Sun Siyam eyes biz from Middle East

Sun Siyam Resorts saw a 30 per cent growth last year. In an exclusive interview with TRAVTALK, Deepak Booneady, Chief Executive Officer, Sun Siyam Resorts, says they look forward to carry on with the growth momentum in the new year. They have reopened Sun Siyam Pasikudah, a boutique hotel in the eastern coastal belt of Sri Lanka, after carrying out renovation work worth US $1.5 million.

TT Bureau

Deepak Booneady, Chief Executive Officer, Sun Siyam Resorts, says that they saw a 30 per cent growth last year and look forward to increase it this year. “This growth is across both the UK and GCC markets. Hence, we are expecting further growth this year,” he shares.

Talking about Sun Siyam Pasikudah, their latest niche project in the eastern coastal belt of Sri Lanka, Booneady says, “We renovated this premium boutique resort with a total cost of US $1.5 million with an exclusive boutique collection of 84 rooms. We want to boost the tourism in Sri Lanka, as we had a few setbacks over the past few years, and tourism, which is a revenue earner for the destination, had many pitfalls. Hence, we feel that now is the time to actually embrace and showcase the beautiful pearl of the Indian ocean to visitors, especially from the Middle East.”

He adds, “Sri Lanka is a safe country to visit and ready to welcome guests, especially from the Middle East, as we have so many activities and experiences that will be enjoyed by the ME travellers. It is a short-haul destination. Hence, travellers can even opt to do a quick weekend getaway. We have planned special packages for our guests so that they can enjoy a varied set of experiences during their stay in Pasikudah. In our itinerary we have included a visit to the famous heritage places in the cultural triangle so that the rich heritage and culture can be explored by our Middle Eastern guests. We are working with some DMCs who have helped us put together tailor-made packages as well for those visitors from the region. Pasikudah is different from Maldives; it is a must-visit beach destination in everyone’s bucket list.”

Booneady further explains plans to attract the Middle Eastern visitors to this great market. “As I mentioned earlier, we are working with several DMCs in Sri Lanka to promote it with varied experiences which could attract more visitors from the region. From Dubai it is a four to five-hour flight. Hence, a very quick getaway for those who wish to rejuvenate. There are options to reach by road or by flight. Each mode of transport that travellers will select they would have an option to really enjoy all their experiences. From an elephant orphanage to great natural springs, or parks across the area and the hills, and the plains across the lands make it one of the most beautiful places on earth,” he says.

When asked about the reason to develop the boutique resort in the east, Booneady responds, “West coast of Sri Lanka is well developed, and the east stands out as one of the most untouched and pristine places in the country. Hence, we ventured into the area. The famous Trincomalee harbour is quite close to Pasikudah and we have the white pristine beaches akin to the Maldives. The previous government was making a lot of effort to develop the eastern coast. Hence, we strategically partnered so that we can play our part in bringing in the niche tourists, especially from the Middle East region.”

Speaking about the Middle East, Booneady says that two resorts have become favourites of the clientele, mainly due to the varied experiences offered. “In Siyam World, the ME travellers enjoy the slides, especially because it is a family focused property. We have the floating water park, horses guests can ride on the beach, which I must say that a lot of people coming from Dubai always want to experience. Siyam World has seven restaurants and eight bars. Before, we never used to have Indians, now we have a lot of Indians, Filipinos, Europeans, Americans coming from the Middle East. Another property popular among the Middle East travellers is the Iru Veli Resort with 125 rooms. This is popular as all the rooms are equipped with a swimming pool, a lot of privacy, very small boutique resort, so this is what is the most preferred for the GCC market, especially for the locals in GCC. Another fact that Iru Veli is popular for is that it is close to Male and people traveling from Dubai, they do not want to wait another 2-3 hours again with their families to board another aircraft or boat. Iru Veli is close to Male, only 40 minutes by speedboat, so they arrive in the airport, take a speedboat, and go to Iru Veli. Iru Veli is a 4-star plus resort with about five restaurants and this resort is positioned as a full board, but also the guests can decide if they opt to have it as half board or so as well. Most people from Middle East do prefer full board.”

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