W15 Weligama is the latest boutique hotel to open in Sri Lanka. It offers 10 exclusive and individually themed bedrooms. Each room has its own unique character and flavour waiting to be discovered and enjoyed by the guests.
W15’s inimitable dining experience, discreet attentive service, cutting edge design and architecture as well as the evening entertainment make it the place to be in Weligama Bay.
In this interview W15 Director Isabel Jamaldeen shares the mantra of W15. Following are excerpts:
Q: What made you capitalise on the concept of the boutique hotel?
A: The idea of a boutique hotel was always the way forward for us. We wanted to create an environment where guests would feel the comforts of luxury accommodation and service.
Keeping the number of rooms on a smaller scale means guests can enjoy the privacy and seclusion of our pool, gardens and restaurant while being just one step away from the lively surf culture Weligama Bay has to offer. Many of our rooms give onto a seafront view. This provides a perfect intimate setting to gaze at the breath-taking Sri Lankan sunsets that we are so lucky to bear witness to every evening.
Q: What makes W15 and your concept stand out from the other many boutique hotels around the island?
A: W15 stands out from other hotels not only in Weligama Bay, but also island wide, in its uniqueness, style and quality of service. Our main focus is to create a bond with our guests. A great deal of thought and planning has gone into the design of the rooms and the general aesthetics of the hotel. We strive for perfection and settle for nothing less.
Q: What is it you want people who stay at W15 to experience?
A: Guest relationship is our primary focus. All our guests experience a new level of customer service catering to their every need and desire. Attention to detail is paramount! Extensive research is performed by our team to provide that special touch upon arrival. In reality, our goal is to create a connection with the guests before they even set foot in the hotel. During their stay, we listen to our guests; our staff has learnt to pick out any detail that could really make a difference to their stay. From our guest reviews on TripAdvisor it has become clear that the personal feel of the hotel is what guests value the most. In conveying this, we have now been rated no.1 hotel in the bay, and this is before our official launching party! This is why we have such a high guest return rate.
Q: How do the local communities benefit from your presence in their small towns?
A: In proportion to the number of rooms we have on offer, we are employing a very large local staff. Thus, we provide excellent employment prospects for the local community. Our staff gain valuable skills through our extensive training programs, making them that much more employable. Although, we are a relatively new business our staff retention rate is no less than 100% for two reasons – firstly each member of the personnel are individual stakeholders in the hotel. Therefore, our employees understand that the more they invest themselves in the hotel, the more they will get out of it. Secondly, we focus on ensuring that our staff progress internally. We recruited only driven candidates whose potential could be fully extracted. Therefore, the idea of a promotion is never out of their reach.
We really value our staff at W15: meals and accommodation are provided and tips are sufficient to cover their daily cost. That way their full salary and service charge is a saving for them. This is just another example of how our staff can plough back into the local community. Furthermore, we are helping raise the standards of Weligama Bay by providing a next level of accommodation. Finally, as Weligama attracts all levels of surfers, we are not only providing surf lessons with very keen students but, most importantly, we have found that local and foreign surfers are learning from each other.
Q: What would you say is your mantra at W15?
A: Attention to detail and a personalised touch. At W15 we do not just go the extra mile to make our guests feel welcome; we do everything in our power to create a taste of paradise. W15 Restaurant is a vital player in the business. Our high calibre menu is one of the many components that maintain the standards of the hotel. You could enjoy any of our food and beverages while relaxing on the sun beds or chilling in the shisha garden.
Connection is key for us. Our chef personally welcomes and introduces guests to what we have on offer in the restaurant. It is even possible for guests to hand pick sea food that may have attracted their eye and bring it back to the restaurant for it to be cook to the individual taste. Anything is possible at W15.
Q: What are the features/components/elements that you look for when you choose a location for your properties?
A: When scouting a beach property it needs to have certain invaluable characteristics: swimmable water, soft sandy beaches, white sand, and ideally it should be on a secluded bay. As has been mentioned, we capitalise on attention to detail and on providing our guests with a ‘home away from home’ feel. Therefore, when selecting a location you want to be asking yourself what is it that is needed to meet these goals. Where would be the perfect spot for you to feel both seclusion and a touch of local culture?
It is a balance between swimmable water and great surf, privacy but not exclusion. Ultimately we are all looking for the same thing in a holiday destination! These features have all been encompassed in this wonderful spot in Weligama. It certainly does tick all the boxes.
Q: With W15 slated for success, can you share your plans of other property developments in the near future?
A: Alongside W15, we are also launching high quality villas at the heart of Colombo in Alexandre Villas 9 (www.av15.lk). This is a 24-room property off Marine Drive. Similarly to W15 and a recurring theme in our properties, all rooftops at AV15 give onto a stunning view of the Indian Ocean. AV15 caters to like-minded travellers and businessmen looking to explore and operate in Colombo.