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Pledges, innovation, spiritedness: Unique cornerstones at John Keells Leisure Awards

Apr 2, 2012 3:15:14 PM - www.ft.lk

When the John Keells Leisure Group (JKLG) decided to motivate their dynamic team into gearing for the aggressive journey it was mapping for itself, the vision of becoming the trendsetter in the hospitality industry for Sri Lanka was the foundation upon which this journey was constructed.

Just over a year ago, JKLG conceptualised five pledges to charter the process, pushing conventional boundaries and inspiring the team to ‘walk the talk’. At the John Keells Leisure Awards held last week, the JKLG Team displayed the real mettle they are made of, showcasing some of the most innovative and creative projects and conceptions that imbibed the true spirit synonymous with John Keells Leisure.
As Senior VP of JKH and Head of Human Resources and Business Excellence Roshan Gurusinghe stated, when he addressed over 500 of the team gathered at the gala ceremony at Cinnamon Grand: “On 22 November 2010, we birthed our new vision, ‘We will always be the Hospitality Trendsetter,’ underscoring it with our five pledges. But having a vision alone does not bring success. To succeed, we have to first understand, accept and embrace that vision. These awards example the manner and passion our Associates have displayed at all levels, to embrace that vision and make it our own.”
The five pledges encompassing the axioms, ‘I will get it right the first time all the time’, ‘I will care’, ‘I will be green’, ‘I will empower’ and ‘I will stand out wherever I am’ which the JKLG Associates promised to espouse stringently in addition to the categories of Innovation and Spirit of Excellence, collated over 100 submissions presented by the hotels and resorts under the JKLG umbrella. The Panel of Judges also brought in the additional criteria of Sustainable Development for a more holistic purview of the underlying tenets of the vision.
Deputy Chairman of John Keells Holdings and President of the Leisure Group Ajit Gunewardene proudly claimed that with this being one of the most memorable moments in his work life, he has never in his thirty year career seen such motivation, dynamism and application collated within a single Group.
“I am so proud of each of you, not just those here but each and every person within the Team who make our hotels and resorts stand out from among the rest. I know that we have been responsible for setting benchmarks for the industry, for pioneering initiatives and for introducing unique aspects to tourism. But this is only the first step for all of us and there’s many more steps for us take before we get to that point of perfection. We know that perfection is hard to achieve, but it is not impossible when I look at the team here in front of me.”
Cinnamon Grand totalled seven awards, winning accolades in all five pledges, the Innovation category as well as the Spirit of Leisure award, which was also presented to Chaaya Reef Ellaidhoo and Chaaya Island Dhonveli. Cinnamon Grand’s recreation of a Sri Lankan village for the Commonwealth bid at St. Kitts, the green awareness programmes aligned to Nuga Gama and the innovative Diabetic Menu presented as ‘Indulgence with a Conscience,’ as well as the superior work performed by the F&B and Housekeeping teams gained kudos.
The citation for the Spirit of Leisure Award concluded: “Cinnamon Grand’s empowered team displayed unreserved commitment in their care for others, created enhanced customer experiences and instituted groundbreaking innovations to gain coveted awards which exemplified the Spirit of Leisure.”
Keells Hotel Management Services Limited gained four awards, three of which were for its Nature Trails projects primarily with the conservation of the leopard and enhancing a customer’s wildlife experience through a unique night vision safari, which also gained an Innovation award.
Cinnamon Lakeside’s speedy establishment of a Halal Kitchen, innovative trolley-less cleaning process and vigilant security team got a positive nod with three awards for the hotel, while Cinnamon Lodge Habarana’s green initiatives gained an award as well, added to with one under the ‘I will care’ pledge.
Three Chaaya resorts, Chaaya Village Habarana, Chaaya Island Dhonveli and Chaaya Reef Ellaidhoo, were praised for their innovations, one of which was Chaaya Village Habarana’s manufacture of environmentally friendly paint, while their empowering stance also saw the two latter resorts win the Spirit of Leisure awards.
The Green Globe certified Chaaya Reef Ellaidhoo’s stance as an innovation trendsetter within the Group, complimented with taking the pledge to care and being green to another realm, saw the innovative spirit, caring ways and commitment to nature gain a well deserved commendation with the Spirit of Leisure Award.
Similarly Chaaya Island Dhonveli, as mentioned by Gurusinghe, “is determined to live the Spirit of Leisure through their unwavering efforts of transforming the property to the pinnacle of customer delight, excellent standards, building a holistically empowered team, innovative energy saving solutions and unique community engagement initiatives that truly imbue their ‘can-do’ spirit in taking hospitality to a new high.”
The Finance Team of the John Keells Maldivian Resorts were commended with an award each for ‘I will standout wherever I am’ and ‘Innovation,’ while in the ‘Sustainable Development’ category, Bentota Beach Hotel and Walkers Tours shone with their community engaging sustainability projects. Given that each of the submissions was in reality a standalone case study and worthy of emulation, a Knowledge Sharing Book which catalogued the salient features of each application was produced as a learning tool to be shared among the Team.
Gurusinghe reiterated Gunewardene’s statement of striving for perfection, declaring, “We are rolling out our Leisure Group Competency Set this year, backed by relevant training modules. We are also finalising our Hospitality Graduate Programme in association with the Emirates Academy of Hospitality Management, providing training, development and exposure to our team. As you can see, the wheels are in place for us to achieve that perfection, because one of our aims during this year is to develop and prepare our people to meet the needs that ensue from our rapid expansion.”
He praised the JKLG Assistant Managers’ foray who were the inspiration for this event and whose tireless work is etched in the stamp of excellence seen in the flawless organisation. Urging the team to use the opportunities and optimise their potential, he urged them to display infinite passion in everything they do. “Passionate people end up being highly successful. If you have a strong degree of passion for what you do, it becomes a driving force that propels your own inspiration,” he stated.