Partners in life & hospitality biz

Meet a millennial couple who kicked off their careers together and are now running a resort in Maldives. The couple began from scratch one year prior to the opening by developing the concept, and offering experiences that are unique. The couple, Sara Siyam and Ausy Waseem, Creative Director and Resort Manager of Siyam World, talk about their venture in an interview with TRAVTALK.

TT Bureau

Tell us a bit about yourselves and how you both decided to start a resort together?

Sara: Ausy and I got married when we were quite young, in 2012 when we were 20 years old. After getting married we moved to Singapore and did our Bachelor’s and Master’s together at James Cook University. After we graduated, we moved back home to work for Sun Siyam Resorts. So, you could say we grew up together. We started our careers in 2017, I worked as a PR executive at the Sun Siyam head office while Ausy started his training in resort operations and moved to Sun Siyam Iruveli for the pre-opening as a front office manager. When we got the opportunity to work together to open one of the biggest resorts in Maldives, we immediately packed our bags and headed to Siyam World. We were there one year before the opening date, and developed the concept, the experiences and the marketing of the property. We created a whole new trend on social media where we started doing teaser trailers with transitions and effects that no other property in Maldives has done and this started creating the buzz.

Ausy: Sara and I work collectively, she handles the marketing, social media and concept development with her team while I handle operations and carry out the execution of the experiences and events. Here at SW, PR and creative work closely with operations and Sara involves all the head of departments when brainstorming ideas, that way when the idea or experience comes to life, all the departments have a hand in it and its development and execution. Being a resort manager for resort of this scale is no easy task, but together with the team, we have accomplished wonders.

How do you divide responsibilities when it comes to managing the hotel operations?

Ausy: I have an amazing operations team, strong leaders who manage their team well. To manage a resort of this scale, I, and all head of departments have to be at the top of the game.

Running a hotel can be demanding. How do you manage to maintain a work-life balance as both business partners and a couple?

Sara: It is very hectic; at the beginning it was difficult living on the island and working together we tend to bring the work home but overtime we learned how to cope. So, we have a rule, after coming home from work Ausy and I will not discuss work, it’s our own time as a couple and this helps keep work separate from our own personal lives. Ausy rarely takes off days, he is so passionate about his work, he loves what he does but once in a while when he does, we travel out of the island together, see our families.

Ausy: Sara and I started playing padel tennis together on weekends if operations is not so busy, and sometimes we head to the watersports and try out the new toys that come in, I think over time we have found a balance to let loose and also have fun together.

What advice would you give to other couples who are considering going into business together, especially in the hospitality industry?

Sara: Being a couple and working together is never easy and it’s important to find the balance and not let it interfere personally. Ausy and I have an understanding, when we are at work, Ausy is my resort manager and whatever he asks me to do, I give my opinion and we collectively work together to finalize everything. And we are tough on each other when it comes to work, we push each other because we know how far each of us can go. But there needs to be a balance; at work, I’m the creative director and Ausy is the resort manager, I report to him and the general manager, when we are at home, I am his wife, and he is my husband. The positive side is I can talk to him about anything, and he gives me the best advice, especially when it comes to work. There is a lot of moral support. At the end of the day, he is my rock, and I am his, we ground each other.

Ausy: She is the love of my life, and my best friend, without her pushing me, I wouldn’t be where I am today. And Siyam World wouldn’t be what it is today.

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