Archive | July, 2019

Landmark victory for Heritance Aarah and Adaaran Resorts at an International Culinary Challenge

30 Jul

Culinary prowess of the leading hospitality chain Aitken Spence Hotels was recognised with an impressive 94 awards at the recently concluded Food & Hospitality Asia Maldives 2019 (FHAM) competition, with its new entrant, Heritance Aarah clinching 19 Golds – highest number won by an individual property.

Heritance Aarah is the latest addition to the noteworthy hospitality portfolio of Aitken Spence Hotels. Opened in end March 2019, Heritance Aarah is Aitken Spence’s first ‘Heritance’ brand in an overseas operation. Heritance Aarah showcased its versatile food and dining offering through the 33 awards won in total. The team, trained and led by culinary maestros of the Group, brought home six silver awards, five bronze awards, three merit awards and 11 special individual awards; a testament to the superior F&B offering at the resort which features six (06) restaurants and four (04) bars. The culinary experience at the premium, all-inclusive resort includes international buffets such as French and Italian cuisines, Middle Eastern flavours, street food favourites, and many innovative dishes among the fusion of flavours offered.

Aitken Spence Hotel’s long-standing brand in the Maldives ‘Adaaran Resorts’ added to the overall jubilation with 62 awards, totalling the Group’s win to 94. Adaaran Select Meedhupparu won 19 awards, Adaaran Prestige Vadoo 14 awards, Adaaran Select Hudhuransushi 12 awards and Adaaran Club Rannalhi five awards. Additionally, Aitken Spence Hotels received 11 Special Awards.

The team competed with 500 chefs from international and local hospitality chains in diverse categories assessed by a panel of industry experts. The event was held from 15th-17th July 2019 in Dharubaaruge, Maldives.

“This recognition is a further testament to our exceptional culinary offering in the Maldives, which is a hallmark of our properties. I am delighted at this significant win. With Heritance Aarah shining at FHAM just three months since it opened doors, guests from around the world would have got a glimpse of the quality and creativity they can experience at a Heritance or Adaaran property.” said Aitken Spence PLC Director, Head of Tourism & Leisure, and Chairperson of Aitken Spence Hotels Management Stasshani Jayawardena.

Whilst congratulating the team, she also noted the commitment of the Group to offer innovative culinary wonders to the industry. “The awards highlight our continued efforts to raise the bar in service, quality and the overall experience. As a hospitality group that is globally renowned for superior service and unique offerings, our continual efforts are focused towards transcending guest expectations at every turn. With lifestyle experiences being a key deciding factor, our resorts in the Maldives deliver the finest curated excursions through exhilarating activities and memorable gastronomic experiences.”

FHAM International Culinary Challenge & Exhibition is recorded as the premier event experienced by the hospitality industry and is the largest gathering of the industry in the Maldives. The event is endorsed and certified by the World Association of Chefs and Society (WACS) and is organised in partnership with Chef Guilds of Maldives (CGM) and Chef Guilds of Lanka (CGL), in association with the Faculty of Hospitality and Tourism Studies of the Maldives National University, the Ministry of Tourism Arts & Culture and the Ministry of Economic Development – Maldives, and the Maldives National Chamber of Commerce & Industry. The involvement of all these organisations and institutions of Maldives makes it the official exhibition and culinary challenge for the hospitality industry of Maldives.

Ladies first! Aitken Spence Hotels invests Rs. 70 Mn in ladies’ accommodation facility at Kandalama

24 Jul

The tourism industry generates income and employment worldwide. According to global statistics published by the World Travel and Tourism Council in March 2019, 1 in 10 jobs overall in 2018 and 1 in 5 new jobs created over the last five years were attributed to the tourism industry. It has also created a plethora of direct and indirect opportunities across Sri Lanka. However, similar to global statistics, female representation in the tourism sector is considerably low.

When more women work, economies grow. Enabling economic participation for women pays enormous dividends for families, communities and economies. However, the gender parity in the workforce is the widest in emerging economies such as Sri Lanka due to many reasons. These reasons could range from social and cultural limitations to a dearth of required skills.

Premier hospitality chain, Aitken Spence Hotels has worked over the years to bridge the gap of required skills among youth. In their efforts to create and promote a conducive work environment as an equal opportunity employer, Aitken Spence Hotel Holdings PLC opened a well-equipped ladies’ accommodation facility at its most iconic property, Heritance Kandalama. This is yet another benchmark in the tourism and hospitality industry as this iconic property marks 25 years.

“Aitken Spence Hotels have always been a Company that valued and promoted equality and non-discrimination,” Aitken Spence PLC Director, Head of Tourism & Leisure, and Chairperson of Aitken Spence Hotels Management, Ms. Stasshani Jayawardena said “The Company’s decision to invest Rs. 70 Mn in infrastructure is a reiteration of its commitment to enable greater access to our immediate communities to opportunities in the tourism and hospitality industry, and our effort to ensure women also benefit from those opportunities. We are confident that our proactive efforts towards enhancing accommodation and amenities will increase the female representation within our workforce.”

The hotel maintains a close relationship with its immediate community and regularly conducts educational programmes at local schools to enhance skills and knowledge among youth. With their employment policies giving priority to local applicants, over 60% of its workforce is from the community within 35-40km radius. Families of new recruits are invited to observe the working environment at all properties to allow them the peace of mind of their child’s safety and wellbeing.

“Competitiveness of Sri Lanka’s tourism and hospitality workforce weighs heavily on promoting employment for women and youth. Encouraging higher involvement from these two demographics, however, remains a challenge. Young women are hesitant to pursue a career in tourism and hospitality due to a myriad of socio-cultural views. It is our belief that all efforts must be made to welcome more women into the industry and to create a working environment where they feel safe and comfortable; thereby making a positive ripple effect on the economy.” She asserted that the ladies’ accommodation is but one area of the Company’s investment towards attracting a more diverse workforce.

The newly launched facility can accommodate over 40 females and offers three room categories – for Executives, Supervisors and Non-Executives. Comparable in design to a guest room, this ladies’ accommodation is fully equipped with all amenities for the comfort of the employees. The facility also consists of two common lounge areas designed for rest and relaxation.

This initiative is a testament to the company’s commitment to empower greater female representation in the hospitality and tourism industry. Currently at Aitken Spence Hotels, 15% of the Management is represented by women, with 24% in the Executive cadre and 7% at Associate level. Aitken Spence Hotel Holdings PLC has set an ambitious target to achieve 20% female representation by 2020 and hopes to continue improving on that. This initiative to build accommodation facilities for the female workforce will be gradually rolled out at the hotel chain’s other owned properties.

As one of the first signatories of the UN Women’s Empowerment Principles and a trendsetter in the industry, Aitken Spence is confident that the efforts thus unrolled will bear fruit in the future by setting a precedent for establishing tourism as a tool for promoting gender equality and women’s empowerment.

Heritance Kandalama ladies with their parents, Aitken Spence PLC Director, Head of Tourism & Leisure, and Chairperson of Aitken Spence Hotels Management Ms. Stasshani Jayawardena, General Manager Mr. Priyan Wijerathne

Exterior

Indoor lounge area

Outdoor lounge area

 

 

Aitken Spence Travels continues to be Carbon Neutral

4 Jul

Aitken Spence Travels, Sri Lanka’s largest inbound tour operator has achieved “Carbon Neutral” status for the financial year 2018/2019. The Company offset its carbon footprint by purchasing United Nations Certified Emission Reductions (CERs) through biomass-based power project. The carbon neutrality status has been achieved for organisational level operations within the boundary of Aitken Spence Travels (Pvt) Ltd, 4th floor, Tower 2, 315, Vauxhall Street, Colombo 2.

The organisational level greenhouse gas emission and removals were assessed in accordance with ISO 14064-1: 2006 & Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) guidelines for National Greenhouse Gas Inventories and been verified by the National Cleaner Production Center in Sri Lanka. The Scope covered in the assessment includes company-owned vehicle fleet, employee commuting, employee business travels, fire extinguishers, water consumption, grid electricity and its transmission and distribution loss.

The journey of reducing its carbon footprint started six years ago when Aitken Spence Travels took measures to mitigate the impact it made on the environment. In 2012, the entire process was audited by the Sri Lanka Carbon Fund. Going forward, Aitken Spence Travels intends to offer carbon neutral tours as part of the larger sustainability initiative titled as the ‘Travel Kindly’ brand. This initiative is in place to promote responsible travel options.

Tourists visiting Sri Lanka through Aitken Spence Travels can choose to be a part of the Company’s sustainability initiatives such as minimising carbon footprint when partaking in tours and excursions designed to have minimum impact on the environment. Moreover, Aitken Spence Travels promotes nature-based excursions, and educates tourists on best practices to follow and to influence responsible tourism practices in the industry. The destination management operation also promotes less visited national parks in Sri Lanka to reduce congestion in popular national parks that tends to impose a strain on the wildlife of these locations. The dedicated team of Aitken Spence Travels is empowered with insights to responsible tourism through employee engagement campaigns and educational discussion forums with industry experts.

“Our carbon neutral status affirms Aitken Spence Travels’ commitment towards environmental protection and promoting eco-friendly business and production practices. This wouldn’t have been possible without the support from the top management and dedicated staff members which have collectively been the success factors in achieving the carbon neutral status. commented Mr. Nalin Jayasundera, Managing Director of Aitken Spence Travels.

“We actively promote sustainable tourism practices as we understand our impact to the community and environment when carrying out our operations. Aitken Spence Travels takes proactive steps in creating a demand for environment conscious tourists while ensuring its tourism practices are sustainable”, he added.

Aitken Spence Travels obtained the Travelife Partnership Certification for the operations keeping in line with global sustainable tourism practices and has a longstanding partnership with TUI, the world’s largest integrated tourism company. Aitken Spence Travels won the Best Inbound Tour Operator award under the category of Travel & Tourism Operator – Large, at the National Tourism Awards 2018 conducted by The Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority. The first destination management company to obtain ISO 9001:2008 was none other than Aitken Spence Travels. Furthermore, the Company’s operations are ISO 14001:2015 certified for their efforts towards environmental impact control.

Aitken Spence Travels affirmed its market leadership position by facilitating over 200,000 visitors to Sri Lanka in the financial year 2018/19. The Group’s destination management arm, handles inbound and outbound tour packages for groups, FIT and the MICE segments which operates in a highly competitive business environment.

Officials of Aitken Spence Travels and National Cleaner Production Center (NCPC) at the presentation exchange of the Endorsement of Greenhouse gas inventory of Aitken Spence Travels.

L-R

Rumalka Amanthi, Junior Executive, Aitken Spence Travels, Upul Kumara, Assistant Manager, Aitken Spence Travels, Tikiri Ellepola, Chief Operating Officer, Aitken Spence Travels, Samantha Kumarasena, Chief Executive Officer, National Cleaner Production Center Sri Lanka and Harshini Rananjali, RECP-technologist, National Cleaner Production Center Sri Lanka