Archive | November, 2010

Changing Lives, Helping Communities

29 Nov

“Considering the level at which I joined and where I am today, I am very happy and I can now easily support my family. The training we receive is on-the-job and the experience we receive is the best. Before the plant was started the Company promised the community many things and these have been successfully delivered.
So much has been done and the community is very happy”

These were the warm words of praise spoken by Mr Nimal Premarathne from Ace Power Embilipitiya. He joined at its inception in 2005 as a casual worker with the title of junior general helper. Through the years he has risen in ranks to the position of technician. This has been made possible through his dedication and love for the Company as well as the trust and confidence placed on employees by the Company. Ace Power Embilipitiya, a joint venture between Aitken Spence and German owned DEG, is an independent power producer for the CEB. Set in a considerably rural area, the idea of a power plant was not greeted enthusiastically by the community at first. This of course was natural, given the fact that it is generally the norm that power plants are noisy, disruptive and the people and area become industrialized.

This is where Ace Power Embilipitiya proved every negative thinker wrong! This power plant, set on 44 acres of marshy land, occupies only 10 of it for the plant purposes. In the 5 years since Aitken Spence took over its operations and management, not only the plant but the surrounding villages have developed in leaps and bounds. Community development projects are an ongoing process and are chosen based on the need and impact on the community. A most pressing need was that of drinking water. The plant, through the construction of 6 tanks, was able to meet this need to a great extent, benefiting around 3000-4000 families. Several other projects focused on the supply of electricity to the villages and on road development. All these projects, even when outsourced, gave priority to the local community in terms of jobs. Whilst these development projects have been a great strength to Community development projects are an ongoing process and are chosen based on the need and impact on the community. A most pressing need was that of drinking water. The plant, through the construction of 6 tanks, was able to meet this need to a great extent, benefiting around 3000-4000 families. Several other projects focused on the supply of electricity to the villages and on road development. All these projects, even when outsourced, gave priority to the local community in terms of jobs. Whilst these development projects have been a great strength to the community, what has had a bigger impact on their lives are the environmentally friendly practices brought about by the plant. The land area not utilised for the plant has been drastically changed to accommodate 10000-15000 plants, medicinal herbs, agricultural development projects and bee keeping projects.

The dramatic change from a barren land to the lush green area it is today is certainly a big achievement. Once again, it is with the community in mind that these changes have been instigated. The plant conducts advisory services (which include course programmes and training sessions) on farming, bee keeping, herbal plants as well as youth development programmes. It is clear that Ace Power Embilipitiya has gone above and beyond their call of duty to integrate themselves within the community, therefore leaving a green community footprint in the area.


K G Nimal Premarathne (left) and Amal Thushara

As Amal Thushara, another employee at the plant, who has worked there since its inception and has risen to the rank of plant assistant technician from his former general helper status, says – “A real change and a change for the better has taken place through the various services offered by the plant. Everyone is pleasantly surprised because as soon as they walk through the gates of the plant they can see the difference. The plant is open for viewing 3-4 times a week and this greatly benefits the school children too. Also, the plant and the Company helps the community no matter who or what they are. This goodwill and good reputation is beneficial to all of us who work at the plant as well. This plant is a plant with a difference”.

What better praise and accolades can a Company receive, than that of their longstanding employees and the community in which they operate?

Ace Magazine – Volume II – Issue 7

Adaaran ‘Select’ Meedhupparu wins Gold Award from Thomson Holidays

23 Nov

MALE – Adaaran ‘Select’ Meedhupparu has won Gold Award for the best hotel in its class according to the feedback of Thomson Holidays customers. The award was given at a ceremony held at the renowned Savoy Hotel in London during World Travel Mart 2010.

The awards are given based on the feedback that is collected from all Thomson Holidays customers who fly to various destinations on various aspects of the service levels at the resorts/hotels they stay.

Thompson Holidays is a part of TUI Travel PLC, which is the world’s leading leisure travel company operating in over 180 countries with more than 30 million customers in 27 key source markets.

TUI Travel has over 200 brands which are comprised of market-leading mainstream brands and specialist travel businesses. Operating in four sectors: Mainstream, Accommodation & Destinations, Specialist & Activity and Emerging Markets, TUI Travel is focused on providing customers with a wide choice of differentiated and flexible travel experiences to meet their changing needs.

Adaaran Resorts, the Maldivian arm of Aitken Spence Hotels, manages and operates 6 properties in the Maldives. It includes 3 prestige properties which are Adaaran ‘Prestige’ Water Villas, Adaaran ‘Prestige’ Ocean Villas and Adaaran ‘Prestige’ Vadoo. The other properties of Adaaran Resorts in Maldives include Adaaran ‘Select’ Meedhupparu, Adaaran ‘Club’ Rannalhi and Adaaran ‘Select’ Hudhuran Fushi.

Media Release – 23 November 2010

Aitken Spence School of Hospitality Produces Third Batch of Hospitality Trainees from the East and Uva

23 Nov

Considering the demand for skilled and experienced hotel staff in the country, Aitken Spence Hotels established a fully fledged hotel school located in the Southwest of the Island.  The hotel school was built in an attempt to fill the skills gap in the tourism sector. It was established and operates as a Corporate Social Responsibility initiative of the Company which opened its doors in November 2007.   The school was established by Aitken Spence Hotels with the assistance of the Austrian Chamber of Commerce and Hilfswerk.

The most recent batch to enter the hospitality industry was a group of young men from the Eastern and Uva provinces of the country. Aitken Spence was privileged to be associated with USAID and Mercury Direct with this particular programme in assisting the youth of the East and Uva.

This batch of students  have undergone training programmes in Food and Beverage services and most will join Aitken Spence Hotels in Sri Lanka as trainees. This is the third batch of students from the East and Uva who have undergone training at the Aitken Spence School of Hospitality.

A recent basic-level student from the Aitken Spence School of Hospitality, W.M Thilina Mahesh, a nineteen year old student from Monaragala, speaks of his experience at the Hotel School as one that opened the doors to opportunities for him.  Hailing from the Uva, Thilina is a member of a family of six. The family survives on the daily income generated by a boutique operated by his parents which produces an approximate sales income of Rs.2000. Thilina is proud to be one of the eleven students selected out of fifty who applied to participate in the training programme from the Monaragala District. With the qualifications he has received from the Aitken Spence School of Hospitality, Thilina aspires to join the Government run Hotel School where after he plans to become a hospitality professional in the Sri Lankan hospitality arena.

J.M Janison a nineteen year old student residing in Central Camp, Ampara was convinced by his friend to apply for the programme. Having been unsuccessful in his attempt at the Advanced Level examinations, Janison saw this as an opportunity to expand his horizons. Having successfully completed the programme his current goal is to become a hotel food & beverage supervisor.

Aitken Spence Hotels, a leader in the hospitality industry in Sri Lanka has reached great heights in both the domestic and international arena. One reason for its success is attributable to its stewardship in community welfare and development. It has been a pioneering corporate social responsibility initiative by the company to reach out to the conflict-affected youth in the North and East by assisting them to enter the hospitality profession.

Aitken Spence Hotels & Resorts manage and own resorts in Sri Lanka, Maldives, Oman and India. The company’s premier resorts operate under Heritance Hotels & Resorts. Its latest Heritance property in India will be Heritance Cochin, opening in the near future. It will join the award-winning Heritance Hotels & Resorts portfolio consisting of Heritance Kandalama, Heritance Ahungalla, Heritance Tea Factory and Heritance Ayurveda Maha Gedara which is scheduled to open early next year.

Media Release-23 November 2010

Sri Lanka May Cut Company Taxes to Spur Economy Recovering From Civil War

19 Nov
Mahinda Rajapaksa, president of Sri Lanka

Mahinda Rajapaksa, president of Sri Lanka.

Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa may cut taxes to spur investment next year as he seeks to boost economic growth and shrink the budget deficit in a nation recovering from civil war.

A state-backed commission on taxes has recommended that the government lower rates and reduce the number of levies on companies to about 15 from 25, according to Saman Kelegama, executive director of the Institute of Policy Studies in Colombo and a member of the panel. Rajapaksa, due to unveil the 2011 budget in parliament on Nov. 22, may predict a smaller budget gap next year, a Bloomberg News survey shows.

The government has focused on reviving Sri Lanka’s $42 billion economy since Rajapaksa defeated the separatist Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam in May 2009 to end a 26-year civil war. A reduction in levies would test the role of tax policy in bolstering economic expansion while avoiding large- scale fiscal deficits, an issue debated by policy makers across developed and emerging markets.

“The experience in the U.S. under presidents Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush did not seem to support the notion that lowering tax rates would increase government revenues,” said David Cohen, Singapore-based head of Asian forecasting at Action Economics. Nevertheless, “as long as the budget is not too far in deficit, it might still be useful in promoting economic development.”

Budget Gap

The budget gap may narrow to 7.5 percent of gross domestic product next year, according to the median of six estimates in the Bloomberg survey. The government expects a shortfall of 8 percent of GDP in 2010.

Sri Lanka’s benchmark Colombo All-Share Index has climbed over 90 percent this year, lagging behind only Mongolia, and companies including Aitken Spence Plc are boosting investment as peace spurs an economic recovery. The Sri Lankan rupee has gained about 3 percent since the war ended and traded at 111.65 per dollar yesterday.

Rajapaksa has pledged to spend $1 billion a year on infrastructure and the central bank lowered interest rates in July and August to boost growth even as counterparts from India to Australia raised borrowing costs this year. Aitken Spence, Sri Lanka’s biggest operator of resorts, said Sept. 30 it will build a hotel with Six Senses Resorts & Spas in an investment worth as much as $40 million.

Company Tax

“A reduction in corporate and personal tax rates will be an economy-boosting measure and help improve revenue collection,” said Sarath Rajapakse, director of research at Capital Trust Securities Pvt.in Colombo. “The government may also reduce more excise duties on imports, which additionally will ease pressure on the rupee and cost of living.”

Russia credits the adoption of a 13 percent flat income- tax rate with helping boost revenue 12-fold over eight years. In the U.S., tax reductions during the administrations of John F. Kennedy and Ronald Reagan might have helped bolster revenue because they reduced relatively high marginal rates, according to the Washington-based Tax Foundation.

By contrast, reductions from lower levels enacted by former President George W. Bush added about $1.7 trillion to deficits between 2001 and 2008, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

Sri Lanka, which secured a $2.5 billion loan from the International Monetary Fund last year, has pledged to overhaul its tax system based on the recommendations of the panel set up by Rajapaksa. Banks and tourism companies may benefit from tax cuts, said Bimanee Meepagala, a Colombo-based analyst at NDB Aviva Wealth Management Ltd., the nation’s biggest non-state fund.

Credit Delivery

A reduction in the 20 percent value-added tax on financial services would release more funds for lenders, including Commercial Bank of Ceylon Plc, said Samantha Amerasinghe, a Colombo-based economist at Standard Chartered Plc.

The country has earned 15 billion rupees ($134 million) this year after cutting the import tax on cars in June as shipments increased to 11,815 vehicles, compared with 1,282 a year earlier, the government said on its website.

“The move towards a lower corporate tax regime is essential if Sri Lanka is to become a regionally competitive business hub,” Amerasinghe said. The tax rate on Sri Lankan companies is about 35 percent, compared with 25 percent in Malaysia.

Tax Commission

The tax commission has also recommended “widening the tax base,” said Kelegama. Sri Lanka, where only about 3 percent of the 20 million population pay taxes, may bring more people under the tax net and remove some concessions offered through the Board of Investment, central bank Governor Ajith Nivard Cabraal said on Nov. 11.

“A more equitable tax system will ensure more people will pay because it is not too much of a burden,” Cabraal said. “People also like to see a more level playing field for investment. Concessions for some have discouraged people in general.”

Economic expansion may increase tax revenue to 15.5 percent of GDP in 2011 from 14.9 percent currently, giving Rajapaksa room to keep spending on public works, said Amerasinghe. The South Asian island’s economy, which has been performing better than policy makers had expected, may expand as much as 8 percent in 2010 and 2011 as agriculture and tourism grow, Cabraal said Nov. 11.

Foreign Investment

Sri Lanka is also expected to announce easier foreign- exchange rules, including enabling overseas investors to buy corporate debt on the island, Cabraal said.

The president may also offer minority stakes in recently “renationalized” companies by listing them on the Colombo Stock Exchange, said Capital Trust’s Rajapakse.

Sri Lanka this month purchased a 51 percent stake it didn’t already own in the local unit of Royal Dutch Shell Plc for $63 million. The government in July bought out Emirates Airline’s 44 percent stake in SriLankan Airlines for $53 million to gain full control of the company.

“The government’s policy is to draw more foreign direct investment to sustain 8 percent economic growth. This policy will be enunciated in the budget,” Deputy Finance Minister Sarath Amunugama said on Nov. 17.

The budget “will also be revenue generating and help boost growth,” he said.

As seen on http://www.bloomberg.com. For more click: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2010-11-18/sri-lanka-may-cut-taxes-to-bolster-economy-recovering-from-war.html

Media Release – 18 November 2010

Aitken Spence Hotels to Participate in the Culinary World Cup 2010

15 Nov

The 11th Salon International de la Gastronomie (International Gastronomy Show) – EXPOGAST 2010, organised by the Société des Foires Internationales de Luxembourg ‘Luxexpo’ in collaboration with the Vatel Club Luxembourg and the Amitié Gastronomique François Vatel will take place from November 20th to the 24th at the Centre d’Expositions et de Conférences des Foires Internationales – Luxexpo, in Luxembourg.
The EXPOGAST will host the Villeroy & Boch Culinary World Cup 2010 organised by the World Association of Chefs Societies (WACS). WACS is a non-profit association representing 10million chefs worldwide in over 93 countries. The Aitken Spence Hotels culinary team has been invited to team up with the Golden Horse Shoe Culinary team from Canada at this prestigious event.
A platform for recognizing true culinary talents, the competition symbolizes the pinnacle of excellence as hundreds of practitioners in the food & beverage industry worldwide gather to prove their mettle. It is a celebration of culinary talents from all over the world, with participation from almost 500 chefs from 45 teams and 22 countries and regions this year.
An international jury of 55 leading chefs has been appointed to ensure the smooth running of various competitions within the rules of culinary art.
Aitken Spence Hotels has had tremendous success in the World Culinary Cup in the past with its Group Skills Development Chef, Chef Dimuthu Kumarasinghe bringing glory and pride to Sri Lanka and to Aitken Spence by securing 9 gold medals in the “Culinary World Cup” and “Culinary Olympics” in 2004 and 2006 creating history as the 1st individual to win 9 gold medals at a World Cup competition. Chef Dimuthu’s accomplishments not only brings credit and fame to Sri Lanka, but also reflects on Aitken Spence Hotels, who have encouraged him and given him the opportunity to develop his talents, to innovate and to create.
“Our culinary team has been working tirelessly preparing for this esteemed event. We are confident that our team, led by Chef Dimuthu will be recognised for their talents at the Culinary World Cup 2010”, said Mr. Gemunu Goonawardena, Vice President, Aitken Spence Hotels.
The Culinary World Cup 2010 with its internationally renowned civilian teams, military teams and teams of young cooks highlights the international size and scale reached by this gastronomy show over the years. The 11th ‘EXPOGAST’ show looks set to exceed previous events both in terms of the quality of exhibitors and participants present as well as the ever increasing levels of interest expressed by the thousands of visitors in the culinary creations and products presented by the gastronomy and hotel industries over the five day event.
The Aitken Spence Hotels culinary team is set to participate in the World Cup led by Chef Dimuthu Kumarasinghe – Groups Development Chef, Aitken Spence Hotels and Heritance Hotels who will be participating in the event as the Team Coach and Team Manager. The participating team will comprise of: Chef Ramish Hassim – Corporate Chef of Heritance Hotels and Resorts, Sous Chef Gamini Karunathilika- Sous Chef, Heritance Hotels & Resorts , Chef Lalith Gunasekara – Consultant Chef, Heritance Hotels & Resort, Chef Pradeep Fonseka – Pastry Chef, Heritance Hotels & Resorts, Anil Gunawardena – Senior Kitchen Artist, Heritance Hotels & Resorts, Augustus Lowe – Specialist in Garde Monger preparations and Chef D.J Manjula- Senior Chef De Party at Heritance Hotels & Resorts.
Aitken Spence Hotels and Heritance Hotels, located in strategic cities in the country, cater to a diverse market segment and are famed for its exquisite food and culinary art. Over a period of time the reputation gained in this specialisation has helped to position the chain of hotels as one the best in the region.

Media Release – 15 November 2010

Mr. Upul Peiris – COO of Adaaran Resorts with the Award

10 Nov

Adaaran Prestige Water Villas bags World’s Leading Watervilla at World Travel Awards 2010

Adaaran Prestige Water Villas bags World’s Leading Watervilla 2010

8 Nov

Adaaran Prestige Water Villas in the Maldives, run by Aitken Spence, won the award for the World’s Leading Watervilla 2010 at the World Travel Awards 2010. The awards, which are considered the ‘Oscars of the Travel Industry’, were held in London on 7th November during the 2010 World Travel Market.

Adaaran Prestige Water Villas was nominated with Four Seasons Maldives at Kuda Huraa [Maldives], Le Meridien Bora Bora[Fiji], Pangkor Laut Resort [Malaysia], Punta Caracol Acqua-Lodge [Panama] and Taj Exotica Resort & Spa [Maldives] for the “World’s Leading Watervilla” category.

In addition to the world award, Adaaran Prestige Water Villas won the award for Maldives’ Leading Water Villas for the third consecutive year. Competing against leading international brands, Adaaran Prestige Resorts won the Indian Ocean Water Villa Group for the second consecutive year, at the awards. The other nominees for this coveted recognition consisted of Anantara, Coco Collection, Constance Hotels, Kanuhara, Taj Hotels and Universal Resorts.

Adaaran Resorts is the Maldivian arm of Aitken Spence Hotels, which operates 25 hotels and resorts in four countries. Adaaran Resorts operates over 600 rooms in the Maldives in four islands including three properties with water villas: Adaaran Prestige Water Villas, Meedhupparu; Adaaran Prestige Ocean Villas, Hudhuranfushi; and Adaaran Prestige Vadoo. Other Adaaran properties are Adaaran Select Meedhupparu; Adaaran Select Hudhuranfushi and Adaaran Club Rannalhi.

Media Release – 08 November 2010

Aitken Spence Recognised as the Best in Community Relations

6 Nov

Heritance Kandalama Produces Top Environmental Project

Recognizing the Group’s commitment to building sustainable livelihoods and developing local communities, the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce placed Aitken Spence Plc as the category winner for Community Relations at the recently concluded Best Corporate Citizens Awards 2010.

The company’s enduring best practices in community relations consist of local employment & purchasing, environmental impact mitigation, infrastructure & sustainable livelihoods development, welfare programmes and community engagement in decisions which impact them.

As a diversified conglomerate with operations in many localities across the island, the recognition is a reflection on the Aitken Spence’s commitment to engage local communities positively across a myriad of business sectors and among many communities.

Heritance Kandalama, a global benchmark in sustainable tourism, was recognized as the best special project under the environmental category, receiving a merit award for its groundbreaking biomass gasifier. The gasifier reduces 500tonnes of carbon emissions per year by replacing diesel with Grilicidia wood, which creates substantial employment opportunities for local farmers.

Heritance Kandalama won Asia’s Responsible Tourism Award for large hotel category at the ITB Asia tourism trade show held in Singapore in October.

Media Release – 06 November 2010

After Decades of War, Sri Lanka Bounces Back

6 Nov

Billions in foreign money, especially from China, are pouring in

By Frederik Balfour

As recently as a year and a half ago, life in Colombo was tense. Residents were under constant threat of suicide bombs, and armed guards at checkpoints made crossing the city a hassle. “You went out every day not knowing what would happen,” recalls Richard Vokes, Asian Development Bank (ADB) country director. Since Sri Lankan government forces defeated the Tamil Tigers rebel group in May 2009, though, the sandbags and checkpoints are mostly gone, tourists stroll the palm-fringed seaside promenade, and locals fly kites in front of the majestic colonial-era Galle Face Hotel. Living in Colombo is now “a very pleasant experience,” Vokes says.

The ADB expects Sri Lanka’s economy to grow as much as 8 percent this year and next. Colombo’s stock market is the world’s second-best performer (after Mongolia) in 2010, more than doubling in value even as many investors wait to see whether the stability holds. Visits from foreigners have increased 40 percent so far this year and are expected to top 600,000 for 2010. The government hopes that number will hit 2.5 million by 2016 as word spreads about the white sand beaches, rainforests teeming with wildlife, and ancient temples nestled in the lush hillsides of the newly peaceful island nation. “Sri Lanka has been a closed shop for 30 years,” says Joseph Michael Suresh Brito, chief executive officer of Colombo-based Aitken Spence Hotel Holdings, which is working with a Thai company on a $40 million community of luxury villas on the south coast. “People will come with no fear.”

Tourism is one of three sectors the government is counting on to help reduce Sri Lanka’s reliance on the garment trade and low-end manufacturing. At least a half-dozen resorts and hotels are in the works, including a $150 million property that Hong Kong-based Shangri-La is planning for Colombo’s waterfront. IT outsourcing, another preferred sector, already employs 60,000 and is on track to bring in revenues of $350 million this year. By 2015 the government hopes outsourcing revenues will hit $1 billion. Agricultural exports, the government’s third priority, grew 21 percent in the first eight months of the year, as farms that lay fallow during the conflict now yield rich crops of rice, lentils, and beans.

After decades of neglect and sabotage, Sri Lanka’s roads, railways, and ports are ill-prepared for the growth. The government is planning billions of dollars in investment to upgrade dilapidated infrastructure, with much of the work going to multinationals. Korea’s Hyundai Engineering and Construction is building a four-mile breakwater for a new container port in Colombo. Indian utility NTPC (NTPC) is close to a deal to build a $900 million coal-fired power plant on the east coast. And Swiss cement maker Holcim’s Sri Lankan business is up 22 percent this year. “Being here at this moment is fantastic,” says Stefan Huber, Sri Lanka CEO for Holcim. As in many other developing countries, China’s influence is growing. A $455 million loan from China Eximbank paid for a 300-megawatt power plant scheduled to open next year, and an additional $560 million in loans from China will go toward new roads, including a 20-mile expressway to Colombo’s airport. In the south, Chinese workers are wrapping up the first phase of a $1.4 billion port in the town of Hambantota. Nearby, a Chinese construction company is building Sri Lanka’s second international airport at a cost of $210 million.

Many foreigners, though, have been slow to put their money on the line. In the first six months of 2010, Sri Lanka saw $208 million in foreign direct investment, down from $253 million in the first half last year. “There is a lot of renewed interest, but most of it is yet to be realized,” says Nick Nicolaou, Sri Lanka chief for London-based bank HSBC (HBC). Some investors grouse that the Board of Investment, a government agency that must approve foreign-funded projects, makes it difficult to do business in the country. Says the board’s chairman, Jayampathi Bandaranayake: “It’s fair to say we could improve our services.” He argues that as the board focuses on priority sectors, it will simplify the approval process and offer incentives to investors. “There’s an expectation of big investments in tailor-made areas,” says Bandaranayake.

One big worry is red tape and graft. Watchdog group Transparency International on Oct. 26 ranked Sri Lanka 91st out of 178 countries in terms of corruption. (No. 1 Denmark is the least corrupt country.) That put Sri Lanka one spot behind India, though well ahead of Vietnam (ranked 116). In July the European Union rescinded Sri Lanka’s preferential trade access because of the country’s human rights record.

Foreigners and Sri Lankans grumble privately about the growing power of President Mahinda Rajapaksa. After Rajapaksa was elected to a second term in January and his party swept parliamentary elections in April, Parliament lifted a two-term limit for the presidency. Three of Rajapaksa’s brothers hold top government posts, and his 24-year-old son is in Parliament. “We haven’t seen evidence of it yet, but if the family’s power is used in the wrong way, then we have a big problem,” says Mark Mobius, who has invested in Sri Lankan stocks and bonds as part of the $33 billion he manages for Franklin Templeton Investments.

Government officials say human rights issues are a top priority that Parliament is addressing. While they acknowledge that corruption is a problem, they insist it’s no worse than in neighboring countries. The government, says presidential spokesman Lucien Rajakarunanayake, has “a commitment to minimize” corruption. Officials acknowledge that corruption is a problem, but businesspeople say it’s no worse than in neighboring countries. And Rajapaksa’s family, many people in business and government say, provides the stable leadership needed in the recovering country. “The Rajapaksa brothers seem powerful, but this issue didn’t happen overnight,” says Nirupama Rajapaksa, the president’s cousin and a member of Parliament. “Our family has been in politics since 1931.”

The bottom line: Sri Lanka is poised for rapid growth as its economy bounces back from decades of civil war.

As seen on Bloomberg Businessweek on 4 November 2010. For more info, click: http://www.businessweek.com/globalbiz/content/nov2010/gb2010113_352751.htm

Media Release – 4 November 2010

Aitken Spence acquires another hotel in India

4 Nov

Aitken Spence Hotels is pleased to announce the addition of the fifth hotel to its portfolio in India. The company has taken over the management of the hill resort, Grand Palace Hotel and Spa in Yercaud, owned by MSV Hotels Pvt Ltd, on 1st October 2010.

Aitken Spence Hotels is an emerging player in the Indian hospitality industry already managing four other resorts in India –

  • Atithi –  Puducherry
  • Poovar Island Resort – on the backwaters of Kerala
  • Barefoot at Havelock –  Andaman Islands
  • Tamara  – Coimbatore

“We are happy to expand our portfolio in India with the addition of Grand Palace Hotel and Spa, situated in one of the most scenic locations in Tamil Nadu. This partnership will enable us to further consolidate our presence in South India”, stated Mr. Lakshman Ekanayake, Chief Executive Officer of Aitken Spence Hotel Managements in India.

Surrounded by misty mountains, Grand Palace Hotel is a hill resort offering an enchanting view of the Yercaud Lake on one side and the picturesque valley of Killiyur on the other.  The town has derived its name from the lake located at its center – “Yeri” meaning “lake” and “Kaadu” meaning “forest” in Tamil. This enchanting township situated close to Salem, surrounded by coffee plantations and orange groves is a very popular holiday destination.

The guest rooms at Grand Palace Hotel provide a breathtaking view of the lake or the valley and are equipped with LCD TVs, heaters and tea/coffee makers. The hotel is an ideal getaway for both honeymooners as well as holiday seekers, looking for a tranquil place to stay.

“The Orange”, multi cuisine restaurant, offers a delectable array of Tamil Nadu cuisine in addition to North Indian and Chinese dishes. The “Cloud 9” bar with its old world charm, offers the perfect ambience to relax and unwind. At the “Bliss Spa” therapists and aestheticians are at hand to bestow their expert touch to rejuvenate ones senses. The hotel is also equipped with banquet and conference facilities.

“The tourism industry in India has tremendous potential and we are glad to increase our Indian portfolio. It is evident that we were offered the management of Grand Palace and Spa as we have established our presence in India. Further we have been recognized for our ability to identify the potential in existing properties and transform them into star class, award winning hotels”, stated Mr.Malin Hapugoda, Managing Director, Aitken Spence Hotels.

Aitken Spence Hotels is a part of the leisure sector of Aitken Spence PLC, a diversified conglomerate in Sri Lanka and is a pioneer and market leader in the hospitality industry. The flagship property of Aitken Spence Hotels, Heritance Kandalama was recently awarded Asia’s Responsible Tourism Award for the large scale hotel category at the ITB Asia Tourism Trade Show held in Singapore on 21 October 2010.  Asia’s Responsible Tourism Awards is organised by Wild Asia and it is the only tourism award of its kind in Asia.

It is the vision of Aitken Spence Hotels to champion sustainable tourism by developing hotels committed to sustainable practices while focusing on its commitment to corporate social responsibility initiatives and respecting and nurturing the culture in which it operates in.

Media Release – 04 November 2010