What do you do and how did you get into the industry?
I am the Managing Director of Theva Residency Boutique Hotel in Kandy, Sri Lanka. Theva is a family owned business and we started in 2009. Theva Residency is a home away from home and we focus on offering our guests a very personalized and homely experience. After my high school in Sri Lanka, I went to college to complete my higher education. I attended the American University of Washington DC and completed my undergraduate degree in Business Administration and thereafter went to Hawaii to complete my Hotel and Travel Industry Management Degree. My family had a house in the beautiful hills of Kandy and with my knowledge and passion to open my own hotel one day, we decided to turn that house into a beautiful boutique hotel! There is a touch of each family member in the creation of Theva which makes it very special to me. Whilst Theva was being built and created, I had my first hotel experience at Hilton Colombo working in food & beverage promotions and events. Thereafter, I was the Resident Manager of a prestigious boutique hotel called Taru Villas – The Park Street Hotel. With these hands on experiences, I was ready to go on my own journey to start Theva Residency!
I did my first interviews recruitment of staff from my home in Colombo! The main executive staff that I recruited came with much experience both local and international. The rest of the staff was taken from the Kandy area. I decided to create job opportunities for young workers who desperately needed jobs to support their families from the hantana area where the hotel is located. Although they did not have much experience, I was confident that I could train and educate them to the field. We had only 10 rooms when we started the hotel and very few staff. But it was great from the beginning and we worked together as a strong united family. With each year going by, I offered my staff the opportunities to grow and gave them opportunities to rise to the top. I am proud to say that I still have many of the staff members with me who started from the first day of operation of the hotel! Some of them started at position of waiters have now become managers and kitchen assistant have become chefs! We have a small head office in Colombo where the finance, purchasing, reservations and marketing is done. I personally handle all the bookings and marketing of the hotel while three other employees handle the rest.
As years went by, Theva grew bigger with now 15 rooms and working with many local and international agents. Theva became recognized both locally and internationally by winning awards for its service, quality and cuisine! Each year we manage to win awards such as Trip Advisor Service Excellence and thereby making it to the Hall of Fame, Trip Advisor Travelers Choice Award, Agoda Gold Circle, World Luxury Award Nominee, Hotel of the Year Award and many culinary awards for culinary competitions held in Sri Lanka.
Share with us something people might not expect about you.
Besides being a hotelier, I am also a qualified and certified Integral Hatha Yoga Teacher!
What’s the best/ worst part of your job?
Best part of my job is that it is my own hotel and I can run it the way I want! I think people management is not an easy job and handling various personalities on a daily basis can be challenging. I do not consider anything as the worst part of my job as each challenge it a new learning experience for us.
What’s your favourite type of cuisine?
I would say authentic Sri Lankan food is my favourite! So I really do not have to go far!
What’s one of the craziest things you’ve seen behind the scenes?
I would say the craziest thing I observe behind the scene is how the staff operates to satisfy the most difficult customers request without trying to say “NO”. It is amazing to see them try to do the most impossible requests without a complaint!
The perfect day off would be…
… to relax and enjoy a beautiful mountainous area of Sri Lanka with no phone or computer!
What are the things that make Theva unique?
Theva Residency is ideally located along the slopes of the Hantana range. It offers commanding views over the surrounding mountains and the bustle of the Kandy town located only two kilometres away!
Theva Cuisine which is the restaurant of Theva Residency offers globally-inspired cuisine creatively prepared and presented by our team. The Kitchen team has won many awards at the National Culinary Art Competitions held in Sri Lanka which is judged by local and international judges. Theva Cuisine is open to the public for lunch and dinner by reservations.
What do you do for fun?
I love to go for hikes in the beautiful mountain ranges in Sri Lanka, yoga, and memorable dinners with friends and family.
What’s something you’d like guests to know about Theva?
We would like our guests to have the most amazing experience with us and leave with a smile. We would like to do whatever possible to make sure that they are happy and comfortable. No request is crazy and we would do our utmost best to make that come true.
What is interesting about Kandy and the area around Theva Residency?
The most significant event in Kandy is the Kandy Perehera. Kandy Esala Perahera is a grand festival celebrated with elegant costumes and is held in July and August in Kandy, Sri Lanka. This historical procession is held annually to pay homage to the Sacred Tooth Relic of Lord Buddha, which is housed at the Sri Dalada Maligawa in Kandy. This year it will take place from 8th – 17th August 2016.
The location of The Theva Residency is a treat for nature lovers, who will be able to enjoy the beautiful variety of flora and fauna, the endless views of mountain terrain and fresh air. Theva is a short distance from the lush Hantana Rainforest, which is full of rivulets, streams, animal and plant life – an ideal destination for bird-watchers and those interested in trekking.
Visitors could always take a short walk to the Hantana Tea Estate Museum, tour the Kandy town including the historic and sacred DaladaMaligawa (Temple of the Tooth), the palace of the last King of Kandy, and temples at Gadaladeniya, Embekka and Lankatillake. The Peradeniya Botanical Gardens, elephant bathing sites and the Udawattakele rainforest, are also amongst the must see list in Kandy.