Skift Take

EHL Hospitality Business School believes its new center on Fari Campus could help hotels retain employees for longer with a bespoke education program. It's certainly one way to solve the labor shortage.

Marriott brand Ritz-Carlton and Patina Hotels & Resorts claim they are together pioneering a new employee training program with the EHL Hospitality Business School in the Maldives.

The historic Swiss education specialist is making its debut in the Indian Ocean island paradise, working alongside Singapore-based property developer Pontiac Land Group, which has established a new three-year program to help the two hotels train, as well as retain, employees.

EHL’s apprenticeship traditionally lasts 18 months, but this bespoke program has a longer duration in a bid to keep students for longer.

The Fari Islands archipelago is 40 minutes north of capital Male by speedboat, and includes The Ritz-Carlton Maldives, and Patina Maldives. The archipelago also features Fari Marina, built around Fari Beach Club, which has shops and restaurants.

Nearby island Fari Campus, however, will act as a training ground for the resorts. It has living quarters, recreational facilities and amenities including a full-sized soccer pitch.

“There’s nothing like this in the Maldives,” said Sidhant Bedi, consultant at EHL Advisory Services. “It will benefit the new employees as well as the existing employees who don’t have any formal certification. It helps Patina and Ritz-Carlton retain people, because attrition is a big concern over there. We worked out a unique concept.”

The first batch graduated on April 12, after completing the initial Foundation level. Bedi added that research showed student numbers weren’t that high at surrounding universities. Part of the challenge was access, with complex commutes involved from other islands.

“A solution like this really works,” he said.

Green Loan

At the same time, Pontiac Land Group has converted $180 million in bank loans for the Fari projects into green loans, upon achieving EDGE Advanced Certifications, an international green building standard developed by the International Finance Corporation.

This conversion is a form of green financing, where sustainability targets must be met. Skift highlighted this financial mechanism as a megatrend in 2022, and it’s proved popular with other companies like hotelier CitizenM and China’s recently.

It’s Pontiac’s first so-called green loan, and with the certification claims Fari Islands will be recognized as being “zero carbon ready.”

Initiatives include using solar panels on villa roofs, replacing traditional thatched structures; offsite manufacturing technology, known as mass engineered timber, that reduce carbon emissions by 6,000 tonnes after production and transportation; and biophilic designs that support cross ventilation and take into consideration natural wave movements.

Instead of importing trees from other countries, builders transplanted them from neighbouring islands that were cleared for development. More than 20,000 mature trees were rescued in the process.

“We expect to see more companies tapping into green finance to realise their low-carbon transition,” said Regina Lee, head of commercial banking at HSBC Singapore, which was involved in the financing.

However, Pontiac said that while people and communities are one of the three pillars of sustainability, alongside the environmental and the economic considerations, the dedicated Fari Campus staff training island was not a specific condition for green financing.

Pontiac now wants the campus to become a “center of excellence” for hospitality training in the Indian Ocean.

EHL also works with ITC Hotels and Taj in India on training staff, but is in early stage discussions with Pontiac about rolling the scheme out to other locations too.


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Tags: EHL group, hospitality schools, india, labor, maldives, marriott, ritz-carlton, taj hotels

Photo credit: A Patina Maldives villa. Picture: Patina Hotels & Resorts. Patina

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