Name: Martin van der Reijden
- Vice President of Operations, CROSSROADS Maldives
- General Manager, SAii Lagoon Maldives
Company name: S Hotels & Resorts (a Singha Estate company)
When and why did you join the industry?
It feels like a lifetime ago! Actually it was about 35 years ago, when I thought the hotel industry would be an exciting world. My friends all had the ambition of becoming bankers or lawyers, but I was looking for something more interesting.
What do you like most about your job?
The fact that no day is the same. I guess that some people would find that stressful, but for me it is exciting. We already have 200 team members from 24 countries working for us, and that will increase to almost 1,000 mostly young people from all around the world. It is fabulous to see all this positive creative energy flowing around our resort.
What’s one of the biggest achievements of your career so far?
What we have achieved on CROSSROADS so far is astounding. It is the biggest project by far that the Maldives has ever seen, with many elements that are entirely new to our country, like the marina with 30 berths, Café del Mar, the biggest club in the Indian Ocean, Hard Rock Cafe and the CROSSROADS Event Hall and so much more.
What’s the best advice ever given to you and who gave it?
A previous general manager at Hilton, and still a good friend of mine, told me when I was first promoted to GM: ‘you now have “relative power” over people; use that power wisely.’
Who do you admire and see as a role model in the industry?
Here in the Maldives there was Tom McLoughlin and Sonu Shivdasani who started Per Aquum and Six Senses from scratch. I admired their new way of looking at the hardware/facilities of resorts, and also their daring and different approach to marketing. More recently, I think the people at CitizenM were ahead of their time with their product; they laid the foundations for some big hotel groups to come up with similar concepts.
What can people expect from your company and what sets it apart from the rest?
As mentioned earlier, CROSSROADS is already totally different from any other resort in the Maldives. The scale and range of facilities, in terms of restaurants, shopping, entertainment and two resorts that have some very unique elements, will set this project apart for a long time to come.
What destinations are on your travel bucket list?
I am probably not alone, but Bhutan, which has been able to to control tourism and conserve its culture and heritage. I was almost posted to Mongolia during my Hilton career; that did not work out, but I would love to experience its vast and beautiful countryside. If Cape Town was not so far away, I would have gone there a long time ago.
What’s a memorable travel experience you’ve had (good or bad)?
In terms of cities, I think Moscow’s subway stations are worth the trip alone. At the other end of the scale I love tented camps, and especially the one in the Golden Triangle of Thailand, with elephants nearby, but still delivered in such a luxurious environment. This remains a unique experience for me.
What are three things you always take with you when travelling?
I always have a hard drive stocked with movies and music, sun cream to stop me getting burned, and trainers because I always aim to go to the fitness centre (and sometimes actually achieve it!)
What direction do you see the industry heading in over the next five to ten years?
New trends and new brands are emerging all the time. Being sustainable and environmentally friendly is what the Generation Z wants us to be (and rightly so), and of course technology will make sure that we don’t have to check-in and check-out manually anymore. In-room TVs and telephones will soon be replaced, and the lobby will be transformed into a “hub”– a central point of interaction and hang-out area.