Chief Butler at Westin Maldives Proves the Importance of Academic Qualification along with Experience

Ali Ashfag is a young passionate hotelier from Noonu Holhudhoo, who started his career at a very young 17 years of age. He carries with him over seven years of experience in the Hospitality industry with different International and Local brands.

Ashfaq, who is now the Chief Butler at Westin Miriandhoo Island Resort and Spa, has worked at several resorts including Crown and Champa resorts; Sun Siyam Irufushi Resort and Spa; and Six Senses Laamu.

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How did you start your career in the hospitality industry?

It was when I got the opportunity to study Travel and Tourism subject during my secondary education. We were the very first batch of students who got the opportunity to study Travel & Tourism in Meyna School, Noonu, Holhudhoo. The initial idea about the industry was very interesting to me and we got the opportunity to visit a field trip to a nearby resort name Hilton Irufushi Maldives & Spa. That was the moment I got exposed to what a resort operation looks like and how professional Hospitality workers are. We visited almost all the departments and few guest villas and retreat. What I got amazed out of everything was the mesmerising service of Butlers. It was kind of magical to give such personalised service to every single guest where they feel they are taken care of. From that moment on I was dreaming to become a butler one day. This was how I got the idea and I felt a strong passion for this amazing industry.

What are your biggest achievements?

The biggest achievement I would consider is successfully completing my Masters Certificate in Hospitality Management by Cornell University. With the Master’s Certificate, I managed to achieve two more certificates including Hotel Revenue Management and Hospitality Management. Cornell University was a great platform where I met a lot of International GMs, Hotel Managers and Hospitality professionals in the same classrooms where we all shares hospitality’s best practices around the globe. So successfully completing such a superior Certificate with 100% effort by myself is the biggest Academic achievement for me. Operation side achievements will be my team; the respect and the love they show to me. For me, everything starts with the team and if take enough care of the team, I know they will do their best on everything.

What’s the biggest challenge you faced in your career?

Being the superior of a big team like front office plus managing time on my studies was a real challenge. I’m thankful it’s over now but the sleepless nights with tough exams will remain as great memories. Further, front Office operation is not easy when the weather switches to bad. Flights and transportation could be a real challenge where perfect communication and teamwork is required.

Is there anyone special behind your success?

Well, there is big team behind me who supported me for this major achievement. First could be Trevor (GSM of Six Senses) Mafaz (Team Leader FO of Soneva Jani) who encourage me with a lot of effort. Legendary GM of Six Senses Laamu Ms Marteyne, Mr Greame (RM of Six Senses), Rizan Afeef (former HRD of Six Senses), Zuhoor (Revenue & Reservation Manager Six Senses), Mina Hanna (RDM) and the team were also really helpfull throughout my studies. Ofcouse my team and colleques and the GM of Westin Mr Brendon and HRD of Westin Shamaam must be highlighted. Heartfelt thank you to family and friends, especially to “dhon dhathha” Mariyam Naseera, a hero who I am always proud of.

What’s your advice to the young generation?

This is a professional industry where there it’s not limited to anyone. Having a good attitude, discipline and integrity are always important. Stick your mind to a certain goal, keep targets to achieve and work for it. Dreams never come true without hard work and dedication. Only experience does not help when you look at higher superior posts, it requires a good academic performance too

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