Best of the Maldives: HR Leadership – LUX South Ari Atoll

LUX South Ari Atoll - Hussein Afeef

May Day today is a time to celebrate the workers of the world and their contributions to society. A fine time to commend LUX South Ari Atoll and their work every day of the year to enhance the work and personal lives of the staff as recognized with the recent commendation of their Director of Training, Development and Quality Assurance…

“The resort is proud to share that Director of Training, Development and Quality Assurance, Mr. Hussein Afeef has been recognized as one of the ‘100 most influential Global HR Professionals’ at the 3rd Global Training Conference which was held in Mumbai, India on February 15 2016. On the same day Afeef was also awarded with the ‘Global Training and Development Leadership Award’ handed over by one of the founders of World HRD Congress 2016, Dr. R. L. Bhatia.”

Actually, I find pretty much most of the resorts to have a very staff-centric ethos which makes sense as their entire business is about people. That is, Maldivian people hosting people from around the world to share a bit of their paradise. Maldives Complete was able to secure an interview with Hussein Afeef to get a more in depth look at his award-winning perspectives…

• What was your education?

I completed a Bachelors Degree in Hospitality Management in Malaysia and Masters of Business Administration in British School of Commerce awarded by London School of Commerce. PHD research is set to start from June 2016.

• What was your first job at a resort?

My first job at Resort was HR Administration for three resorts Bandos Island Resorts, Four Seasons and Cocoa Island-based mainly at Male’ and often visited all three resorts. I also had three internships at Bangkok, Singapore, and Malaysia before taking a full-time resort based role at One&Only Reethi Rah.

What is one of the most common intra-staff conflicts and how do your resolve it?

The biggest challenge we face is miscommunication and cultural diversity understandings within colleagues. However we have learned over the years, the success and best way to resolve it to provide enough service and culture related education to Team Members and to create transparency between all departments and Team Members especially when it comes to sharing information.

• What is one of the most common staff personal issues and how do your support them to resolve it?

Mostly conflicts between Team Members around taking personal responsibility for getting things done. Here at LUX* we have created a service culture that empowers Team Members to be proactive and take personal responsibility. Therefore, I don’t see such an issue right now at our work environment.

• What skill set is the hardest to find?

Good Leadership skills and how to be great leaders. Time Management, being a constant role model, sharing and living by positive attitudes are some of the hardest soft skills to find within Team Members. That’s why we continually educate and teach our colleagues and results has been fantastic.

• What has been the most popular training you have provided?

Service Culture Programs designed by UP Your Service, FISH! Philosophy, Leadership Programs from John Maxwell are some of the most popular programs are deliver and customize to our Team needs.

• What is the least popular training (e.g., difficulty, tedium)?

To be honest, I don’t have a particular topic like that. It depends on the trainer, even Health, and Safety, Fire Awareness or Hygiene training sessions are popular here as we try our best to bring the best-outsourced instructors. When teachers are incredible, regardless of the topic, course will be well received by Team Members

• Have you introduced any policies that provide greater flexibility for the staff and how they do their jobs?

We have many policies and procedures that assist our Team Members do to and deliver what they do best. Our Managers are regularly coached regarding empowerment and flexibility of work, thus same filters through all levels.

• What is the most popular perk to being on staff at LUX South Ari Atoll?

Regular welfare and employee relation activities, Competitive Compensation package in terms of monetary value, world-class training and development programs, opportunities and Team Members being able to have their freedom at work and are open to creativity and innovative ideas. I consider these as benefits that other organizations may lack.

Best of the Maldives: Sand Painting – JA Manafara

JA Manafaru - sand painting Figi

While the glitterati use sand to paint themselves, artist Ahmed Shahid of JA Manafaru uses paint to adorn sand. When he is not working in the resort boutique, he creates a variety of sand compositions, but his specialty is football motifs. The resort reports “He works at the boutique. He is a very good self taught artist who makes these designs. They are made for guests, when we are aware of a football team that they support.” His proudest moment was when one of his favourite players, Luis Figo, posed with one of his creations when visiting the resort (see above).

JA Manafaru - sand painting Man City

JA Manafaru - sand painting 2

Best of the Maldives: Maldivian Beauty – Coco Bodu Hithi

Coco Bodu Hithi - Raudha Aathif - advert

Athif Raudha is literally the face of the Maldives. She displays the classic sun-kissed, delicate features of the Maldivians, except for one extremely striking exception. While most Maldivians have dark brown eyes, hers are an iridescent blue more like the cerulean sea that surrounds the country. Even her Facebook handle is “Wild Blue Lustre

Her captivating look has drawn her into modelling for a number of years now including Coco Bodu Hithi’s recent campaign (see above). She is also a favourite subject of artistic fashion photographer Alexey Vladimir (in fact, her red hooded portrait featured in yesterdays Christmas Red post is Alexey’s Facebook Profile picture).

Raudha agreed to do a first-ever, exclusive interview with Maldives Complete to share some insights into this intriguing poster child for Maldivian beauty (thanks Paola)…

  • How were you “discovered”, ie. how did you get started?

It was always a hobby, because I grew up posing for pictures. But it wasn’t until I did a few shoots with Sotti (a professional photographer) that things really kicked off. I started getting offers for ads, and I always had people advise me not to take any of them until something good came up. And that worked out quite well.

  • What was your first modelling gig?

If I remember correctly, it was something like a PSA, for national TV, encouraging people to stop using plastic bags, and choose eco-friendly stuff. I was 14 years old, and quite the environmentalist, so, naturally very happy to be a part of it.

  • Do you have an agent?

I don’t. Anyone’s free to contact me directly, regarding any business.

  • Where did you get your distinctive eyes from (do other members of your parents families have similar eyes)?

My paternal grandfather, his eyes were a sort of dark hazel. And my beautiful great grandmother had a greyish blue.

  • What types of work would you like to do in the future?

Contrary to popular belief, modelling isn’t all I want to do with my life. I’d like to work as a doctor, in many places all over the world. I’m leaving to Bangladesh to study for a Bachelor s of Medicine next month. And that, becoming a doctor, has been my dream, and primary interest, since I was 5, maybe.

  • Is there a model whose look/work you most admire?

I can’t possibly name just one. Adriana Lima, Cara Delevingne, Angelina Jolie. And I can never leave out Deepika Padukone. These women are beautiful, inspiring, and I love them for the things they stand for.

  • What’s been your most lucrative modelling gig?

That would definitely be working for Sotti in his “Maldives” series.

  • What’s been your most enjoyable modelling gig?

A collaboration shoot with Alexey Vladimir, where I got the chance to entertain my inner daredevil. I had to make my way to the middle of the reef. Beyond an area called Usfasgandu in Male’ where there’s a destroyed, unused platform-like bit covered with seaweedy things. Between land and the platform, we had steep, slippery tetrahedral rocks to climb down, then the reef, with more rocks and sharp corals. Strong waves too, because it was a rainy day. Had I slipped or fallen over, or lost my balance with an incoming or outgoing wave, my face would be in coral hell. And then I didn’t fall. And it was all done with me in a full length dress. I LOVED it. The result was a beautiful picture titled “The Night”. Everyone lived happily ever after.

  • Are any particular pressures you face doing modelling?

Well, before a shoot, there’s almost always pressure. A weird, unspecific kind. Ha ha. I suppose it’s natural, wanting to do well, feeling nervous for how it’s going to turn out. But once it starts, it’s always fun and an amazing experience. I’ve been lucky to work with great people.

  • Any pet peeves when you are working modelling?

I think the only thing would be, when people fail to communicate very well. Maybe my friends think otherwise, and I don’t express this very often. But, I actually have very little tolerance for rude or bossy people.

  • What are your favourite pastimes?

Modelling IS a pastime for me! Ha ha. Okay seriously though? I have phases. All in all, I love learning new things. And a lot of that happened while I worked at the military hospital and then IGMH, for a year and a half.

Besides that, I’ve also had my time with yoga, painting, dancing. At school in India, I played the congas – that was fun. And also failed quite terribly at singing. When I want to laze around, there’s always a good book to get lost in. Most recently, I’ve taken up open water diving and trying to play the piano. New things are excitingly endless, you know.

Coco Bodu Hithi - Raudha Aathif portrait

Best of the Maldives: Boat Captain – Kurumba

Kurumba - boat captain

International Women’s Day today celebrates the inspirational achievements of women around the world. One such woman is Aishath Rizuna “Rizu”, the Maldive’s first female boat captain trained and appointed by Kurumba

Rizu herself comes from a line of strong and active women. Her mother and grandmother are very practical and very sporty. Her mother fixes electrical issues and out swam all the boys while her grandmother still climbs trees…

“From her background, Rizu was born and raised in Funadhoo, Shariyani Atoll. Her father is a fisherman so Rizu has sweet memories about the time when her father taught her how to swim, snorkel and fish in a traditional Dhoni boat. At the very young age of four, Rizu’s father taught her how to drive a small boat, and by the time she was a teenager she was selling small boats in the lagoon of Funadhoo. Rizu’s father (Mohamed Nazim) curiously also worked in Kurumba at a young age thirty years ago and has been a great support to Rizu’s evolving career. We are delighted with the support of our twelve male Captains, who certainly gave her all the necessary help needed for her practical training as well as her theory course. Rizu is still developing her skills and knowledge of the Maldivian oceans, which will take some time. Whilst she will continue her role as Majaa Recreation Supervisor, these additional skills can be used in the future from time to time when guests are looking for a female crew.”

Maldives Complete had the opportunity for an exclusive interview with Rizu. Special thanks to good friend and fellow blogger Eileen Brown who helped with the questions. Eileen herself was the first female to be employed as a Deck Cadet in shell Tankers (UK) Ltd and is currently one of the leading promoters of women in the UK technology sector

  • What is the best aspect of your job? – It’s always been a dream to travel around, being a boat captain allows me to fulfil my dream and that’s the most enjoyable part in my job.
  • What were your biggest challenges as you trained to become a boat captain? – The biggest challenge I had was that every single part in the boats were so new to me. I felt like I was back in school, where I had to learn everything from A to Z, but with the help of all the people around me I overcame all challenges and I am so thankful to everyone.
  • Were there any physical obstacles that you needed to overcome? – I would say it’s more mental challenges that I had to overcome more than physical ones.
  • Did your lack of physical strength hinder you much? – The thought “I am a woman and I can’t do that” never even crossed my mind and most importantly everyone around me never tried to put it in my head either.
  • What were the attitudes of your classmates as you progressed through your training? – Very helpful and positive comments from the start, from the moment I told them that I am going to take the training as a boat captain. These comments pushed me forward and it’s always great to know how much people appreciate your hard work.
  • Did you have anyone that championed and supported you? If so, was it a big advantage? – Honestly and to be fair I have to say everyone, but I am particularly thankful for the support of my Family, the Kurumba Management team including our Fleet Manager Mohamed Shameem and the whole Kurumba team for being with me.
  • Did you encounter anyone that was very against you progressing in your career? – No! Only positive feedback.
  • Now you are a captain, what are your plans to encourage other women to follow your path? – Well, it’s a choice. This opportunity came to my doorstep, why would I wait? My dream is waiting out there. There’s always one thing I would like to say now and I will always say it: “follow your dream until you reach it, never give up and take your chances”.
  • What next for you in your career after your captain job? – It’s a bit too early to decide anything right now. I am enjoying driving the boats around and working towards my dream, which is visiting each and every island in the country.

Aye, aye, Kurumba!

#PaintItPurple

 

Kurumba - Rizu childhood

Best of the Maldives: Maldivian Therapy – Coco Palm Dhuni Kolhu

Coco Palm Dhuni Kholu Maldivian therapy

Maldives resorts offer spa treatments from all over the world – Thai, Swedish, Balinese. A number of resort spas do offer Maldives treatments which are often variants of Ayurvedic practices from India. Coco Palm Dhuni Kolhu offers a very traditional Maldives treatment by a Maldivian practitioner…

“Having been practised in the Maldives as a traditional form of healing for many years, the roots of Maldivian alternative medicine also known as ‘Dhivehi beys verikan’, are slowly fading. As a result and in order to revive the tradition and culture of the local community, Coco Collection has invited a Maldivian alternative medicine man – Dhivehi beys veriya – to visit Coco Palm Dhuni Kolhu once a week. Mr. Ahmed Mohamed has experience of ‘Dhivehi beys verikan’ for over 20 years and will only be using locally grown and tested concoctions. Available therapies will include the treatment for asthma, joint and muscle pain, sunburn and many more. All of the treatments are personalised to the needs of the guests.”

Hashi himeynkan dhivehi.

Best of the Maldives: Vocalist – Kurumba

Kurumba - Miro Solo

The Brit Awards last night celebrated the top musical acts in the UK, and if there were a “Mald” awards, a leading nominee would be one of the budding musical stars of Maldives is Mira Mohamed. We saw her at Bandos during our stay. Unlike the typical background music pervading the sparsely attended night-time lounges, she stopped me in my tracks as I was rushing to a meeting with the deputy resort manager. A classy and talented performer, she brings a very personal flavour to her song renditions. She has toured a number of resorts, but Kurumba is featuring her as a regular headliner.

Best of the Maldives: Resident Local Artist – Sun Island

Sun Island Azum artist

This weekend kicks off the holiday shopping season in the USA starting with the infamous post-Thanksgiving ‘Black Friday’. Guests of Sun Island can get their own jump on filling their Santa sacks with any number of treasures at Azym’s workshop. Azym is the resident artist there and wields his paintbrush in his shop there packed floor to ceiling with pieces such as pictures, bowls, frames and all manner of assorted decorative arts.

I find that local artwork is quite variable in quality not just in the Maldives , but at just about any tourist destination that you visit. Some will be quite amateurish and tawdry pieces, but sometimes you can find some real gems of talent and style. I would definitely class Azym as the latter. He captures the Maldivian blues that are bright but not garish. His depictions are simple without being crude.

And because they are made right there, so you can order something customised as a special memento to your stay and favourite memories. A certain part of the island or vista perhaps.

Happy shopping!

 

Sun Island artist

 

Sun Island artist 2

Best of the Maldives: Cocktail Compendium – Gili Lankanfushi

Gili Lankanfushi - cocktails

A refresher for the end of the day is a cocktail which can also sparkle, uplift, sooth or relax. The ‘Doctor of Mixology’ has to be Muthu Kumar, Head Bartender at Gili Lankanfushi’s their Overwater Bar. He trained for 6 months in cocktail mixing. And looking at the dissertation length bar cocktail menu, you can see why. Gili offers…

  • 24 Champagne Cocktails – including, “Sake – Cham” (Japanese junmai daiginjo sake, syrup and Champagne) and “Royal Lime Sorbet” (Fresh lime, syrup, Champagne mixed with lime sorbet)
  • 19 Martinis – including, “Apple and Cinnamon Martini” (Organic apple juice, lime juice, syrup, cinnamon vodka, muddled with fresh apple and cinnamon), “Cardamom and Pineapple Martini” (Cardamom vodka, syrup and fresh pineapple juice)
  • 12 “Herb Cocktails”
  • 11 “Limbo” (Lime in Maldivian) cocktails
  • 12 Vodka cocktails
  • 6 Wine cocktails
  • 9 Gin cocktails
  • 10 Rum cocktails
  • 9 Tequila cocktails
  • 9 Brandy cocktails
  • 8 Whiskey cocktails
  • 10 coffee cocktails (5 hot versions and 5 cold ones)
  • 6 “Signature Cocktails”

They also have 6 ‘Shooter’ cocktails crowned by the house specialty the ‘7 Layer Shooter’ – Muthu Kumar (With the W Retreat’s signature ‘7 Layer Chocolate Cake’ I am wondering if there is some sort of culinary law od physics that says you can pile up an ingredient on top of itself a number of times, but it is absolutely limited ‘7’. Sort of like the number of times you can fold a piece of paper in half).

It’s not just the recipes that have variety, but the ingredients themselves. They stock 21 types of Vodka, 19 types of gin, 15 brands of Rum, 8 Tequillas, 29 liqueurs, 38 whiskies, 13 Apperitifs and 8 Digestifs, 18 Cognacs, 9 Grappas, 9 ports/sherries, 10 soft drinks, 11 juices, 7 smoothies, 7 lassis, 12 beers, 14 mocktails, 25 ‘spa’ cocktails (eg. Ayurveda elixirs), 20 types of teas.

In short, 151 types of cocktail made from 248 types of drinks (and of course, you could have any of the latter straight up).

Stay tuned for Muthu’s latest innovation as he is soon to introduce ‘Smoky’ cocktails to the already encyclopaedic mix.

 

Gili Lankanfushi - Muthu cocktails

Best of the Maldives: Beach Stargazing – Mirihi

Mirihi telescope

Maldives is famous for an abundance of stars. Not just the firm bodies of the jet set on the beach, but also a dazzling set in the firmament above.

With minimal light pollution and the many days of clear skies, the Maldives are a great venue for star gazing. Our family used to lie on the warm beach after dinner and just stare at the Milky Way washed across the middle of the sky.

An increasing number of resorts are introducing telescopes so guests can probe more actively into this heavenly display. Soneva Fushi has had its own entire observatory for a long time now. But, Mirihi offers a beach stargazing which is one of the best I have come across. Their 11 inch telescope allowed us to look at Saturn (complete with signature rings), Mars, Arcturus, and Alpha Centauri. What made the session distinctive was the Chief Astronomer Shareef who not only infused great enthusiasm and expertise, but also brought along his iPad astronomy apps. With them, he was able to take us on a tour of galaxies and the solar system in more detail and perspective with his masterful navigation through the colourful 3D universe

Over the next week is the Perseids meteor shower which is the best time on Earth to look for falling stars. If I see one, I will wish that I was back on the night time beach of Mirihi.

Best of the Maldives: Side Mount Diving – Vilamendhoo

Vilamendhoo side mount tank

Bruce, you might want to try this.” That’s how Lori greeted me when I met up with her after her dive at Vilamendhoo after seeing side mount diving for the first time.

Side mount diving has a number of advantages for certain situations. It is very popular with cave divers for whom the tank can get in the way of narrow passages. But also, the configuration more easily allows for double tanking for people who want very long dives. It can also be advantageous for divers with back problems especially maneuvering out of water.

The configuration requires special skills training both in the equipment and in diving itself. My wife Lori went on a dive with the Euro Divers dive master Hussein Ali who is a certified instructor in side mount. He teaches the PADI course offered there ($229 for course and $80 for certification) and the resort offers the equipment for guests interested in this unconventional approach

Tanks a lot!

Vilamendhoo side tank diving