EBA Personality - Praveen Ramessur, General Manager, Mirotel Resort & Spa
1. Can we start with an introduction of yourself and an overview of your company? How do you position yourselves within the market?
I am from Mauritius, an island in the Indian Ocean which is well known for its resort properties and as a luxury tourist destination. I have been working in Ukraine since 2004 at the Donbass Palace in Donetsk, the Opera Hotel in Kyiv and am currently opening the Mirotel Resort & Spa in Truskavets.
Our company “Hotel Management Group – HMG” focuses on the development and management of hotels, properties and the services sector in general within Ukraine. Currently we operate a large scale laundry facility, Villa Kristina and the soon to be open Mirotel Resort & Spa in Truskavets. This property will boast 184 rooms, 7 Food & Beverage outlets, conference and banqueting facilities, a kids club, a Medical Centre (with Spa, Balneotherapy and Diagnostic), and a heated and enclosed Olympic size swimming pool.
2. Do you have any plans for expansion? What are your growth ambitions?
Indeed, an extensive expansion plan is projected for the short, medium and long term. The number of foreign visitors to Ukraine has increased by more than 300% in the past 10 years. The Western Ukraine region has enormous potential due to its un-spoilt nature, hospitable people, vibrant cultural and historical past and an ambitious infrastructure development plan – especially for Euro 2012. We will be the preferred choice for travelers staying in the Truskavets region.
3. What key market drivers are positively impacting on your business?
Exposure given to Ukraine with Euro 2012 as a whole is positively impacting our business generally. This unique opportunity is positioning Ukraine as a global destination which will allow visitors to experience the wonderful hospitality of Ukrainian people in 2012, and well beyond. The infrastructure upgrades and plans will also play a crucial role in sustaining projected growth for the future.
On the other hand with the uncertainty of the global economy, we are experiencing a shift in travel trends with more domestic travelers seeking value for money.
4. What are your top priorities for the next 12 months?
While we prepare to open in April 2012, the next 12 months will be crucial for us as we position our property and the destination of Truskavets as one. To support this effort we will have to consolidate our operations through extensive training and constant re-assessment of our business processes so as to ensure a sustainable operations, development and expansion plan.
5. Which business sectors present the most interesting investment opportunities in today’s Western Ukrainian market?
Real estate at the moment presents the most interesting investment opportunity. However, we need to be careful and invest in the right products in the right place while keeping in mind the added values that can be generated from each investment both for investors and potential buyers.
6. What is the most important management lesson you have learned?
Innovation! In the current global market, you need to constantly strive for innovation to ensure consistent and sustainable growth at all times, especially within the tourism sector. Its important not only to innovate products and services but also new ways of doing business. Identifying, developing and retaining innovative talent is a also key priority.
7. Could you share your business success story?
Pursuing a business model like ours is always challenging, especially when dealing with people. However, if all of the team adhere to our core values and understand the importance of all stakeholders – guests, owners, financial, employees & the community, the results will follow.
So far, our business success has resulted in the establishment of our Hospitality Learning & Development training centre. where we have been providing training for more than 200 young, dynamic and motivated individuals to sustain our opening and expansion plans.
8. The EBA focuses its actions on 7 vectors of economic development- Anti Corruption, Court system and Land reform, Currency regulation, VAT refund activation, Customs Procedures simplification and Technical barriers to trade elimination. Which one(s) so you foresee as the most vital and why?
All of the 7 vectors are ultimately related to each other, however fighting corruption should remain the focal point, especially with good political support. This would send a strong signal to the local and international community, and other vectors would be then be required to re-evaluate their efficacy and adjust accordingly.
9. What in your opinion can be done to make investment in Ukraine more attractive?
Simplifying the legal framework of the various components of investment; company creation facilitation, taxation, ownership and law. Creation of a “Board of Investment” to act as a one stop shop for foreign investors with the right legal framework and expertise in the key developing and high potential sectors.
10. How could you see the future of the Tourism sector in Western Ukraine ? What are the prospects for Tourism in general? Can the infrastructure support planned growth?
The Western Ukraine tourism sector is poised to benefit from positive growth for the next couple of decades, provided that all stakeholders join hands to identify and find sustainable solutions to the upcoming challenges. Adequate planning of the different infrastructural, human resource and legislative aspects is important. The current and planned infrastructure in Western Ukraine, will need to be re-assessed after Euro 2012, to ensure that it is fully utilized for the benefit of all economic sectors.
11. What are your personal recommendations for anyone who wants to be successful in business?
Always put the customer first! Understand what your customers need and want and at what price and with what conditions. This must be combined with what you may offer and delivered in an innovative way without compromising on quality and price! Then develop your own practices that your customer will find themselves at ease with and always be mindful of your social responsibility. One should also constantly assess and review their level of service whilst continuing to raise the bar higher and higher.