An Interview with Mr. Armando Kraenzlin, Regional Vice President and General Manager of Four Seasons Resort Maldives at Landaa Giraavaru
Tucked away in the Baa Atoll Unesco Biosphere Reserve, Four Seasons Resort Maldives at Landaa Giraavaru is embraced by crystal Indian ocean and natural wilderness. In addition to the signature Four Seasons luxury, the resort has also spearheaded the wellness trends of Maldives, thanks to an experienced General Manager who embraces the idea of natural healing and wellbeing.
Before joining Four Seasons, Mr. Armando Kraenzlin had worked in the hospitality industry of Saudi Arabia, Thailand, Singapore and Hong Kong. While working in Koh Samui, he fell in love with islands. In 1999, he got his first post in Four Seasons as he joined Four Seasons Jakarta. One year later, he came to Maldives and joined Four Seasons Maldives Kuda Huraa. In 2006, the challenge of the opening of Four Seasons Hotel Mumbai lured him away from the island, but he was delighted to be back 3 years afterwards as the General Manager of Four Seasons Resort Maldives at Landaa Giraavaru.
At every post, Armando gives an equal consideration for guests, staff and the local community alike. He has implemented the first apprenticeship programme of its kind in the Maldives, and launched a regeneration project that has been breathing new life into the coral reefs around the company’s two Maldivian Resorts. As his friends and workmates often remark: if there’s one thing that can be said about Kraenzlin, it’s that he does nothing by halves. SpaChina interviewed him.
How do you describe Maldives? What’s special about Maldives compared with Thailand? (As Chinese visit Thailand a lot)
Thailand makes for the perfect cultural immersion and introduction to South East Asia, whereas Maldives is all about nature and discovering the underwater world.
How many guest rooms in Landaa Giravaru? And how many staff do you have? Please briefly introduce Landaa Giravaru to our readers.
Four Seasons Landaa Giraavaru’s natural wilderness incorporates 103 thatched bungalows and villas on the beach, over the water or hidden down dense jungle paths.
Guests can snorkel with turtles, dolphins and lemon sharks in the two kilometre lagoon or with manta rays between June and November. Relaxation seekers can immerse themselves in the healing heart of The Spa and Ayurvedic Retreat, whereas ocean lovers can experience the world’s first underwater excursion in a DeepFlight submarine or join pioneering marine research projects at the Marine Discovery Centre. Landaa Giraavaru’s remote location in the Baa Atoll UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve also places guests in close proximity to many incredible dive sites.
We have over 400 staff living on the island.
What’s the guest profile do Four Seasons Resort Maldives at Landaa Giravaru have? Who are the guests? Their age ranges? Female/ male percentage? How many nights do they usually stay?
We welcome an international clientele, mostly from Europe and North America but also from the Middle East and Asia. The average length of stay is a week or more for the former, and 4 nights for the latter.
We mostly see honeymooners or young couples, as well as multi-generational families (kids, parents and grandparents). The male – female ratio is around 50%.
Do the guests follow the Four Seasons brand and programs when planning their vacations?
Guests are certainly lured in by the brand reputation and that is why they often choose to stay in both our Resorts, splitting their experience between Four Seasons Kuda Huraa and Four Seasons Landaa Giraavaru, which are a mere 35-minute direct seaplane ride from each other.
How do you see the potential of Chinese visitors? What do they like to do during the stay? Compare with other nationalities, what are the differences? How do Landaa Giravaru meets the requirements for the Chinese guests?
China is a very important market for Four Seasons Resorts Maldives and it keeps growing.
Chinese guests are very active, love fishing, snorkeling and taking part in as many water sports activities as possible. They are especially keen on joining kids-oriented activities and are always happy to learn more about our Resort’s conservation projects with our team of qualified marine biologists. On a culinary level, they are real gourmands and enjoy the variety of dining experiences available, from Moroccan, Lebanese, Indian, Japanese to Italian and various Asian cuisines.
We feel there is a lot of potential to grow awareness about Ayurveda, our newly-launched Yoga Therapy Centre, Chakra Blessings and Tantric traditions among our Chinese guests, who are very health-conscious and therefore natural healing should be a very clear concept to them. Time-poor stressed-out urbanites can truly find a place to retreat here in Landaa Giraavaru.
Over the years, we have built a cross-departmental Chinese-speaking team to ensure the guest experience is as smooth and comfortable as possible. In addition, guests can communicate 24/7 with our Front Desk team for all sort of requests through their WeChat as well as Four Seasons App Chat in their native language.
What kind of wellness trends do you see in Maldives? Do you have these wellness trends and concepts into the daily operation of Landaa Giracaru already? Please kindly explain.
There is certainly a trend towards welcoming seasonal Visiting Masters, specialised in different wellness disciplines, across some 5* luxury resorts.
Four Seasons Landaa Giraavaru has pioneered many trends. For example, Landaa has been the first to introduce AntiGravity yoga, a Yoga Energy Trail, and Panchakarma – ayurvedic cleansing – to the Maldives. With the launch of the Yoga Therapy Centre this year, it is now the world’s first Resort to offer Yoga Therapy Courses: personalised condition-targeting programs devised in conjunction with S-VYASA, the world’s first “university for yoga” and pioneer of yoga therapy through scientific research.
In addition, our wellness philosophy expands beyond the Spa: the Resort also presents four restaurants all complete with Ayurvedic cuisine options, based on the different doshas (body types).
You also seem to be very involved in the creation of wellness activities and packages for your property. How do you see the importance of the wellness concept?
In this time and age, travel and wellness simply walk hand in hand. Modern society leaves us with very little time to spare to focus on our wellbeing, while we try to juggle increasingly busy lives. When there’s the opportunity to travel and unplug, wellness – in its many forms – as well as thinking of our personal health and happiness take centre stage. They have become a crucial part of any travel experience.
Please introduce your special yoga-related treatment, and one signature spa treatment to SpaChina readers. Why they are special?
I am very proud that the Resort has launched a Yoga Therapy Centre in collaboration with S-VYASA, the world’s first “university for yoga” in Bangalore, India. Each course targets specific ailments and lifestyle diseases – Stress Management, Diabetes Care, Spinal Care, Thyroid Health, Men’s Health, Women’s Health and Addiction Management. Private sessions with our yogis teach our guests bespoke breathing techniques and postures designed for the ailment they’d like to address. We are the first Resort in the world to introduce yoga therapy courses of this kind and I see this as a milestone moment for our Spa and Ayurvedic Retreat.
As far as spa treatments are concerned, I am particularly fond of Elakkizhi, which means ‘poultice of leaves’, It is a full body massage which uses bundles of herbs and spices heated in medicated oils. It is an effective therapy for a variety of ailments from arthritis to sciatica and backache.
What is your management style for working?
I believe in the power of teamwork: of building a strong, close-knit team which can turn every challenge into a success.
What do you do for your spare time? Are you a wellness-oriented person?
I have an interest in yoga and I’m a believer in natural healing. I think that healthy, balanced eating, regular exercise, channeling positive energy inside and around us is the secret to a happy and long life. When I‘m on holiday, I love to go trekking in the Himalayas (that’s the ‘Swiss’ in me!).