Linara Travel Interviews Alan Ball, Sr. Director of Sales/Marketing at Niyama Maldives & Huvafen Fushi
Huvafen Fushi receives some of the best client feedback of any resort in the Maldives. What our clients likely do not know is that one of the reasons for Huvafen Fushi’s success is due to Alan Ball, their Senior Director of Sales & Marketing. When we need something special for a client, Alan Ball is the person who makes it happen. We’ve come to Alan with all sorts of requests and he always tries to say, YES. It’s this attitude of doing whatever it takes to make our clients happy, that really sets Alan apart from others in the industry. We don’t know of anyone doing their job better and that’s why we wanted to start our interview blog series with a chat with Alan Ball.
Huvafen Fushi is a Per Aquum resort located on a beautiful island in the Maldives. Per Aquum has two luxury resorts in the Maldives and 1 boutique property in Dubai. The second Per Aquum resort in the Maldives is a brand new resort, Niyama, which opens in less than 48 hours! Niyama is one of the new resorts we are most excited about opening this year.
Our CEO, Lindsey Wallace, and Alan Ball discuss both resorts.
Lindsey: What is your role at Per Aquum? I know you attend a lot of conferences each year promoting Per Aquum resorts. You must rack up a lot of frequent flyer miles. Do you have favorite airlines and why are they your favorite?
Alan: I’m the Senior Director of Sales & Marketing for Huvafen Fushi & NIYAMA, Per AQUUM’s two properties in the Maldives. I spend approximately 50% of my time travelling to meetings and conferences and have definitely racked up a few miles over the last couple of years. For short-haul flights around Europe I tend to use British Airways. However I’m currently addicted to Emirates Skywards Miles and I use them whenever I fly between the Maldives & Europe. Miles aside, they have great connections and a comprehensive network so they work well. And I love their new A380 planes. I actually think I see the staff in the Dubai Airport Lounge more often than I see my family and friends!
Emirates Airlines A380
Lindsey: I know you are busy at conferences and probably don’t get out much during the day, but do you have any favorite cities?
Alan: I don’t always have an opportunity to explore many of the places I visit, however I try to make a point of venturing out as often as I can. I love that we work in such a social industry and when I’m travelling I’ll often host partners in the evening which gives me the chance to check out restaurants with the unique benefit of having locals with me. Anyone who hasn’t been must go to Munich. The city and the surrounding countryside is beautiful and the Bavarians are warm and friendly people who love to enjoy themselves. Go in the Summer when you can explore the shops just off Marienplatz, take a bike ride through the English Gardens, have a swim in the river and finish off with a German beer in one of the many beer gardens.
My favorite hotel when travelling with work is the Corinthia in London and my favorite restaurant is Kalina in Moscow.
Lindsey: Let’s talk about Huvafen Fushi. Huvafen Fushi consistently receives some of the best feedback of any resort we send travelers to in the Maldives! We know Huvafen Fushi is closing to do some updates from May 20 through July 31. What specifically is going to happen?
Alan: The key to the success of Huvafen Fushi has been the amazing staff on the island and the chilled-out atmosphere they help create. When I first joined Per AQUUM three years ago I was blown away by the high percentage of staff (over 30%) who have been here since the property opened in 2004. We probably have the highest employee retention in the Maldives. They are so fiercely proud to work at Huvafen Fushi that guests notice it. All that said, we continually want to improve the guest experience, so we’re undergoing a refurbishment to make mostly aesthetic improvements. We want to ensure Huvafen Fushi remains the leader amongst luxury properties in the Indian Ocean. We were the first resort in the Maldives to feature a plunge-pool in every room and now we’ll take that a step further and add a second pool to our Deluxe Beach Bungalows. We’re going to update Celsius restaurant to further enhance the atmosphere and we’re adding a very cool champagne bar that will be situated on stilts over water with the island’s best views of the sunset.
Huvafen Fushi’s relaxing area in the underwater spa
Lindsey: We do have a lot of clients that travel in August. Should they have any concerns about Huvafen Fushi not finishing the updates on time? Should there be any concern about any opening glitches after the remodel in regards to service or food?
Alan: Clients shouldn’t have any concerns about travelling in August. The work will actually finish in July and we’ll be running simulations before re-opening to ensure that everything is absolutely perfect. Our guests have every right to expect perfection when they stay at a Per AQUUM Retreat or Resort and we’ll do everything to ensure they have a fantastic experience.
Lindsey: The remodel sounds really good. What about clients that want to go to Huvafen Fushi prior to May 20th? Will they feel like they have missed out on anything? Will service and food still be as good as always?
Alan: We consider Huvafen Fushi to be one of the leading resorts in the Indian Ocean and we’re definitely not taking our foot off the pedal prior to closing. Our resort team is too proud of the property and have worked too hard building a strong reputation over the last eight years that we’ll never take that risk. We want every single guest to have the same incredible experience whenever they choose to visit Huvafen Fushi. Guests staying right up until 20 May will experience the same quality of service and attention to detail that we always strive to deliver.
Lindsey: Now, let’s chat about Niyama, Per Aquum’s new resort in the Maldives. What’s the concept of Niyama?
Alan: NIYAMA has been designed as an edgy, modern resort that will offer guests more than a romantic Maldivian escape, balancing tranquility with a sense of discovery, stimulation & fun. We feel that there are travelers who want more from their holiday than laying by the pool. A typical ‘drop & flop holiday’ as they say in Europe. Our food and beverage concepts include live music in Fahrenheit- our roof-top bar and lounge; and champagne and cocktails in Subsix- the world’s first underwater nightclub. We’ll feature water sports, yoga classes, Pilates, art lessons, cooking courses, unique games and gadgets, the first 24-hour spa in the Maldives and of course, some of the world’s best snorkeling and diving. The list is limited only by our imagination and the whims of our guests.
Lindsey: Now for the details about Niyama! When is it opening? Where is it located? How long is the seaplane transfer? Is there an airport lounge?, how many rooms? Huvafen Fushi has really interesting facilities such as the underground wine cellar and the underwater spa treatment rooms, what interesting or unique facilities are at Niyama?
Alan: We’ll have our first paying guests on island on the 29th of February and we couldn’t be more excited. We have our own private lounge in the seaplane terminal where guests can chill-out, have a massage and something to eat and drink after their long-haul journeys. From there it’s a spectacular 40-minute seaplane ride directly to NIYAMA. It’s a larger island than Huvafen Fushi and therefore, we have double the number of rooms – 86 at NIYAMA and 44 at Huvafen – and because of the additional guests we have increased the number of bars and restaurants. Subsix, the underwater club, is definitely going to be the iconic feature of NIYAMA. It’s completely unattached to the island and guests will be whisked across the sea, about a quarter mile onboard a Riva. Anyone who has been to Venice will recognize these chic and charming speedboats.
Lindsey: How are you positioning Niyama in the marketplace? Is it the same level of service and food as say Huvafen Fushi? Do you view the two resorts as competitors? When should travelers stay at Niyama or Huvafen Fushi?
Alan: As a Per AQUUM property, NIYAMA will be offering the highest level of accommodation, service and dining experiences. Because it’s a larger property with more activity and energy, we feel that NIYAMA will be more attractive for a younger audience (or just the young at heart!) as well as families. We’ve priced it just below Huvafen Fushi, not because the offering is any less impressive, but because we feel that the slightly lower price point will make it more attractive to a wider audience. We already have many repeat guests from Huvafen who have booked NIYAMA and I’m sure they’ll enjoy the experience. We see the two resorts as complementary to each other and we expect that many guests will choose to stay longer in the Maldives and combine the two resort experiences.
Lindsey: I like that…a stay on a larger island like Niyama with a stay on a smaller island like Huvafen Fushi. That sounds like a great combination. Subsix at Niyama sounds really cool. What can guests expect an evening to be like at Subsix?
Alan: The world’s first underwater nightclub, Subsix is located a quarter mile off the island and above it, Edge restaurant will appear to be floating in the lagoon! It will be a very cool, surreal and extraordinary experience. We’re not trying to be a ‘clubby’ island or the Ibiza of the Maldives; it’s all about giving guests options to do more than they would find elsewhere in the Maldives. Imagine being 20 feet below the waterline with a glass of champagne or cocktail in hand gazing out at the coral reef and the incredible marine life just a few inches away. Subsix will be lit in the evenings, same as we do with the Underwater Spa at Huvafen, and guests chilling out will see coral reef, a kaleidoscope of tropical fish, reef sharks – even turtles & dolphins occasionally – with our very own International DJ’s spinning beats in the background.
Lindsey: Many of our clients love over water villas. It looks like Niyama has 3 different 1-bedroom over water villa categories. There is the Water Studio with Private Pool, Deluxe Water Studio with Private Pool, and the Water Pavilion with Private Pool. What are the similarities and differences between these categories? Are they located in different areas?
Alan: The Water Studios with Pool offer 1,937 square feet of luxury accommodation suspended over water. As the name suggest, they each have their own plunge pool which hovers over the Indian Ocean giving guests the option to swim in the sea or their own private fresh water pool. All rooms feature plasma televisions, Nespresso machines, iPads with resort and destination content, DVD players, Bose surround sound and our new Per AQUUM concept, Deli-in. With Deli-in, we have taken the traditional mini-bar and taken it beyond the next level. All guests will have a full-sized fridge/freezer filled with everything from champagne, wine & juices to carefully selected cheeses, cold meats, smoked salmon & ice-creams. Guests will be able to mix their own cocktails by their pool or use the in-room popcorn machine to make some popcorn if they are relaxing in their room to enjoy a film.
Water Studio with Pool
The Deluxe Water Studios with Pool are slightly larger at 2,152 square feet and have additional deck space complete with a Jacuzzi.
Deluxe Water Studio with Pool
The Water Pavilions with Private Pool offer 2,744 square feet with the benefit of a separate bedroom and living room space. The pinnacle of our over-water accommodation is definitely the two-bedroom Ocean Pavilions. Offering 3,767 square feet of space, these pavilions have two-bedrooms, living room area, cocktail bar, wine cellar, built-in Teppanyaki grill and an expansive private deck with large pool. I’m often asked if I prefer staying on the beach or overwater and I always struggle to give a precise answer. The fact is both options offer so much although I can imagine someone sitting in New York dreaming of the Maldives and picturing themselves diving into the sea straight from their deck. Perhaps the answer is to try both over water and beach rooms during a single stay, to experience both. That said, whichever option our guests choose, we know that from the moment they land at Male’ Airport they’ll fall in love with the Maldives. It is absolutely the quintessential island paradise.
The Water Pavilions with Private Pool offer 2,744 square feet with the benefit of a separate bedroom and living room space.
The pinnacle of our over-water accommodation is definitely the two-bedroom Ocean Pavilions. Offering 3,767 square feet of space, these pavilions have two-bedrooms, living room area, cocktail bar, wine cellar, built-in Teppanyaki grill and an expansive private deck with large pool.
I’m often asked if I prefer staying on the beach or overwater and I always struggle to give a precise answer. The fact is both options offer so much although I can imagine someone sitting in New York dreaming of the Maldives and picturing themselves diving into the sea straight from their deck. Perhaps the answer is to try both over water and beach rooms during a single stay, to experience both. That said, whichever option our guests choose, we know that from the moment they land at Male’ Airport they’ll fall in love with the Maldives. It is absolutely the quintessential island paradise.
Lindsey: Is there anything I haven’t asked that you’d like to convey about Per Aquum? I know you are in charge of sales and marketing and this has largely been a factual interview and you haven’t had too much opportunity to talk about Per Aquum.
Alan: When staying with Per AQUUM guests will experience Retreats & Resorts that really strive to offer unique experiences as well as absolute luxury. We’ve always been bold and experimental and done things in our unique Per AQUUM way. When Huvafen Fushi opened so much of what we did was a “first” in the industry and now we’re doing it again at NIYAMA. We think that our guests really appreciate the thought and imagination that goes into the development of our resorts, including the design and concept but also in the way we look after our guests in-house. People come to the Maldives to chill-out, enjoy the spa and experience amazing food in a relaxed atmosphere free of rules and schedules. We’ve thoroughly enjoyed providing that environment to guests since 2004.
Lindsey: Thank you Alan. It has been a pleasure to chat with you. Good luck with the Niyama opening! We look forward to sending travelers your way.
Lindsey is booked to stay at Niyama to get a firsthand account of the resort in the not-to-distant future. We will post Lindsey’s feedback here on our blog!
More information about Huvafen Fushi
More information about NIYAMA
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