Vuly & Rok: 10 Years Later, Still Living the Dream

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PUBLISHED May 11, 2024 | updated May 11, 2024 03:50

Thank you for taking the time to chat with us again; this is an important year for you guys, marking 10 years of your company's inception. How are you both feeling after reaching such a monumental milestone?

Vuly: Our journey began as two fresh graduates, and the hurdles we encountered, particularly in the initial phase, were daunting. Frankly, I never envisioned us reaching this point. The path was strewn with difficulties, but we braved them all, hand in hand.

Roky: Reflecting on our early days, I recall how Vuly and I would personally handle every aspect of the hotel to keep it afloat. We did everything from night shifts to utilising our kitchen training to prepare meals for our guests. These fond memories now serve as a solid foundation for our business.

You recently opened a new guesthouse in Hulhumale, H78 Veli. This is in addition to your successful restaurant Catch78 and logistics company Ocean 78.

Vuly: Over the years, we have been looking for opportunities to expand our guesthouse portfolio since we have almost 100% occupancy at h78 most of the time. In the meantime, we ensured that our restaurant was successful and expanded into transport services. The new property is doing very well, and we are happy to have waited for the right opportunity.

Roky: Since our operations have doubled, we have been working to restructure the company and build the team. A well-trained team ensures customer satisfaction and a sustainable business, especially in hospitality.  Expansion is always a great step forward, but we must be analytical and cautious in how we approach it.

How do you manage the responsibilities of having multiple businesses along with a young son?

Vuly: We always say that it takes a village to raise children initially. When we had our son Luka, we lived in Slovenia while working remotely, and then Roky’s parents helped us out a lot. They are not with us anymore, but their support was crucial in those days, especially since Luka was born during COVID-19, and we had to find a way to keep our business running, all the while having a newborn.

Roky: Since we returned to the Maldives, we owe a huge thanks to Vuly's mom, dad, sister, aunts, and uncles for taking such good care of our son while we focused on business. We usually spend quality time on weekends as a family with our son.

How do you divide your responsibilities at work and how do you manage working together and living together?

Vuly:  Lucky for us, Roky and I are opposites; opposites attract, as they say, so we can divide our work to do what we love to do. We try to keep working and not talk about work at home, but that doesn’t always happen(laugh). 

Roky: Vuly manages HR, Marketing, and finances while I look after Sales, maintenance and daily operations. We both sit down for weekly meetings and strategy discussions and to brief each other on the other departments. I think having clear responsibilities at work and home and respecting each other's boundaries, and trusting in the work the other person is doing are the keys to a harmonious relationship.

What are the biggest obstacles you have faced over the years, and how have you overcome them?

Vuly:  Apart from the issues we faced during the first years opening the hotel, I would say the waste issue in common areas was a big problem, especially garbage on local beach areas. For the last few years, HDC has been cleaning up common areas as best as they can, so we highly appreciate it. A permanent solution would be civic responsibility to keep common areas clean. We do our best to keep our area clean for our guests and mitigate these issues with the best service we can give.

Roky: In addition to what Vuly highlighted, the COVID years were tough for us, as they were for many others; we overcame them through product diversification. Working in the Maldives was a unique experience; it was very dynamic. No two days were the same, and no two problems had the same solution. It is a challenge, but one that has been fun to take on. 

In your 10 years working in the guest house industry, you have witnessed a lot of growth in the sector; what are your thoughts on the current state of the sector and how do you envision it in the future in terms of developmental aspects?

Vuly: The guesthouse industry has given us locals a platform to share our culture with tourists and a chance to essentially invite them to our homes and share the beauty of local and island life with them. It has been wonderful to see the industry produce incredible entrepreneurs not only in owning and running guesthouses but also in supporting businesses such as water sports, restaurants, and more. I hope that the growth is carried out sustainably in a strategic way so that we can leave a lasting legacy for future generations.

Roky: Ever since I came to Maldives for the first time 15 years ago, I have been enamoured by her beauty, especially in the local islands. The Maldivian hospitality is like no other, and the food, wow, once you have Maldivian food, you will always come back for more. My personal favourite is fihunu gulha, and any hedhikaa really. I see a lot of growth potential, especially further from Male’ city in the Northern and Southern regions. I hope to see guesthouse tourism boom all over Maldives in the coming years.

Final thoughts

Vuly and Roky: Since we met in university, our dream has been to run a hotel by the beach together. We wouldn’t have been able to do this without the support of our parents. Thank you for your love and guidance and for always being there for us in our time of need. We would also like to thank our team, without whom we wouldn’t be able to bring our vision to life, and to all our friends and family who have supported us every step of the way. Thank you all!



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