Alissa Marcelo, Assistant Sales Manager at Banyan Tree Vabbinfaru & Angsana Ihuru

Personality of the Month
PUBLISHED October 11, 2020 | updated October 11, 2020 00:57

1. How are you finding Maldives? 

Living in the Maldives is like existing in a fairy tale. The colour of the sky changes from blue to rose-tint to grey. Cotton-candy-like clouds are almost reachable by your hands. You wake up into a golden sunrise and sleep under star-blanketed skies. Sometimes I’m wondering if I’ll see a mermaid emerging from the water or a pixie sprinkling magical dust into palm trees. Kidding aside, the Maldives, more than just a dreamy paradise, is a great learned curve for me. On top of my career progression, I’ve learnt more about the marine life in the Maldives, the fragility of the ecosystem and what we humans can do to protect the environment even in the smallest way. I am so grateful that I have the chance to work and live here so I have the opportunity to discover so much.  


2. What's your favourite spot at the resort and why? 

My top favourite spot would definitely be underwater. We have very rich house reefs and we always take pride in saying that. Every day is like a surprise. You’ll never know what you’ll see.  We also have a signature dive spot just 10 meters off the Angsana Ihuru house reef called the Rannamaari Ship Wreck. My colleagues and I always try to reach it just by freediving. The top of the shipwreck is about 19 meters deep while the bottom goes down to 26 meters. The wreck has a lot of residents and usually, there will be several batfish and school of jackfish on top of it. I once found myself in the middle of the school of jackfish swirling around me. The experience was surreal. 


My second favourite spot would be the sunset jetty at Banyan Tree Vabbinfaru. It is the best spot to chase sunsets and also a great venue for weddings, destination dining, and yoga, or meditation.


We also have a spot that we internally call ‘Banyan Highway’ which is a clearing in the middle of Vabbinfaru Island that gives you the view of the arrival jetty all the way down to the sunset jetty. It resembles a long runway minus the red carpet - you get soft white sand instead and it’s very instagrammable. I think it’s really cool and unique.


3. What do you most like about your work, and what do you find to be the most challenging aspect?

I like my job because it brings many challenges to the table every day. The tourism industry is the most important economy contribution to the Maldives and it is going through a massive transformation, making it interesting. Supply is way more than demand, so the competition is stiff and the market is volatile, we have to be creative to deal with challenges constantly.  


There is no ‘one strategy fits all’ in terms of selling resorts in the Maldives. What worked today might not work tomorrow. We get to learn something new every day. And to be able to keep up with the ever-changing game of supply and demand, I always keep in mind that I have to learn, unlearn, and learn again.


Another thing that I like about this job is the opportunity to share beautiful stories of the islands to people that I meet. I firmly believe that selling by storytelling is a very effective approach and I love sharing stories. Our two resorts have a long history and a lot of beautiful stories waiting to be told.


4. What are the positives and the opportunities which you have gathered from the pandemic? 

As we experienced a life stripped of everything, we have been given time to reflect on what actually is more valuable to us. There are lots of things that we take for granted in the past that is actually what we need and what we should have been paying attention to.


This pandemic gave us an opportunity to reset and start with a clean slate. We should take this chance to start anew with a much deeper and better perspective in life.


5. If you can change anything in your life, what would it be? 

I wouldn’t want to change anything. I believe that all choices we’ve made in the past add up to build what we are today. 


6. How would describe the DNA of your brand? 

Banyan Tree brand is rooted in sustainability. The environment and local community will always be considered when making decisions from the time of building of the resort to running in full operations. Once you’ve worked for the brand, whether you stay longer or move on to another later in your life, you’ll find that the values that Banyan Tree Hotels and Resorts have instilled in you during your tenure with the company is running deep in your veins. You’ll find yourself always considering the environment and the local community which associate to the choices and actions you made. 


7. Who are you listening to at the moment? (Music artist)  

I love listening to late 90s and early 2000s punk rock bands like The Used, Dashboard Confessional, Greenday and the top of my list goes to My Chemical Romance.


8. Favourite motto or saying:

Be nice to people on your way up, because you’ll meet them on your way down.



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