The Arrival had the privilege to sit down with Lars Petre, the co-owner of Kuredu Island Resort. Lars - a pioneer of the industry from a young age shared his vision on the local tourism industry, and his experience at the top-rated resort, Kuredu Island.
What was the reason that you chose to set up a resort in the Maldives?
At a young age, I started to work in the tourism industry. My job took me all over the world. On the very first time I visited the Maldives, I fell in love with the beauty of this country. As there were very few resorts in the Maldives and there was not even a single resort in this atoll, we were looking for a bigger island and there was none available nearby Male. Then we got to know about Kuredu and during 1988 the resort was developed.
How is your experience in the Maldives so far?
Every year has been a great year with many challenges that were dealt with. Also, every year is better than the following year. The reason why I am saying this is because of the developments and the improvements that have been brought about overtime. The situation now is completely different and better even if we look back at the quality of food and transportation. Moreover, people are more educated and open-minded now.
What do you think about having local staff?
More than 50% of the employees are Maldivians. Thus, this is the most incredible workforce I have been with from all the countries I have operated in. Anything is possible if you motivate the Maldivians in the right way. They are very easy to work with and eager to develop themselves.
What was the biggest challenge for you to do business here in a foreign country?
Initially, transportation was a huge problem as it was very difficult to travel from one island to another. Back then, we did not have any telephones to communicate with and had to use a radio. Therefore, it was very hard to bring in the food items and the other goods that we wanted to bring in. However, this has changed now. On the bright side, we are now going to build a local airport in this atoll, next to Naifaru. At the moment we are having seaplanes transfer which is limited to daytime operations only. So the guests who come at night have to stay in Hulhumale and then come here on the next day. However, we have noticed that most of the guests want to come here immediately as they arrive. Therefore, this will be more convenient for the other islands of this atoll as well.
Please tell us the changes that have been brought to Kuredu within the 30 years
When we first started, we did not have air condition and desalinated water. In 2002 we closed for 6 months and built the wooden houses on the south beach and water bungalows. In 2007, we developed O resort. Now we have 3 resorts in the same island with almost 400 bedrooms.
What are your future plans for the development of Kuredu?
We have planned to upgrade the public areas. We do not have any intention to increase the number of rooms yet as we have around 400 rooms already. Nevertheless, we have decided to renovate and upgrade the rooms as well.
How do you feel like when you are now celebrating the 30th anniversary of Kuredu?
It is a fantastic feeling to be here to celebrate our 30th anniversary. We have gotten and made connections with wonderful guests who are willing and coming here frequently. The island has over time developed a community with incredible relationships between the staff and guests. You can leave the island but the island never leaves you.
I have noticed that a lot of staff have been working here for a very long time. What makes them choose to work here for so long?
I think that is because of our values. We treat our staff really well and providing them with good living conditions and ensuring their health and safety. We also give them different kinds of training and we make sure that every employee does at least one training every year. It is so good to see how everyone is eager to learn more and develop themselves.
What is the most fascinating/interesting thing about Lhaviyani Atoll?
Naturally, Lhaviyani Atoll is one of the most beautiful Atoll. When we look at the map, we can see that the atoll is formed as a ring, leaving the center bare. Here, thrives an amazing diversity. We can reach to 13 different channels within this atoll which are fantastic for diving and snorkeling.
3 reasons why you would suggest Kuredu to the tourists
1. Best diving operation in the Maldives
2. A lot of sports facilities and activities
3. Fantastic staff