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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

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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

 

 

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

Aitken Spence Hotels among winners of Travelers’ Choice Awards 2019

18 Mar

The largest travel planning and booking site, TripAdvisor recognised Aitken Spence Hotels as winners of its Travelers’ Choice Awards 2019.

Heritance Kandalama, Heritance Ahungalla, Heritance Negombo, Heritance Tea Factory and Amethyst Resort were among the hotels that secured the accolade, granted based on consistent positive reviews collected over the past year. Heritance properties including Heritance Kandalama, Heritance Ahungalla, Heritance Tea Factory and Heritance Negombo were also merited among the highest in the ‘Top 25 Hotels – Sri Lanka’ based on their exemplary service, quality and value.

The Heritance properties, a name that has over the years been synonymous with superior hospitality in Sri Lanka caters to discerning travellers who are explorers of culture and authenticity. Heritance Kandalama, the leading eco-resort is among the most awarded properties in the country with emphasis on architecture and eco-ethos. Heritance Ahungalla, the first five-star resort in the southern coastal belt is a haven of peace and solitude by the beach. A converted 19th century tea factory that today sings songs of the past through its unique design, Heritance Tea Factory has been a constant favourite among local and international travellers.

As a local hospitality chain that has and continue to aspire, to take the inherent warmth of Sri Lankan hospitality to the world, Aitken Spence Hotels pay heavy emphasis on refining service efforts whilst maintaining and improving the product. As such, the award is looked at as a further endorsement to the chain’s continuous efforts to develop its core products.

Held for the 17th year, the award honours hotels across categories including luxury, bargain, small, best service, B&B and inn, romance, family, and all-inclusive, as well as top hotels overall.

“Travelers can consider these award winners when picking the perfect hotel for their needs – for any budget or trip type – to help inspire their travels in 2019,” says Desiree Fish, Vice President of global communications for TripAdvisor in a statement with a congratulatory message to the hotels.

Aitken Spence Hotels, the premier hospitality chain owns and operates 11 hotels and resorts in Sri Lanka, in key tourist destinations and has been renowned for its unique products and impeccable service from the heart.

Aitken Spence Hotels collects 12 awards in a week

20 Dec


Sri Lanka’s leading hospitality chain, Aitken Spence Hotels was recognised at multiple award ceremonies held last week in Colombo, bringing home a total of 12 awards at the 54th Annual Report Awards 2018, National Business Excellence Awards and Sri Lanka Tourism Awards 2018.

The hotel chain, part of the blue-chip conglomerate Aitken Spence PLC, started its winning streak on 4 December at the 54th Annual Report Awards 2018 organised by the Institute of Chartered Accountants Sri Lanka. The company took home the Silver for ‘Hotel Companies’ whilst Browns Beach Hotels PLC, also part of the Group’s subsidiaries was accoladed with the ‘Hotel Companies Compliance Award’. Held under the theme of ‘epitome of brilliance’ the award ceremony celebrates commitment of corporates towards best practices in annual corporate reporting through transparency, accountability and good governance.

At the National Business Excellence Awards held on 5 December, organised by the National Chamber of Commerce. Aitken Spence Hotels received eight awards in total including the ‘Silver Award in the Overall category’ along with three golds and four silvers. From the Sector Awards, the Company was awarded with the Gold for ‘Hospitality and Tourism’ in recognition of the distinct trailblazing innovations in products and services in the industry, and the First Runners Up in the ‘Extra Large Category’ companies.

Among the category wins were Golds in ‘Excellence in Environmental Sustainability’ and ‘Excellence in Corporate Social Responsibility’ and Silver in ‘Excellence in Capacity Building’, ‘Excellence in Performance Management’ and ‘Excellence in Global Market Reach’. The Excellence Awards was organised to recognise business enterprises, which have demonstrated excellence in business, whilst contributing to the economic progress of the country.

The following day, on 6 December, the Company was rewarded yet again at the Sri Lanka Tourism Awards 2018 held after a lapse of six years. Heritance Kandalama, a Hall of Fame winner at the Presidential Awards (which was rebranded as Sri Lanka Tourism Awards this year) after three consecutive wins, was applauded as the Winner of the ‘Best Hotel-Sustainable and Green Practices’. Company’s most awarded individual with three Culinary Olympic wins under his belt (and the only chef in the world to have received the honour) Chef Dimuthu Kumarasinghe was recognised for ‘The Most Outstanding Culinary Contribution’.

Aitken Spence PLC Director, Head of Tourism & Leisure, and Chairperson of Aitken Spence Hotels Management Stasshani Jayawardena speaking on the recent wins, stated that the manifold recognition was a testament to the superior product and service offerings of the chain. “As a hospitality chain that is constantly looking at challenging the status quo and innovating our way forward, these awards further reinforce our role as a leader in the industry. Our Sri Lankan hotels have certainly carved a name for themselves both here and abroad, and we are truly privileged to be recognised in so many fields”.

“It is hard work and perseverance that has helped us succeed thus far, along with the sheer passion of the team and their dedication to serve. In working together, I believe, we will be able to add more to our successes whilst simultaneously, promoting our island home as a vibrant destination, catering to diverse needs and wants of the global traveller,” she added.

Earlier this year, Aitken Spence Hotels was recognised at the South Asian Travel Awards (SATA) held in India with Sri Lankan and South Asia awards for Leading Eco Hotel/Resort; and Heritance Negombo and Heritance Ayurveda Maha Gedara securing destination-specific awards as Leading Beach Hotel/Resort and Leading Wellness and Spa Hotel/Resort respectively. Heritance Ayurveda Maha Gedara also won the Silver at the National Green Awards 2018.

Aitken Spence Hotels portfolio consists of 21 star-class properties, with 11 owned and managed properties in Sri Lanka, four in Maldives, four in Oman and one in India. The hotel chain will introduce the ‘Heritance’ brand of hotels to Maldives early next year with the opening of premium all-inclusive all-villa property, Heritance Aarah.

Aitken Spence Hotels joins the digital revolution with its app for iPads

23 May

Aitken Spence Hotels broke new ground recently with the launch of its first digital application for iPads. The application was designed to provide a comprehensive snapshot of the Aitken Spence Hotels portfolio spread across four diverse destinations; and covers the fundamental facets used by guests to decide on their preferred hotel or resort.

 

A holistic integration of the information of 21 hotels is presented in an interactive seamless platform enabling ease of navigation for the user. The app provides a brief description of each hotel affording guests a glimpse to the roots of the property. The types of accommodation that can be enjoyed by guests are also listed with pictorial representations of the room and its amenities. Information on hotel facilities, dining options, event spaces and excursions can be accessed at the tip of a finger. The information is complimented by an extensive gallery complimenting the sensory journey one engages with when browsing the app. It also provides a unified platform for feedback and reservation inquiries creating easy interaction between Aitken Spence Hotels and potential guests.

 

“The digital revolution has created a fundamental need for businesses to evolve their practices. The launch of an iPad app for Aitken Spence Hotels is one of the many initiatives lined up to evolve our practices to offer our guests an engaging and seamless experience The app is the perfect tool to create brand awareness amongst tour operators, destination management companies and tourists from around the world. We plan to evolve the services that can be offered through the app creating ease of access to the modern traveler” says Mr. Althaf Mohamed Ali, Vice President, Sales and Marketing, Aitken Spence Hotels.

Aitken Spence is Sri Lanka’s largest resort operator and the largest international hotel operator in the Maldives. The Group also manages a portfolio of hotels in India and Oman. The company’s premier resorts operate under the brand Heritance.

 

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Heritance Kandalama emerged Champions at Bocuse D’Or Culinary Competition 2013

28 Aug

Sri Lanka’s most awarded hotel  Heritance Kandalama, emerged Champions at the Bocuse D’Or Culinary Competition,  competing against both international and domestic star-class city and resort hotels recently. Chef W.M Augustus Lowe, Chef De Cuisine at Heritance Kandalama with twenty two years of experience in the culinary field and his apprentice, B.A.L.H Thisera, Commis III with 3 years of experience in the field were the winning duo who bought glory to Heritance Kandalama.

 

The team together created the award winning menu: Gremolata rubbed   spring lamb rack, mushroom apple duxelle in, prosciutto wrapped braised lamb rump; grilled pepper millefuille .  glazed petite vegetables in a daikon boat , curried sweet potato mousse accompanied with three sauces and a warm punch of brilliant breakfast tea infused with roma tomato water.

 

The champion team from Heritance Kandalama will now represent Sri Lanka at the Asian Region Bocuse D’Or Culinary Champion which is scheduled to take place in Shanghai in 2014. The winners of the regional event will then participate in the World Bocuse D’Or competition in Lyon, France in 2015.

 

Chef Paul Bocuse , considered as the God father of the culinary world, is the founder of the Bocuse D’Or , a world chef championship recognized by Chefs globally. Renowned as one of the most prestigious competitions in the world,  Bocuse D’Or judges the skills of chefs evaluated over a period of two days; where only the best chefs with the most innovative dishes emerge winners.

 

“Our Chefs have been recognized at international events such as the Culinary Olympics and the Culinary World Cup. Winning this competition is yet again a stepping stone on to a world platform where our chefs have the opportunity to demonstrate their skills and be awarded for their talents. Our constant determination to be the best has bought us thus far. Being firm believers of sustainability we take measures to ensure that our future generation is provided with the knowledge required to take on the baton when required. Winning accolades such as this, year after year reaffirms our stance as the most awarded culinary brigade in Sri Lanka”, said Mr. Gemunu Goonewardene, Vice President, Food and Beverages, Aitken Spence Hotels.

 

Heritance Kandalama has been a trend setter in various aspects of hotel operations and has received many accolades for its cuisine, both in Sri Lankan and internationally.

 

“Aitken Spence Hotels over the years has been recognized for its exquisite food and culinary art which has placed us amongst the best in the region. Prestigious accolades such as this serve as motivation to the team to further excel in these competitive times. The relentless efforts put forth by our team have been recognised both locally and internationally and we are proud to note that our greatest asset is our dedicated and passionate team.” said Mr. Malin Hapugoda, Managing Director, Aitken Spence Hotels.

 

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.Image