of being the only express delivery company to operate an office in Jaffna during its war-torn years. Ace Xpress provides unmatched services in connecting people and organisations with their customers, suppliers, branches and even friends and family across the country. In addition, AIX also represents Quantium Solutions, a dynamic provider of international mailing solutions.

Commenting on this achievement, Mr. Rohantha Peiris, Managing Director of AIX affirmed that “Benchmarking best practices and continuously improving on our service delivery is uppermost in our mind. The needs of our stakeholders are the focal point that drives us to improve our standards and ultimately delivers more benefits to our stakeholders. Today, we no longer deliver just documents and small parcels, we have expanded our services to cover the most complex supply chain solutions – warehousing, inventory management, multimodal transportation, domestic distribution and on demand delivery.”

Mr. Peiris further stated that “This award is a reflection of our growth, innovation and commitment to provide the best services which our industry could offer.”

While listing the numerous accolades which were won by his company in the past, Mr. Peiris draws attention to the fact that, in addition to the previous NCE Gold Awards, AIX remains the only Express delivery company to have won the coveted Sri Lanka National Quality Award (NQA) to date. AIX was also the first express operator to be awarded ISO certification having achieved it as far back as 1997, providing assurance to their customers that AIX along with their principle, TNT Express, will leave no stone unturned to ensure that customers get the “best in class services” at all times.

Media Release – 29 September 2010

Aitken Spence Hotels Celebrate Tourism & Bio Diversity with School Art Competition

24 Sep

On the 27th of September under the theme of ‘Tourism and Biodiversity’, World Tourism day will be acknowledged and celebrated. The official celebrations will be hosted by China, with the date being globally recognized by a multitude of nations organizing their own individual events in lieu of the day. Aitken Spence Hotels will too play its part, by organizing and staging art competitions and exhibitions for school children at its hotels. The hotels will involve rural schools within close proximity to the properties in order to promote its sustainability related initiatives. The hotels have been interacting with schools in their respective areas during the month of September in order to encourage maximum participation.

Mr. Malin Hapugoda, Managing Director of Aitken Spence Hotels stated “The objective of this school art competition is to raise awareness of the close relationship between tourism development, biodiversity & conservation as well as to recognize the talent of school children. The Tourism industry and biodiversity are closely related as most of Sri Lanka’s tourism offers are linked to its natural environment and biodiversity”.

According to the United Nations World Tourism Organization, biodiversity based tourism represents an important source of income to the world’s developing nations. Seventy per cent of these populations inhabit rural areas and therefore depend heavily on biodiversity of their survival and well-being.
UNWTO Secretary General Teleb Rifai in his World Tourism Day message stated “Recognizing the value of earth’s natural capital to its long–term sustainability, the tourism industry is called upon to protect and sustainably manage biodiversity. A healthy tourism industry depends on a healthy resource base, and sustainable growth in tourism means increase funds for conservation”.

Sustainable tourism enhances crucial economic incentives for habitat protection. Revenues from the tourism industry are often channeled back into nature conservation or capacity building programs for local communities in order to advance management of protected areas. Furthermore, tourism can be a key vehicle in raising awareness and endorsing a positive outlook towards biodiversity conservation amongst the millions of individuals who travel in a year.

At each Aitken Spence Hotel, the winners of the art competition will be awarded individual certificates and cash prizes including equipment for their respective schools. Aitken Spence Hotels will select the top three paintings by the children from all the participating schools and give due recognition to the children and their schools in order to nurture their talent as well as enhance prospects for their further education. The initiatives made by Aitken Spence Hotels for conservation and protection of the environment have been recognized and noted as global case studies on sustainable tourism. In addition to being the largest resort group in Sri Lanka, the company is rapidly growing as a regional player with a large portfolio of hotels under the respective brands of ‘Heritance Hotels & Resorts’, ‘Aitken Spence Hotels & Resorts’ and ‘Adaaran Resorts’ in India, Maldives and Oman’.

Mother Nature has a million untapped resources, but one that can never go unnoticed is its natural beauty. Through tourism’s hand in hand promotion of biodiversity, Aitken Spence Hotels too perseveres to strive and do its part in enhancing Mother Nature’s image.

Media Release – 24 September 2010

Sri Lanka Aitken Spence-China Merchant consortium gets terminal deal

17 Sep
Sept 16, 2010 (LBO) – Sri Lanka has awarded a contract to build and operate a new deep-water container terminal in Colombo port to a consortium consisting of China Merchant Holdings International and Aitken Spence, a statement said.
The South Container Terminal, the first terminal of the Colombo Port Expansion Project, will be built in two phases, Aitken Spence said in a stock exchange filing.It said the ministry of ports and aviation and Sri Lanka Ports Authority granted the consortium the letter of intent to design, build, operate and transfer the terminal following Cabinet approval.

The new terminal will have a quay wall length of 1.2 kilometres with a minimum alongside water depth of minus 18 metres, Aitken Spence said.

Construction work on the breakwater and dredging of the new port, funded mainly by an Asian Development Bank loan, is underway.

The new deep-water port is needed to retain Colombo port’s status as south Asia’s transhipment hub.

Existing terminals are not deep enough to handle the deep-draft bigger vessels now being deployed on trade routes across the India Ocean.

Sri Lanka Ports Authority Priyath Wickrama said recently construction of the new 450 million US dollar container terminal is expected to start within six months of the award being made.

The Aitken Spence – China Merchants consortium was the sole bidder for the terminal concession but SLPA negotiated for months for higher royalties and upfront fees.

Wickrama has said the terminal would be built by the same Chinese contractor that is building a Chinese financed port in the island’s south in Hambantota.

The Hambantota port is built by China Harbour Engineering Company (CHEC) and Sino Hydro Corporation.

The new Colombo terminal will be financed with debt and equity and will be jointly owned by listed Aitken Spence and China Merchants Holdings, along with the SLPA.

China Merchants Holdings will have 55 percent, Aitken Spence 30 percent and the SLPA 15 percent in the new terminal.

As seen on Lanka Business Online. For more information click

Media Release – 17 September 2010

Aitken Spence hotels partners with environmental leader EarthCheck

15 Sep

Aitken Spence Hotels is the latest leader in travel and tourism to partner with EarthCheck and certify the environmental practices employed at its chain of hotels and resorts in Sri Lanka, Maldives, India and Oman.

With more than three decades in hospitality and considerable expertise in hotel design, building and management, Aitken Spence Hotels decided to look to EarthCheck to confirm the company’s dedication and commitment to excellence in sustainable tourism.

EarthCheck is the world’s largest certifier of sustainable travel and tourism operators, and will work with the luxury brand portfolios of Heritance, Aitken Spence Hotels & Resorts and Adaaran.

“Environmental sustainability is part of our corporate commitment to responsible business,” said Mr. B H R Sariffo’deen, Assistant Vice President, Aitken Spence Hotels. “While nine of our hotels have already been benchmarked, and three have been certified on the EarthCheck Programme, plans are well underway to ensure that many more become certified in the coming year. Mr. Ravi De Silva, Consultant Social & Environmental Management at Aitken Spence Hotels explained that sustainability is a top corporate priority of the company. The environmental management systems introduced by the company are recognised through the EarthCheck Certifications.

Aitken Spence Hotels is focusing on issues such as reducing, recycling and reusing solid waste; reducing the use of harmful chemicals; conserving energy and water, and improving indoor air quality, all of which have an immediate impact on the environment and the communities where their hotels operate.

Commenting on the EarthCheck partnership, Mr. Malin Hapugoda, Managing Director Aitken Spence Hotels said “Aitken Spence Hotels over the years has invested substantial financial resources and hard work in achieving long term sustainability. Our hotels have been recognised as world class examples of sustainability and have won a number of international accolades. We have experienced that our business associates and our guests are keen to learn about the sustainability practices of the hotels than ever before. Our expertise gained in sustainability in Sri Lanka is now spreading across to our hotels in the Maldives, India & Oman. ”

EarthCheck is considered at the forefront of global sustainability management systems; using advanced science-based benchmarking and capacity building. The programme offers Aitken Spence Hotels a new level of accuracy and transparency that is certification verified by independent, third party auditors.

“Aitken Spence Hotels has long demonstrated their commitment to improving the social, environmental and economic welfare of host communities,” explained Stewart Moore, CEO of EC3 Global. “EarthCheck provides them with a framework for their properties to increase operational efficiencies, maximise the benefit of Corporate Social Responsibility initiatives, and minimise environmental impacts.” Properties currently participating in the EarthCheck Programme include: Bandarawela Hotel, Browns Beach Hotel, Earls Regency Hotel, Heritance Ahungalla, Heritance Kandalama, Heritance Tea Factory, Hotel Hill Top, Ramada Resort Kalutara and the former Neptune Hotel.

EarthCheck is the world’s largest certifier of sustainable travel and tourism operators with more than 1000 clients in over 70 countries, the company’s EarthCheck Programme responds directly to the major environmental problems facing the planet, including climate change, waste reduction and non-renewable resource management. It provides benchmarking, certification and performance improvement systems that result in average savings of 30 per cent for energy and waste stream, and 20 per cent savings for water consumption.

Media Release – 14 September 2010

Business can be run only by teamwork – Mr. Upul

7 Sep

Chief Operations Officer of Adaaran Groups, Mr. Upul Peiris has said that a business can only thrive only by cooperation and mutual team work among the entities related to that particular business.

Speaking to Miadhu, Mr. Upul said that the economical recess that the world has faced recently “cannot be over come by mere individuals.” He added that despite a firm’s apparent size, [he] does not believe that such a self-sufficient company exists.

Furthermore, Mr. Upul said that he always looks to build relationship with the customers and taking them as partners of Adaaran group.

“I always meet the partners when time allows me. We discuss on building the relationship between us and them,” said Mr. Upul.

ADAARAN Resorts consists of Club, Select and Prestige boutique resorts that have won the highest accolades across the globe. Some of the awards include ‘Five Star Butler Service’ awarded by the Butler Association of England, and The World Travel Awards, namely the “Maldives leading water villas” for the past two consecutive years, 2008 and 2009 and the “Indian Oceans leading water villa group” in 2009.

As seen on MIADHU, click for more information:

07 September 2010

David Stockwell – an affable Brit planning his 24th visit to Sri Lanka

7 Sep

David Stockwell, a 54-year-old, retired Brit, who first visited Sri Lanka in October 1997 fell so deeply in love with this resplendent island that he has so far visited the country 23 times. He is planning his record 24th visit at the end of September.

I met David when he came to Sri Lankan High Commission in London to obtain his visa because he plans to stay over for six weeks this time.

”My first trip to Sri Lanka in 1997 wasn’t planned, but an almost spur of the moment thing, I had some leave owing to me at work and had to use it by the year end. After browsing many different brochures, I came across a Sri Lankan one issued by Kuoni, liked what I saw, and thought that this could be nice”, he recalled.

Booked with Kuoni only about 3 weeks, this was to be a relaxing beach holiday, as no travels around the country were planned. The hotel I chose was The Triton at Ahungalla, now renamed Heritance Ahungalla, he said.

”Well, no guessing for what happened, I fell in love with this place, I had travelled all over the world in my lifetime, but nowhere I had been was like this. The people are so wonderful, and made me feel at home the moment I arrived at the hotel. I vowed I must return, and I did just that the following year, but this time I planned a longer trip and took a round tour before heading back to Ahungalla”, he recounted with a broad smile.

”I visited on my round tour were, Dambulla, Sigiriya, Anuradhapura, Polonnaruwa, Kandy, Nuwara Eliya, and down to Yala and on through Galle to Ahungalla. Of course, when I arrived back at The Triton, the staff recognized me right away and welcomed me back there with open arms and huge smiles. Now, how nice is that, nowhere I had ever travelled to anywhere in the world  had ever treated me like that!”

”I have now been to Sri Lanka 23 times, and in a few weeks will be my 24th visit to what has become my Second Home, and the staff at Heritance Ahungalla frequently remind me that this is indeed my Second Home, and that they are like an extended family to me”, Stockwell said.

”I now book the hotel directly with them, and book my own flights down too. Incidentally I always fly with SriLankan Airlines, and my holiday begins the moment I board the aircraft at Heathrow. Some members of the airline crew are also familiar faces too and recognize me when I fly with them. So nice”, he enthused.

He said he would recommend Sri Lanka to anyone, and one of the most often asked questions is, “Why do you got there so much?”. “My reply is always the same, “Go and find out”, of course many have, including my own family too, and all have the same opinion now as I do, What a beautiful  country and lovely people too.

”I  have visited Sri Lanka in good times and bad, during the troubles there, and was actually on my way home when the airport was attacked  back in 2001, yes this was a scary time, but even this did not deter me from returning to Sri Lanka”, the affable Brit smiled.

”I am very happy that the troubles in Sri Lanka are now over. The people have gone through some bad times, and now is the chance for them and the country to get back on its feet again, and it so nice to see so much effort to rebuild the tourism trade now”.

“I am now giving something back to Sri Lanka, I am a Destination Expert for Sri Lanka on the Trip Adviser website, in this role I can advise fellow travellers of the best things to see, places to go, hotels to stop at etc. This is all done in my free time without payment, and it is a privilege to do so”, he beamed.

07 September 2010 – As seen on Aitken Spence Hotels Blog.