GCC retains top spot at Sun Siyam

Sun Siyam has become a household name in the GCC region due to its activities and features. TRAVTAL takes a trip down memory lane with Zulaikha Manik, Deputy Managing Director, Sun Siyam Resorts, on their journey over the years and then moves on to the importance of the GCC market and adapting changes necessary to cater to different markets, key trends and insights in the hospitality industry.

Dr Shehara Rizly

With humble beginnings many moons ago, Sun Siyam has undoubtedly become one of the most sought after getaways during Eid Al Fitr or any other short break periods to travellers from the GCC. One of the key factors that attract the GCC clientele is the activities and facilities catering to their needs and requirements. Zulaikha Manik, Deputy Managing Director, Sun Siyam Resorts, says, “I have been with the company for the past 25 years, the Founder, Mr Siyam, who is the face and ambassador of the brand Sun Siyam, made a humble beginning; it was a small travel agency and today we have the largest number of beds owned by a single shareholder. It’s 100 per cent Maldivian company with deep roots in history and culture of hospitality, run from the house Mr Siyam started. This is why our service is heartfelt and genuine, this is seen from the gardener to the general manager in all the resorts we have.”

Manik shared the importance of the GCC/ Middle East market, saying, “Middle East is an important market for us, especially now we have created our product profile to suit the customers of the Middle East. When some of the traditional Middle East clients come, they don’t like to be outside, but as a family they want to enjoy themselves with family time. So, what we have done is we have created these indoor pools which are enclosed. So, it offers a lot of privacy to the whole family to enjoy as well. These are some of the contributing factors and, of course, halal food is available. We ensure that we conform to all these standards and Eid is a big celebration for us, as a Muslim country when we do it, it doubles the celebrations when we have other Muslims celebrate along with us.”

Speaking on the evolving world of hospitality, Mannik says, “The markets have changed very much, if you look at 10 years ago, we did not have the Chinese market as strong as it is today, or the Indian market for that matter. We were traditionally very much based on our European markets, but now this is the new trend. Initially, we were not adept in handling the Chinese or the Indian market, but over the years we have understood their needs and wants, and we are very comfortable. Another aspect that we have seen a lot of growth in the Maldives is the local tourism aspect of it because synonymously Maldives was ‘one island one resort’ concept and it was exclusive but now it’s inclusive, as guest house tourism has become a big contributing factor into the overall hospitality and tourism of the Maldives. These are the main changes that you would see, but then again
Maldives as a destination is growing and we are more open to what other offerings are.”

Explaining to us about technology and its pivotal importance in today’s fast paced world, she shared, “Technology has played a big part and as a group we have invested heavily in ensuring that we are on par with the advances on the technology side. We actually have a mobile app. Once reservation is made by guests, they actually have access to pre-check-in, all that information is there for them, when they come to the resort it’s a seamless process, they do not have to go through completing forms etc, it’s so quick and easy. They can start their experience of holiday as soon as possible. It also gives them the flexibility and independence to book excursions to restaurants where they want to go, water sport activities etc, as traditionally you had to go to reception to make these reservations, but now all this is available at your fingertips, you can make them from anywhere. So, these are the advances that we have.”

Staying relevant in the industry is key, as it’s possible to lose face within a click of a button. Manik shares how this works for them as being passionate hospitality professionals. “For us  the genuine hospitality that we offer as a Maldivian brand stands supreme over everything and our deep roots in the culture itself, our warmth and the hospitality, is what keeps us at the top of everything and we create a lot of new and unique experiences for each of the resorts. So, even though we share the  same DNA with Sun Siyam Resorts as a group but each of the resort is unique in its way and we are constantly coming up with creative, innovative ways with which we can stand ahead of the rest of the world,” she shares.

Speaking about the expansion plans, she says, “We are constantly looking to expand in key markets, such as UAE, Saudi, Bahrain. In terms of products also, we are refurbishing one of the properties in about one and half years to cater to this market. Ten years ago the guests who came are different to whom we get now. However, we have a high retention and continue to do well.”

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