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From Baa Atoll to International Heights: Ahmed Asim’s Journey as a Leading Maldivian Hotelier

Ahmed Asim stands as an inspiration within the hospitality industry, representing a rare cohort of Maldivian hoteliers who have ventured beyond the island’s shores to carve out illustrious careers abroad. With a fervent passion for hospitality instilled from his upbringing in Baa Maalhos, Maldives, Ahmed embarked on a remarkable journey that led him to the helm of Anantara Rasananda Koh Phangan Villas in Thailand. His trajectory, characterized by a steadfast dedication to excellence and an unwavering commitment to personal growth, showcases the transformative power of ambition and resilience. Today, Ahmed Asim’s ascent to the role of General Manager stands as a testament to the limitless potential of Maldivian talent in the global hospitality arena.

Hotelier Maldives is delighted to present an interview with Ahmed Asim, where he shares invaluable insights into his illustrious career and the dynamic world of hospitality.

Hotelier Maldives: Tell us about your journey into the hospitality industry. What sparked your interest initially?

Ahmed Asim: I’m from Baa Maalhos, a small island in the Maldives, where fishing was predominant. Throughout my childhood, I saw resorts popping up across our atoll, run by international brands like Soneva and Four Seasons. I became fascinated with island resorts and the way they were giving back to the local community. I hoped one day to work in such a place and carve my own path. When people from my island were hired by Soneva, my interest was piqued even further, and it was at that point, that I decided to pursue hospitality. Sponsored by Soneva Fushi, I pursued my studies in hospitality, and this was the catalyst that kick-started my career.

HM: What led you to pursue a career at Anantara Rasananda Koh Phangan Villas instead of a Maldivian resort?

AA: In the early stages of my career, I was lucky enough to work for some amazing brands and beautiful resorts in the Maldives, including Soneva, Conrad, W, and St. Regis. These experiences were pivotal in my career journey and prepared me for the rollercoaster that was to come.

My first international venture was in 2013, when I joined Starwood Hotels and Resorts, at their newly opened Vana Belle, a Luxury Collection Resort, Koh Samui, back in 2013. Needless to say, I loved it… the culture, the people and the food. I gained invaluable insights and expertise there, and despite returning to the Maldives to continue my tenure with Starwood, my journey would lead me back to Koh Samui, years later.

In 2019, a new chapter unfolded with Minor Hotels, joining Anantara Riverside in Bangkok. This transition gave me the chance to immerse myself in the dynamic operations of a large-scale resort in one of the world’s most bustling cities. Given Minor’s established presence in the Maldives with stunning resorts under Anantara, Naladhu and Niyama private islands, the decision to join their ranks was a natural one.

Over the past four years, I’ve worked in different roles within Anantara and Avani+ Bangkok, which resulted in my recent promotion to the role I hold today.

I also firmly believe in the importance of mentorship in one’s career journey. I was fortunate to have been guided by exceptional leaders, none more influential than Mark O’Sullivan. Our collaborative efforts, spanning various resorts within and outside of Minor, have been instrumental in my evolution as a hotelier. Mark’s mentorship has played a crucial role in my ascent to the position of General Manager at this stunning Anantara property in Koh Phangan.

HM: Were there any challenges you faced as a Maldivian hotelier working abroad? If so, how did you overcome them?

AA: Initially, adapting to a new environment presented its challenges, but overall, the transition was smooth.

HM: You’re one of the few Maldivian GMs working internationally. Why do you think so few Maldivians pursue hotel careers abroad?

AA: I believe there are many reasons for this, with limited opportunities perhaps being the primary reason. The allure of working in the Maldives, renowned for its luxury experiences, remains strong. However, there’s a growing trend of Maldivians assuming leadership roles in local resorts and a few international brands. I hope this trend continues to grow in the industry.

HM: What advice would you give to young Maldivians aspiring for careers in the hospitality industry, both within and outside the Maldives?

AA: Be resilient and humble. You’ll encounter numerous challenges, but resilience ensures you emerge victorious. Humility is crucial; excessive ego only gets in the way of progress.

HM: How do you foresee the future of the hospitality industry in the Maldives? What are the key trends and challenges you see on the horizon?

AA: The Maldives boasts exceptional natural beauty, making it a remarkable destination. Prioritizing sustainable tourism to preserve the islands’ ecosystems is paramount. Our long-term strategies should be guided by a strong commitment to sustainability.