William Harley-Fleming the Group Director of Development of JA Hotels & Resorts sat down with us during a stopover of his busy Maldives-Dubai-Maldives weekly schedule to discuss what the future holds for the group and their exceptional Maldives property.
Tell us how you started out in this ever changing wonderful industry.
I originally started as a trainee at the Ramada Bur Dubai, in Dubai, working through all of the various departments as part of a hospitality development program in the 1990’s.This then took me back to the UK in 1998 to complete a four year Bachelor of Science in Hospitality Management, where I then also completed a Management Trainee Program with Le Meridien.
You are the Group Director of Development and Acquisitions tell us what this involves?
I am responsible for critically assessing and acquiring new hospitality opportunities both locally and internationally. Key markets include, however not limited to, the United Kingdom, Mainland Europe, Mediterranean, South East Asia, East Africa and the Middle East. Seeking both financial acquisitions and management contracts in order to further expand the hospitality portfolio of JA Resorts & Hotels, the hospitality division of the Dutco Group.
My main responsibilities include sourcing suitable opportunities and producing investment reports for the Dutco Board of Directors, ensuring the opportunities are financially viable, appropriately positioned and are operationally suitable. This involves conducting detailed site inspections, reviewing financial models and producing comprehensive audits on all aspects of potential management contracts and investments / acquisitions.
Recent achievements in this role include managing the acquisition and overall operation of JA Resorts & Hotels first international owned property, in the Maldives, JA Manafaru, and the signing of JA Resorts & Hotels first management contract in Sri Lanka, JA Eclipse Beach Resort, Kathiraveli, Sri Lanka.
If you was to give advice to someone looking to follow your career path, what would it be?
The best advice I could give to anyone started in this industry is to ensure you take time to fully understand every job role and function in this industry. It is vitally important as you climb the career ladder, that you are able to support and understand the challenges of the business at every level. A great leader is one who is able to support change in an ever changing environment, however if you don’t understand the implications of change at every level you will find it extremely difficult to succeed in implementing change.
Hotels can look amazing but some are not quite up to scratch, what do you think really makes a hotel exceptional?
It is important that hotels are designed and built with a focus on operational flow, however the key difference between a good and great hotel are the associates employed in the hotel. The biggest asset in any hotel or service industry is your team, by investing in them and looking after them you develop a strong sense of security and belonging, which in turn ensures your guests feel comfortable and build a bond with the hotel/ brand and the people in it. Our brand motto is to deliver ‘Heartfelt Hospitality’ and our team ensure that guests leave having created memories and shared experiences.
JA now has properties in the UAE Maldives & Seychelles, are there any plans to expand and if so in which areas?
We have already announced our new property in Sri Lanka, JA Eclipse Beach Resort, Kathiraveli, Sri Lanka, which is due to open in Q4 2017. In addition, we have a number of new opportunities in the UK which are looking very positive and we expect to be making an announcement before the end of the year.
Tell us what Luxury Lifestyle and Hospitality means to you?
In an ever changing industry luxury is very different to what was perceived in the 80’s and 90’s, as luxury has become more intangible and more about a sense of place, service and experience, rather than tangible objects and products. The modern luxury traveller is seeking unique experiences that they are able to connect with on both a physical and emotional level.
JA Manafaru recently received two awards this year at the Seven Stars Luxury Hospitality and Lifestyle Awards for the Calm Spa and the Resort. What do feel are the reasons that you secured these awards?
At JA Resorts & Hotels we capture the generous spirit of true hospitality, a place where everything is taken care of. Where associates take real pleasure in welcoming you into their space. Where pride can be found in the grandest of gestures and the smallest of details. This is where you can truly relax, refuel. Because you know, you`ve arrived.
It was a real privilege to have received two Steven Star Luxury Hospitality and Lifestyle Awards for JA Manafaru, which is an excellent acknowledgement of the outstanding work done by the team in the Maldives. The delivery of our brand experience at JA Manafaru is what we believe makes us stand out and has secured these prestigious awards.
ABOUT JA RESORTS & HOTELS
Dubai-based JA Resorts & Hotels, owned by the Dutco Group of Companies, is an international hospitality company with over 30 years’ experience in managing and operating resorts and hotels. JA Resorts & Hotels employs approaching 2,000 people across an inspiring portfolio and is proud of its rich diversity of cultures and nationalities.
JA Resorts & Hotels’ award-winning portfolio includes the all-suite five-star JA Palm Tree Court and JA Jebel Ali Beach Hotel within the award-winning JA Jebel Ali Golf Resort, which was recently recognised with a Blue Flag certification, showcasing the properties efforts in sustaining its high quality beach.
The four-star JA Ocean View Hotel, as well as the deluxe hotel apartments of JA Oasis Beach Tower, are both located along ‘The Walk’ in Dubai Marina. JA Resorts & Hotels are dedicated in maintaining high standards of sustainability at all properties, with their efforts being rewarded at two of the properties, JA Jebel Ali Golf Resort and JA Ocean View Hotel which have both been awarded a Green Globe Certification. JA Resorts & Hotels portfolio also includes the Hatta Fort Hotel, a secluded getaway located in the mountainous area of Hatta.
The company also offers a floating prestige dining experience in the form of Bateaux Dubai on the Dubai Creek. Additionally, Al Sahra Desert Resort Equestrian Centre, the JA Centre of Excellence and the JA Shooting Club. In addition to its UAE based properties, JA Resorts & Hotels extended their offering with two five-star tropical resorts in the Indian Ocean – Enchanted Island Resort in the Seychelles and JA Manafaru in the Maldives. The company’s third luxury beach resort, JA Eclipse Beach Resort, is under construction on the East Coast of Sri Lanka and is due to open in the last quarter of 2017.
JA Resorts & Hotels LLC is a limited liability company with share capital of AED 10,000,000 and licensed in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, under Licence No. 230295.
For further information on JA Resorts & Hotels and its luxurious properties, please visit jaresortshotels.com.