Cancellations and resignations after Iru Fushi Resort terminates Hilton contract

Sun Travel and Tours has abruptly terminated its agreement with hotel giant Hilton to manage the Maldives Iru Fushi Resort leading to the resignation of 30 employees at the property, staff have alleged.  The termination has also led to some guests cancelling their bookings at the property with local operators.

Hilton said that its agreement to run the resort was cancelled officially on May 3 by the Sun Travel and Tours company.

“The cessation of Hilton Worldwide’s management of that resort was unforeseen and due to factors outside its control,” the hotel chain said in an official statement.

A staff member at the Noonu Atoll-based resort, who asked to remain anonymous, alleged the property’s owners had given Hilton barely 24 hours notice before terminating the agreement.

The staff member said Sun had given little information for the reason for the termination, stating that Hilton’s management team was notified on April 30 that their services would no longer be required.

According to a letter sent to staff that was seen by Minivan News, Sun took over management of the property on May 1 and began removing all Hilton branding from the resort, which will now be known as the Maldives Iru Fushi Resort and Spa.

“As I understand, management were informed by letter at about 3:00pm on April 30 that the owners would be taking over. Even Hilton did not know what was happening. There is a lot of shock, it is a very smoothly run resort,” the resort source claimed.

Despite a pledge by management at Sun Travel and Tours management to retain all staff at the site, the staff member said some employees were now concerned about their job security.

The staff member said 30 of an estimated 500 staff employed at the resort has resigned in the four days following the termination of the Hilton contract. Bookings had already been cancelled due to of the loss of the Hilton name, the source said, while other guests were already in the process of trying to amend their bookings.

Sources at several large local travel operators based in Male’ confirmed to Minivan News today that some bookings for the property had already been cancelled.

Peaceful handover

The resort staff member praised Hilton’s conduct in handing the property over in a peaceful manner, claiming that the company had in some cases offered to transfer guests to the company’s other resort in the country, Conrad Maldives Rangali Island.

“Hilton have been so patient in this matter and left the place so professionally. Although its GM had left, the management urged us not to resign right away and to think of our families,” the source claimed.

After Hilton management were informed of the cessation of the management agreement, the source alleged the company was given less than 24 hours to vacate the premises, with access to the site’s computer equipment and offices cut off by 12:00pm the following day (May 1).

“I am a Maldivian myself, but I am ashamed of these guys and the way in which they have [taken over management],” the source claimed.

No statement from Sun

Sun Travels and Tours Pvt Ltd is owned and operated by MP Ahmed Shiyam, a local businessman and media magnate, who last year founded his own political party known as the Maldives Development Alliance (MDA).

Shiyam was not responding to calls at time of press, though senior MDA official Ali Mauroof recommended Minivan News contact Abdulla Thamheed, “our general manager” at the resort.

Thamheed later requested that media inquiries on the resort be addressed to Sun Travel and Tours offices in Male’. Minivan News was still awaiting a response from the company at time of press, which had yet to release an official statement as of May 5.

Political activities: TEAM

The Tourism Employees Association of Maldives (TEAM) meanwhile claimed it had received complaints from workers at the resort before and after the termination of the Hilton management agreement concerning attempts to politicise staff.

TEAM Secretary General Mauroof Zakir alleged he had received several reports of widespread uncertainty at the resort from staff, alleging a number of guest rooms were being provided to MDA supporters and members.

“The resort’s operations are being jeopardised by a complete lack of understanding as to who are paying guests and where people are staying,” he alleged. “It sounds like a real mess there at the moment.”

Zakir said that TEAM had also received complaints by staff concerned over job security at the resort amid reports that individuals signing up to the MDA were being offered employment at the site.

“More than this, there is the direct damage to the industry of losing a major name like Hilton from the country,” he claimed. “We haven’t heard anything from the Tourism Ministry about this and will be looking to meet authorities over the matter tomorrow.”

Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture Ahmed Adheeb and Deputy Tourism Minister Mohamed Maleeh Jamal were not responding to calls from Minivan News at time of press.

The staff member meanwhile claimed that during the second day of working under the new resort management, a speedboat belonging to MP Shiyam had arrived with an entourage of people who had been campaigning for the MDA on nearby local islands.

“This party have been staying here with the owner [MP Shiyam] while they conduct political activities,” claimed the source.

As well as using the resort’s offices for MDA administrative matters such as photocopying and producing promotional material, the member of staff alleged that politicisation of the resort had been ongoing even while Hilton was in charge of site.

“Management have already hired two new guys linked to [MDA]. As I understand they were employed without undergoing any of the regular formal processes. Those who are here do not feel this is a safe place to work right now,” the source alleged.

Police called over harassment of female guests

Police Spokesperson Chief Inspector Hassan Haneef meanwhile confirmed that police had attended the resort on May 4 in response to allegations that three female Maldivians staying at the resort had been harassed.

Haneef said police arrived at the site yesterday afternoon to investigate after receiving a complaint from resort management over alleged harassment of some guests by an unidentified suspect.

He claimed that police had insufficient information to identify a suspect at the time of press.

The resort source alleged police had been called to the resort over allegations of attempted sexual assault of female guests on Friday (May 3) by an individual he claimed was part of the resort owner’s group.

“This individual entered the room belonging to these ladies and threatened them if they tried to make a noise,” the source alleged. “They managed to scare the man off and he escaped. These ladies complained and the police were called. This person was not a guest,” he said.


24 thoughts on “Cancellations and resignations after Iru Fushi Resort terminates Hilton contract”

  1. as an employee there, we are very shocked, saddened and angry by the sudden and uninformed change of management. already we are being pressured to sign the mda party..

  2. I hope Hilton sues on wrongful termination grounds. Sounds completely unprofessional and is being run unprofessionally now.

  3. Just like the GMR issue. Its just a continuation of irresponsible thinking we have.

    In few years, we would be nothing...shame on you Suntravel, shame on you

  4. Surgical strike on enemy supply line successful. Ensure that the enemy regime will have no profit from this whatsoever.

  5. It WAS a wonderful resort.

    to have Hilton run it also means most certain good quotas every year.

    I wonder how well they will run now on, but I am certainly not going there anymore.

  6. This is more damaging than you can imagine to the reputation of the Maldives as a whole. Do they think the guests will not notice or write about what happened ? The government should step in on this !!! This country is going down the toilet fast.

  7. Just another coup in Maldives. We have a coup government and all they can teach people is to bring coups. First it's the government, next airport and now Iru Fushi.

  8. WTF? I cant beleive Hilton is leaving or rather..left silently.. but then again, thats the difference between the well educated and the barbarians.. Shiyam would have been drunk off his feet while he made this decision.. and knowing shiyam, can any staff confirm if he is sleeping with one of the activist woman there? usualy his show off starts from that point... now who will want to invest in Maldives? This is pure shock. Shiyam can never run the property like hilton. his standards lie in the bottle on his table.

  9. Yes very smart, kick out one of the biggest names in the Maldives no warning nothing. Dam fools, I hope this bites them hard. After GMR and now this I'm sure there is going to be some serious rethinking before investing in this hole.

  10. Just like GMR Kick out, whack the investors assets, the power of coup backers to loot indiscriminately...

  11. Well, was this contract termination ab initio? I feel sorry for people trying to grow up industries in Maldives. Some people need to learn difference between terminating a contract and kicking a company out.

  12. I visited Iru Fushi before Hilton took over, and I visited it several times when the Hilton were managing the island. This is a beautiful island and the changes and improvements that Hilton brought to the place were undeniable. They brought new ideas, new concepts, a professional team giving professional service and this will now be such a loss to the Hilton, the Maldives and it's regular guests alike. I think that what has happened to the many staff is disgusting and I can only hope that they find suitable positions elsewhere in the Maldives. I personally hope that Sun, and the new managemet running the island, run the place into the ground. I very much doubt they have the competencies to make the place work without a large international brand to help them along - and I hope they lose clients because of it. They bring Hilton in to make the improvements it needed and then kick them out just as quickly - disgusting - Sun, you don't deserve this property....I won't be coming back now.

  13. Another 'ab initio contract' termination!? How many more would we see? Baaghee style Contract administration in Baaghee land, aka the Maldive Islands.

  14. What a shame!!! Such a beautiful resort with fantastic team, may be Shiyam thinks that this would increase his support base, but, No WAY!!! Does he really know how much Hilton paid as service charge in to the pocket of his fellow Islanders, I bet he is not gonna pay the same like hilton did.

    People want a work place free from Harassement and political intimidation, truely Shiyam and his people cant give this!!! Such a Shame with the GM they brought in as well.... OMG I pray Hilton will retaliate and hit hard on them, please!!! This nasty Shiyam want to treat people like slaves and show off his girls that he is powerful,,, I wonder why Shaheen Hameed took this case ::: This is a clear damage to Maldivian Tourism Industry and investors will certainly loose confidence in Maldives because of this!!! Coup Coup Coup, every where

  15. A method of operation,"Entrapment and Extortion" as I am told,widely exists in the Maldives. Combine this with the Maldives political and judicial chaos what should a foreign investor think today when considering to invest in these Tropical Islands "Buyer be Ware".

  16. I think Hilton group should rage war against this so called rich Maldivian and show them that they are nothing compared to The Hilton .

  17. Such a shame to Sun Travels, not only them Maldives as a whole.Hilton should sue Sun Travels. Just because he owns island doesn't mean that he can raid the contract they done years ago. They think they can run Maldives like the way that their ancestors did... Shame on Shiyam! So uneducated! Hilton has put that poor island into the world Map, with their hard work, they did that from scratch..

  18. Mattte from TEAM better stop talking abt Hilton few months ago he was calling to boycott Hilton,,,, Shame on you Matte now what are you gonna gain, you are purely having ur own agenda N YOU STOP TALKING ABOUT STAFF, TEAM is a political platform you guys have to run for parliament....

  19. Very horrible what is going on there. Cancelled our trip, and have told others in our party to do the same. The reason we went with the Iru Fushi was because of the Hilton name and the great reviews on service and management. Thank you minivannews as we guests knew nothing and were not alerted to this horrible change.

  20. Very disappointed to hear the bad news about Iru Fushi. I have stayed at the Hilton resort twice in the last two years and always thoroughly enjoyed it. I cannot believe what has happened to Hilton, i will not return there as the Hilton brand and standard was the reason I visited this resort. We were planning another trip but will go to a different resort in the Maldives. I was shocked to hear that the take over had happened with so little notice to staff and no indication to guests. Already I have read such bad feedback on Trip Advisor sine Hilton has gone. Good luck to all the great staff who made our holidays so enjoyable and that have been so badly let down.

  21. This is disgusting! We were there in September last year and loved everything about it. We spoke to so many team members who all seemed to love Hilton and said they were treated so well. We like to travel around and don't revisit somewhere for years but decided to re-book for Christmas this year, now that this has happened we won't be returning unless Hilton are back in management. I feel so sorry for the lovely staff at this resort, it was because of them and Hilton that the resort became such a success. As Jon Phelps said, the reviews on Trip Adviser are far from good and this has only just happened. If you look back at reviews from before Hilton took over the resort they are also terrible.

    The Maldivian government needs to sort this out, things like this happening and particularly to such a successful company will not only put off tourists but also investors coming to the Maldives. I know it's certainly put me off!

    Shame on you Sun Travel, hang your head in shame. Karma will come back and bite you for this one!

  22. That place was a complete mess, shame on the owners, and Maldivians.....

    Operations very unprofessional , the people act like idiots ! with no senses at all..

    A disgusting local company that behaves like a military coup !

  23. This really made me sad. I loved that place. I was looking to go two years in a row, and now I will look elsewhere.


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