Navid Ahsan Chowdhury is the Assistant General Manager of the Royal Tulip Sea Pearl Beach Resort & Spa Cox’s Bazar in Bangladesh and responsible for overseeing resort operations. He is a multi-skilled business leader with twenty years of expertise in the hospitality sector. Navid has been professionally trained, educated and employed in the United Kingdom, France and Asia by the finest hotel groups where he served in different capacities including senior leadership roles in the Marriott International, Mövenpick Hotels & Resorts, Pan Pacific Hotel group, Starwood Hotels and Resort, Carlson Razidor Hotel and French Concorde Group of Hotels. Navid holds an MBA in Hospitality from Vatel école internationale d’hôtellerie et de management, Nimes France and undergraduate degree from Institute of Hotel Management, Pusa New Delhi.
What makes Royal Tulip Sea Pearl Beach Resort & Spa stand out from other properties you’ve worked in?
Nestled in the heart of nature along the world’s longest natural sandy beach, the resort is spread over 15 acres and this is the largest property in Bangladesh which boasts of 493 splendid rooms and suites with breathtaking sea and hill views.
Who is your typical customer?
We enjoy loyalty from all possible business segments. Whether corporate travelers, weekend holiday makers from other parts of the country, beach enthusiasts, corporate events and MICE groups, expatriates, diplomats and government officials, destination weddings the resort is appreciated by leisure seekers across all areas of business and this makes the typical travel mix of the resort. Couples and families with kids particularly like the location and our Water Park, which is the only amusement park in the region and offers exciting rides and attractions. Each guest looks for a different yet personalized experience. Moreover, its unique location which is away from the hustle and bustle of city life gives an added advantage for those wishing to spend time close to nature.
If you could plan a one-day itinerary for guests looking to explore Cox’s Bazar, where would you send them?
Swim, dive in or just laze on the beach. Or better still choose parasailing, jet skiing and deep sea fishing. Escape to a fresh experience everyday can be organized by our dedicated travel desk with well informed and experienced travel managers. We have designed packages to cater guests’ needs. This includes a day trip to St. Martins Island which is a coral island with pristine beach, trip to Moheshkhali island an exquisite island with Shiva serine Buddhist temples and pagoda, half day marine drive tour to Taknaf which is an exotic gateway overlooking Myanmar hills and historical Ramu Buddhist temple tour. Apart from these popular trips we often organize adventure packages such as hiking and Asian elephant spot adventure trips at the wildlife sanctuary and Kayaking in Reju Khal which is a mountainous canal that flows through the Bay of Bengal.
Building the right team is crucial for a property’s success. What are the key skills you look for when hiring new employees?
Selecting the right talent is a winning criterion for any business and we are not an exception. We emphasize on talents with the right attitude; guest centric, positive and who are willing to go the extra mile. Soft skills can be trained and developed hence right attitude is an integrated part of personality which cannot be trained. And this is where the hospitality industry is different from any other industry. Right attitude is the key criteria we seek from our candidates.
What is the USP of your hotel?
The unique location is the biggest advantage of the resort. The Royal Tulip Cox’s Bazar provides two swimming pools, one exclusively for ladies and the common pool is the biggest outdoor pool in Cox’s Bazar. The resort boasts of a plethora of indoor and outdoor activities which are equally famous amongst both adults and kids which include an internationally acclaimed water park, tennis and badminton courts, 5D movie hall, billiards, and amphitheater.
What is the one dish that guests have to try when at your hotel?
If one particular dish I have to suggest then I would strongly suggest grilled local lobster in the Fish & Grill restaurant.
2020 was a challenging year for the hospitality industry. In your opinion, how will travel trends change in the 2nd half of 2021?
The pandemic phase has been the most challenging phase for the hospitality business throughout the world and we are no exception. We managed to pull through due to the influx of domestic tourism. Travel within the globe still has conditions attached; green pass, vaccine certificate and new variants all accumulate into the condition which is not yet favorable for the travel and hospitality industry. Hence, the second half of the 2021 was dominated by the delta variant which will continue to dominate the hospitality business till 3Q of 2021. The 4Q will be a better phase as the vaccination ratio will be much higher and the government will allow businesses to operate with conditions attached. This scenario might change positively in 2022 for the global and regional hospitality industry.
Was a career in hospitality something you always dreamt of? What is your advice to aspiring hoteliers?
Absolutely! Meeting people and traveling around the globe has always been my passion and the hospitality industry is a perfect blend of both. Hospitality is all about providing a fantastic customer experience. A hotel is a microcosm that can provide experiences from culinary arts to finance, human resources, project management and communications, to purchasing, business management and entertainment.
Moreover, every day brings along a new challenge and a fresh perspective, a job can never be monotonous when someone takes up a career in hospitality. A career in hospitality is very challenging; hence integrity, dedication and commitment to go additional miles are winning ingredients which will surely ensure greater rewards.
Which cities are your favourites for: 1) food 2) history 3) fashion?
I have had the opportunity to live in many countries and many cities throughout my career in hospitality but Paris is on top of my list. Paris maintains its importance, character and charm. The city itself is the fashion capital of the world. Every boulevard has its own historical persona whether it is the Latin Quarter to the La Défense arch or the Bastille Opéra. Paris is also the gastronomical hub for French delicacies; there are many famous restaurants in Paris serve incredible food.
You have worked in several cities, which is your favourite city for work and play?
I would surely vote for Sylhet which is a north eastern city in Bangladesh, it is mostly known for its scenic beauty and pleasant weather. In size, Sylhet city is one of the smallest cities in the country but the combination of nature and well-designed structure made this land a perfect home for living and working. Geographically it is privileged with many nature based tourist attractions and most of these are just outside of the city, which takes up to an hour or less to reach.
When are you happiest?
I am happiest when I see satisfaction and smile on the face of both my guests and my team members. A happy team is a productive team, my team members have always been the source of my happiness at work. And when I am not working I am happiest when I am travelling! I am a traveler at heart.