Construction giant Sanken’s international arm, Sanken Overseas (Pvt) Ltd is planning to open its first US$ 50 million 120-room Maldivian Resort in the island of Havodda on January 14.
“This resort has been design-built and owned by us. The grand opening is on January 14th and many Sri Lankan, Maldivian and international dignitaries and businessmen are attending,” Sanken Overseas Special Projects Director Mevan Gunatilleke said.
The project marks the first leisure investment by Sanken Overseas as well, which has dozens of construction projects in the Maldives, Africa and the Middle East.
In Sri Lanka, the Sanken Group owns the Amaya Langdale and Cinnamon Red properties.
A 50 minute fixed-wing domestic flight from Male, followed by a 10 minute speedboat ride is required to reach the latest resort South of Male.
“The real experience in the Maldives is far away from Male,” Sanken Overseas Managing Director/CEO B. B. Kulupana said.
While Sanken Overseas owns 60 percent of the hotel and a foreign investor owns the remainder, the hotel will be operated by Thailand’s Onyx Group which also operates hotels in Sri Lanka under its Ozo and Amari brands.
The hospitality staff of Amari Havodda will number 300.
Gunatilleke said that it is planning on putting an equal effort in attracting the European and Asian tourism markets, and aiming for a 1st year occupancy level of 60 percent.
He added that the resort is an entry level 5-star property, with room rates between US$600-1200, with the two water villa suites fetching up to US$ 2,500. The resort has 58 water villas and 60 beach villas.
“This was the fastest construction and opening of a resort in the Maldives. We did it within a year’s time. Others take 7-8 years. The challenge for them is not operating the resort, but the logistics and construction of it. We had an edge over them because we came up with our own construction arm,” Gunatilleke noted.
He said that the construction workforce had been 700, most of them Sri Lankans, with an all-Sri Lankan engineering crew. The architect and interior designer for the project was France’s Miaja Design Group’s Managing Director Isabelle Miaja.
Gunatilleke said that the Havodda island has been taken on a 50-year lease directly from the Maldivian Government, and the project was financed through borrowings from Sri Lankan banks which were transferred with the permission of the Central Bank.
He said that the return on investment will be 5-6 years. The average return on investment in Maldivian resorts is between 8-10 years.
While Sanken Overseas is currently constructing 3 resorts in the Maldives with a total of 400 rooms for other clients, it is also planning to open a second majority owned 100-room resort by 2018, with the land being shortlisted, and to build a business hotel in Male which will come under the Ozo brand.
Sanken Overseas has been in the Maldives since 1985. Further, the company is planning to construct and own a resort in Fiji, in addition to its other commercial and residential building and power plant construction work for clients in its existing markets.
Sanken Overseas has construction totalling US$200 million for the foreseeable future, and for projects with its ownership, is planning to invest capital exceeding US$100 million.