Investing in people at Atmosphere Kanifushi Maldives

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Allen Mathias, Training Manager at AKM, conducting a development session.

Located in Lhaviyani Atoll, Atmosphere Kanifushi is a 2 kilometre stretch of land – a long, narrow strip, located in the western tip of the atoll. From an aerial view, the taller-than-average coconut palms and the beautiful mangroves clustered together around the beach make the island stand out. From the moment I set foot on the island though, it is the warm smiles and welcoming words that greet me that really make this place unique. Fittingly so, as I was here to discover just what goes in to creating such an outstanding service culture.

I had already read about the ‘AKM Learning Carnival’ – a nine-day training programme the resort conducted in July to show staff how to deliver the best service. Today, my colleague and I were here to attend one of the resort’s short training programmes. As well as experiencing the incredible hospitality from the staff themselves, we were to learn what training goes in to creating world class hoteliers.

For the ‘AKM Learning Carnival’, the resort had outsourced the training sessions to the Hospitality Training Institute (HTI) in India. The man behind the idea was the brand’s Group Director of Operations, Mr. Rajat Chhabra, an enthusiastic man with a great passion and drives to help his team grow. “For me and for Atmosphere hotels, training is an investment which is going to result in the success of the resort,” he says. “For a company such as ours, growing at such a fast pace, we want to build our team and our family from within – we want to create an environment where the staff are educated and well versed, on how to provide a particular service.” He continues enthusiastically, “’I have always believed that training is the greatest investment a company can do for their own benefit.”

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Mr. Rajat Chhabra, Group Director of Operations

During the carnival, the classes were conducted by Mr. Dominic Costabir from HTI and facilitated by Allen Mathias, Training Manager and Vaibhav Garg, head of the Human Resources department. The carnival ended in July, with 40% of the staff taking part and passing with flying colours of complete learning in the programme. The courses included management development programmes, leadership development programmes and ‘train the trainer’ sessions.

Games, quizzes, and tasks were given to the class to teach them about team work and time management. Lectures, along with visual aids, were also conducted. The end of the programme saw each participant receive a special badge, and taking an oath. A ‘Vow to Wow’, a promise, to do their utmost to deliver the absolute best, and to always go one step further in exceeding the guests’ expectations.

“The day they got their Wow badges, was the day their journey really started. Wearing these badges and facing the world, applying what they learnt to their work was going to be the challenging and interesting part,” Mr. Garg explained.

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Mr. Vaibhav Garg, Head of Human Resources

Empowering staff, teaching them how to recognise their own strengths and weaknesses in the area of work has helped the participants immensely. Mr. Garg also said,”We already see the difference in most of our colleagues, when they deliver to guests. The compliments we receive from guests, the small appreciations of thanks we get are enough to motivate the staff a little bit more every day.”

Now that the learning carnival is over, the resort still conducts training sessions several times a week. Today, I get to join one of these dynamic seminars. The one and a half hour session conducted by Mr. Allen on Service Excellence is attended by the Group Director of Operations Mr. Chhabra himself. About 15 colleagues, including myself and my colleague attend the interesting class, where Allen proceeds to talk about how to better one’s own self in terms of the service he/she provides. Allen continues the class with insightful videos and photos, using inspiring quotes.

After the course, students go up to Allen to discuss points, issues they want to clear out. The whole ambiance of the classroom is relaxed and comfortable. The students are comfortable enough to talk to Allen, joke and laugh with him after class, which speaks a lot about the relationship between superiors and their team at Atmosphere.

AKM, new into the tourism scene, and just getting started, has already put themselves on the map with regards to the service culture they are fostering. Later, as I say goodbye to the resort, I realize that it is not just the beauty of the island, but the people with their genuine personalities and generosity who have won me over. I leave AKM in hopes of returning to the welcoming arms of Atmosphere Kanifushi Maldives soon.