Meet Maya and Nuha, the young front desk attendants at Mercure Kooddoo Maldives. They’re natives of neighbouring Gaafu Alifu Vilingili, just minutes away by speedboat from the resort.
Both of them studied at the atoll’s education centre. Maya, 20, chose computer science but after her O’Levels in 2016, had a change of heart.
“A friend of the family suggested I try get a job in Kooddoo,” she says. “There was an opening so I applied.”
Nuha, 21, has a similar story. She was slightly more aware of the industry however, having studied travel and tourism at school. “I had an idea about what I was getting into beforehand,” she says. “I was also told of a job opening here in Kooddoo, so I applied soon after I’d finished my A Levels.”
Hari Krishnan, former director of rooms at Mercure Kooddoo, was their interviewer.
“I was very nervous,” admits Maya. “It was my first time being interviewed for anything.”
“Me too,” adds Nuha.
“They’d never experienced a resort,” says Krishnan, smiling. “They had absolutely no clue as to what they’d be doing here. In spite of that, I had a good feeling about them. They had excellent body language and great eye contact. I saw in both a confidence and felt they had the attitude we wanted. At the end of the interview process, I knew they’d deliver.”
So, Maya and Nuha joined the team at Kooddoo in January 2017. They do much the same things, greeting guests and seeing them off, handling requests. They take guests to their rooms, sometimes lugging luggage for short distances, despite their slight frames.
“I like checking guests in,” says Nuha. “They’re in such a good mood when they see the property and I love driving the buggy around. I learnt how to drive in three months.”
Maya is happiest when she gets good feedback from guests. “When our guests have a great vacation and tell me about it, I just feel full of joy,” she says. “That’s the best part of working here.”
But working in a resort is no walk in the park. Sometimes, their jobs can be quite challenging.
“Arrivals and departures happen at the same time on some days,” explains Nuha. “It’s really hard keeping on top of everything when that happens. And sometimes guests would want to change rooms, from beach villas to water villas or the other way around. That takes a bit of work too, especially when everything coincides.”
One of the toughest parts of Maya’s job is when she has to deal with guests who don’t speak English. “I have to type out whole paragraphs on my phone sometimes and translate them to get the message across,” she says. “Also, dealing with back-to-back arrivals who check-in into recently vacated guest rooms isn’t easy to say the least. You have to get the rooms ready very quickly.”
What’s next for these two? They seem to enjoy taking things in their stride and don’t have any grand plans for now.
“I’m just keen to keep on working here,” says Nuha. “I don’t see myself leaving hospitality.”
“I want to improve my skills,” says Maya. “And in two or three years I’ll try to become a supervisor.”