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John Keells trendsetters win 12 key Sri Lanka Tourism Awards


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John Keells Leisure Group emerged at the forefront of the annual Sri Lanka Tourism Awards held on the 30th of August 2012 by winning 12 key awards across its three Sectors: City Hotels, Resort Hotels, and Destination Management Companies.



Once again Walkers Tours Limited won the most prestigious award in the Inbound Category for the ‘Best Inbound Tour Operator (large category)’.

Michael Elias, CEO, Walkers Tours stated, “We have proved again that we are the best in the business. Our strength lies in an innovative and dynamic management team supported by a knowledgeable and passionately dedicated staff. I am immensely proud of them.”  

Displaying the Company’s strength in e-marketing and multiple channel promotion, Walkers Tours also bagged the award for the ‘Best Tourism Website’ for the second consecutive year. Hall of fame members Whittall Boustead Travel Limited, the sole agent for Kuoni in Sri Lanka, snapped up the award for the ‘Best Destination Loyal Partner – Conventional Category’. Underlining the quality of service provided by Walkers Tours and Whittall Boustead Travel, a number of national and chauffeur guide lecturers who work exclusively with the sector won four of the six awards for  excellence in service: Most Outstanding National Guide Lecturer – Adventure (Nalaka Pallipana), Most Outstanding National Guide Lecturer - Nature/Wildlife (Aloy Diaz), Best Chauffeur Guide Lecturer (Ranjith Sudasinghe), Best Chauffeur Guide Lecturer - Culture & Heritage (Ajith Wijesinghe).

Vasantha Leelananda, Executive Vice President of the John Keells Group and Head of the Inbound Travel Companies stated, “We are delighted to be recognised as the leader in the Inbound Travel Industry in Sri Lanka. As Sri Lanka’s leading Destination Management Company, we constantly strive to excel in what we do and raise the bar at every given opportunity, keeping in line with global best practices. Our visionary and bold strategies have resulted in our venturing into new markets, whilst sustaining excellence in service standards. We are the only company to have ISO 9001 and 14001 accreditation and our ethos has been to work closely with the community and stakeholders to ensure sustainability of our business. The fact that four of our awards were won by our National Guide and Chauffeur Guide Lecturers stands testimony to this. I would like to dedicate this award to all our associates, our overseas partners, and suppliers who have stood by us closely through the 43 year legacy of Walkers Tours”.

Cinnamon Lakeside Colombo was recognised as the ‘Best Five Star City Hotel’ for the second consecutive year. Innovation was the key contribution for winning this category. The launch of 8°on the Lake, the first purpose built floating venue, has added an edge to the hotel’s persona. Cinnamon Lakeside Colombo’s success at the Sri Lanka Tourism Awards takes the hotel to further heights after the recent success on an international stage both with the Green Globe recertification and winning Best Luxury Hotel Sri Lanka at the Business Destinations Awards 2012.

The luxury spa at Cinnamon Lakeside Colombo, Azmaara Spa was also recognised as the ‘Best Host Hotel/ Establishment Spa’ for the second consecutive year. “We are proud to win two coveted awards for the second year in a row. We look forward to taking the Cinnamon brand further,” said Denis Gruhier, General Manager, Cinnamon Lakeside Colombo.

John Keells Resorts bagged three coveted awards at the Awards. Winning the award for the ‘Best Five Star Resort’ was Cinnamon Lodge Habarana. Situated just 176 kilometres from Colombo, the resort is luxurious, but remains uncompromisingly eco-friendly. It is the only five star resort located within the cultural triangle that has artfully blended history and culture into spaces, having used Sri Lanka’s ancient architectural features and incorporated that into the concept of the resort, which fittingly sits within the cultural triangle. Adding the five star hospitality and luxury features is a mix that is unique and unparalleled.

Named as a tribute to the surrounding milieu of the Yala National Park, which houses the highest density of leopards in Asia, Chaaya Wild Yala was named as the ‘Best Accommodation unit/Establishment’ under the category of ‘Nature and Wildlife’. Whether it is the beautiful villu full of fluttering birds or Leopard in the distance, Chaaya Wild has an unending vista for any guest to enjoy. At Chaaya Wild, what remains constant is the fact that each aspect of the product on offer is symbolic of the intricacies and beauty of the wild and therefore designed to ensure that the natural look and feel will always remain undisturbed.

 “Chaaya Wild believes wholeheartedly in the concept of responsible tourism, where businesses practice a brand of tourism that benefits both humankind and the fauna and flora and where the business, through its actions, reduces its carbon footprint with minimum disturbance to the natural phenomena in its locality. The benefits must be tangible and permeate even to the community which is impacted by the organisation’s very presence,” said Mr. Jayantissa Kehelpannala, Sector Head for John Keells Sri Lankan Resorts.

Ajit Gunewardene, Deputy Chairman, JKH and President of the John Keells Leisure Group stated, “The winning of 12 key awards at the Sri Lanka Tourism Awards 2011 is a clear indication that John Keells Group has maintained its position as the Trendsetter in the hospitality trade. That is an honour that we not only cherish but will also ensure we keep into the future”.


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