Tag Archives: Malin Hapugoda

Team Heritance Strikes Gold at the Culinary World Cup 2010

22 Dec

The 11th Salon International de la Gastronomie (International Gastronomy Show) – EXPOGAST 2010 Culinary World Cup, organised by the Société des Foires Internationales de Luxembourg ‘Luxexpo’ in collaboration with the Vatel Club Luxembourg and the Amitié Gastronomique François Vatel took place from November 20th to the 24th at the Centre d’Expositions et de Conférences des Foires Internationales – Luxexpo, in Luxembourg.

The Heritance Hotels and Resorts eight-member team was the only team to participate from Sri Lanka and walked away triumphant  with three Gold Medals, four Silver Medals, one Bronze Medal and one Special Award.  The award winning culinary team was led by Chef Dimuthu Kumarasinghe – Groups Development Chef, Aitken Spence Hotels and Heritance Hotels who participated at the event as the Team Coach and Team Manager. The participating team comprised of: Chef Ramish Hassim – Corporate Chef of Heritance Hotels and Resorts,   Sous Chef Gamini Karunathilika-  Sous Chef, Heritance Hotels & Resorts , Chef Lalith Gunasekara – Consultant Chef, Heritance Hotels & Resort, Chef Pradeep Asanka Fonseka – Pastry Chef, Heritance Hotels & Resorts, Anil Gunawardena – Senior Kitchen Artist, Heritance Hotels & Resorts, Augustus Lowe – Specialist in Garde Manger preparations and Chef Manjula Dedduwa- Senior Chef De Party at Heritance Hotels & Resorts.

For the team event, The Heritance Hotels & Resorts Culinary Team comprised of Chef Dimuthu Kumarasinghe – Team Manager and Team Coach, Chef Gamini Karunathilaka and Chef Augustus Lowe. The jubilant team bagged three Gold Medals for the team event having competed against fifty seven countries in six sub-categories – Plated Desserts, Petit Fours, Artistic Pastry Show Piece, Five Course Set menu / Three Course Vegetarian, Festive Buffet Platter and Tapas. In the Individual event under the Five Course Set Menu category Chef Lalith Gunasekera, Chef Ramish Hassim and Chef Manjula Dedduwa all won individual Silver Medals while Chef Anil Gunewardena won an individual Silver Medal in the Artistic Pastry Show Piece category.  Chef Pradeep Asanka Fonseka of Heritance Hotels and Resorts was awarded a bronze medal.  Chef Dimuthu Kumarasinghe was also awarded the prestigious Over-All Commitment Award presented by the Jury President.

This new award adds to the tremendous success Chef Dimuthu has had in the International Culinary arena. By securing 9 gold medals in the “Culinary World Cup” and “Culinary Olympics” in 2004 and 2006 he created history as the 1st individual to win 9 gold medals at a World Cup competition.

“We are proud to win despite facing such strong competition. I believe it’s the synergy of our team that gave us our edge. As a team we all have different strengths which we have capitalized on and the results have been overwhelming”, said Chef Dimuthu Kumarasinghe, Team Manager and Team Coach, Heritance Hotels and Resorts Culinary Team.

The Culinary World Cup has been held since 1978 and is one of the five major international culinary competitions sanctioned by WACS (World Association of Chefs Societies).  “Having our team not only participate but be awarded with six medals at such a prestigious culinary event fills me with great joy and pride”, said Mr. Gemunu Goonawardena, Vice President, Aitken Spence Hotels and President of the Culinary Team.

“The Heritance Hotels & Resorts Culinary Teams accomplishments at the Culinary World Cup not only brings pride to Aitken Spence Hotels, but also   to Sri Lanka.  The team has been working tirelessly to achieve their goals and Aitken Spence Hotels have been encouraging them and giving them the opportunity to develop their talents”, said Mr.Malin Hapugoda, Managing Director, Aitken Spence Hotels.

Aitken Spence Hotels and Heritance Hotels, located in strategic locations in the country, cater to a diverse market segment and are famed for its exquisite food and culinary art. Over a period of time the reputation gained in this specialisation has helped to position the chain of hotels as among the best in the region.

Awards – Aitken Spence Hotels – 22 December 2010

Tourism Boom

3 Dec

Aitken Spence Hotel Holdings, with a portfolio of 27 resorts and hotels, spanning Sri Lanka, the Maldives, India and Oman and translating into a huge 2,300 room capacity, is currently Sri Lanka’s largest resort operator. The company’s 600 rooms, spread across 7 resorts also make it the largest international operator in the Maldives.

Already boasting of exotic properties such as Barefoot at Havelock, located on the “ best beach in Asia” as rated by the Time magazine, Heritance Kandalama Sri Lanka’s most awarded hotel and “an icon of modern hotel design” as rated by the Observer UK, Desert Nights Camp, Oman rated as “one of the top ten desert retreats in the world” by The National and the unique Heritance Tea Factory rated by The Independent UK as one of the ‘top five factory hotels’ in the world and “one of the best 100 places to stay in the world” by the Sunday Times UK, the chain is poised to further astound the tourism sector, both at home and abroad. Aitken Spence is unrivalled in product diversity; from the quaint colonial house-turned hotel in Bandarawela to the upscale Heritance Ahungalla, the group has something for everyone.
On the island, new plans include expansion in all of the cardinal directions, as well as further developments in India and possibly the Middle East. Whilst majority of the new properties will target the high end, Aitken Spence plans to broaden its portfolio, keeping the variety for which it has become renowned and cater to additional niche segments such as wellness and business travel. In addition to a new resort planned for the company’s 100-acre plot of land on the soft white sands of Trincomalee, plans for a high-end resort to be built in Ahungalla are also under way. The latter, will include an island on the Madhu river and be run under the Six Senses banner. In keeping with its reputation for diversity, Aitken Spence also aims to construct city hotels in Colombo and Jaffna. A sustainable tourism model, which Aitken Spence pioneered in Sri Lanka will be the key consideration in growth.
When questioned on how future plans for new target markets would affect the current portfolio and perception of Aitken Spence properties, Mr. Hapugoda quickly says, “We have always been confident of Sri Lanka and continued to spend on our properties during the low years; as such we are one company that is ready to take the upturn. Having said that, as tourism is due to boom, we have some of the best and most unique resorts and we can boldly target the high end, whilst continuing to have a presence in the volume market.” In post-war Sri Lanka, when the future of tourism is looking brighter than ever, Mr. Malin Hapugoda, Managing Director, Aitken Spence Hotel Managements, acknowledges that the true strength behind the award-winning Group is the team who continuously strives towards excellence in service. He encourages them to persist in their endeavours as he says, “There is no favouritism, everyone is rewarded on merit and in the company’s expansion plans, current staff will always be given preference for growth opportunities within the group, whether in Sri Lanka or abroad.”


Aitken Spence Hotels Celebrate Tourism & Bio Diversity with School Art Competition

24 Sep

On the 27th of September under the theme of ‘Tourism and Biodiversity’, World Tourism day will be acknowledged and celebrated. The official celebrations will be hosted by China, with the date being globally recognized by a multitude of nations organizing their own individual events in lieu of the day. Aitken Spence Hotels will too play its part, by organizing and staging art competitions and exhibitions for school children at its hotels. The hotels will involve rural schools within close proximity to the properties in order to promote its sustainability related initiatives. The hotels have been interacting with schools in their respective areas during the month of September in order to encourage maximum participation.

Mr. Malin Hapugoda, Managing Director of Aitken Spence Hotels stated “The objective of this school art competition is to raise awareness of the close relationship between tourism development, biodiversity & conservation as well as to recognize the talent of school children. The Tourism industry and biodiversity are closely related as most of Sri Lanka’s tourism offers are linked to its natural environment and biodiversity”.

According to the United Nations World Tourism Organization, biodiversity based tourism represents an important source of income to the world’s developing nations. Seventy per cent of these populations inhabit rural areas and therefore depend heavily on biodiversity of their survival and well-being.
UNWTO Secretary General Teleb Rifai in his World Tourism Day message stated “Recognizing the value of earth’s natural capital to its long–term sustainability, the tourism industry is called upon to protect and sustainably manage biodiversity. A healthy tourism industry depends on a healthy resource base, and sustainable growth in tourism means increase funds for conservation”.

Sustainable tourism enhances crucial economic incentives for habitat protection. Revenues from the tourism industry are often channeled back into nature conservation or capacity building programs for local communities in order to advance management of protected areas. Furthermore, tourism can be a key vehicle in raising awareness and endorsing a positive outlook towards biodiversity conservation amongst the millions of individuals who travel in a year.

At each Aitken Spence Hotel, the winners of the art competition will be awarded individual certificates and cash prizes including equipment for their respective schools. Aitken Spence Hotels will select the top three paintings by the children from all the participating schools and give due recognition to the children and their schools in order to nurture their talent as well as enhance prospects for their further education. The initiatives made by Aitken Spence Hotels for conservation and protection of the environment have been recognized and noted as global case studies on sustainable tourism. In addition to being the largest resort group in Sri Lanka, the company is rapidly growing as a regional player with a large portfolio of hotels under the respective brands of ‘Heritance Hotels & Resorts’, ‘Aitken Spence Hotels & Resorts’ and ‘Adaaran Resorts’ in India, Maldives and Oman’.

Mother Nature has a million untapped resources, but one that can never go unnoticed is its natural beauty. Through tourism’s hand in hand promotion of biodiversity, Aitken Spence Hotels too perseveres to strive and do its part in enhancing Mother Nature’s image.

Media Release – 24 September 2010

Aitken Spence Trains Rural Youth in Hospitality Sector

28 Jul

Investors have shown tremendous interest  in setting up new tourism businesses in the country. Substantial investments have been approved by the government to develop new resorts in the East coast including Trincomalee which is well known to be one of the best beaches in Asia. Most of these resorts are tipped to be up market luxury resorts,  increasing the demand for skilled workers in the tourism industry.

One of the key challenges facing Sri Lanka tourism today is the shortfall of skilled service personnel. Aitken Spence School of Hospitality in Ahungalla commenced operations in 2007, with a view to enhance the employability and skills of Sri Lankan youth for the hospitality industry.. The school was established by Aitken Spence Hotels with the assistance of the Austrian Chamber of Commerce and Hilfswerk.

A group of young  men from the Eastern province, majority from Trincomalee  was the most recent batch to enter the hospitality industry through the Aitken Spence School of Hospitality . This batch completed their training with practical sessions and hands on experiences at Heritance Kandalama. Some of the trainees explained that the highlight of their practical session were interactions with the other staff and the real customers, the tourists.

Mr. Malin Hapugoda, Managing Director of Aitken Spence Hotels, commented on this initiative saying “The school was initially set up to recover from the Tsunami and assist locals in the Ahungalle region. However, since the ending of the war, our company has taken steps to assist the development in the North and the East as well as other rural areas in the country.  Mr. Hapugoda also stated “What is most important for us in the industry is to transfer skills within a short period of time to fill the gap. Once the students have the basic skills and confidence they  can easily join as stewards or stewardesses, to further improve and learn through on the job training and  subsequently specialise in areas of their choice”.

While the school provides free technical know how to young men and women of employable age, it also aims to groom them by building confidence. Key advantage for the students is that, they are provided with a rare opportunity to work in five star Aitken Spence Hotels in Sri Lanka and thus gain valuable overseas exposure through the Group’s hotels in the Maldives, India and Oman. Most of the trainees are employed by Aitken Spence Hotels at the completion of their training. Some of our students have secured employment abroad while a few others have ventured in to establishing their own hospitality related micro businesses.

The company  was privileged to be associated with USAID with this particular programme in assisting the youth of the Eastern Province. The significance of this batch of trainees was that it provided an opportunity for the youth of the North Eastern province to interact with youth of other parts of the country. By participating in practical sessions conducted in Aitken Spence hotels they were able to socially network and interact with the rest of the community.

Ms. Melani Schultz, Chief of Party  for USAID/CORE said “USAID through its Connecting Regional Economies Project has partnered with four major hotel chains in Sri Lanka, including Aitken Spence. A partnership with Aitken Spence was formalised because of its excellent reputation in the tourism sector and its high calibre hospitality training programme. We are proud to see the success of the Aitken Spence programme with every trainee completing the 3-month courses. We wish continued success to the new batch of trainees from Moneragala and Ampara and to the Aitken Spence School of Hospitality”

Mr. Amal Nanayakkara, General Manager, Training of Aitken Spence Hotels was very  happy to announce that a new batch of twenty nine students, mostly from Moneragala and Ampara districts also with the assistance from the USAID/CORE project, entered the Aitken Spence School of Hospitality on 15th of July 2010. Mr. Nanayakkara said “The School gives opportunities to unemployed school leavers, aged between eighteen and twenty four, with GCE Ordinary Level qualifications”,

The school is committed to training youth on the basic concepts of hospitality on short-term courses. These short term courses of three months have paved the way for many  talented young men and women to gain entry in to the hospitality sector.

Media Release – 28 July 2010

Heritance Tea Factory Triumphs at the Asia Pacific Property Awards

22 Apr

The results of the Asia Pacific Property Awards 2010 in association with Bloomberg Television have been revealed and Heritance Tea Factory is rightly proud to be amongst the winners. Successful entrants were announced at a high profile gala dinner held at the Langham Hotel in Hong Kong on April 16th and Heritance Tea Factory was delighted to be presented with an award in the category of Best Hotel, Construction and Design. Presenter for the evening was Paul Gordon, news broadcaster for Bloomberg Television.

The event is part of the International Property Awards, the world’s most prestigious competition dedicated to identifying the best real estate professionals across the globe. Scooping one of these coveted awards is proof that Heritance Tea Factory is not only able to compete at this level but also win within the highly competitive Asia Pacific property arena.

Later this year, the highest scoring winners from the Asia Pacific Property Awards will compete against other winning companies from Europe, the UK, Europe & Africa, the Americas and Arabia to find the ultimate World’s Best in each category. Last year, the Asia Pacific region scooped no less than seven World’s Best awards – two more than the year before and an amazing feat. No doubt the property industry will be watching and waiting to see if this record number of international wins can be matched or even beaten in 2010.

The judging panel is formed by a large group of professionals whose collective knowledge of the property industry is unsurpassed by any other property awards. This year’s judges include Ben Wood, industry head property markets of Google UK; Peter Bolton King, group chief executive of the National Federation of Property Professionals; Christopher Hall, president elect of FIABCI; Patrick Grove, executive chairman of i.Property.com Group Asia Ltd; Thijis Stoffer, International Consortium of Real Estate Agents Association (ICREA); Helen Shield, editor-in-chief of International Homes magazine and Iris Dunbar, British Institute of Interior Design.

Mr. Malin Hapugoda, Managing Director, Aitken Spence Hotels said of the award,

“Heritance Tea Factory is the result of the successful development of an abandoned tea factory into an eco-friendly world class hotel and we are delighted that the recently re-branded Heritance Tea Factory has won this prestigious accolade. ”

Media Release – 22 April 2010

Tea Factory Among the “World’s Best 100 Places to Stay”

14 Nov

Tea factory

The Sunday Times UK has named the Tea Factory, Sri Lanka’s first theme hotel, among the “World’s Best 100 Places to Stay” in its September travel issue. Commenting on the article, Mr Malin Hapugoda, Managing Director of Aitken Spence Hotels, commented: “We are really excited that one of our own iconic hotel properties has been featured in the list of the “World’s Best Places to Stay” by the UK’s leading Sunday newspaper. The Tea Factory Hotel is truly unique to the world as it is the only tea factory which has been converted to a top-class boutique hotel.”

2007 – Ace Magazine Issue 4

Heritance adds a Third Dimension to Sri Lankan Cuisine

14 Nov

In addition to taste and presentation, Heritance Hotels & Resorts is introducing health as a third dimension to Sri HeritanceLanka’s cuisine in its properties, Heritance Kandalama and Heritance Ahungalla.

Sri Lanka’s premier international hospitality brand which recently announced its expansion overseas brought leading Sri Lankan academics in the field of food science & nutrition, Heritance’s internationally acclaimed chefs and preferred suppliers to discuss the opportunities for the development of Sri Lankan cuisine as a source of nutritive and medicinal value as a value addition in their menus.

The workshop looked into the identification of nutrients and corresponding ingredients, development of cuisine and looking at avenues for supply.

Dr Ananda Chndrasekara, Senior Lecturer of Biochemistry, Human Nutrition & Dietetics of the Department of Food Science & Technology of the University of Peradeniya and Dr Vajira Senaviratne, visiting lecturer, ayurveda consultant and pharmaceutical chemist outlined Sri Lankan food’s nutritional and medicinal values which reveal great promise to develop specialized Sri Lankan cuisine as a health option.

Development of Sri Lankan cuisines is expected to create demand for local ingredients, helping the rural economies of the country.

“The nutritive qualities of specific ingredients in western food are well-known internationally due to the vast amount of research published and media attention. In contrast, Sri Lankan cuisine in spite of its many nutritive and medicinal qualities has not received due recognition. We hope our initiative would help in recognizing the health aspect of Sri Lankan cuisine internationally”, commented the Managing Director of Aitken Spence Hotel Managements Mr Malin Hapugoda.

Mr Gemunu Goonawardena, Director Food & Beverages, Mr Anil Udawatte Director Sales & Marketing of Aitken Spence Hotels, and well-known Sri Lankan master chef Publis Silva also addressed the gathering.

Heritance Hotels and Resorts’ Group Skills Development Chef Dimuthu Kumarasinghe, who is the only chef in the world to have won 9 gold medals in individual events in both the Culinary Olympics and Culinary World Cup and was also present at the announcement.

2007 – Ace Magazine Issue 4