Resort: Patina Maldives, Fari Islands
Position: General Manager
Appointee: Antonio Saponara
What They Said: With an impressive track record of managing flagship hotels for luxury brands including Aman, Bulgari Hotels & Resorts,Jumeirah and Ritz-Carlton, the gregarious Neapolitan will use his extensive experience, clarity of vision and sure-footed mastery of hotel operations to shape Patina Maldives as it matures through its second year and beyond.
“It is a tremendous privilege to have been entrusted with the stewardship of one of the most inspiring, forward-thinking pioneers of next-gen Maldives hospitality; I am excited to bring fresh impetus as Patina Maldives embraces the next stage of its perpetual journey to positively impact people and place,” said Antonio Saponara
After starting out in Food and Beverage Operations, Antonio moved to Phuket, Thailand to take up the role of Executive Assistant Manager of Aman flagship Amanpuri, Phuket, overseeing operations and launching a new restaurant in partnership with two Michelin star Chef Naoki Okumura, before taking over as Hotel Manager in 2008. After his time at Amanpuri, Antonio joined The Surin Phuket as General Manager, renovating the resort with famed architect Ed Tuttle and relaunching it following a complete rebranding and repositioning exercise.
Following his experience in Thailand, Antonio moved on to China, joining The Ritz-Carlton Shanghai, Pudong and later stepping up as the opening General Manager of the Bulgari Hotel Beijing. Remarkably, Antonio achieved profitability for Bulgari Hotel Beijing within the first month of operation, maintaining an unprecedented level of colleague and guest satisfaction throughout his tenure – including in 2020, despite the onset of Covid-19.
Prior to joining Capella Hotel Group, Antonio was the pre-opening General Manager of Bulgari Hotel & Residences Moscow, slated to open in December 2022.
Resort: Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi
Position: Director of Marketing & Communications.
Appointee: Anna Karas
What They Said: In her new role, Karas will use her expertise and passion for luxury brand standards towards the continued success of the resort where she will be responsible for overseeing all communications and marketing initiatives to continue to attract luxury leisure, business and group travelers.
Karas comes to Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi with over a decade of experience, including most recently at Mövenpick Resort Kuredhivaru Maldives as director of marketing & communications. Prior to joining Mövenpick Resort Kuredhivaru Maldives, Karas held key leadership roles at AYANA Hotels (Bali, Komodo Resort and Waecicu Beach), Kandima Maldives, W Maldives, Warwick Hotel Dubai and Anantara Hotels & Resorts, Maldives.
Karas received a Diploma in Visual Communication from London College of Communication, University of the Arts and a Master of Arts from John Paul II Catholic University, Lublin in Poland. In her spare time, Karas enjoys traveling, painting, graphic design, and diving.
Resort: Banyan Tree Vabbinfaru and Angsana Ihuru
Position: Executive Chef
Appointee: Sovan Das
What They Said: Sovan brings 20 years of culinary experience working with luxury brands in India, the United Arab Emirates, the Maldives, and the Caribbean, such as Taj, Alila, Radisson, and recently, The Palladium Resorts in the Caribbean.
His experience working in a multi-cultural environment gives him a strong background in various international cuisines such as Italian, French, Mediterranean, Pan American, East African, Pan Asian, Bangladeshi, Nepali, and Indian. The culinary team of both islands is excited to welcome new changes and additional flavors that he will bring in.
“We are excited to have Chef Sovan on board. We trust that the wealth of knowledge he brings with him will elevate the gastronomic experience of our guests,” said Kanruethai Roongruang, the General Manager of Banyan Tree Vabbinfaru and Angsana Ihuru.
Resort: Cora Cora Maldives
Position: Executive Chef
Appointee: Anuj Singh
What They Said: Chef Anuj has been mesmerised by cooking since he was a young child, and would frequently visit his father’s restaurant in Dehradun, a beautiful town in the mountains of Northern India. He was amazed by the impeccable presentation of each dish, and this inspired him to become a chef and finesse his own presentation skills when it came to refining the art of cooking.
As a skilled culinary professional, Chef Anuj has more than 20 years of experience in international and Asian cuisine. Including being Executive Sous Chef at the One & Only Reethi Rah with a team of 105 chefs and six outlets to manage, Chef Anuj worked across the country in various settings including fine dining and Italian establishments and worked with the renowned Chef Pitamber and Chef Roberto Mancini. He then worked at Le Meridien hotel in UAE in their Sea Food Restaurant then moved to the Maldives, where he has worked his way up from Commis Chef to Executive Chef over the past 13 years.
Chef Anuj is captivated by keeping up to date with culinary trends and learning more about different people’s eating habits. Over his lifetime, he has kept note of the trending dietary cuisines, such as veganism, using organic ingredients, or developing plant-based dishes. This has motivated him to create innovative recipes that not only taste delicious but also mean the more health-conscious guests or those with specific dietary requirements, have as many dishes to choose from as possible.
“I have found working in the Maldives has its challenges in the form of having to import many of the ingredients from the mainland and having a limited time frame to use them whilst they are fresh,” commented Chef Anuj.
“One of the most exciting prospects of working at Cora Cora Maldives is sourcing herbs, spices, fruits, and vegetables directly from the Chef’s Garden. I am thrilled to have the opportunity to work with my team to use these wonderful flavours to create extraordinary dishes for each of our guests. After all, food nourishes the soul! I am looking forward to working closely with the culinary team at Cora Cora Maldives and to help build them up in their careers, as many have done to me in the past.”