Archive | August, 2011

Heritance Hotels Wins Big at the National Green Awards

24 Aug

The Heritance brand was once again in the spot light when Heritance Kandalama and Heritance Tea Factory emerged winners at the National Green Awards held last evening at the BMICH. Heritance Kandalama, no doubt the greenest hotel in Sri Lanka and one of the greenest hotels on the planet was awarded the Gold Award in the Large Scale Hotel category. This prestigious award won by Heritance Kandalama was one of four Gold Awards presented at the award ceremony which three hundred applicants vied for. The recent recipient of the Sri Lanka Travel and Tourism award for the island’s Best 4 Star Hotel, Heritance Tea Factory, walked away with the Silver Award in the Medium Scale Hotel category.
Sri Lanka’s entrepreneurs, industrialists, and other stakeholders who contribute their share for environmental conservation and anti pollution were recognized for their excellence in green practice, strategy and products at the award ceremony which was held for the first time this year. Organized by the Central Environmental Authority (CEA), The National Green Awards scheme was initiated in order to provide an alternative system to controlling pollution and greening the environment instead of the existing command and control approaches and education & awareness programmes. The main aim of the all island programme is to promote sustainable management of the environment in order to achieve a green country through a clean green environment.
Hon. President Mahinda Rajapaksa graced the occasion which was organized to coincide with the 30th anniversary of the CEA. Twenty seven Green Awards were presented in fourteen sectors including textile, hotel, food and beverage, waste management and healthcare sectors.
“This is reaping the harvest of what was sown starting from 1994 by the pioneers. The philosophies practiced by them are still vigorously carried out by our present team. Through strategies planning, dedication, hard work and commitment and through passionate and pragmatic approaches we were able to be in the forefront of practicing sustainability even before the advent of the triple bottom line approach. This is clear evidence of foresight and planning”, said Mr.Ravi de Silva, Environmental Consultant, Aitken Spence Hotels.
Heritance Kandalama, a hotel committed to sustainable practices from conceptualisation to construction to its day-to-day operations has won a large number of awards as one of the most eco-friendly hotels in the world. It has set precedence to other hotels on how they too can be effective responsible tourism players by contributing in terms of conserving the natural environment, protecting bio diversity, empowering local communities, supporting livelihoods dependent on tourism, preserving local traditions, arts and crafts and mitigating climate change especially by using bio mass as renewable energy.

The Heritance Tea Factory, Sri Lanka’s first theme hotel is a unique hotel concept, where a tea factory built several decades ago has been converted into a plush hotel. Retaining its traditional character, this most unusual hotel is situated 6800 feet above sea level amidst the misty mountains and the lush plantations of the hill country. The hotel has been recognized by one of Britain’s widely read ‘Sunday Times’ as one of the 100 best places to stay in the world and ‘The Independent’ selected Heritance Tea Factory as one of the 5 best factory hotels in the world.
“Ecotourism, responsible tourism and sustainable tourism have become the buzz words in the tourism industry, and with the effects of global warming and climate change influencing travelers worldwide towards a more a more sustainable way of traveling. We recognized many years ago that sustainable development is an absolute necessity in today’s world while believing that it is equally important that our heritage is preserved. Heritance Hotels have struck a perfect balance of practicing sustainable tourism while preserving and protecting our heritage for future generations”, said Mr. Malin Hapugoda, Managing Director, Aitken Spence Hotels.
Aitken Spence Hotels manages a portfolio of hotels and resorts in Sri Lanka, Maldives, India and Oman. The company’s expertise in hotel design, building and management is complimented by its dedication and commitment to excellence. Located in some of the key tourist locations, each of the properties cater to a diverse client base. Aitken Spence Hotels has set precedence to other hotels on how they too can be effective responsible tourism players by contributing in terms of conserving the natural environment, protecting bio diversity, empowering local communities, supporting livelihoods dependent on tourism, preserving local traditions, arts and crafts and mitigating climate change especially by using bio mass as renewable energy.

The company’s premier resorts operate under Heritance Hotels & Resorts. Its latest Heritance property Heritance Ayurveda Maha Gedara commenced operations in July 2011. It has joined the award-winning Heritance Hotels & Resorts portfolio consisting of Heritance Kandalama, Heritance Ahungalla and Heritance Tea Factory.

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Heritance Hotels Crowned the Most Energy Efficient Hotel Chain in Sri Lanka by Bagging Gold, Silver and Bronze Awards

12 Aug

The attendees present at the Sri Lanka National Energy Efficiency Awards 2011 experienced history in the making as they witnessed Heritance Hotels and Resorts being crowned the most energy efficient hotel chain in Sri Lanka. Heritance Hotels made a clean sweep of the Large Scale Hotel Sector category, a feat never been achieved in the history of the awards by a single hotel chain. Heritance Kandalama, the most awarded hotel in Sri Lanka walked away with the Gold Flame Award and was honoured for its ability to demonstrate year-on-year energy reductions along with ongoing sustainability processes and energy management strategies. Heritance Tea Factory the recent winner of the Sri Lanka Tourism Award for the Best 4 Star Hotel in the country walked away with the Silver Flame award. Heritance Ahungalla, the winner of the Sri Lanka Tourism Award for the Best 5 Star Resort in the island who emerged the overall champion at the recently concluded Culinary Art 2011 was the proud winner of the Bronze Flame Award.

The Sri Lanka National Energy Efficiency Awards is an annual national event conducted by the Sri Lanka Sustainable Energy Authority for private and public sector institutions with the aim of recognizing their contribution towards an energy secure Sri Lanka. “We as a team are delighted to have been recognized for the efforts we have taken towards efficient utilization, conservation and management of energy. We have been the pioneers of implementing innovative, cost effective and transferable energy efficiency measures over the years and winning these awards reaffirms our commitment towards reducing our demands on Mother Earth.” said Mr.Rohitha Rajaratne, Vice President, Engineering, Aitken Spence Hotels.

The group has a comprehensive energy conservation policy and has concentrated on reducing its dependency on fossil fuels by switching to renewable energy. In a first for any hotel in Sri Lanka, a biomass gasifier was installed at Heritance Tea Factory and there after at Heritance Kandalama. The gasifier reduces 750 tonnes of carbon emissions per year by replacing diesel with grilicidia wood. The use of locally farmed grilicidia wood instead of imported, and pollution causing, diesel not only saves the environment but also creates substantial employment opportunities for local farmers. The central heating and hot water in the hotels are supplied by this eco-friendly sustainable energy source. This not only reduces the carbon footprint but also paves the way to alleviating poverty by generating more employment opportunities locally while reducing the foreign exchange drained out on purchasing imported crude oil.
Operating under the Heritance Hotels & Resorts brand, the flagship Heritance Kandalama is the world’s first hotel to obtain the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification. The Observer of UK named it as one of the “Icons of Modern Hotel Design” and Travel + Leisure calls it one of the leading green hotels of the world.
Heritance Tea Factory has its roots in an inspired idea, to conserve and restore a long-abandoned tea factory transforming it into a hotel. The world renowned hotel’s accolades are many: voted amongst the “100 Best Places to Stay in the World” by Sunday Times UK and being nominated for the “Top 5 Factory Hotels in the World” by The Independent, UK are a few of the many accolades awarded to Heritance Tea Factory.
Sri Lanka’s first five star beach resort, “The Triton” was re-launched in 2006 as a Heritance Resort. The multi award winning premier beach resort, Heritance Ahungalla, is a creation by the legendry architect Geoffrey Bawa.

“The two words (Heritage and Inheritance) the combination which gave rise to the brand name ‘HERITANCE’ are very significant. The relevance of heritage to our hotel brand is that it denotes the standards that we have established based on the knowledge and experience that have been passed down to us throughout the ages. We have learnt from the past and intend to use this as a foundation for the future. The relevance of inheritance to our brand is that, we have inherited the locality and environment in which we manage within. It has been bequeathed to us and we are honour bound to take care of it, before it is passed on to the next generation”, said Mr.Malin Hapugoda, Managing Director, Aitken Spence Hotels.

Mr.Hapugoda further stated “It brings great joy to our team to have being recognized by the Sri Lanka Sustainable Energy Authority and the Ministry of Power for our energy efficient initiatives in our bid to protect Mother Earth for our future generations”.
The company’s premier resorts operate under Heritance Hotels & Resorts. Its latest Heritance property Heritance Ayurveda Maha Gedara commenced operations in July 2011. It has joined the award-winning Heritance Hotels & Resorts portfolio consisting of Heritance Kandalama, Heritance Ahungalla and Heritance Tea Factory.

Managing the Group’s Environmental Impacts Comprehensively

10 Aug

At Aitken Spence, we utilise several different tools to enhance productivity and implement our sustainability strategy; one such tool is the Environmental Management System (EMS). EMS improves productivity and provides a more holistic approach to operations by eliminating waste and optimising resource usage.
EMS was first inducted into Aitken Spence in the hotels sector. The idea was born at the award winning Kandalama Hotel in Dambulla. Instead of viewing environmental and social responsibilities as mere inconveniences, those factors as well as employees, the wider community and everything else impacted became a part of the sustainability drive. With Kandalama’s success becoming evident, the Company made a corporate decision to apply this strategy in other hotels and later throughout the entire spectrum of its business.
Aitken Spence EMS was developed by internal environmental experts, based on globally recognised ISO 14001 guidelines. They then proceeded to implement it one step at a time into each of its many subsidiaries simultaneously. The hotels got a head start and currently, all except one have obtained the ISO 14001 certification. All Aitken Spence power plants are also ISO 14001 certified. Other subsidiaries are in the process of implementing the EMS and are currently documenting the EMS and its procedures as per the ISO 14001 requirements.
An EMS at Aitken Spence is divided into three implementation phases. Phase one identifies an organisation’s impacts on the environment, isolates those impacts that are significant and sets qualitative objectives and quantitative targets as benchmarks to mitigate if not eliminate the impact by managing the activities and aspects that cause the impact. This is achieved by outlining programmes to guide activities towards that. All subsidiaries have completed phase one and are currently working on phase two.
Phase two includes appointing an Environmental Management Representative (EMR) who controls the implementation of programmes. It also details every role and responsibility employees are required to undertake to ensure successful completion of the programme. They are assisted in this assimilation through training, improved communication, supporting documentation and its control.
Phase three which is yet to be introduced will implement a monitoring system that will be used to maintain the EMS.
An example of an impact causing activity could be the mere switching on of a light; the power for one light is supplied largely by burning fuel which is a non renewable resource that is also a source of carbon emissions. Since this happens quite frequently, we consider the damage we cause to the environment by turning on a light to be significant and set qualitative goals to reduce energy consumption from lighting and benchmark our performance by setting a quantitative target that explains how much we expect to save by when. Without stopping there we also ask our employees to switch off all lights that are not necessary. That explains activities in Phase one. In phase II, we will document this procedure, allocate responsibilities and ensure implementation of this strategy by instructing and training employees to only use light when necessary. In phase III we would encourage relevant sectional heads to monitor the progress of the EMS against targets set in phase I and take necessary action to fill gaps in the system to ensure continuous improvement and consistent commitment from all employees.
The ultimate goal is to ensure that we have a positive impact on the environment to our fullest capacity and lead environmental friendly operations in the corporate sector.

Diversified Aitken Spence Shows Strong Growth in Q1

9 Aug

Aitken Spence PLC released its first quarter financial results to the Colombo Stock Exchange on Monday, reporting a pre-tax profit of Rs 734 mn for the three months ended 30th June 2011, a growth of 13.5 per cent, over the previous year. The leading diversified conglomerate’s profits attributable to the shareholders grew by 25.3 per cent to Rs 551mn during the quarter.

Earnings per share for first quarter ended 30 June 2010 stood at Rs. 1.36, an increase of 25 per cent over the corresponding period in the previous year.

The Group’s Maldivian resorts that operate under the Adaaran Resorts umbrella showed strong growth from the first quarter of last year. With five award-winning resorts under its portfolio, Adaaran is the fourth largest resort operator in the Indian Ocean archipelago.

With several new projects on port related services from South Africa coming online during the quarter under review, Aitken Spence’s overseas maritime services arm recorded a significant growth in profits compared to the same period last year.

The Company’s travel arm, the largest inbound operator in the country, recorded a robust performance during the quarter under review. Aitken Spence Travels is a joint venture with TUI Travel Plc, the world’s largest integrated tourism group. TUI generates over 30 million tourists worldwide and operates over 150 owned aircrafts.

Group revenue for the period showed a drop of 2 per cent over the corresponding quarter. The closure of its largest power plant at Embilipitiya during most of the quarter due to repairs and maintenance, as well as the closure of two Sri Lankan resorts for refurbishment contributed negatively to Group revenue.

The former Neptune Hotel in Beruwala which was closed for refurbishment during the quarter is now opened as Heritance Ayurveda Maha Gedara, an up market wellness resort. Our resort property in Kalutara was the other resort that was closed during the quarter for refurbishment. It will open in November this year as The Sands by Aitken Spence, subsequent to a refurbishment and an expansion in room capacity and service offering.

Deputy Chairman & Managing Director of Aitken Spence PLC, Mr. J M S Brito said, “Reflecting our diversified interests, the quarter’s strong growth was fuelled by vigorous performances by several of our strategic business units.”

“We are delighted to note the outstanding achievement of the culinary team of our hotels sector who were rated the Best Hotel Team and Best Culinary Team in Sri Lanka after competing against both international and domestic star class hotels at the 14th Culinary Art Competition. Such achievements are testament to our relentless commitment to being globally competitive in whichever business we are in”, added Mr. Brito.

During the quarter under review, the Company’s Heritance Hotels and Resorts were the dominant winners at the Sri Lanka Tourism Awards. Heritance Ahungalla, was awarded the Best 5-Star Resort in the island successfully taking over the baton from Heritance Kandalama who won the coveted award for the last three consecutive years, securing the resort a position in the prestigious Hall of Fame last year. Heritance Tea Factory emerged winners in the Best 4-Star Resort category for a second year. The Best Host Hotel for Eco Tourism was awarded to Heritance Kandalama.

The Group’s printing & packaging arm, known for its industry leadership in quality and reliability, contributed strongly during the reporting quarter. The integrated logistics arm of the company which has an unrivalled range of container related services showed an improved performance from last year.

Aitken Spence Brings the First Ever Passenger Vessel to the Port of Hambantota

9 Aug

Creating history, Mv Logos Hope the goodwill passenger cruise liner cum book exhibition vessel docked at the Port of Hambantota on recently, as the first ever passenger vessel to call at the port. A spokesman for the vessel agent Aitken Spence Shipping stated that they were keen on making the Logos Hope call at the Port of Hambantota, firstly to showcase the brand new picturesque port and secondly to nullify the myth that vessels could not call at the Port of Hambantota.

“We were able to convince the owners and project directors to call at the port of Hambatota despite the initial concerns they had”. The spokesman further stated that they wish to thank Dr. P B Wickrema, Chairman Sri Lanka Ports Authority (SLPA); Mr Agil Hewaeegana, Projerct Director of Hambantota Port; Capt Ravi Jayawickrema- Harbour Master SLPA, Capt Athula Hewawitharana, Senior Deputy Harbour Master SLPA and all the officials of the Hambantota Port for their wonderful support and cooperation.

The vessel which is 132.5 metres in length and 21 metres in breadth eased into the Port of Hambantota under the care of Capt. Pat Tracy who was a former US Naval Frigate Master. The vessel was piloted into the port by Capt. S.C.Wimalasiri, the Deputy Harbour Master of Galle. The vessel was guided to its berth by Tug “Therapuththapaya”.

The vessel has onboard 450 passengers and crew of nearly 45 nationalities. It is truly a multicultural contingent whose purpose is to bring knowledge, help and hope to the people of the world. The vessel was docked in the Port of Colombo from 17th March 2011 to 23rd May 2011 and in the Port of Galle from 29th June to 17th July 2011, before reaching Hambantota on the 18th of July. During its stay in Sri Lanka the vessel was open to the public to visit its book exhibition and purchase valuable books.

Capt. Pat Tracy was very impressed with the warm hospitality that was afforded to him, the passengers and the crew during their stay in Sri Lanka.

The passengers and crew travelled to various parts of the country for site seeing, visiting places of historical interest, shopping and enjoying the pleasures of our lovely nation. They were also involved in community service in the villages, schools and communities, as well as donating books worth several hundred of thousand US Dollars to schools, libraries and community centres.

It is believed that over 1 million Sri Lankans visited the vessel during its port calls at Colombo, Galle and Hambantota. Since this was the first ever passenger vessel to call at Hambantota, there were queues of people visiting the vessel. “At times we were wondering if Hambantota had such a large population” said Mr Seelan Govinder – Project Director of Logos Hope, because there were so many people arriving to see the vessel.

The Logos Hope derives its name from the Greek Word Logos traditionally meaning “word, thought, principal or speech”. The vessel was constructed in 1973 and subsequently converted to a passenger vessel commencing from 2004. The vessel began its journey as a passenger vessel in February 2009. The vessel has 492 berths capable of carrying nearly 900 passengers.

The Logos Hope carries a stock of half a million books for the whole family. The thousands of titles available cover a wide range of subjects such as science, technology, sports, hobbies, cookery, arts, social sciences and languages. A large selection is devoted especially to children and every effort is made to ensure that local language materials are available for each port visit.

The vessel sailed from Hambantota on 28th July 2011 to its next destination which is Vizag, in India.

Heritance Ahungalla, Home to the Best Hotel Team and Best Culinary Team in Sri Lanka

3 Aug

Heritance Ahungalla, the recent recipient of the Sri Lanka Tourism award for the Best 5-Star Resort in the island has now emerged as the Best Hotel Team and Best Culinary Team in Sri Lanka after competing against both international and domestic star class hotels at the 14th Culinary Art Competition held from the 29th to the 1st of August, 2011. Organized by the Chefs Guild of Sri Lanka, this event is the largest food and trade exhibition combined with that of a culinary competition.

Maintaining its reputation for offering the best cuisine in the country, Aitken Spence Hotels won an unprecedented 145 medals including the prestigious awards for the Best Hotel Team and the Best Culinary Team which were both won by Heritance Ahungalla.

There were 25 categories for the medals and the Aitken Spence medal tally displayed the sheer dominance the resort chain’s chefs had over its competitors in this field. World acclaimed Chef Dimuthu Kumarasinghe – Group Skills Development Chef, Aitken Spence Hotels and Heritance Hotels who led the team and Mr.Amal Nanayakkara, General Manager –Training, whose continuous training and motivation guided the participants, were jubilant along with the teams from Heritance Hotels who collectively won 13 special awards out of a total of 32 special awards. The awards included the following: Best Cocktail – H.D. Dilum Jeewantha Jayathunga, Heritance Ahungalla, Bru Coffee Apprentice Dessert Live –Avner Deen, Heritance Ahungalla, Best Individual Ice Carving – Chef Anil Gunewardene, Heritance Kandalama, Dress the Cake – Chef Sanjeewa Niroshan Premathunga, Heritance Kandalama, Best Chocolate Showpiece – Chef Susantha Premalal Gunathilake, Heritance Ahungalla, Best Wedding Cake Structure – Chef T.Nirmal Alwis Weerasinghe, Heritance Ahungalla, Best Bartender (Mixologist) – G.H.D Shanika Niroshini Jayasekara, Heritance Ahungalla, Best Artist – Chef A.A Kavindu Isurumal Amarasinghe, Heritance Ahungalla, Most Outstanding Pastry Chef – Chef Sanjeewa Niroshan Premathunga, Heritance Kandalama, Most Outstanding Regional Team (Cultural Triangle) – Heritance Kandalama Culinary Team led by Chef Hassim, Most Outstanding Regional Team ( Southern Province) – Heritance Ahungalla Culinary Team led by Chef Lalith, Best Culinary Team – Heritance Ahungalla, Best Hotel Team – Heritance Ahungalla.

“I am tremendously proud of the achievements of my team, walking away with 145 medals from a competition such as this is no easy task. We believe that we are the best and having being presented with 13 of the special awards including the award for the Best Hotel Team in the island, no doubt reaffirms our beliefs”, said Mr.Gemunu Goonawardena, Vice President, Food and Beverage, Aitken Spence Hotels who has had a strong leadership influence on the team.

Chef Guilds of Sri Lanka from their modest beginnings in 1988 has emerged as the premier professional body of culinary professionals in the hospitality trade.
A platform for recognizing true culinary talents, the competition symbolizes the pinnacle of excellence as hundreds of practitioners in the food & beverage industry in the country gathers to prove their mettle.

“It is essential for us as a destination, to attract the high-end traveler, and in order to do so we need to be able to offer the products and services expected from this market segment. Aitken Spence Hotels is committed towards elevating the image of the country and being recognized as having the Best Culinary Team is yet another endorsement of our continuous yearn to position Sri Lanka as a world-class tourist destination. Our greatest asset is our staff at all levels who are loyal, dedicated and committed and work together as one team assisting and encouraging each other to be the best.” said Mr. Malin Hapugoda, Managing Director, Aitken Spence Hotels whose unstinted support helped the team in its achievement.

Aitken Spence Hotels is the largest resort operator in Sri Lanka and the largest international hotel operator in the Maldives with a portfolio of hotels in multiple locations in India and Oman. Its range of international award-wining properties, management & culinary expertise and environmental commitment has set industry benchmarks both domestically and internationally.