In the realm of luxury hospitality, one man stands above the rest: Renato De Oliveira, General Manager of The Ritz-Carlton Maldives, Fari Islands, the visionary behind the esteemed Ritz-Carlton Hotel brand. With a two-decade long career in international hotel management, Renato seized the opportunity to shape the industry with his distinctive values and beliefs.
In this captivating interview, Renato shares a treasure trove of insights, as he generously imparts his wisdom and experiences in the world of luxury hospitality.
1. How did it all start? Can you share your journey of 19 years of luxury hospitality experience in the Marriott Group across Europe, South America, China and Southeast Asia?
Born and raised in Brazil – one of the most captivating countries in the world with a rich heritage, the tourism and hospitality industry had always captured my interest, which led me towards my Degree in Tourism Management at Anhembi Morumbi University.
During my studies, I had the opportunity to receive my first career experience as a Reservations Agent at an airline company, followed by a summer internship programme at Disney World in Florida. Through these experiences, I knew then, that hotels were my passion.
I started working as a receptionist with Accor in Sao Paulo and after graduation, I continued with a post-graduate study at the Swiss Hotel Management School - Les Roches Marbella in Spain. Thus began my journey with The Ritz-Carlton, 18 years ago as an Intern at The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Arts in Barcelona. Since then, I’ve worked in seven different properties across Europe, South America, and Asia between The Ritz-Carlton and St. Regis brand. These included The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Arts Barcelona, The Ritz-Carlton Abama, The Ritz-Carlton Shanghai, Pudong, The Ritz-Carlton Santiago, The Ritz-Carlton Millenia Singapore, The St. Regis Kuala Lumpur and now, The Ritz-Carlton Maldives, Fari Islands.
2. How would you differentiate Marriott group properties from other International Hospitality Brands? What is your Unique Selling Proposition (USP)?
Marriott International offers the largest and most compelling portfolio of brands in hospitality, allowing guests to pick the brand that best suits their travel needs.
The Ritz-Carlton philosophy is extremely powerful. The brand has a very strong foundation with values that bring the best out of each of our Ladies and Gentlemen, inspiring them to always provide true and genuine care to our guests. The Ritz-Carlton service is legendary and in creating meaningful and memorable experiences to our guests. This is what I love the most about the brand.
The Ritz-Carlton Maldives, Fari Islands is part of the first luxury integrated resort development that brings together Patina Maldives and in the near future, Capella Maldives. This allows our guests to experience other facilities and activities around the archipelago. For example, at The Ritz-Carlton Maldives, Fari Islands, our Culinary Island offers five restaurants and bars, at Fari Marina Village, guests can experience eight more exquisite dining venues alongside other retail and leisure facilities.
It is also important to highlight our world-class partners, such as Jean-Michel Cousteau’s Ambassadors of the Environment program and Bamford who play an integral role in our guest experience. Our Master of Crafts & Craftsmanship calendar – a stellar line-up that will take guests on curated culinary journeys with Michelin-starred Chefs and artisanal gastronomic mavens, partake in exhilarating Behind the Bar experiences with award-winning bartenders from around the world and offer enriching wellness experiences. Of course, above it all, our Ladies and Gentlemen are the defining difference when it comes to world-class hospitality in the Maldives. We look to each of them to create memorable guest experiences and we rely on their creativity to grant even the slightest unexpressed wishes of our guests.
3. You have been known as a dedicated leader of high-performance teams, results orientated with strategic business acumen to deliver service excellence, financial results and innovation. What is your leadership style and What do you think it takes to succeed in this industry?
I truly believe in Servant Leadership, where my focus is on the people, in developing their potential to achieve their fullest capabilities. Hard work, responsibility and passion are key pillars for success and every leader should guide their team on how to master these qualities.
Being present and available is also essential in ensuring consistency in behavior. As we have pledged in The Ritz-Carlton Employee Promise by applying the principles of trust, honesty, respect, integrity, and commitment, we nurture and maximize talent to the benefit of our Ladies and Gentlemen and the company.
4. What are the key attributes you look for while selecting or hiring staff?
I personally interview each and every candidate, my main focus is attitude and personality.
5. In these 2 years, what are the challenges you have faced in the Maldives and what are the trends you see impacting the hospitality industry?
Over the last two years, we have been blessed with a very successful business and operation without major challenges. I believe trends that are impacting the hospitality industry continue to include holistic approaches towards environment and social responsibility – initiatives where guests can play an important role in contributing to activities whilst on holiday. The personal wellness space has also developed new and intuitive trends and we are focused on offering our guests experiences to reconnect with themselves through mindful programmes.
6. As Maldives is marketed as a luxury destination with one island one resort concept; what is your main target market for The Ritz-Carlton Maldives, Fari Islands and how do you work with the local community?
Our main target market for The Ritz-Carlton Maldives, Fari Islands are high-net worth individuals, leisure travellers looking to experience the legendary Ritz-Carlton service and most importantly our Marriott Bonvoy members. Our guests are also well travelled and have experienced countless luxury properties around the world. In order to ensure The Ritz-Carlton Maldives, Fari Islands stands out, we work with the local community by showcasing their arts and crafts which in turn contributes to the income of the local island, our fresh seafood is procured from passing fishermen who practice sustainable fishing methods and hand-selected by our culinary team, we also support local schools and businesses by (insert initiative) through our Community Footprints initiative and more.
7. The Maldives Government has committed to making the country carbon neutral by 2030, in what ways does the property contribute to Sustainable and Ecotourism?
Marriott’s sustainability strategy is driven by a wide range of initiatives to reduce environmental impacts through the construction and operation of sustainable hotels and responsible sourcing while protecting and restoring the ecosystems on which life depends. At The Ritz-Carlton Maldives, Fari islands some of our initiatives include:
The reduction of single-use plastics – our villas and spa amenities by Bamford are replenished from refilling stations.
We bottle our own still and sparking water at our water bottling plant.
We have initiated an internal food waste prevention and reduction of food waste programme.
Practicing responsible sourcing is a priority for us – ensuring we procure products that do not negatively impact the environment, and partner with suppliers that promote positive social impact.
The timber used to build our resort was procured from sustainable forests in Europe.
Solar panels harness sustainable energy – reducing 233,600 litres of diesel per year, paving for a more energy-responsible future.
Air conditioning is a sophisticated cross-ventilation system with sensors and lights are LED, further lowering carbon footprint.
8. What are the most significant trends currently shaping the luxury resort industry? Do you believe that the new AI will impact / change the hospitality industry?
AI is already impacting the industry in many ways, through the use of chatbots and virtual assistants to help guests with their needs and elevate hotel security and safety protocols. AI will continue to serve its purpose, however, the personalised, intuitive and genuine care of our Ladies and Gentlemen will be our top most priority to nurture.
9. In order to foster professional growth and development, many resorts have found success in implementing apprenticeship programs. Have you considered or planned to implement apprenticeship programs?
We have a Marriott International Maldives Apprenticeship Program designed to identify local talent in collaboration with the Maldives Institute of Technology (MIT) and National Apprenticeship Program (NAP) implemented through the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Community Empowerment (MOY). This program helps us to recognize and increase potential future talent and to optimise their presence in the job market.
10. What advice would you give to a young, emerging hotelier striving for success in their career?
To continuously focus on excellence, enhance your knowledge on luxury experiences and always preserve your passion to serve people.
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