Archive | August, 2019

Aitken Spence Hotels’ Oman sector GMs recognised

30 Aug

Leading hospitality chain Aitken Spence Hotels’ Oman sector was recognised for their service excellence at the recently concluded Oman Leadership Awards 2019 with two of their General Managers being awarded as ‘Oman’s Best General Managers’ in the ‘Hospitality’ category.

The Company’s Al Falaj Hotel General Manager – Hotel Operations and Sales, Praveen George and Desert Nights Camp General Manager Anurin Jansen – Oman Hotels and Tourism Company SAOC, were acknowledged at the award ceremony at Crowne Plaza Muscat by CMO Asia. CMO Asia is the only global network of executives from 110 countries specifically dedicated to high-level knowledge exchange, thought leadership and personal relationship building among senior corporate marketing leaders and brand decision-makers. Held as part of CMO Asia’s 10th anniversary, the awards were endorsed by World Sustainability, World CSE and World Federation of Marketing.

A true trendsetter, Aitken Spence was the first Sri Lankan company to venture into hospitality services in Oman (2008), adding to its credentials of being the first to enter the Maldives (1993) and India (2007) in the same industry, creating avenues for international exposure for our skills. Part of the Company’s prestigious portfolio of properties, Desert Nights Camp is the only luxury desert camp in Oman with 39 Bedouin-style tented luxury accommodation in 10 acres of golden sands in Al Wasil. Al Falaj Hotel is a renowned business hotel in Oman catering to the business and corporate segment of the market. Both hotels are differentiated by their unique offering, standing true to the Aitken Spence promise of delivering distinct experiences.

The award winners – George and Jansen – boast of 3 and 8 years with Aitken Spence respectively and counts over 60 years in experience collectively.

Speaking of the achievement, Aitken Spence Hotels Chief Executive Officer for Middle East, Srinith De Silva commended the duo for their hard work and commitment to excellence. “It is indeed a proud moment to have our General Managers appreciated among the best in Oman. Both George and Jansen have worked tirelessly to achieve excellence in service quality at our properties in Oman, keeping the banner of Aiken Spence flying high beyond the shores of Sri Lanka,” he said.

The awards are initiated to acknowledge those individuals who have achieved extraordinary success from innovative and effective people management and customer satisfaction practices in Oman. “It reinforces the quality of the experience and the development of our hotel brand in this region.” asserted De Silva.

Aitken Spence Hotels manage two other properties in the Middle East, Sur Plaza in Sur and Al Wadi Hotel, located in the ancient maritime capital of Oman and home to the legends of Sinbad, Sohar. The Company owns and manages 11 hotels in Sri Lanka including the famed ‘Heritance’ chain of hotels as well as Turyaa Kalutara, five resorts in Maldives with four under the ‘Adaaran Resorts’ and one, its latest property, under the ‘Heritance’ brand – Heritance Aarah; and Turyaa Chennai in India.

 

Aitken Spence Hotels’ sustainability ethos commended yet again!

22 Aug

Premier hospitality chain, Aitken Spence Hotels, reaffirmed their position as leaders in sustainable hospitality with four Heritance Hotels & Resorts properties walking away with multiple accolades at the National Sustainability Tourism Certification (NSTC) ceremony held on 5th August 2019.

Heritance Kandalama was the only property to be recognised in the Platinum category, the highest accolade awarded at the NSTC, whilst securing a special award for Environmental Preservation. Heritance Tea Factory was placed in the Gold category followed by a special award for Effective Sustainability Management. Heritance Ahungalla and Heritance Ayurveda were commended as Bronze winners.

This recognition programme was convened by the Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority (SLTDA) with the technical and financial assistance of Biodiversity Finance Initiative (BIOFIN) of UNDP in mid-2018. The efforts capture the industry’s stance towards the global movement for sustainable tourism and to successfully compete as a high-demand destination.

Aitken Spence Hotels, having operated on a comprehensive sustainable model that takes into account the varied attributes that encompass the triple bottom line, has been a forerunner in the industry for its long-term vision supporting a well-balanced business ecosystem. Moreover, the hotel chain has been recognised both locally and internationally for its efforts. In particular, Heritance Kandalama pioneered the integration of environment and social conscious practices into hotel operations and implementing an extensive 7R system (Reject, Reduce, Reuse, Reclaim, Repair, Replace and Recycle) to reduce carbon and waste footprint.

Among its many accreditations are Heritance Kandalama being the first Green Globe 21 certified hotel in Asia, the first Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certified hotel in the world and the first hotel chain in the World to have a certified energy management system (ISO 50001:2011). All Heritance Hotels and Resorts in Sri Lanka are Travelife Gold certified, while also adhering to ISO standards in environmental management, HACCP food safety and energy management.

“We are elated to be recognised in the National Sustainability Tourism Certification awards. It attests the hard work of our teams to provide exceptional hospitality services while also protecting the environment and empowering our communities.” Aitken Spence PLC Director, Head of Tourism & Leisure, and Chairperson of Aitken Spence Hotels Management, Ms. Stasshani Jayawardena said.

“Aitken Spence Hotels have carved a niche in the industry for its forward-thinking holistic sustainability practices that goes beyond the general understanding from an ‘eco’ perspective. The practices have been firmly established within the core of our operations, enabling us to lead from the onset. Our teams continually work towards improving the processes year on year, combining our expertise with emerging trends to serve the industry in the most sustainable manner.” she added further.

More on the hotels’ sustainable endeavours can be viewed at http://bit.ly/33grgzY  (Annual Report 18/19).

The Heritance Hotels and Resorts is part of the hospitality arm of Sri Lankan blue-chip conglomerate Aitken Spence PLC which operates 21 hotels and resorts across Sri Lanka, Maldives, Oman and India. The Company’s owned hotels are reflected under the Heritance, Adaaran and Turyaa brands, popular around the world for its exceptional service and undisputed product and curated lifestyle experiences. The Company’s Sri Lankan portfolio includes 11 resorts spread across the island, whilst the Maldives resorts totals to five, four in Oman and one in India.

Heritance Kandalama General Manager Priyan Wijerathne receiving the award

 

Heritance Tea Factory team receiving the award and certification

 

Heritance Ahungalla General Manager Sisira Senarath receiving the certificate

 

Heritance Ayurveda General Manager Janaka Buddhakorala receiving the certification

Aitken Spence Travels, recognised as a ‘Best Employer’ in destination management

13 Aug

The largest inbound tour operator in the country, Aitken Spence Travels was recently recognised with a ‘Sri Lanka Best Employer Brand Award’ by World Federation of HR Professionals, endorsed by CHRO Asia. Aitken Spence Travels was the only destination management company to have been conferred as Sri Lanka’s Best Employer Brand in this platform.

This was awarded at the 4th edition of the Sri Lanka Best Employer Brand Awards 2019, held at Taj Samudra hotel recently. This is a regional platform linked to the Employer Branding Awards 2019-2020 (currently in its 14th edition) convened by the Employer Banding Institute of India as a build-up to the Global Employer Brands programme, part of the World HRD Congress which is into its 28th Edition in 2020.

This programme was launched in Sri Lanka to recognise the top companies and brands in Sri Lanka that have exemplary HR practices and have effectively used marketing communications for human resource development. Winners are selected by drawing reference from research illustrating highest regard for organisations as preferred employers among diverse stakeholders.

Commenting on this recognition, Mr. Nalin Jayasundera – Managing Director of Aitken Spence Travels said, “We are humbled by this recognition. Our employees are our most cherished asset. In an industry with the highest rate of turnover, and a high representation of millennials, it is common knowledge that Aitken Spence Travels is seen as a training ground of sorts for the best talent. Regardless of the length of time served with us, we have consistently worked towards empowering our workforce with the required skills, experience, industry exposure and information and it is that commitment that has resulted in producing an award winning team. We appreciate these endorsements by globally reputed influencers, which serve to reinforce the Company’s commitment to continuously elevate its performance in the industry by drawing on the expertise of its partners and principals.”

Aitken Spence Travels, part of the diversified blue-chip conglomerate Aitken Spence PLC, is a joint venture with TUI Travel PLC, and is the leading destination management company in Sri Lanka. Undoubtedly the largest inbound tourism operator in the country, Aitken Spence Travels affirmed its market leadership position by facilitating over 200,000 visitors to Sri Lanka within the 2018/2019 financial year, surpassing the previous year’s record number of 178,000 happy visitors.

In 2018/2019, Aitken Spence Travels invested over Rs. 250Mn to promote Sri Lanka as a destination in overseas markets. To manage ISO 9001:2015 Travelife Partner certified quality of service, every effort is taken to educate and equip employees, from top management to tour guides, with the required skills, knowledge and information.

Catering to a varied number of segments in the travels industry from cruise to special interest groups, sports tours, nature and luxury tours, Aitken Spence Travels continuously provides unique propositions to its clientele in order to maintain a competitive edge in the market. The company’s ability to deliver a distinctive value proposition to each market is a testament to its ability in drawing on the capabilities of its talent pool to deliver a competitive advantage for its customers.

Strength in Diversity: Aitken Spence Shows Resilience with 17.5% Revenue Increase in 1Q

8 Aug

In the aftermath of the devastating events of 21st April in Sri Lanka, the first quarter of 2019 was adversely impacted. As the country copes with multiple challenges, Sri Lanka’s economic growth is forecast at 2.7% in 2019. Overall, the performance of the services sector in the country declined to 4.1% year-on-year, compared to 5.5% GDP growth last year. Among other industries, tourist arrivals to Sri Lanka in May 2019 recorded a drastic decline of 70.8% from the arrivals in May of 2018. Although the arrivals increased by 19% by June 2019, it is yet 57% less compared to the arrivals in June 2018. Earnings from the country’s agricultural exports declined during the first five months of 2019 due to poor performance observed in tea, minor agricultural products and rubber exports.

Against this challenging macroeconomic backdrop, Aitken Spence PLC reported a 17.5% growth in Group revenue during the first quarter of the year at Rs. 12.4 billion compared to Rs. 10.6 billion recorded in the previous financial year.

Aitken Spence continues to manifest its dominance in overseas markets that has generated approximately 75% of the Group’s overall profits in the first quarter of 2019 compared to 60% in the first quarter of 2018. Overseas expansion, and thereby creating opportunities in local and overseas markets, is a vital aspect of the business strategy of Aitken Spence and it has strengthened the company’s resilience amidst a turbulent economic environment.  At present, Aitken Spence has a presence in Asia, Middle East, South Pacific and Africa and the efficacy of this strategy is evident to date.

At the same time, profit-before-tax for the quarter was Rs. 475 million from Rs. 538 million over the previous year. This is after accounting for an additional charge of Rs. 36 million for the quarter, due to the adoption of the new leasing standard SLFRS 16 as required. There was no corresponding adjustment made in the previous year.

“Aitken Spence is a company that has proven that our strength is in our diversity. The devastation of the Easter attacks should motivate unity, resilience and continual progress. With normalcy being gradually restored, we are confident that business will bounce back, and our efforts will continue to this end,” said Dr. Parakrama Dissanayake, Deputy Chairman and Managing Director of Aitken Spence PLC.

“We are pleased to be seen in the forefront of showcasing business resilience amidst challenging times. Following the Easter attacks, Aitken Spence Maritime facilitated the first luxury cruise ship carrying 350 passengers to call on Sri Lankan ports and Aitken Spence Travels Cruise team was responsible for the operation of all the shore excursions for its passengers,” he added further.

The tourism sector was significantly impacted by the Easter attacks that resulted in a loss of Rs. 385 million for the quarter, over the loss of Rs. 204 million in the previous year. However, the resorts in the Maldives recorded a strong growth with the newly opened Heritance Aarah which is the first overseas operation to carry the premium brand ‘Heritance’. The hotel property recently opened in March 2019 and is the latest addition to have been ‘Gold’ certified for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED). LEED buildings save energy, water, resources, generate less waste and support human health. Only three months into its opening, Heritance Aarah marked a landslide victory at the Food & Hospitality Asia Maldives 2019 winning 33 awards, the highest number won by an individual property.

Despite the travel advisories issued for Sri Lanka in the aftermath of the Easter attacks, the inbound tourism segment has performed well. The destination management segment has also set up a new venture in Myanmar and operations are expected to commence shortly. This is a further testament to expansion overseas which help to offset negative impacts faced in the domestic segment. Moreover, this promotes our skills and expertise in a fast-growing tourist destination such as Myanmar.

Amidst the sluggish economic growth and stiff competition, the maritime & logistics and services sectors recorded increments. The quarterly profit-before-tax of the maritime & logistics sector increased by 21% to Rs. 528 million, over the previous year. The sector’s revenue increased by 4.4% to Rs.2.8 billion, mainly driven by its overseas operations.

Strategic investments and services sectors also recorded profit growth, of 8.4% to Rs. 242 million and 11.1% to Rs. 91 million respectively, in the first quarter.

Aitken Spence PLC won the Best Corporate Citizen Sustainability Award 2018 for the second successive year, the 3rd win overall for the company, and has been ranked among the Top 10 Corporate Citizens for an unprecedented 13 consecutive years. Aitken Spence PLC has also been ranked Platinum and among the top 5 companies in the STING/ LMD Corporate Accountability Index for 6 consecutive indices. Recently, Aitken Spence was adjudged the overall winner at the ACCA Sustainability Reporting Awards for the year 2018.

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, Travels, Maritime Services, Logistic Solutions, Plantations, Power Generation, Financial Outsourcing, Insurance, IT, Printing and Apparel sectors. With a geographical presence in 8 countries and growing, creating opportunities for Sri Lanka across new frontiers, Aitken Spence PLC remains committed to the development of our nation.

Deshamanya D.H.S. Jayawardena – Chairman Aitken Spence PLC

 

Dr. Parakrama Dissanayake – Deputy Chairman and Managing Director Aitken Spence PLC