Q: How has the Prince of Galle been impacted by recent events?

A: My company Mailman has been operating in Sri Lanka for over 15 years, and we thought the country was finally getting back on track after the tsunami and civil conflict. Until the terror attacks, we were experiencing the best season to date and running at near capacity with several projects ready to roll out.

Having said that, we were cautious in the latter half of 2018; but felt that perhaps we’d got through the worst and it was time to take some steady steps while remaining cautious.

Recent events have certainly slowed the hospitality sector, actually bringing it to a standstill. The effort and energy that we put into getting business back on track is about trying to achieve a similar state to over a month ago. It’s the classic situation of one step forward, two steps back and then three steps forward that we experience in Sri Lanka. It’s very frustrating.


Q: Is Sri Lankaís infrastructure capable of catering to the needs of tourists?

A: We severely lack many basics. While the infrastructure has improved, it isn’t improving fast enough to keep pace with the global tourism market.

For instance, our lowest scores on online booking agents are often for factors that are beyond our control such as power and water cuts, and inadequate internet facilities. While we invest heavily to mitigate such issues, our hands are tied.

If Sri Lanka is to be a leader in tourism, it has a long way to go. We can work on improving our charm but when the island begins to attract the higher end travellers who are less adventurous, they will want modern amenities.

Thankfully, Sri Lanka is so beautiful, and our people are friendly and hospitable, that its downfalls are often overshadowed – but this will only hold for so long.


Q: In your opinion, what could be done to improve the countryís tourism offering?

A: It needs to improve from the ground up. We must focus on getting the service industry back on track to when it was hailed as one of the best in the world.

To do this, we need to change the perception of the food and beverage industry among our people. Our profession needs to be revered, and considered a stable and prestigious career by the people.

To this end, we should permit young travellers to work and live in Sri Lanka’s bars and restaurants, and pass on their knowledge. In Australia, it was found that such travellers spent their money in the country, which would happen here as well.

Inevitably, this will raise the salaries of employees in these sectors. On top of this, more people would be interested in these careers and learning by working with well-travelled foreigners who know how to deal with tourists as they’re tourists themselves.

This should be viewed as a form of free education. It won’t take away jobs and I’m certain that it’ll improve standards here tenfold within a year or so.


Q: How would you describe the competition in the boutique hotel sector?

A: Without competition, you can’t have a playing field. Competition stimulates a drive for excellence. Our competition is getting better all the time and I revel in that as it brings out the best in me.

My strategy to stay ahead of competitors is to focus on a few aspects and perform as well as we possibly can.

For example, we could produce a whole menu of beverages but focus on iced coffee and iced tea, and their unique blends, recipes and presentations. And the only meal we serve is the five course ‘Breagustation,’ which is positioned as the most unique breakfast in Sri Lanka; it’s a must do activity when in Galle.

In the boutique hotel sector, a USP is needed. If everyone focussed on what they did better than others, it would ignite a new wave of tourism.


Q: And last but by no means least, what are the Prince of Galleís plans going forward?

A: We’re launching a couple of eco-resorts with sustainability at their core, which we believe should be the direction of the industry as a whole.

Our first property in Madiha was lost during the tsunami but we’re going to rebuild and set up a glamping site for the Prince of Galle. We also have a glamping villa on the beach where turtles lay eggs, and we’re working to protect the wildlife and remain conscious of our surroundings.

In addition, we’re introducing our almost 20-year-old Chinese brand Kommune on another property nearby. Our plan is to build a glamping site to appeal to tourists from China. Sustainability and food will be at the centre of this hotel in the form of a term that I’ve coined – ‘co-kitchen.’

Rather than simply cooking food, we will be enticing chefs from around the world to come on holiday, and cook with our team and guests.

Our menu will evolve constantly and we’ll cook something new every day with people sharing food from different cultures with local ingredients… it won’t merely be a curry house but a lab of sorts, creating new foods with Sri Lankan ingredients.

The potential is limitless in terms of the business model but also for other entrepreneurs to see export possibilities once chefs and cooks discover that Sri Lanka can create more than just the finest curries and sweets.


Kirk Jobsz




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