While COVID played spoilsport for the global tourism industry, disrupting all tourism trends, followed by the recent Russia-Ukraine conflict, Maldives has been witnessing a transformation of sorts for over 18 months plus now. India has emerged as the top source market for the Indian Ocean archipelago nation, even displacing top favourites, such as China, Russia, and Europe. TTJ spoke with Desislav Gospodinov, Group Director of Sales and Marketing, Lily Hotels – Maldives, to know about the Group’s focus and plans for India.
– Gurjit Singh Ahuja
While currently China remains locked at large to the world, the Indian tourists are thronging the island nation lured by its white coral beaches, azure blue seas, and “Tequila Sunrise” photo opportunities. The Maldives has successfully ticked the aspirational, accessibility, tranquillity, and affordability needs of the Indian traveller offering the ideal combination of sun, sea, and sand.
Desislav is no stranger to the India market, and he notes that the owners of the organisation (as an owner-operator of resorts) were perhaps among the first ones to understand its specific needs. Lily Beach Resort and Spa, one of the hotels in his portfolio, is the pioneer to introduce the high-end, all-inclusive Platinum Plan in the Maldives. This innovation helped generate a huge demand and popularity for the resort.
Lily Beach is a well-known resort located in Central Maldives, a short 25-minute flight by seaplane with 125 luxury villas evenly split between water villas and beach villas. The resort is located on the South Ari Atoll, which is the year-round habitat of the Whale Shark and a large population of Manta Rays and is immensely popular among divers. True to their pioneering spirit, the resort has just released a new excursion where guests can swim with Nurse Sharks – a very cool photo opportunity and that is certain to be an unforgettable memory.
Talking about support from the India market, Desislav said, “India market came as a lifesaver in really challenging times and great demand was generated from India. Delhi and Mumbai continued to be the two lead feeder markets from India, followed closely by the Punjab market, and then came cities from the southern states of India. India is critical to our business mix, and we are well-positioned to handle it with our Indian staff and Indian chefs. We serve extremely tasty Indian food in all our properties, which includes vegetarian Indian food, and even Jain food. Our mantra is to offer the perfect balance between quality and price.”
Located in a large island hideaway up in pristine North Maldives, Hideaway Beach Resort and Spa is a sister resort of Lily Beach, and it has a collection of elevated and curated luxury beach villas with dedicated butler service. With a ‘resort in a resort concept,’ this collection is called The Signature Collection by Hideaway and is located on the same island in close proximity to the best beach location – The North Point. The large beach residences under this collection offer 4-bedroom, 3-bedroom, and also 1-bedroom villa options, perfectly located at one end of the island, which is perfect for buyouts for large groups of guests travelling together.
Though all three offerings are providing distinct Maldivian resort experiences, all Lily Hotels’ properties are 5-star plus and exhibit exuberance and underscored elegance.
Guests who opt for a seaplane transfer can avail of the comfortable Lily Hotels VIP lounge at Trans Maldivian Airways Seaplane Terminal. Refreshments and complimentary Wi-Fi are available for the guests while they indulge in a little reprieve at the lounge during their journey to the resort. After which it is time to embark upon a most scenic flight, so one must keep their cameras and phones handy.
In India, LINKIN Reps represents the Lily Hotels portfolio. Komal Seth, Founder and Director, LINKIN Reps, said, “We take pride in announcing that Lily Hotels is the newest addition to our brand portfolio. We are looking forward to working closely with the Lily Hotels Portfolio, to position them as an attractive leisure destination for Indian travellers to the Maldives.”
Desislav adds, “India has always been an especially important market for us, and we have spent a lot of energy and efforts to garner the market share and brand recall we now enjoy in India. We want to continue working closely with our partners and clients here and maintain and enhance our market share in India. Given the business uncertainty due to COVID and other international shocks, we are happy that LINKIN Reps will represent us, with their vast tourism experience and through their large network of travel agents in the country.”