Archive | June, 2019

Heritance Kandalama, the pioneer of sustainable hospitality turns 25 years

24 Jun

True progress can only be achieved when development is inclusive, responds to pressing needs and is sustainable environmentally, socially and economically. A green building was unheard of 25 years ago, let alone a five-star deluxe hotel property with 152 rooms with all facilities, that would protect and enrich its surrounding ecosystem in its pristine condition, provide sustainable income to the local communities and offer high-quality service to a plethora of visitors from across the globe. It always seems impossible till it is done. From the pearl of the Indian ocean, nestled among the lush greens in the Cultural triangle of Sri Lanka, the world got an example of sustainable development in the form of Heritance Kandalama. Today, Heritance Kandalama celebrates 25 years.

 

Intelligent design, Sustainable in its operation

Designed by renowned architect Deshamanya Geoffrey Bawa, the hotel resembles outspread wings of a bird, following the line of the cliff from which it seems to emerge. Due to the raised platform of the structure, natural water streams that passed through the area 25 years ago still flow unobstructed, enriching over 30 water systems downstream. Conceptualised to blend into the eco-system, the hotel allows freedom of movement for wildlife and vegetation.

Today, 100% of its wastewater and effluents are treated and repurposed; solid waste is segregated to more than 20 diverse types of waste and monitored to achieve an ambitious goals of zero waste reaching landfill; and energy is managed to reduce emissions. The hotel has undertaken the conservation of 58 acres of forest area, flora and fauna within the hotel and another 198 acres of forest cover adjacent to the property in its pristine condition protecting  128 species of native flora, 183 species of birds, 19 species of reptiles, 64 species of dragons and butterflies. The Eco Park at Heritance Kandalama has educated more than 3 million visitors to date.

Heritance Kandalama, part of Aitken Spence Hotel Holdings PLC, is the first LEED certified hotel in the world and the first building outside USA to be certified (LEED, Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, is the most widely used green building rating system in the world). It is also the first Green Globe 21 certified hotel in Asia and perhaps the most awarded hotel property in Sri Lanka.

 

Part of the community

The hotel started its journey by employing 80 local individuals from the area in 1993 with little to no experience in customer handling and hospitality. With the commitment of Aitken Spence Hotel Holdings PLC, these individuals have developed with the property. Now, our award-winning team is strengthened by over 60% members who are from the immediate community. With the policies of the property to give priority to local employment and purchasing, many suppliers are also local entrepreneurs.

 

25 years of celebrations

To commemorate this iconic concept that is more than just a hotel, the management has planned several events with the engagement of the local communities and institutions. Follow the property on social media to mark this occasion with the property and stand a chance to be a lucky winner of a memorable experience at the hotel.

For more details on Heritance Kandalama, log on to http://www.heritancehotels.com/kandalama

MS Europa 2 Selects Aitken Spence Travels to Offer Shore Excursions in Sri Lanka

12 Jun

Hapag-Lloyd’s luxury cruise liner the MS Europa 2 called over at the Hambanthota Port and the Colombo port for a 4 day stay in Sri Lanka. Aitken Spence Travels Cruise team was responsible for the operation of all the shore excursions for its passengers and was present in both locations to ensure that all guests who had booked a shore excursion were off on their tour on time without any difficulties and operational drawbacks.

Of the 350 guests on board, over 200 passengers went on shore excursions in Hambanthota, visiting Yala national park, Udawalawe, Bundala, Ella & Kataragama. The unique experiences encountered at Kataragama visiting the Buddhist and Hindu temples brings about serenity and peace where some guests go to the extent of sharing their problems and looking for mental peace apart from enjoying the abundance of wildlife Sri Lanka has to offer. On day two the clients took excursions to Galle, visited the Galle fort and experiencing village tours. When the passengers were in Colombo on the wet gloomy Friday of 7th June, they still went about their Helicopter tours to Kandy, took the Fixed wing flights to Sigiriya, embarked on discovering the Colombo highlights tour and enjoying the first-hand experience of low grown tea plantations. The AST Cruise team also handled the passenger turnaround on the 8th  of June for approx. 250 passengers.

Shore Excursions Manager of MS Europa 2 Mr. Werney Beyer, who has been to Sri Lanka previously, personally loves the destination and was of the view that “this country shouldn’t suffer as Sri Lanka has so much to offer and I just love this country’s diversity. The Cruise team at AST has done a wonderful job of organising the busses, the guides, diverse excursions and ensuring precision timing that we have had no complaints from our passengers. In effect, since the April 21st crisis, MS Europa 2 was considering moving to Maldives instead of Sri Lanka. But the local team was extremely vigil and continuously updating us about the security situation of the country, that Hapag-Lloyd did not implement plan B of moving to Maldives. I am very happy that we didn’t move to Maldives as our clients have shared excellent feedback and reviews of their stay and experiences in Sri Lanka”.

Commenting further, Managing Director of Aitken Spence Travels Mr. Nalin Jayasundera stated, “when all the other cruise liners were cancelling their tours, MS Europa 2 was confident about destination Sri Lanka and we are glad that they experienced the improved security, visitors would enjoy while in Sri Lanka. We also appreciate the support extended by the Sri Lanka Ports Authority/ Hambanthota International Port Services and their security teams, the Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau, Hapag Lloyd Lanka (pvt) Ltd. and our service providers for ensuring that these guests had an enjoyable experience of Sri Lanka taking back memories to last.”

Aitken Spence Travels, the largest inbound tour operator in Sri Lanka served more than 200,000 happy visitors during its FY 2018/19. This is also by far the largest number of visitors handled by any Destination Management Company in Sri Lanka and was also the recipient of the Sri Lanka Tourism Awards 2018 as best DMC. The company is backed by JV partners TUI and Aitken Spence PLC, enjoying the best of both worlds, strongly facing the future confidently even after the setbacks faced by the country.

 

Aitken Spence Maritime facilitates the first cruise ship to call on Sri Lankan ports following the April aftermath

6 Jun

The luxury cruise ship “MS EUROPA 2”, owned by German operator Hapag-Lloyd Kreuzfahrten Hamburg, recently called on the Ports of Hambantota and Colombo with 309 passengers and 356 crew onboard. Aitken Spence Maritime is the agent in Sri Lanka for Hapag-Lloyd which is one of the largest container shipping lines in the world.  MS Europa and MS Europa 2 are the only cruise ships in the world classified with 5-star rating by the legendary Berlitz Cruise Guide. MS Europa 2 is regarded as the new jewel of the Hapag-Lloyd Cruises fleet.

“We are extremely delighted that Aitken Spence Maritime facilitated the first cruise ship to call on two Ports of Sri Lanka after the unfortunate incidents that took place in April 2019. It is also encouraging for the team to see their efforts materialise and with the Group’s active involvement in the leisure industry, the company will continue to offer comprehensive synergised services to cruise operators,” said Iqram Cuttilan, Managing Director of Aitken Spence Maritime.

“Hapag-Lloyd Kreuzfahrten having made frequent calls to Trincomalee, Hambantota, Galle and Colombo will also include their ships in its schedule for 2019/20. In fact, Hapag-Lloyd Kreuzfahrten has selected Sri Lankan Ports as the beginning and end of their voyages, enabling passengers to embark and disembark in Sri Lanka,” said Lalith Witanachchi, Assistant Vice President of Hapag-Lloyd Lanka.

Hapag-Lloyd’s local agent, Aitken Spence Maritime, is a pioneer in the industry and was the first in Sri Lanka to undertake port efficiency enhancement management overseas with its entry into the African Continent and subsequently the South Pacific Islands. The company handles all areas of maritime services – from ship agents and cargo handlers, to liner agency, cruise vessel, port management and development, chartering services and maritime education.

Aitken Spence PLC Crowned Overall Winner at the ACCA Sustainability Reporting Awards 2018

6 Jun

Leading blue-chip conglomerate Aitken Spence PLC was recently adjudged the ‘Overall Winner’ at the ACCA Sri Lanka Sustainability Reporting Awards 2018. ACCA Sri Lanka has felicitated Sri Lanka’s best sustainability reports for over 15 years.

In addition to receiving the most prestigious award of the event, Aitken Spence PLC was declared a Joint Winner in the ‘Conglomerates & Diversified Category’. The Sustainability Reporting Awards are held with the objective of recognising and rewarding organisations which report and disclose information on environmental and social performance, and to encourage corporate transparency, accountability and responsiveness to stakeholders.

With selections carried out by an eminent panel of judges, the ceremony acknowledged corporates for their efforts to raise awareness across a broad range of aspects dedicated to sustainable development. The Aitken Spence PLC annual report was evaluated, succeeding against ACCA’s main judging criteria of completeness, credibility and communication. Aitken Spence PLC was also the joint winner of the Conglomerates and Diversified category.

By aligning its sustainability strategy and reporting procedures with global best practices and benchmark such as the Ten Principles of the UN Global Compact, the 7 Women’s Empowerment Principles, the Sustainable Development Goals, the Global Reporting Initiative and the guidelines of the International Integrated Reporting Council, Aitken Spence PLC implemented a holistic approach to its sustainability commitments with a long-term perspective that is reflected in the triple bottom line.

“At Aitken Spence PLC, we view sustainability as a prerequisite towards resilient growth.  With a focus on long term value creation, the Company’s sustainability efforts are directed and guided from the top management in order to adopt a strategic approach for corporate sustainability. In a group having 16 lines of industry in four business sectors and diverse segments of stakeholders across different communities, sustainability has been integrated into the very spirit of the organisation to ensure longevity in its business environments.

We are delighted and humbled by this recognition for our work. The unwavering dedication and support shown by the team and that combined with the systems and procedures that we have in place has been our winning formula throughout the years. Having marked the sesquicentennial of the Aitken Spence Group last year, we remain committed to working towards sustaining the long-term viability, profitability and integrity of our businesses,” commented Dr. Rohan Fernando, Head of Business Development and Sustainability at Aitken Spence PLC.

Aitken Spence PLC was also one of the country’s first companies to sign the United Nations Global Compact, a strategic policy initiative for businesses that are committed to aligning their operations and strategies with 10 universally accepted principles in the areas of human rights, labour, environment and anti-corruption.

Aitken Spence is the reigning winner of the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce Best Corporate Citizen Sustainability award for two successive years while being the only company in Sri Lanka to be ranked among the Top 10 Corporate Citizens for an unprecedented 13 consecutive years.

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, Travel, Maritime Services, Logistic Solutions, Plantations, Power Generation, Printing, Insurance and Apparel sectors.

‘Overall Winner’ – ACCA Sri Lanka Sustainability Reporting Awards 2018. Accepting the award, Ms. Nilanthi Sivapragasam, Chief Financial Officer of Aitken Spence PLC.

 

Aitken Spence Turyaa Chennai awarded ‘Best City Hotel’ at India Travel Awards 2019

6 Jun

Turyaa Chennai, part of the renowned Aitken Spence Hotels was recognised at the recently held India Travel Awards 2019-South as the ‘Best City Hotel’ further strengthening its position as an industry leader extending the best in service, product and offerings.

Having opened its doors in 2016, Turyaa Chennai was conceptualised to appeal to the changing lifestyles of the global traveller. With the digital revolution and globalization gradually changing the demands and preferences towards brand selection, the ‘Turyaa’ was developed to provide the guest with a brand that is more flexible, responsive, interactive and value driven.

The award, India Travel Awards 2019-South held for its fifth consecutive year is organised to recognise regional stalwarts and celebrate travel trade professionals for their contribution towards the industry. Award winners are acknowledged as the benchmark of the travel industry. The awards are supported by the Government of India and esteemed trade bodies including PATA, OTOAI, TAFI, ADTOI, IAAI, FHRAI etc.

Conveniently located just 20 minutes away from the International Airport and a drive away from the heart of the city, Turyaa Chennai is the ideal amalgamation of business and leisure. Dedicated towards offering guests a hassle free and all-encompassing staying experience, this five-star deluxe property fulfils every criterion of service excellence. The city hotel offers a superlative experience merging luxury with hospitality from the heart, an ethos that is carried forward as a Sri Lankan hospitality brand.

For those traveling to Chennai on business or leisure, the hotel offers special weekend deals online at www.turyaahotels.com/chennai/.