Utkarsh Faujdar has more than two decades' experience in the hospitality industry. He has worked with a number of leading groups in India before moving to Maldives.
Hulhule Island Hotel
Tell us about your hotel.
Hulhule Island Hotel was officially inaugurated on August 15, 2001 by His Excellency President of Republic of Maldives. The hotel has earned a considerable number of compliments for both its high quality and personalized services since then and achieved the following milestones: Nominee at World Luxury Hotel Awards 2009, winner at World Travel Awards 2009, winner of ‘Luxury Airport Hotel’ Category at World Luxury Hotel Awards 2008 held in October 2008 in Cape Town, South Africa, winner of ‘The Top & Outstanding Chefs 2009’ in Maldives at Hotel Asia Culinary Challenge 2009, adjudged as ‘Best Culinary Establishment’ in Maldives at Hotel Asia Culinary Challenge 2008, adjudged as ‘Best Culinary Establishment’ in Maldives at Hotel Asia Culinary Challenge 2006, an ISO 9001-2000 hotel and HACCP (Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points) certified Hotel.
Hulhule Island Hotel, located on the International airport island is a contemporary and exotic hotel catering to the diversified needs of guests. Set in a heavenly ambiance of turquoise blue waters, Hulhule Island Hotel is a perfect place for the guests on leisure as well as on business. It is a tranquil haven away from the humdrum of the usual life yet a very lively and happening abode.How do you position the Hotel in the market? What is your marketing strategy?
We cater to a very diverse clientele that includes the leisure and business segments apart from the airline crew. We showcase our hotel at the major international travel trade fairs and we work closely with the tour operators from all across the world.
Though we are at the airport island, I feel that the range of facilities offered are far over and above what you expect from an airport hotel. This makes our positioning extremely unique. We have been the most preferred hotel in and around Male’ as is evident from the various awards conferred on the hotel and we will not only continue to retain this status but also work towards living up to the ever rising expectations of the guests.How important is a Hotel in developing a destination? What has your company done in this regard?
I believe that the available infrastructure is imperative in driving business for any destination and hotels are definitely an integral part of the infrastructure. Over the past almost ten years, Hulhule Island Hotel has grown to become a key member of the travel and trade business in the Maldives. Hulhule Island Hotel has also become well-known for excellent service and delicious cuisine. The rapid rise in prominence of HIH is undoubtedly the result of the unrelenting efforts of the staff in providing a high quality service coupled with incisive and zealous management.
The segment of clientele for Hulhule Island Hotel has expanded over the years as the business clientele and guests on leisure patronize the hotel. Moreover, with the enhanced offer, the positioning of Hulhule Island Hotel has improved tremendously as earlier it was considered as an ‘Airport Hotel’ or a ‘Transit Hotel’ only reflecting on the limited facilities on offer for the guests. However, with time it has been transformed into a comfortable haven for people on business and leisure alike, enjoying the Maldives destination with international level of hospitality.
The on-going journey towards continual improvement in the product and services has been in line with the market need since Hulhule Island Hotel caters to the clientele of a lot of top-end resorts. The improved Hulhule Island Hotel will continue to make the stay of guests in Maldives more memorable.Could you tell us about your background and how did you come to the industry?
I was born in New Delhi and brought up in Lucknow. Whilst I completed my plus two, I was interested in looking at the career options which were not so mundane and the Hotel Management caught my fancy. During my graduation I appeared for the entrance examination through the National Council of Hotel Management and got selected. I joined the Lucknow Institute of Hotel Management in 1985. I must mention here the unconditional support and encouragement I have received from my family throughout my journey so far. At that point of time, the hospitality industry was not very well sought after but my parents gave me complete liberty to get into the hospitality industry which was of my liking. My father, whom I lost in an unfortunate accident last year, was extremely supportive at all times and whatever little I have been able to achieve is due to my parents who were besides me throughout my journey. Tell us about your experience so far? Is there an unforgettable moment in your career which you can share with us?
I passed out of hotel management institute in 1988 and was trained at different Taj properties during my curriculum which included Taj Mahal, New Delhi. I worked with Clarks Group of hotels for over six years in various destinations prior to joining Oberoi Group of Hotels. I worked with the Oberoi Group of Hotels in different units for almost ten years and my last assignment was as General Manager of Trident Hilton, Agra. I took up my current assignment in 2004 and have had 5 satisfying years here at Maldives.
I have had so many unforgettable moments in my career that it is difficult to list all of them but I have really been enjoying the little victories in the course of reaching where I am today. Each milestone has given me joy and strength in my 21 years of career that includes the rich experience of opening of new hotels, expanding the hotel, renovation and refurbishment of the hotel and re-branding of the hotels.
If I have to still single out then, getting the recognition in hospitality industry at the international level is something which I really cherish. This includes receiving the awards at World Travel Awards and World Luxury Hotel Awards in 2009 and 2008 respectively.What plans – immediate and long term – do you have?
Well, I am totally committed to my current assignment and will continue to add value in order that we move from strength to strength.
In the long term I would like to be involved at a corporate level and I truly believe in ‘making a difference’ in whatever one does. There is no end to what one can learn in this dynamic industry but whatever I have been able to learn till now, I would like to put to good effect. I wish I am able to contribute as much to the industry as possible. Where would you like to see yourself, say, 10 years from now?
As stated earlier, I wish to continue to contribute as much to the industry as possible and I see myself shouldering enhanced responsibilities and being busy as ever. Tell us about your family?
Aparna, my wife has played an integral role in my life for me to attain whatever has been possible. We have two lovely daughters – Vidyottama and Vidushi aged 13 and 10 years. We ensure that we have some quality time together during every vacation and we all look forward to the short breaks, when possible.
We are a closely knit family. Our relatives and friends keenly await our visits to India and we have loads of fun with the members of extended family. Tell us about your hobbies and other interests?
I have been a sportsman. I still try my hand at cricket, table tennis, badminton and other indoor games. I follow cricket regularly and I like listening to music of diverse nature that includes Kenny G, Boney M, Madhushala, Mirza Ghalib and ghazals - especially by Jagjit Singh. I am also fond of travelling and experiencing the hospitality in different parts of the world. It not only adds to the overall exposure but is also beneficial for working in the hospitality industry. Which is your favorite destination and why?
My favourite destination undoubtedly is Maldives – the sunny side of life. There are innumerable reasons for my saying this, the most important being the water so pristine, the white beaches and underwater treasure of amazing dive sites.
There are around 92 resorts for the tourists visiting Maldives. The resorts have the reefs at just a short swim away from the beach and the snorkellers too can experience the same pleasures from the surface as the divers. The water sports are an added charm and the clear water of Indian Ocean remains so very inviting.
Maldives has on offer the sun, sand and sea, massive lagoons with different depths and infinite shades of blue and turquoise, dazzling underwater coral gardens, a perfect natural combination for the ideal tropical holiday destination. The natural beauty is incomparable to other destinations and it is really exciting to travel by a sea plane looking at the various islands in different shades of blue. I feel closer to the nature while at Maldives.