Jetwing Hotels – What Makes Them So Different? 0 1292

A warm and friendly nature reflected in tireless smiling faces, and willingness to help those unaware with phases of local life. From the beautiful beaches of the South-Western coast to the toe tapping and exuberant Kandyan dances, along with the majestic and ancient architecturally and archeologically distinguished cities. Bright, sunny warm days are in abundance and are common even during the height of the monsoon. The humble desire to share this experience of heartfelt warmth and the true hospitality of the people living in the small miracle in the Indian Ocean called Sri Lanka, a homely villa was built named Blue Oceanic, which is now the Jetwing Blue, with just six rooms in the early 1970s facing the sandy beaches in the Negombo City.

Hiran-CoorayA simple dream of sharing the uniqueness of this beautiful island, one of the largest, most respected, and recognized tourism organizations were born. Herbert Cooray – a visionary, a pioneer of tourism in Sri Lanka and the founding father of Jetwing, the largest family of hotels and villas across Sri Lanka, opened its doors to the world welcoming them to a family of hotels like no other.

Inspired by Herbert Cooray, his son Hiran joined Jetwing as soon as he completed his education graduating from the University of North Carolina, USA, prior to which he studied at St. Joseph’s in Colombo. Following family tradition seems to be established. Just like Hiran his sister Shiromal took up their father’s legacy. At 29 years of age, Herbert Cooray left his job to join the family business N. J. Cooray Builders – a building construction company which was founded by Herbert’s father, Jeremias.

The founding principles his father inculcated in Hiran and the family have today become the very pillars that Jetwing group operates on: “…Passion, Honesty, Integrity and Tenacity – these were the values my father instilled in us throughout our lives and they continue to be the Jetwing family philosophy. It is the secret of our success. I have the incredible honor and the responsibility now to do justice to his legacy.

The essence of simplicity and modest allure, Hiran is a son who continues to do his father proud.

BiZnomics had the pleasure of speaking to the veteran hotelier HIRAN COORAY of his journey and experience gained throughout.

Q: What was the foundation for Jetwing?

A: It all started with my dad in 1973. He started off with the Blue Oceanic Hotel in Negombo with just six rooms and later moved on to further rooms. It was just a simple beginning eventually created the Jetwing family. It was a time that no one really thought of tourism, and for some reasons it progressed quite well for the next 10 years. Then he moved onto building Royal Oceanic. Blue Oceanic now goes as Jetwing Blue and the Royal Oceanic is Jetwing Beach. During those 10 years my dad probably would have owned about five hotels. Although towards the ‘80s the troubles broke out, it didn’t really stop him from expanding. In fact, that was the time he started Jet Travels, which eventually became Jetwing Travels at the end of the 1980s.

Q: How did young Hiran get involved in the whole thing?

A: Being a Josephian, my only interest was in cricket at that time. I was the Vice-Captain of the school team and represented the Sri Lanka Schools as well. However, I realized there would be no future in cricket so that I concentrated on my studies. I went to North Carolina, Greensboro University and came back in 1987. It was also my father’s decision that made me come back. 1987- 1989 probably would have been the worst two years of history, having riots breaking out all over the country on top of the ongoing civil war but my father wanted me to come back and that’s just what I did. A degree doesn’t really tell you anything when it comes to practical knowledge. Within a year he made me the Managing Director, my father’s words were “if Castro could control a country at the age of 25, why is it difficult for you to run a company at the same age?”

Q: What are the set of goals for Jetwing?

A: What we want is to be the ‘Best service provider in the country’. In whichever way we expand we want to be the best at it. As my father used to say, provide a legendary service. In order to provide it, we have to look after our staff as much as we look after our guests. That is one of the main goals and we work on that continuously. We have been pioneering in to different new areas of tourism. We were the first to build hotels in Galle in 1995. Other than New Oriental (now Amangalla) there was nothing else. My father built there when everyone said it was going to be a failure. We started Lighthouse which is an iconic hotel in Galle. Then we went to Wellawaya when people questioned why? Again we educated people in Sri Lanka why one should visit Wellawaya. We then built in Potuvil. It is a Muslim village in the deep South East corner of Sri Lanka. People always have that question as to why? We built in Jaffna. We were the first company from the South to go to Jaffna. There were hotels there of course, but we were the first to go from this end. We have the pioneering spirit, creating opportunities and taking the lead.

Almost all our hotels were in the high-end category, but now we are working on the budget brand. We were the first to introduce that as well in 2013 called Hotel J in Negombo. Now there are three budget hotels, Hotel J Ambalangoda, Negombo and Unawatuna.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It is quite similar to a low cost carrier. You will have to buy everything apart from the seat provided in the aircraft. Similarly our brand provided at hotel J is a clean room, clean bathroom, air conditioning, WiFi, and safety. If you are a single female traveler, you must feel safe in a room. That is the five brand promises we give at hotel J. Everything else including carrying your own bag is your responsibility. And you will have to purchase everything including the bottle of water in to the room.

Hiran-CoorayQ: How do you maintain the standards of the company and its employees?

A: Continuous training. We have to be at it every day.

Q: Do you have a gender balance in your organization?

A: We are the only organization that has five female General Managers. We are very proud of that they do an amazing job. The fact that we have females in this position motivated others to improve themselves to achieve their goals. We started these 20 years ago and it is not a new concept for us. All our staff has the opportunity to grow in the company. A good example is the Manager at Jetwing Sea, who started as a security guard. We allow people to develop and it also should be in them to develop themselves by taking the opportunities.

Q: If a female employee is sexually harassed, how would it be handled?

A: We have very strict rules on those. We educate our staff on what can be said and what cannot be said, how important it is to behave in certain ways in the company. Even a simple touch is not allowed. It is a serious offence in the company and we take disciplinary action against such behavior.

Q: How does the political uncertainty affect foreign investments in our country?

A: Government policies are essential to attract foreign investors. Whenever a government changes policies change and can discourage that investors in tourism and other fields. We are sons of the soil so we have left with no choice. When foreign investors know that our policies change every time a government changes, they will not think of a long term or a safe investment environment in this country.

Q: How likely is it that a customer recommends your hotel to another?

A: We make sure the service we provide is of no comparison. The relationship we maintain with the local community, what we do to preserve the environment, all those factors are important to place your high up in the industry. People are very much aware of the environmental impact and community involvement. If you genuinely do that, look after the local community, employ and create opportunities for the local community and also look after the environment, and you showcase it, the customer who studies and buys a product will always choose the right one over others. That’s one of the very obvious difference between Jetwing and others.

We have a programme called JYDP ‘Jetwing Youth Development Programme’ which we started in the year 2006 and up to now we proudly say we have trained nearly one thousand youngsters in the hospitality industry and the English language.

Q: A little bit more on the political side. What do you think is the future status of this country?

A: My wish is that the private sector will not be dependent on politicians. The private sector has a very important role to play, irrespective of who is in leadership. The private sector must continue to play the role. The private sector should not get involved in lobbying and directing politicians. A politician should look at the country in the long term aspect, viability, sustainability of the country, and I will support anyone who thinks long term, not only till they serve the number of years. Sadly they think short term.

Q: What are your thoughts on taxation?

A: We live out of this land; hence we have to pay something for that. As long as it is bearable it is fine. I mean the Government provides certain facilities free like medical and education. That is a huge cost to the government. Somebody has to pay for it. We can’t really be borrowing to pay for those essential requirements.

I am very much against giving free higher education. Maybe the government should provide a loan facility at a very low interest rate to pay off in a certain number of years, as students have no value over what they get free. When you are given free education, they expect the government to find them a job as well. What can they actually do for themselves in that case? As a youth you should not be a burden to the country. Appreciate what you get and learn to stand on your own feet. The Government educates them free, give degrees free, and then as it is, a job should follow. How unreasonable can they be?

Value what you get free; at the same time be a responsible citizen, not a burden to the country. That’s something I very strongly believe. Appreciate what the country is doing for you. It is all our taxed money that the Government is utilizing on their education. They should at least appreciate that fact.

Q: What is the biggest people problem you are facing right now?

A: Leaving the country. After training them so hard when they leave, it hurts the company.

In a nutshell

Q: One word that describes you best?
A: Down-to-earth

Q: What are your three biggest accomplishments?
A: Number one: I am blessed with three great sons.Number two: Carrying on what my father started and adding value to the tourism industry in this country.
Number three: Being chosen as the Chairman of the Pacific Asia Travel Association the only Sri Lankan to be chosen from a small island to chair that organization for two years.

Q: What animal do you like most?
A: I am a bird watcher. It is fascinating to see their colors. I get much inspiration through that.

Q: What do you do outside work?
A: Watching cricket matches and I like walking.

Q: On a scale of 1-10 how lucky are you?
A: 10 definitely.

Q: What kind of books do you read?
A: I love reading management books, religious books, biographies and sports.

Q: If I am to take over your position, what advice would you give me?
A: Be humble, willing to learn and an honest leader.

Q: When it is all over, how do you want to be remembered?
A: A simple man who tried to make a difference (laughingly).

By: Chantal D.
Photography by: Nuwan Ranaweera

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Brand Ambassador of Aquafresh Dr.Natalie Cooke Comments Off on Brand Ambassador of Aquafresh Dr.Natalie Cooke 34

Dr.Natalie CookeDr. Natalie Cooke is the first medical doctor to be associated with Aquafresh Sri Lanka. She holds a Degree in Medicine & Surgery and has returned to Sri Lanka with a motive of serving our country. She has served at the Sri Lankan Army Hospital in the field of Plastic Surgery and Aesthetic Medicine as well as the National Cancer Hospital Maharagama and she is the first South Asian doctor to be certified in Nutritive Medicine by Mayo Clinic, USA.

 

Doctor, could you please tell us about what you do and your specialty?

 

 

I use Food as Medicine, in different forms of fruits and vegetables juices, water etc. I use protocols for Diabetes Reversal, Cholesterol Treatment, Fertility Treatment, Cancer Management, and all Chronic Diseases.

Most Chronic Diseases now have no answer or it is a life long struggle of medication with many side effects. With what I do, it’s Drugless, Chemical Free and it works.

 

 

What makes you endorse Aquafresh Sri Lanka?

 

I choose products which are natural and chemical free, which is why I use Aquafresh.

Aquafresh is a well-known, Sri Lankan based Bottled Drinking Water Brand and it’s straight from the hands of mother nature. The water is extracted from the Aquifer in Labugamkanda rainforest, located 200ft beneath the bedrock. The purity is such that it can be consumed straight from the aquifer. 

However, Aquafresh purifies this water though the biological purification process, designed by Professor Harin Corea of University of Peradeniya. With four steps, Aquafresh has mimicked the nature’s way of purifying water. The Steps are: Aeration, Slow sand filtration, Micron Filtration and UV Ray Treatment. This process does not involve any chlorine or other chemicals.

Cont..

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Aquafresh – Water that is pure as nature intended it to be! 0 684

Aquafresh 01

Pure, natural, and hygienic drinking water bottled under the brand name Aquafresh by Access Natural Water (Pvt) Ltd. which extracts its supplies from deep ground water sources in a rain forest in the Labugamkanda mountains, like all modern health trends is gaining rapid popularity among people seeking a healthier addition to their lifestyles. The unique water with no added chemicals whatsoever contains all natural mineral balances and the bottling company relatively enjoys various standards from accredited authorities which have guided the company to uplift its quality of work.

Mr. Christopher Joshua | Managing Director, Access Natural Water (Pvt) Ltd.
Mr. Christopher Joshua | Managing Director, Access Natural Water (Pvt) Ltd.

BiZnomics met Access Natural Water (Pvt) Ltd. Managing Director Christopher Joshua who started.  “We launched our company in the year 2000 at a time marketing bottled water in Sri Lanka was unthinkable as it was freely available, and in addition there were a few bottled water manufacturers in operation as well”. The Access Group identifying the need for pure, good quality drinking water, in its quest found an aquifer – a layer of soil which retains water – the perfect source in fine deep springs in Labugamkanda in a geologically unique rain forest. The natural springs 200 feet below surface are protected by impermeable upper and lower confining layers, making the aquifer water pure as nature intended it to be.

Continued Managing Director Christopher Joshua, “We put up an environmental friendly factory and bottling plant in the location of the springs from where pure water is extracted, avoiding contamination through surface contact”. Yet in keeping with manufactory requirements to purify bottled water through a certified process before marketing, the company invested in a biological purification process adopting the four steps: aeration, slow sand filtering, micron filtering, and UV treatment which preserves the natural mineral balance at the aquifer.

The company was meticulous in selection of its stainless-steel machinery to ensure that rust and corrosion do not rise. The machines which are oil and grease free have been manufactured at optimum level on schedules in conformity to the company’s certifications and standards: SLS 894, ISO 9001, ITQI Brussels that specify requirements to consistently provided products and services that meet customer and regulatory requirements. The ISO 22000 certification and the Dutch HACCP encourage the organization to identify hazards which might occur in the food products process and to take stringent action to prevent same. Meanwhile the American FDA allows the company to sell water in the European market.

Aquafresh 03

Following the success of the 5 gallon polycarbonate dispenser bottle introduced to the market in 2001 the iconic range of PET bottles came on four years later. The 200 ml bottles in contrast to the 5 gallons are not re-filled. Washing of bottles before re-filling is a fully automated process with the adoption of high pressure nozzles, disinfectants, hot water, chlorine water and lastly drinking water. Managing Director Christopher Joshua says, “The unique design of the PET bottle, which is a first in

the country, revolutionized the bottle industry. Bottled water regulations require drinking water in transparent bottles. Tetrapack (paper) is not allowed although a few glass bottles are in use”. The bottling method for both PET and FG (five gallon) is fully automated and so is the labelling.

The client base of Aquafresh is over 5000 comprising both domestic consumers and corporates including the United Nations’ Organization office, Sri Lankan Airlines, Nestle, Kingsbury, Softlogic, and international chains such as Subway, Burger King, Coffee Bean, Gloria Jean’s Coffees and Bread Talk all which have opted for the superior quality, smooth and refreshing taste, exclusive packaging and the exceptional service that enhances its value – attributes that have garnered  Aquafresh Sri Lanka to be the undisputed leader in the local bottled water industry.

The company engages in advertising campaigns on cable TV, radio, newspapers and magazines. In addition, based on a consumer educative concept, its Lorries travel across the island, are branded. Monthly promotions on selected locations in the Western Province and social media campaigns of Facebook and Instagram are also carried out. This propaganda consistently communicates the quality standards, certification and accolades of Aquafresh water.

 

In a move to repay nature for her bounty of pure water, the staff of Access Natural Water (Pvt) Ltd has planted trees around the area, established herb gardens which are diligently maintained and cared for, in accordance with environmental laws and regulations. But their gratitude to nature goes far beyond that. Since the area of its bottling plant is of great importance in maintaining the forest surrounding, the company deeply cares for its environment and strives to do what is best for it always.

Aquafresh 05
On Left – Mr. Shanil Perera – Chief Operating Officer On Right – Mr. Gamini Kalubowila – General Manager

Aquafresh is the only Sri Lankan brand of alkaline drinking water in the market. Alkaline water in known to contain many health benefits with the key element being that it works against acidifies in the body, contributing towards prevention of illness and disease. Director/Chief Operating Officer Shanil Perera states: “The uniqueness of Aquafresh is many. We have invested in the mechanisms required to provide the nature’s gift of pure water to our customers. We live by our slogan and intention; ‘bringing nature to life’. The natural vital minerals in Aquafresh, iron, calcium carbonate, magnesium carbonate, sodium, potassium, sulphates, and silicon bring health benefits and goodness in every sip.

Seeking business ventures in uncertain times requires exertion of new super human strength of the organization’s director. Aquafresh of the Access Group of the companies has led a new course of sustainability while navigating changes in the now fast moving bottled water industry.

Demand is growing as a result with rising consumer confidence. Consumers see brands as a social status symbol; they want aspirational brands which create a window of opportunity for Aquafresh. All these factors make the market extremely attractive for the immediate future for Access Natural Water (Pvt) Ltd.

By: T.V. Perera
Photography By: Eranga Pilimatalawwe