Promoting luxury tourism in Sri Lanka Druvi Gunasekera

Dec 06 2023.

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Moving from advertising to hospitality, Druvi Gunasekera cut her teeth in the hotel industry when she started working at the Galle Face Hotel before moving on to work at Aman one of the leading boutique hotel operators in the world founded by icon Adrian Zecha.
Learning the finer details of the boutique hotel industry and versing herself with what high-end discerning guests require during a holiday, Druvi has facilitated the travel for Coldplay’s Chris Martin and Gwyneth Paltrow, Sting, Scarlet Johansen amongst other celebrities who have stayed at Aman and Galle Face Hotel.

Soon Druvi realised that there was no proper body or person to promote luxury high-end tourism in Sri Lanka and she felt a calling to fill that void. Taking an enormous leap of faith Druvi left the corporate comfort of the Aman group and started her own company Boutiques in Sri Lanka with the sole aim of promoting luxury high-end tourism in Sri Lanka. Initially, it was an uphill task but soon her hard work paid off when other industry stakeholders realised that Druvi was determined in her resolve to represent Sri Lankan Boutique hotels at international travel fairs and show the world what Sri Lanka had to offer in terms of luxury high-end tourism.

In her efforts to achieve this, Druvi noted another void that needed filling. That void was to prepare a comprehensive guide of high-end luxury boutique hotels and villas in Sri Lanka so that luxury tour operators overseas had some kind of reference or almanac to refer to.
“This year I published the eighth edition of the Luxury Accommodation Guide to Sri Lanka. I have listed almost 800 properties that fall within the luxury category ranging from villas and boutique hotels to luxury camps and boats. I personally visit all the properties before selecting what gets included in the guide. Over the course of the year, I visited over 2000 properties which claim to be boutique hotels. I follow an international standard and check on everything from the location of the pool to disabled access and even if the property is pet friendly before including the property in the guide” she says.

Each year Druvi has launched her guide at the WTM which is considered the biggest travel fair in the world. This year with the collaboration of the Sri Lankan High Commission in London, Druvi launched her guide in the presence of Tourism and Lands Minister Harin Fernando, Head of Tourism Promotion Bureau Chalaka Gajabahu and a host of other media personnel and UK-based luxury travel operators.

The travel operators were united in their praise for the guide saying it is a great reference tool as Druvi has done their homework for them. They also added that the guide proved to be invaluable as it contained detailed information about the luxury boutiques and villas which the operators may not have known unless they visited it personally.

The guide also contains various articles on places in Sri Lanka and offers a detailed description of what defines and constitutes a boutique hotel as people have various misconceptions and definitions of what a boutique hotel is. The luxury accommodation guide is distributed to over 2000 luxury tour operators around the world and has an unrivalled reach in terms of getting into the hands of the right industry stakeholders.

The cover design of the book is done by Lee Osborne a former employee of Conde Nast who not only handles the design element but also writes some of the content and has been associated with the guide since its inception. As part of her drive to promote luxury tourism in Sri Lanka, Druvi also organises an annual B2B luxury travel fair exclusively for small luxury properties which is attended by foreign tour operators and local agents in addition to bringing down high-end tour operators and media personnel on familiarisation tours.

Driven by her passion and enthusiasm for what she does, Druvi is firmly entrenched in the luxury tourism industry and is an integral lone voice promoting this sector. Her aim is to work towards raising the number of tourists that travel to Sri Lanka to patronise high-end boutique hotels and villas while enjoying the beauty of Sri Lanka and her people.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Tina Edward Gunawardhana

Tina Edward Gunawardhana is a journalist specialising in travel, fashion, lifestyle, cuisine and personalities. She is also the Deputy Editor for Hi!! Magazine. An intrepid traveller, she likes to show readers the world through her eyes and experiences. Follow her on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram - tinajourno [email protected]

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