Hilton Colombo revs youth participation in hospitality

Friday, 27 May 2016 00:00 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

By Shehana Dain

In the backdrop of the imminent manpower scarcity in the Sri Lankan hospitality sector, Hilton Colombo on Wednesday hosted its third annual youth forum, boosting confidence and creating career awareness. du

Targeting over 400 students this year, the initiative is a part of Hilton Worldwide’s ‘Open Doors’ commitment, which aims to positively impact at least one million young people by 2019 and better prepare them to reach their full potential.

The program, spearheaded by Hilton Colombo General Manager Manesh Fernando – who firmly believes in investing in the future, having entered the hospitality industry as a management trainee himself – said: “Much of our energy is channelled towards selecting the best. As such, we go to great lengths to identify talent, and mould each and every member of our team to reach their true potential.”

The program, which saw participants from schools, hotel schools and management institutes addressed the fact that young people continue to face challenging employment prospects and ensured that they receive information and advice about the options available and the skills and attributes they will need once they embark on their chosen careers.

Outlining his thoughts on the importance of youth engagement in hospitality to the passionate gathering of youngsters, Fernando stated: “I have already spent 20 years working while you have at least 40 years ahead of you. You are the future of our country, you are future and hope of our country and that is the reason we as a team decided to do these programs three years ago and it has expanded. We have programs for the children of the military, we have done the same for own team members’ children, and also for hotel schools. Every month we are speaking to youth, at least 100 people, and in turn 1,200 people yearly. We are continually trying to improve our reach.”

Also addressing the forum was Hilton Colombo Director Human Resources Achala Soyza, who said that youngsters today were quite puzzled when the decisive juncture of career choice was presented to them.

“The young generation only looks at the surface when making a career goal but the real deal in making this decision involves much more than that. Making the best career choices involves knowing yourself and also what is important to you in life and ultimately you should know what your ultimate objective in life is,” Soyza stressed.6

She also pointed out that genuine passion was a focal point to enter the scope of hospitality as it transforms into impactful service aligning with Hilton’s core value of making memories.

Hilton Colombo also organised numerous youth related events targeting different groups in collaboration with ‘Room to Read,’ and 15 female A/L students from rural village in Moneragala were afforded an opportunity to experience a five-star hotel by staying one night at the hotel.

They were also given the opportunity to undergo a job shadowing programme in operational departments with the training and development team taking them through several key areas in the hotel and providing basic training.

Career guidance workshops and familiarisation tours were also conducted for selected groups of youth in the hotel, while key personnel from the hotel visited various hotel schools for knowledge sharing sessions.

Pix by Upul Abayasekara


Hotel Developers Chairman upbeat on refurbishment


Speaking to the Daily FT on the sidelines of the forum, Hotel Developers (Lanka) Plc Chairman Mr. Krishantha CoorayKrishantha Cooray said: “We are delighted to inform you that the new look Hilton Colombo will soon be open to the public with the completion of Phase I of the refurbishment project.”

Hotel Developers (Lanka) is the owning company of Hilton Colombo.

Cooray revealed that the Hilton would shortly introduce to the market the new look Lobby and Bar Lounge and the All Day Dining Restaurant with outdoor dining, refurbished to international standards in keeping up with the standards adopted by the Hilton Brand globally.

“Our objective is to create a new look that will be unique in the market, enhance the brand reputation and ensure Hilton Colombo meets the highest level of services expected by discerning customers. In order to expedite this project we have commenced the process of room refurbishment at Colombo Hilton, with a plan to complete 350 rooms inclusive of suites by the end of 2017,” asserted Cooray.

He added that by end 2017, Hilton Colombo is expected to substantially complete the refurbishment with the introduction of new restaurants with the latest design concepts in the region as well as state-of-the-art multi-function and banquet facilities to its product portfolio.

The introduction of the second ballroom, Blue, which was opened for operation in August last year was the first addition to the multi-function and banquet facilities to the hotel and it has proved to be a highly successful investment, he noted.