European Business: Mr. Stepetic, as the General Manager of the Gili Lankanfushi Eco Resort, based in a lagoon in the Indian Ocean, how do you react to the threat of global warming?
David Stepetic: Here at Gili Lankanfushi, we are lucky enough to exist within an incredibly beautiful but fragile environment. Situated within one of the Maldives’ largest natural lagoons, we can see first-hand the impact of climate change and are determined to tread lightly on the earth and promote a sustainable, conscious way of travel. Sustainability informs every decision we make on the island, and we aim to become ever more sustainable and environmentally conscious in the months and years to come.
European Business: What do you do to make your guests aware of their natural surroundings and how do you implement sustainability in your daily business?
David Stepetic: Many of our guests are very engaged with our sustainable ethos, and actively seek out ways in which to lessen their personal footprint on the earth. Our hosts are happy to chat with guests about the work that we do on the island, inviting them to visit our innovative Gili Veshi, our marine biology shack, to meet the marine biology team and participate in reef clean dives. In addition, our guests love to see our large organic garden, which produces much of the island’s herbs, salads and vegetables, where they can have a tour with the chef. Day to day, we try our best to reduce our impact on the planet, from building villas using recycled materials and sustainably-sourced plantation teak, to our innovative eco-centre which recycles all aluminium and glass and up to 100% of food waste. Our marine biology team monitor the oceans and conduct regular reef-clean dives, and we work with Parley to remove and recycle marine plastic.
European Business: What experiences do you offer your guest during their stay in your “Top 5 Hotel in the world (TripAdvisor Travellers’ Choice Awards)” and what do you recommend your guests to bring with them?
David Stepetic: Our guests are welcome to fill their days doing as much or as little as they choose. Some prefer to just relax in our lagoon hammocks and snooze in the sun, whilst others keep busy with surf lessons on spectacular local breaks, scuba diving our favourite reefs, snorkelling with manta rays, watching films in our outdoor Jungle Cinema or testing themselves on our tennis courts. We provide all guests with snorkels and flippers, have a fantastic island boutique and can fulfil most requests on demand so all our guests need to bring is themselves. We also have a ‘no news, no shoes’ philosophy, so there is no need to pack sandals!
European Business: Your philosophy is “Luxury in your own way, at your own pace”. What is the key to this philosophy and how do you implement it into your daily business?
David Stepetic: Here at Gili Lankanfushi we pride ourselves in providing attentive and friendly service within luxurious yet rustic surroundings. Our guests are encouraged to make themselves at home on the island; their time is entirely their own. Our wonderful hosts are there to ensure that each guest feel utterly taken care of, with every wish fulfilled, no matter how large or small; they are the epitome of this philosophy and the key to making Gili Lankanfushi the special place it is.
European Business: What is the best time in the year to visit your resort and how do your guests get there?
David Stepetic: The Maldives is a year-round destination. The months from November to April bring hot, sunny days with light ocean breezes, whilst the period from May to October brings more refreshing temperatures with the chance of the odd tropical storm or sprinkling of rain from time to time — making the island more green and lush than ever. We’re ideally located just a short speedboat ride from Velana International airport — avoiding the long delays and expense of seaplane transfers — so guests can wriggle their toes in the sand just 20 minutes after leaving the airport.
European Business: What do you personally associate with the Maldives and what do you like best about your job in this lovely place?
David Stepetic: With seven years of Maldives experience, I’m still drawn to the laidback atmosphere, wonderful people and spectacular sunsets. I’m very lucky that my job allows me to live in beautiful surroundings, spend my time helping our guests to make wonderful memories that last a lifetime, and most of all enjoy seeing people grow and develop.