Masdhooq Saeed: On mission to make Sun Siyam Iru Veli soulful, romantic, authentic Maldivian boutique resort

Maldives is a popular destination for tourists from all over the world, who flock to its pristine beaches, crystal clear waters, and luxurious resorts. But what makes the Maldives stand out from other tropical paradises is the warmth and hospitality of its people, who welcome visitors with open arms and treat them like family. It is the culture ingrained in them and inherited from its very inception.

One such person is Masdhooq Saeed, who has been working in the tourism industry of Maldives for well over two decades. He is currently the General Manager at Sun Siyam Iru Veli, where he is injecting life and energy with a vision that will leave an indelible mark that will raise the bar of Maldives hospitality. He is passionate about his job and loves to interact with guests from different cultures and backgrounds, which is evident from every interaction one has with him.

But his interest in hospitality did not start with his career. It goes back to his childhood, when he grew up in a tight-knit community where sharing and caring was not an exception but a way of life.

He recalls how his parents would often bring strangers into their home, who had nowhere else to go. They would offer them a room, a meal, and a friendly conversation, without expecting anything in return. This was a common practice among the islanders, who lived in harmony with nature and each other.

“We are a collection of small islands in the Indian Ocean, where, in a past not too long ago, going from one place to the other meant that you travel by boat. And then, for some reason, their boat might break down, or because of a storm, or to replenish their sustenance, might end up having to make an unscheduled stop on an island where they have no friends. And we must also remember back then, there were no hotels, and no restaurants to go to. But, as a traveller, you have the assurance that you will never feel like a stranger on an island full of strangers,” Masdhooq says.

“It is common practice and tradition that the person you meet will strike up a conversation and before you know it, you have made a friend, and you are invited to their home and share their food. The beauty of it is that even though it is the patriarch of the family who usually invites a stranger into their home, the entire family is ready to receive and welcome them as one of their own. And they do it without hesitation and expect nothing in return except for that warm feeling you get for making someone else happy.”

So, it is no wonder that when Masdhooq moved to India for his studies with his family, he found that he had the same spirit of hospitality. He had no problem moving out of his room and giving his space to guests, sharing his food and culture with them. This was the same mindset Masdhooq brought when he joined hospitality and felt immediately at home and fell in love with the idea of being of service.

“Hospitality is in our blood, it is the most precious asset we inherited from our forefathers. It is not in our DNA; it is our DNA. And I feel privileged to have it in strides, and I consider it my life’s work to enhance it and pass it onto many generations to come,” he says.

Masdhooq began his career as a receptionist at Bandos Maldives, where he was immediately recognized and moved to Reservations and Sales. With his next move, he got the chance to introduce and be a part of the first Island Butler concept in the Maldives, namely Mr. Friday. In an already exciting career, he joined the pre-opening team of the biggest, the most audacious project of the century in the Maldives that elevated hospitality into the highest echelons where he curated experiences for those high-end clients. He then took what he learned to a local brand where he enhanced and streamlined the Rooms Division along with Engineering which made a marked impact on the guest experience.

Drawing from this experience, he then joined an international hotel chain where he was given the task of restructuring Housekeeping to make it nimbler and more adaptable to change, which later snowballed into responsibilities that spanned Gardening and Landscaping, Rooms Division, and Engineering. He was then assigned to the pre-opening of their first property in China, which presented its own, unique, and many challenges as the company’s service culture and philosophy was something quite alien to the destination. Not only did Masdhooq help it launch successfully but he also played a key role in securing the number one spot on TripAdvisor in less than two months since opening within the region.

Next came his first project as Resort Manager, which also had its share of unique challenges, including selling the idea of the first-ever rooftop resort in the Maldives to the partners as opposed to the traditional thatch roof concepts that were synonymous with Maldives resorts. The project was an enormous success, achieving an occupancy of 85 percent during the first week of opening. The property then managed to perform another miracle of getting the top spot-on TripAdvisor within the first month of operation, which was almost unheard of for a newly opened resort in the Maldives. And now, as the new General Manager at Sun Siyam Iru Veli, Masdhooq is ever so determined to double down on his philosophy that “luxury is a feeling.”

“At Sun Siyam Iru Veli, we want to create something so unique that will stand out and be in a class of itself. But at the same time, we will hold fast to our roots, and embrace our local culture. For us, hospitality is our birthright, and we claim it with pride. This is the essence and spirit of where we are headed, and I couldn’t be more excited to lead my team into this future,” he says.


To achieve this goal, Masdhooq has behind him over three hundred fantastic team members who are inspired to do something others might find impossible. He believes that there is nothing that you cannot achieve when you work together as a team. This is precisely what is evident from every feedback, every metric that measures the guest experience.

As a local brand and resort, we believe that we are the stalwarts in delivering that authentic Maldives experience. To deliver that Maldives experience, Sun Siyam Resorts focuses on developing local talents. Our new Director of Operations and Director of Engineering, who took on their new assignments, are a testament to this commitment to develop local talent. In fact, eighty percent of the leadership team here at Sun Siyam Iru Veli are Maldivians, of whom seventy percent are homegrown within the brand.

This is the same message Masdhooq would give to anyone who is aspiring to get into hospitality. Connect with your roots. Never forget who you are. Check where your passion lies and lose yourself in it. But most importantly, find a partner who understands you, motivates you, and celebrates your success as a success of their own. This is precisely the kind of love and support I got from my wife and kids and that made all the difference.

Maldives’ tourism is constantly changing and evolving, with a lot more competition from within and afar. But for Masdhooq, competition is a positive thing, because it pushes the industry to improve and innovate. Maldives has a unique brand of luxury, holiday destination, and local tourism, and it offers different experiences to diverse types of guests. Masdhooq is confident that the Maldives can maintain its position as a leading tourism destination in the world.

“I see the future of the tourism industry, especially the Maldives tourism landscape, as bright and promising. Maldives has the potential and opportunities to attract and retain more tourists and increase market share and revenue despite the recent setbacks and competition. Maldives has a unique and attractive proposition of natural beauty and diversity, culture and history, and its authenticity cannot be replicated anywhere in the world. This gives us not only a competitive advantage, but also a sustainable advantage,” he says.


Masdhooq says that one of the main challenges that the tourism industry in the Maldives faces is the shortage of human capital. Maldivians in leadership positions are increasingly becoming a rare commodity, and Masdhooq believes that the handful of Maldivians in leadership positions needs to rise to the occasion so that we can be the guardians of true, authentic Maldivian hospitality and spread it to the rest of the world.

And yet, Masdhooq is adamant in his belief that we will rise to the occasion just as he is simultaneously embarking with his team at Sun Siyam Iru Veli.

For Masdhooq, Sun Siyam Iru Veli is set to be the future of hospitality in the Maldives. It is a place where team members are inspired, guests are happy, and the local culture is celebrated. It is a place that has a soul that can be felt by its guests, lives in every action and interaction of its Team Members and keeps on evolving ever more into the future.

Ali Naafiz
Ali Naafiz is a media and PR professional, an entrepreneur, and a journalist with a passion for science, media, and arts and technology. He co-founded Next Media Group, a media company that creates immersive and interactive content, and CIAO Advertising, an advertising agency that offers creative and innovative solutions. He is also the editor of Hotelier Maldives, a magazine for the hospitality industry, and the director of storytelling for Maldives Promotion House, a media and marketing company. He has worked for various media outlets in Maldives and Sri Lanka, and has been involved in editorial and communications projects for international organisations. He has a diploma in development journalism and a diploma in journalism, and has received several awards for his work.