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Exclusive Interview with Rajeev Menon, President (APEC), Marriott International

Rajeev Menon, President of Marriott International for Asia Pacific Excluding China (APEC) granted an exclusive interview to The Edition. He speaks about changing trends in tourism, community engagement and Marriott International in the Maldives.

Mariyath Mohamed
09 June 2024, MVT 11:01
Rajeev Menon, President (APEC), Marriott International
Mariyath Mohamed
09 June 2024, MVT 11:01

“The core belief of our company has always been that you take great care of your people, your associates will take great care of the customers, the customers will keep coming back and back, and the business will take care of itself."

Rajeev Menon, President of Marriott International for Asia Pacific Excluding China (APEC) shared these words in an exclusive interview with The Edition at Sheraton Maldives Full Moon Resort & Spa.

Sustainability and Conservation

Marriott International has previously announced that it will be reaching a target of net zero by 2050. Menon shared with us the many efforts the company is exercising in view of sustainability and conservation in the meantime.

“We have recently submitted and got approval on a science-based target specifically on the reduction also announced by 2030, [the] amount of carbon reduction we would be working on,” he said.

Menon explained that General Managers at all their resorts and hotels are provided with six clear matrices that they must pursue to drive performance. While this earlier already covered taking exemplary care of customers, as well as associates working in the hotels, and financial performance, sustainability itself is now becoming part of that scorecard.

“My personal view has always been what is measurable is achievable. We are very confident that we will not only meet, but potentially see many of the short term targets that we have set ourselves,” he said.

Hotels within the company are also partnering with local NGOs and running coral conservation and replanting efforts, with opportunities for guests to participate.

Marriott International also set a target in 2016 to reduce food waste by fifty percent. Additionally, the resort is taking firm measures to bring a stop to single use plastics across their hotels.

“We believe it is not just an obligation, but our responsibility, to take the lead when it comes to sustainability.”

Reaching out to the community

Menon emphasized that the company sees it as highly important to create ties with the local community.

Their resorts are known for assisting island communities in various social aspects, including school facilities, donation of computers and other resources, as well as various types of infrastructure work.

More recently, the Marriott has introduced a ten month long apprenticeship program for youth from the communities to learn and work at the resorts.

“We are bringing folks from islands who have no experience in hospitality into the program, in some cases these are also often kids, thereby giving them exposure to hospitality. It is a ten month program,” Menon explained.

The first Marriott International Maldives Apprenticeship Program had 43 participants. At the end of the program, 37 individuals out of these received full time employment across Marriott hotels.

A similar program, titled ‘Kurimagu’ is also being conducted. Kurimagu is a 12 month program and targeted for aspiring Maldivian leaders in the hospitality industry.

At present, 57 percent of those employed in Marriott International resorts across Maldives are locals.

“We have always been strong believers in developing local talent, wherever we operate,” he asserted.

“As a leader, my view has always been that, eventually, our hotels should be run by locals. That’s the way we would thrive in any community we operate in.”

Changing trends: “More is not necessarily bad”

“To be honest, we embrace changing trends. And to me, the more folks who are in the world of hospitality, in any form of lodging, is actually good.”

The Edition asked about the challenges faced with the changing trends in hospitality in the Maldives, with city hotels and guesthouses coming more prominently into the mix.

“I think it’s a good thing. It helps to improve the economic environment of the communities,” Menon responded.

Menon believes that the advent of other forms of lodging do not, in fact, have a major impact on resort operators.

“Even, take it away from the Maldives for a second, think about the world of AirBnB as a potential competitor. Now in every market around the world, AirBnB is a great competitor. But we embrace it. And from my perspective, we have continued to grow and thrive in the business of hospitality and lodging as much as any other company,” he explained.

“So when you think about where we are here in Maldives, our financial performance has been very strong, particularly over the last three, four years as Maldivian has been shining particularly during the early years of Covid. And even now, we see great opportunity for even future growth.”

“So from my perspective, I think more is necessarily not bad, and in this case it is actually good because it creates an atmosphere where everybody is invested in the word ‘hospitality’."

Marriott International has been in the hospitality business for 97 years, with hotels based across 140 countries.

The company currently operates seven resorts in the Maldives, with two more currently on the horizon.

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