Aitken Spence Hotel Holdings, with a portfolio of 27 resorts and hotels, spanning Sri Lanka, the Maldives, India and Oman and translating into a huge 2,300 room capacity, is currently Sri Lanka’s largest resort operator. The company’s 600 rooms, spread across 7 resorts also make it the largest international operator in the Maldives.
Already boasting of exotic properties such as Barefoot at Havelock, located on the “ best beach in Asia” as rated by the Time magazine, Heritance Kandalama Sri Lanka’s most awarded hotel and “an icon of modern hotel design” as rated by the Observer UK, Desert Nights Camp, Oman rated as “one of the top ten desert retreats in the world” by The National and the unique Heritance Tea Factory rated by The Independent UK as one of the ‘top five factory hotels’ in the world and “one of the best 100 places to stay in the world” by the Sunday Times UK, the chain is poised to further astound the tourism sector, both at home and abroad. Aitken Spence is unrivalled in product diversity; from the quaint colonial house-turned hotel in Bandarawela to the upscale Heritance Ahungalla, the group has something for everyone.
On the island, new plans include expansion in all of the cardinal directions, as well as further developments in India and possibly the Middle East. Whilst majority of the new properties will target the high end, Aitken Spence plans to broaden its portfolio, keeping the variety for which it has become renowned and cater to additional niche segments such as wellness and business travel. In addition to a new resort planned for the company’s 100-acre plot of land on the soft white sands of Trincomalee, plans for a high-end resort to be built in Ahungalla are also under way. The latter, will include an island on the Madhu river and be run under the Six Senses banner. In keeping with its reputation for diversity, Aitken Spence also aims to construct city hotels in Colombo and Jaffna. A sustainable tourism model, which Aitken Spence pioneered in Sri Lanka will be the key consideration in growth.
When questioned on how future plans for new target markets would affect the current portfolio and perception of Aitken Spence properties, Mr. Hapugoda quickly says, “We have always been confident of Sri Lanka and continued to spend on our properties during the low years; as such we are one company that is ready to take the upturn. Having said that, as tourism is due to boom, we have some of the best and most unique resorts and we can boldly target the high end, whilst continuing to have a presence in the volume market.” In post-war Sri Lanka, when the future of tourism is looking brighter than ever, Mr. Malin Hapugoda, Managing Director, Aitken Spence Hotel Managements, acknowledges that the true strength behind the award-winning Group is the team who continuously strives towards excellence in service. He encourages them to persist in their endeavours as he says, “There is no favouritism, everyone is rewarded on merit and in the company’s expansion plans, current staff will always be given preference for growth opportunities within the group, whether in Sri Lanka or abroad.”