For 20 Years in a Row, Four Seasons Maldives Pays It Forward

The 2020 Four Seasons Maldives Graduation

The magical Maldives are often considered among the most beautiful places on earth. This tropical country consists of 1,200 islands, each one surrounded by their own lagoon. Of those islands, 200 are inhabited. And of those islands, you would be hard pressed to find any as beautiful as those of the Four Seasons Maldives Resorts on Kuda Huraa and Landaa Giraavaru.

What’s the Story?

For some 20 years, a Swiss-born hotelier has presided over these luxury properties. Armando Kraenzlin is the regional vice president and general manager of Four Seasons Resorts Maldives. While Kraenzlin has welcomed thousands of guests, he has also welcomed hundreds of young Maldivians to his apprenticeship program at these island paradises.

The Four Seasons Maldives Apprenticeship Programs

When he started out, to find recruits for his new “school”, he often paddled between islands seeking talented young people to learn the art of hospitality under his tutelage. Once enrolled, his students can choose between immersive studies of food and beverage presentation and service, safe maritime transport, housekeeping and guest services, PADI dive mastery, water sports attendant, and marine biology. A second-year program offers engineering and front office training.

The Graduating Class During COVID-19

This April, this year’s graduation class faced daunting challenges. Their graduation ceremony was set to be held in the capital city of Male at the Dharubarugge Exhibition Hall. When that plan had to be scrapped due to the COVID-19 virus, Armando Kraenzlin was determined to salute the hard work of his graduates.

A proud Mr. Kraenzlin stated, “In these uncertain times, it is more important than ever to keep investing in the future of the Maldivian island communities. For two decades we have invested in local talent. So many young men and women have become and will become the backbone of the Maldivian hospitality industry in the years to come thanks to this program. At Four Seasons Maldives, we want to ensure the youth have the training, skills and qualifications necessary to secure future jobs, not only when the travel industry rebounds, but for the long-term success and longevity of the Maldivian hospitality industry as a whole”.

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Government Recognition

The fully-funded Four Seasons’ program had been in operation for 10 years when it received government recognition. In 2010, it became the first government accredited technical and vocational education and training (TVET) certified apprenticeship program. Aimed at 17 to 20-year-olds from all over the country, the program is open to both male and female students who meet the entry criteria. This includes O-level certifications and fluency in written and spoken English. In the past 10 years, 651 young Maldivians have graduated taking their new skills in hospitality all over the country.

2020 Graduation Ceremony

This year, 56 students graduated. There were 18 students from Four Seasons Kuda Huraa and 36 from Four Seasons Landaa Giraava. Due to the restrictions and disruption caused by the pandemic, their graduation ceremonies were held separately at each resort. To the surprise and delight of all involved, there was even a guest of honor. His excellency, the ambassador of the republic of the Maldives to the European Union, Mr. Hassan Sobir, appeared via video link. The ambassador was an early and fervent supporter of the program. Reprising his role as guest of honor at the first graduation ceremony, he was a reassuring presence.

In his remarks, the ambassador told the graduates that the Chinese words for “chaos” and “divine opportunity” are interchangeable. He suggested using their mandatory home stays to further their career opportunities noting that he had seen online courses in everything from design to photography to self-development. Even learning a new language was possible on the internet. His parting remarks to the class of 2020 were to stay healthy, stay strong and stay safe. He then turned his attention to his friend of 20 years duration, Armando Kraenzlin. Noting that his ambassadorship to the EU meant living in Belgium, a country renowned for its chocolate. He assured the Swiss-born hotelier that the chocolate there is no match for that of Switzerland. To the students, there was no question that there is no one who can match Armando Kraezlin’s devotion and dedication to his remarkable apprenticeship program.

A Little History

Founded in 1960, Four Seasons defines luxury hospitality with imagination, quality and the most genuine and customized service. It has an unwavering commitment to the communities it serves at its 92 hotels, private residences and resort destinations in 38 countries around the world. For more information, visit their website.

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