Ramada Bahrain general manager Rohan Karunaratne was recently named as the general manager of the year by Ramada International for 2001-2002. Karunaratne talks to Kamleshkumar Desai about his career which spans 26 years and his hotel.
Q. You have been named the general manager of the year by Ramada International. Can you tell us some details about the award.
A. I am happy at receiving the award. It is good to know that your work is appreciated. The award was announced at the Ramada's global brand conference in Shanghai, China, on July 26 which brings together managers and sales and marketing officers from all the group's properties across the world.
Q. You have been in Bahrain for a fairly long time. Tell us something about your career.
A. I joined Ramada Bahrain as the financial controller/ assistant general manager in 1989 and was appointed asset manager/ owner representative in January 1995. I took over as the general manager in May 1997 at the same time as Marriott took over the Ramada brand, a happy coincidence.
I also worked in various positions at other hotels including the Gulf hotel in Bahrain, Ramada in Dubai and the Le Meridien and Oberoi hotels in Sri Lanka. I have also worked on special systems implementation assignments at Ramada properties in UK, Prague and Germany.
Q. How is the hotel faring currently?
A. Ramada Bahrain Hotel has been reporting an average growth of 20 per cent in gross operating profit every year for the past five years. This year, our occupancy levels have averaged at 75 per cent and the room rates have held at $65. We were offering the annual special summer rates which has helped hold up occupancy levels.
Ramada Bahrain's growth is a planned achievement. Bahrain is a happening place - business is growing and many new activities are taking place.
Q. What is the key to the hotel's success?
A. Planning, patience and hard work. I have an excellent team and 43 per cent of the staff are Bahrainis. We have worked hard to create our own niche in the market.
Q. Ramada International is in expansion mode in the region after its recent deal. What makes a brand tick?
A. A brand is a promise. The brand offers consistent standards at all its hotels. A guest when he walks into Ramada in whatever city knows he will get the same standards.
All Ramada hotels maintain Ramada International's promise of Six Pillars, which include a restful sleep, an invigorating shower, a well-trained staff, an exceptional level of cleanliness, the "Ramada Mornings Breakfast" - a selection that is hot, delicious and easy, and the Spirit to Serve - a Marriott commitment to give back to the community. And Ramada inspectors regularly monitor member hotels to ensure the standards are met.
Q. What advice would you give youngsters wishing to take up a hotel industry career?
A. Look for the wider horizon. There are lots of opportunities in this industry but there is also lot of hard work. Strive for continuous development and you can keep growing. For the nearly 27 years that I have been in the industry, I have always had the same commitment and attitude to the job and that is important.