Indian hotelier’s efforts to carve out a niche in the Maldives’ hospitality industry

Salil Panigrahi has lived in Male, Maldives, for over two decades and finds it a joy and a privilege to be there. The Odisha-born hotelier, who started his career at Oberoi Hotels & Resorts in India, moved to the Maldives when he joined the Six Senses group.
“I headed the finance department there, but was also responsible for project management for the construction of resorts, product launches and was deeply involved in the operations of the resort. My love for the Maldives s ‘is cemented by this experience, ”he said. His entrepreneurial journey began in the Maldives in 2003 with projects to develop hotel complexes through private placements which resulted in the opening of a number of internationally managed hotel complexes in the archipelagic country.
There are challenges to doing business in the Maldives, he said, but many have also become his strengths. “Global challenges such as liquidity in financial markets are impacting the Maldives in ways we can neither imagine nor control. The common thread among them all was the resilience of the Maldives,” he explained. “The country has always bounced back and has shown tremendous inherent strength in its tourism demand. We believe that will be the case after the pandemic.”
Panigrahi, the first in his family to enter entrepreneurship, is the founder and CEO of Atmosphere Hotels & Resorts, a hotel company in the Indian Ocean region. He believes that in addition to short and convenient flight routes, the safety, serenity and exclusivity offered by the resorts of the Maldives make them a favorite destination for Indians.
“The Maldives have always been a favorite destination for Indians, due to the unique concept of ‘one island, one resort.’ In India, vacations are more of family vacations. People will worry about domestic travel until then. that their children be vaccinated. In island countries like the Maldives, where each resort is on a private island with minimal contact with the outside world, parents will have confidence in safety, “he said.
He started his business in 2012 to fill what he believed to be a gap in the market for a resort brand in the Indian Ocean region. “It was designed to offer peace of mind, pleasure and value and our extensive sales and distribution network around the world has been our greatest strength, whether in Europe, Japan, China or India”, a- he added. “In recent years, we have had guests from new source markets such as Brazil, the United States and Australia.”
In seven years, the group has launched six resorts including Atmosphere Kanifushi, Oblu Nature Helengeli, Oblu Select Sangeli, Ozen Life Maadhoo and Varu by Atmosphere. Two more are expected to open by the end of 2021.
“The latest addition was Ozen Reserve Bolifushi in South Male Atoll, with which we launched our uber luxury brand – The Ozen Collection – at the end of 2020,” said Panigrahi, who is involved in the overall growth, development of his company’s brand and operational operations. delivery.
And while he is unlikely to make any long-term predictions for the tourism industry after the pandemic, he firmly believes that the Maldives will continue to be a naturally isolated paradise, providing maximum safety and tranquility for travelers. .
“People around the world have a pent-up desire for travel and relaxation, which is a strong indicator of the recovery. I’m sure global tourism will pick up, but it may look slightly different from the days before the pandemic.” , did he declare. noted.
Recipient of the Indian government’s Pravasi Samman Award for 2021 for his contribution to tourism in the Maldives and to strengthening Maldives-India relations, Panigrahi believes that tourism is an industry that connects “human to human”.
“Beyond ownership and offerings, what our clients, partners and colleagues remember most is the human connection. So I call it a humanitarian industry. I believe what we do has power. to connect and build bridges with people in India, and Indians all over the world. ”


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