Chairman, Jetwing Hotels Ltd
The warmth of her wide smile and her utter unaffected nature distract all who meet Shiromal Cooray as to what she really is: a leading figure in the travel industry who is prominently placed amongst the 50 most powerful women of business in Sri Lanka, and the highly efficient and effective Managing Director of Jetwing Travels: the main in-bound tour operator arm of Jetwing.
As the daughter of Herbert Cooray – the founder and late Chairman of Jetwing, Shiromal was in essence an heir to his legacy – but ever independent of spirit, she had no wish to be a part of the family business and veered away from the leisure industry altogether to gain qualifications in finance. Subsequently, she joined the vibrant world of advertising – as an accountant at JWT, one of the leading ad agencies in Sri Lanka. Thriving in the fast paced, exciting atmosphere, she handled both accounts and media, rising quickly to become the Finance Director. When the opportunity arose to take up a similar post at JWT Hong Kong, she was glad to broaden her career prospects in the region, gaining valuable experience.
Leaving advertising after 7 years, she returned to Sri Lanka and to the Jetwing family to reinvent the travel division. The sector was increasing in scope in the early 90s and she entered the challenge of growing the business with her usual resoluteness and foresight;inspired and guided by her mentor and father. Over the years, Shiromal has steered the company’s progress to the success it enjoys today, but in her unassuming manner regards achievements as the norm, passing the credit on to the unstinted support of her team.
Deeply family oriented, Shiromal considers motherhood as possibly her greatest achievement. While travel is her line of business, it is also a pastime she enjoys – especially voyages of discovery to places that are off the everyday map. She loves to read – when time permits, and has a passionate interest in nature and the great outdoors.
An Associate Member of the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (UK), Shiromal also has an MBA from (the University of Colombo). A dynamic presence in the corporate arena, she is the former Vice-President of the Travel Agents Association of Sri Lanka (TAASL) and the former President of the Sri Lanka Association of Inbound Tour Operators (SLAITO) – the foremost representative body for tour operators in Sri Lanka. She was also elected recently as the Chairperson of the Sri Lanka Institute of Directors (SLID).
As a director on the Board of Jetwing, she lends her invaluable support and insight to the day to day operations of the group, but also extends her expertise to all Jetwing interests that fall under the wing of travel. Shiromal is also a director at the advertising agency Leo Burnett and the investment bank Capital Alliance and commodity broker Ceylon Tea Brokers.
Chairman - Jetwing Symphony PLC, The Lighthouse Hotel PLCThe casual visitor to Jetwing House may see the tall, informally dressed figure pass by,offering a warm smile and a soft spoken 'ayubowan' of welcome, and never guess that he is one of the most respected and pivotal figures that drive the tourism industry in Sri Lanka today. Hiran Cooray – Chairman of Jetwing and the only son of the company’s founder Herbert Cooray is living proof that a father’s vision can blossom and grow through his children: a dream fulfilled beyond expectations, and evolving still.
Carrying forward the legacy of his father and a 40 year history of continuous success is by no means a small responsibility, but to Hiran it is a mantle he carries with pride. His father’s guiding tenets of passion, honesty, integrity and tenacity are also his own.
The calm, quiet presence of stability and strength being characteristics as much inherited as the determination and drive to achieve despite obstacles. And his achievements are numerous and much acclaimed. Educated at St. Joseph’s College, Colombo, Hiran graduated from the University of North Carolina, USA and also followed a General Managers course at Cornell University.Taking his motherland to the world in more ways than one, Hiran has represented Sri Lanka on the Board of Directors of the Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) as well as being the past Chairman of the organization (2010/12). He was the Chairman of PATA Sri Lanka Chapter (2003/4) and President of the Tourist Hotels Association of Sri Lanka (2005/8); and was appointed an Alternate Member of the UNWTO – World Committee on Tourism Ethics for 2013-2017. A dynamic presence in promoting Sri Lanka tourism, Hiran is currently serving a second term as President of Tourist Hotels Association of Sri Lanka 2014-2016 and sits on the Board of the Sri Lanka Tourist Development Authority. In addition to these responsibilities, he holds over 50 directorships in various hotels and related companies. A fierce advocator of youth development and education, Hiran is a much sought after speaker and panellist at tourism related forums both locally and overseas.
Much like his father, Hiran too has a clear vision for Jetwing: “…to be the most respected company. To be a company that is honest, deliver what it says to the employees as well as customers; a company that respects the environment, local communities - for me those are very, very important factors. Financial success is well and fine, but it is not the only factor. The 3Ps are equally important, people, planet & profits. You cannot isolate any of these. So we are a company focused on all three areas and we continue to grow that way…”
Hiran is a devout Catholic, he is also deeply family oriented: his wife Dharshini, and sons Dmitri, Hashan and Harin are his world. Keeping the family tradition, Hiran’s son, Dmitri too has joined Jetwing helping to continue the vision to the next generation.
Managing Director, Jetwing Hotels
From childhood Ruan loved sports. Representing his schools St. Benedict’s College, and Ananda College in Cricket, Athletics and Rugby he dreamed of becoming a star – preferably on the pitch. During his school days – and even afterwards, all Ruan wanted to do was play Cricket – that was his goal in life, possibly get a job as a sales rep or such to live by – and then play Cricket while doing so. His father, however, chose not to pander to such fickle ideas and encouraged young Ruan to take up his close friend Mr Cooray’s suggestion to help with the hotel he was planning to build in Negombo. With visions of lazy days on hot, sunny beaches, and sunbathing beauties foremost in mind, Ruan needed little persuasion. However, when he encountered the daunting tasks involved, he remained unfazed, quickly finding his talents and his natural flair for organisation and management from early on, diverting his considerable energy to pursue aims of a different kind. “…hard work never hurt anyone, it pays in the end…” Ruan considers himself to be living proof of that maxim.
Being a part of Jetwing from day one as it were, playing a very ‘hands on’ role, Ruan has been involved in every aspect of the company’s growth and its success so far. It was the close and inspiring relationship he shared with Mr. Herbert Cooray and the responsibility placed on him in an environment of trust and family spirit that strengthened Ruan’s commitment, keeping him loyal to the Company for over 40 years. Although many lucrative offers and ‘better prospects’ both locally and overseas came his way, Ruan was never tempted as he considered Jetwing to be his home, and his family. There was enough to motivate him in the diverse roles he played ensuring the growth of the company, with new properties to oversee, new challenges to meet and new achievements to secure.
Ruan’s vision for Jetwing is clear: to create a global impression as the ‘best’ brand in Sri Lanka and to retain that position at the top. He wants Jetwing to have a truly island-wide presence, with new destinations – especially in rural areas that offer a wholly different experience to the ever discerning travellers of today. He hopes to continue to set trends, and raise standards, create opportunities for those willing to grow with the Jetwing family – much the same as he did.
Even today, Negombo, remains his favourite location. “…it’s the place where I started my career, and I found my life partner from the area too – so, it holds a very special place in my heart.” A strong Catholic, he is deeply committed to his family, and enjoys times he spends with them. Inspired by Mr Cooray’s vision to nurture youth and provide them with better prospects,Ruan encouraged his own son to join Jetwing “I want him to start at the bottom of the ladder – he must make his own way. I hope he will learn and grow, and keep up the family tradition of success…”
Executive Director, Jetwing Hotels
“…I wanted to be a Criminal Lawyer and my ambition was to practice in courts following my father's footsteps…”
Growing up in the leafy suburbs of Ragama, Sanjeewa enjoyed a childhood of rustic idyll in a village atmosphere and the luxury of green surrounds. A diligent student at St. Joseph’s College, Colombo he also represented the school Chess team. “…my father is a renowned Criminal Lawyer and my mother is a housewife. While he was my role model, my mother was the reason for all my achievements and success, spiritually as well as professionally - my guiding light who encouraged me every step of the way…” he says with gratitude of the support he received from his parents. With this early leaning towards the legal profession inspired by his father, Sanjeewa entered Law College and qualified as an Attorney-at-Law. Continuing his passion for Chess he represented Law College team and obtained colours for two consecutive years. Looking back with fond nostalgia, Sanjeewa says “…my experience at the Law College is one of the best, most memorable times of my life…”
During this time, he also gained qualifications as a Chartered Management Accountant. And, while studying for his CIMA qualifications he joined M/s PricewaterhouseCoopers as an Audit Trainee to gain practical experience - his first job.
Sanjeewa joined Jetwing in 1996 as Finance Manager: “…one of my close friends - the Finance Manager at Jetwing at that time, had decided to go abroad and he introduced me to Jetwing. One day he called me in the morning and asked me to come within one hour for an interview. I was interviewed by our Founder and the Late Chairman, Mr. Herbert Cooray, our current Chairman, Mr. Hiran Cooray and Executive Director at that time, Mr. Romesh Lokuge. It was the start of my long career with the Jetwing family…” he says of his steady success to date. His commitment and proficiency soon saw him promoted as the General Manager – Finance, and then as the Executive Director of Jetwing Hotels. With overall responsibility for the legal and finance aspects of Jetwing, Sanjeewa also holds directorships at 12 other Jetwing companies. Additionally, he acts as Company Secretary for about 20 Jetwing companies. “…the freedom of decision making and the transparency of the company…” he states as his key motivating factor.
Deeply committed and passionate about the company’s progress, Sanjeewa confirms that “…Jetwing will continue to grow locally as well as internationally. We have a vision to be world class in everything we do…“ To that end he plans to continue to provide the strategic input required of him in new developments and diversifications and help add new experiences to all stakeholders of Jetwing.
“Being a Roman Catholic, I trust in the Lord Almighty and Mother Mary…” and steadfast in his faith, Sanjeewa cites the day he received First Holy Communion as one of the most significant moments of his personal life, and professionally – when he took Oaths as an Attorney-at-Law in the Supreme Court. He considers honesty to be the most important value to him as a person..
Very much a family man at heart Sanjeewa places high value on the time he spends with them. “…I have two younger brothers, the elder one is a Legal Counsel and the younger one is a qualified Chartered Accountant. My wife is a homemaker and a specialist in preparation of cake structures and cake decorating. Her faith, passion and continuous commitment is the secret of success in our family. I'm also blessed with a son and a daughter. They are studying at St. Joseph's College and St. Bridget's Convent respectively. I want my children to be happy and to develop spiritually and professionally…” he says with conviction. He is equally dedicated to his other family – Jetwing, and wants to see it become the best hospitality brand in the world.
Director – Engineering & Development
“Knowledge is power. But while knowledge helps you understand, experience helps you feel. I believe both need to go hand in hand.”
An electrical engineer by profession, with an MSc in Project Management and a Master in Business Administration to boot, Jude is a beloved all-rounder that has been a part of the Jetwing family for over two decades. Garnering a wealth of both knowledge and experience, he now oversees engineering and development, and is responsible for the introduction of several sustainable initiatives - including the largest solar installation in a Sri Lankan hotel.
For Jude, cost, quality, and time are the three factors that drive every project under his purview. The systematic discipline is one that was instilled in him from a young age by his father – who was known to ensure that food was never seen above his first knuckle when eating. Mealtimes back home in Kandy were always important to Jude, not only because of the timeless discipline, but also as a celebration of family values, which have stuck with him to date.
Today, Jude hopes to make Jetwing a carbon neutral company by 2020, and he is well on track to achieving that goal. The same passion for Mother Nature extends to his home where he has installed a solar array and biogas digester as part of his personal commitment to a sustainable future. This very commitment is one he traces back to our late chairman and founder, Mr. Herbert Cooray, who personally requested Jude to join our family when the structural features of Jetwing Lighthouse were coming up. From that point onwards, his successes speak for themselves.
Executive Director“…I am a devout Catholic and I believe that with Christ as the centre of your life, you will never be disappointed. I am really proud of Jetwing and thank God for blessing me to be a part of Jetwing and having the opportunity to associate closely with our founder - the late Mr Herbert Cooray, whom I adored very much in my life.”During her school days at the Ave Maria Convent in Negombo, Hyacinth had ambitions of becoming a doctor, a lawyer – maybe even an air hostess, something that involved dealing with people first hand. Although she was a conscientious student, she excelled at extracurricular activities being involved in sports, singing in the school choir, and making her mark in the school debate team. And, she also spent a lot of time being involved in social services projects. A true ‘native’ of Negombo, where she has lived most of her life, Hyacinth grew up in a large family with 5 sisters and 3 brothers. Her father was a Civil Engineer and her mother - who in her younger days had been a music teacher - had her hands full as a busy housewife.
“…I love people and always wanted to give my service to people. I disliked working with machines…” So when her elder sister – who is a Catholic nun introduced Hyacinth to Mr. Herbert Cooray through one of her friends, and an offer to join the hospitality trade was made, she took it up eagerly.
Beginning at the very beginning as it were, Hyacinth’s long and illustrious career has today reached a pinnacle – where she is considered one of the most dynamic ladies in the hotel industry today as one of the three female general managers in the hotel industry in Sri Lanka. She joined Blue Oceanic Beach Hotel (now Jetwing Blue) in 1977, 38 years ago. "...at the time, tourism was beginning to pick up, with the master plan that was introduced in 1970. I began to work as a Trainee Receptionist and held the positions of Front Office Manager, Assistant Manager, General Manager and moved up to the post of Director General Manager and Executive Director - Negombo..." she reminisces of her life of progress at Jetwing. One of the first female General Manager in Sri Lanka, she held the position of General Manager at Hunnas Falls Hotel (then part of the Jetwing group) for three years as well. Today she is at the helm of Jetwing’s landmark destination as Executive Director, Negombo overlooking a combined total of over 400 rooms.
An unmistakable force behind Jetwing’s continuing success, Hyacinth is very positive about the future: “The main goal is to get every staff member to maintain the high service standards and the consistency however difficult it is. As I have started my career 44 years ago joining Jetwing as a Trainee Receptionist and climbing the ladder up to a Director position I am always ready to accept any challenges and responsibilities in my carrier in the future. This is purely because Jetwing is a company that values people, encouraging and recognizing the people who are committed to their job and the Jetwing philosophy. Human resource is very important to Jetwing. If I can be a role model in some way for the future Jetwing generation, it will be a great honour.
A former secretary of the Kandy Hoteliers Association and a former president of the Negombo Hoteliers Association, she has witnessed drastic changes in the industry over the years. She hopes one day to sit back and enjoy her retirement and see Jetwing grow with the next generation.
Hyacinth spends whatever spare time she gets helping the needy in their difficult times, especially children who are less fortunate whom she supports with financial assistance. She also reads books, which, she says, help her personal life, and also loves to spend time with her two dogs at home.
Manager – Operations“For as long as I can remember, holidays were always spent down south in Yala or at Jetwing Lighthouse, and in Negombo at the Blue Oceanic which holds a special place in our family as it is where my grandfather started his journey.”To say hospitality runs in Dmitri’s blood is an understatement. The third generation of our founding family spent a great deal of their childhood growing up in our hotels around Sri Lanka - long enough for Dmitri to confidently say that he always wanted to follow in the footsteps of his father and grandfather.Beyond his cricket-crazy school days at St. Joseph’s College in Colombo, Dmitri earned his professional qualifications from the Singapore Hotel and Tourism Education Centre (SHATEC) and Blue Mountains International Hotel Management School in Australia. Equipped with a Diploma in Hotel Management, and a degree in Hotel and Resort Management, Dmitri then began learning the tricks of the trade as a waiter at the Shangri-La Singapore – which he recalls included banquets that hosted up to 1000 guests.“Our upbringing instilled our grandfather’s values in us,” Dmitri says, explaining the importance of humility in his career. “The grounding we got ensured we were always comfortable working with anyone from anywhere, no matter how hard the task”. Dmitri’s intrinsic knack for the industry later took his career in F&B to another Shangri-La in Australia before eventually returning to Sri Lanka as a Management Trainee at Jetwing Blue and Jetwing Beach.
Only after gradually building his career back home did Dmitri move into his current position of Manager- Operations. Today, he helps maintain high standards across the Jetwing family with not only the occasional input of his F&B expertise, but also the timeless embodiment of his family values that drive all hotel operations.
Director, Human Resource“I believe in sustainable development, especially of people. And that a process approach delivers better results overall”.Kanchana’s childhood was spent in Galle and Colombo with his supportive and somewhat strict family. Constantly a source of encouragement to him to excelled in his studies as well as in sports and he attributes his success to this firm and fair upbringing.
Moving to the capital city of Colombo as a child, Kanchana finished his secondary education and developed a deep desire to join the then blossoming hospitality industry. He wanted the opportunity to meet people, and moreover, take on the challenges of an industry which was not understood by many at that time. Taking up every such challenge, Kanchana was motivated to achieving his goals. A career in the hospitality industry means hard work, long hours and commitment, and Kanchana was able to take it all in his stride.Looking back at his 25 year career, Kanchana is proud to have worked both overseas and in Sri Lanka in different capacities. After graduating from The Ceylon Hotel School in 1995, he immersed himself heavily in food and beverage operations, until joining Jetwing Hotels in 2002 as a Training Manager. After a stint overseas, Kanchana rejoined Jetwing in 2009 to overlook Training and Operations. From there on his career has been on a steady climb and Kanchana is now the Head of Human Resources at Jetwing Hotels. His role assures the smooth functioning of all HR and Training related operations at all the hotels and at Jetwing House - the head office of Jetwing.With many responsibilities and challenges to face, Kanchana firmly believes in achieving a correct balance of work and leisure, and delights in spending time with his family. In addition, his hobbies of reading and listening to music, particularly the contemporary selections occupy his spare time.
Kanchana has a clear vision for the future: “…my plan is to develop the internal strengths and competencies of Jetwing Hotels, ensuring sustainable development of the organization, meaning that we are internally geared to face the challenges that are faced within a fast growing industry”.
Director Operations, Jetwing Hotels"… I just wanted to travel, see the world, learn languages, meet people – work with people, and I am very lucky to have found a career that combines all that – it has been a great journey, so far…"Bursting with effusive charm, he ‘gets you’, as it were, from the first ‘allo’ – and you are soon swept away by the vibrant energy that surrounds him like an aura; a warm glow that makes an instant fan of ‘Jerome Auvity’ out of you: a characteristic that has proved to be a great asset in life and profession.
From his childhood days, growing up in Paris, Jerome was keen to explore the world and seek new adventures. “…my Father advised me that maybe joining the hospitality industry was a good way to do all the things I wanted to do, at the same time…”. With the intent of getting a firm grounding in the hospitality industry, Jerome entered hotel school in Switzerland. And, heeding the call of distant lands, he began his long and certainly illustrious career, in the Far East – “… I was a cook in a pub in Taiwan…” he recalls with a laugh at his early days.Taking up an opportunity at the Hilton in Taipei was a pivotal point that initiated a highly successful, 21 year career in the Hilton Group, spanning over 7 countries including Taiwan, Japan, Philippines, Singapore, Korea, Vietnam and Australia earning many landmark achievements to his name. Having been highly impressed by Sri Lanka and its people on a short visit, he was more than willing to rise to the challenge of steering Hilton Colombo forward as its General Manager “…when I was in Australia, I heard that Hilton Colombo was free and I said yes, Sri Lanka, this is the place I've always wanted to be…” Over the next three years there, Jerome’s passion for inspiring people and firm belief in leading by example singled him out as one of the most dynamic and distinct personalities in Sri Lanka’s hotel industry.Jerome joined the Jetwing family in 2012 as Director Operations - Negombo Hotels, and now holds responsibility for the overall operations of all Jetwing hotels. Thriving in a role full of challenges and opportunities that he thoroughly enjoys, his enthusiasm and commitment helps Jetwing Hotels to constantly generate new ideas, explore innovative avenues of growing the business, and meet objectives – financial and otherwise.
A firm believer of fairness as a value he holds high – both professionally and personally, Jerome is devoted to his family, spending as much quality time as he can with them - especially his two children, aged 12 and 16. Very much an advocate of the active life, Jerome continues his passion for Tennis with regular time on the court, and when company with fellow compatriots permits, plays ‘Petanque’ – a distinctively French pastime.
- Senior Managers
Lahiru U. Munasinghe
Head of Engineering“I never knew there were opportunities for a qualified engineer to work in the hospitality industry and grow as a manager. But this changed once I joined Jetwing.”For Lahiru, bridging the gap between engineering and hospitality was unplanned. Inheriting an interest in the subject from his father, whom he calls his mentor, Lahiru went on to study at the University of Moratuwa where he earned both a BSc. (Hons) in Engineering and an MSc in Sustainable Process Development through an affiliated programme with Telemark University in Norway. His memberships and accreditations thereafter read as they would for any engineer of his caliber, but Lahiru’s talents shone through when he joined our family as a Management Trainee, and has gone on to represent Jetwing at many local and international forums on sustainability and renewable energy since.Described as soft spoken but also known as a careful analyst, Lahiru is no stranger to busy days at Jetwing. When he isn’t on site visits at one of our properties, one can find Lahiru working meticulously with our Operations team at Jetwing House in Colombo. Lahiru’s gradual growth into a managerial position from a qualified engineer is also one of the many accomplishments he is proud of. Aside from an expanded scope of responsibilities, he attributes the success of this advancement to knowledge and experience – both of which are two key pillars he believes in building upon to move forward.And as he progresses, Lahiru’s desire for exploration will be fueled by his curiosity - whether its fulfilling his passion for technology and evolution, travelling to unheard destinations around Sri Lanka with friends and family, or even helping his wife build her spectacular collection of over 2000 books.
- General Managers
Director, Jetwing Cultural Triangle Hotels (Jetwing Lake & Jetwing Vil Uyana)
“…my mother is my role model in life, from the beginning she encouraged me to take up a career in the hospitality industry, she believed I would succeed and she has been a guiding light encouraging me every step of the way…”Priyanthika had just completed her Advanced Level exams and was awaiting results when her mother posted an application on her behalf for a Hotel Management course – and was selected much to her mother’s delight. The course was in basic level housekeeping, and it was on that first day at Hotel School while she was listening to the introductory speech by the late Mrs. Pearl Heenatigala, the Principal of the Ceylon Hotel School, that a sense of determination came over her, and she set herself a goal: ‘I will become an executive housekeeper someday’. She describes her mother as a kind hearted, humble and educated lady who brought up seven children on her own, ever since her husband passed away. She encouraged Priyanthika to thrive in the hospitality trade, motivating her to continue studies up to Advanced Diploma in Housekeeping.
Living in the heart of Wellawatte, Colombo, Priyanthika attended Visaka Vidyalaya, and showed an active interest in sport. An avid cricket fan, she and her friends never missed watching the interschool ‘Big Matches’ played in Colombo. Eventually she herself, played cricket for the school, and played for the school netball team as well.
She started off her career as a trainee at Hotel Horizon Koggala, moving to become a Linen keeper and Housekeeping Supervisor. Working hard every step of the way, she rose from Assistant Housekeeper at Villa Ocean View, Wadduwa to finally realise her dream as an Executive Housekeeper at Wornel’s Reef Hotel, Beruwala. Having reached her goals early in life, she then took on a new challenge when she joined Palm garden Hotel in Beruwala in the same capacity.
Challenges in life come in many forms and she decided to take a step back from work when her mother fell ill, and Priyanthika moved closer to Colombo. This change was tough as her prior experience was mostly in the resort hotels. However, helped by a close friend, Priyanthika found an opening at the Taj Samudra Hotel in Colombo and was soon employed there as a Senior Assistant Housekeeper. Moving a step down the career ladder was a difficult transition but it was one she handled bravely, hoping for better prospects to come.
And indeed it did. In 1991 her career path transformed when she joined the Jetwing Group as Executive Housekeeper of Blue Oceanic Beach Hotel and Royal Oceanic Hotel (now Jetwing Blue and Jetwing Beach). Subsequent transfers and promotions within the group at Jetwing Lighthouse and Jetwing Vil Uyana - where her outstanding performance was noted by the management, Priyanthika was promoted as one of the few female General Managers in the Jetwing Group. She took on a challenge again in 2014 when she returned to Jetwing Lighthouse, Galle once more, and during her tenure she guided the team to win many global awards for the Hotel under her able leadership.
Hospitality is definitely a natural trait and she loves to entertain friends whenever time permits from her busy schedule and Priyanthika includes listening to music and astrology - she is a diploma holder in the subject includes as her pastime activity. Being sincere and candid Priyanthika prefers a practical approach when dealing with people. “I do not have bigger plans in my life, but I take whatever I get as a challenge" modest words that describe her personality, perfectly.
General Manager, Jetwing Lagoon
“Tourism was booming in 70s and 80s. It attracted lots of youth and it was fun working in hotels and they earned good money. So I too joined hotels”.The 6th in a family of 8, Gamunu was born in Matara, but his family moved to Kandy soon after and Gamunu received his primary and secondary education at Dharmaraja College, Kandy. His love for sports resulted in many wins playing for the school cricket and badminton teams.
Seeking his niche in a world of professions and joining the National Apprenticeship Board (NAB) was just the steppingstone Gamunu needed. Having successfully completed the course, he joined Mount Lavinia Hotel as a trainee steward in 1981. For the next 10 years, Gamunu trained and took on various positions at renowned hotels. Despite a tough and rather stressful schedule, he enrolled at the Sri Lanka Institute of Tourism & Hotel Management – formerly Ceylon Hotel School. Attending hotel school he worked the evening shift for Hotel Lanka Oberoi (presently known as the Cinnamon Grand). All that hard work brought results and Gamunu achieved his goal by completing the four year management diploma with a Second Class Upper, along with a specialisation in Food & Beverage operations. At the awards ceremony he went on to win “The Godfrey Perera Challenge Trophy” for the best student in wine studies in 1991. A Fellow Member of the Ceylon Hotel School Graduates Association since 1999’ he also serves in the Executive Committee of the Association.Gamunu draws his inspiration of the hospitality industry, from Mr.S.V.Ranasinghe (former Restaurant Manager at Lanka Oberoi), the Late Mr. Rohan De Mel (former F&B Manager at Mount Lavinia Hotel & Lecturer at Ceylon Hotel School), and the Late Mr. Herbert Cooray (Founder Chairman of Jetwing).
With a string of achievements and a wealth of experience including a short stint in Saudi Arabia, Gamunu joined the Jetwing group in 1992 and has ever since worked at numerous hotels within the group around the island, inspiring those around him with his charm and infectious smile.
‘I love reading and watching Rugby. I do little bit of painting too’ he says of his rare times of leisure. The proud father of a daughter who is studying in Bangalore, India and a son schooling at St. Joseph’s College, Colombo, his wife took retirement recently - but Gamunu has no plans to do so anytime soon ‘…because, I want to serve Jetwing as much as I can’ is his passionate confirmation on the matter.
General Manager, Jetwing Saman Villas
“…I wanted to be a rock star, but my friend convinced me to join the hotel industry. As we were both musicians, I got the opportunity to work and play for a band as well…”Starting his career as an entertainer at the hotel lobby charming guests with his guitar and voice, Wester’s bubbly personality and inimitable charisma appeals to all who meet him – helping him greatly in his role at the helm of Jetwing Surf.
Known fondly as the ‘singing hotelier’, Wester’s long career in the industry has taken him to some fascinating locations around the world, and he cites Yemen as a place which impressed him as being as historically interesting as Sri Lanka. Wester has also lived in Egypt for some time.
Passionately community conscious Wester is a firm believer of working closely with local people, creating tours in and around the area to promote the community and livelihoods to benefit them too. Leading his team at Jetwing Lagoon and subsequently at Sunrise by Jetwing with equal commitment he states four aspects as his main areas of supervision to ensure smooth operations of the hotel: guests, staff, the property and profit. Each area, he says, has its own challenges and he finds the best way to overcome them is to maintain constant checks and ensure efficiency in each area.
Beginning his career at Jetwing in 2004, Wester joined Blue Oceanic Beach Hotel as an Assistant Manager and was soon promoted to the post of General Manager at St. Andrew’s and then on to Jetwing Lighthouse. His extensive experience in operations and commendable skills in management earned him the chance to steer Jetwing Lagoon - formerly known as Blue Lagoon and architect Geoffrey Bawa’s first dream hotel in 2012 from its launch stage which he considers as one of his most exciting projects to date. Thereafter, he went on to lead the team at Sunrise by Jetwing in 2018 with his latest appointment coming in as the General Manager of Jetwing Surf, an epitome of eco-luxury on the east coast.
General Manager, Jetwing St. Andrew’s
“…we had our honeymoon here, long years ago. Back then there was no adventure travel or such unlike today, if so I would have dared my new wife to go to Lover’s Leap waterfall by bicycle…”Still exuding impish charm and natural warmth Leuke embodies the very spirit of Jetwing St. Andrew’s, bringing his own brand of lively, hands-on management style to further its success. His trade mark tie pin with a knife and fork clipped to it acts as a sort of symbol that represents his remarkable career of over 30 years – a steady rise from waiter to general manager.
Having gained valuable exposure overseas for several years, Leuke returned to Sri Lanka, and was overjoyed to be offered a place close to his heart – Jetwing St. Andrew’s was where he spent his honeymoon. Although nostalgic about its past he is equally excited about the hotel’s expansion nearly doubling its capacity, seeing it as a unique blending of the old and the new. “We will of course maintain the old charm and superb service that makes this a true country house with wood fires, afternoon cream teas, and sumptuous dinners in the grand wood panelled and copper ceilinged dining room…” he states with great enthusiasm.During his tenure, he has seen many changes take place in the area with Nuwara Eliya fast becoming a destination of its own right. He has been quick to take advantage of the new influx with innovative offerings from the hotel such as golf packages, waterfall tours, cultural walks and such where guests can truly explore and learn more about the tea country. Leuke is also a keen advocate of social projects and being environmentally conscious and leads the hotel in initiating CSR projects that benefit the community and the locality.
General Manager, Jetwing Sea
“To offer love and care for a person, animal or thing is the best thing one can do.”This was the philosophy Jetwing's beloved founder and late chairman, Mr. Herbert Cooray instilled in Bandara - one that he carries with him to this day. Bandara's Jetwing story begins in 1983, where he was employed at Barnes Place. When the riots broke out, he found himself in a tough situation - unable to leave the premises due to the imposed curfew. Perhaps it was kismet as a few doors down resided the Coorays and Mrs Cooray, having noticed Bandara’s situation, offered him food for four days. Thus, a friendship was born and the rest as they say, was history.
Native to the Bakinigahawela village in the country's Uva Province, Bandara's adventurous childhood was spent in the village's surrounding national parks, reservoirs and forests. Here, he attended Bakinigahawela Sinhala Vidyalaya and Madagama Maha Vidyalaya where he immersed himself in sports, drama, singing and scouting. Although a happy child, full of life and love - growing up was not easy. Born into a farming family of 8, every day he made the 6 km journey to school on foot, determined to not let his circumstances get in the way of an education.Life with Jetwing soon became a family affair with Bandara first meeting his wife at the Royal Oceanic (now known as Jetwing Beach), who is also currently attached to the Tamarind Tree Hotel, formerly run by the Jetwing Group. It must have been in their blood as his two brothers are also employed at Jetwing Beach and Jetwing Lighthouse, along with his eldest son who went on to spend time with the Jetwing Family at Jetwing Colombo Seven.
Bandara's day begins with a routine visit around the property, greeting guests and ensuring they're well taken care of. Weekly meeting sessions are held with all department heads where planning and work allocation takes place. Described as honest, approachable and understanding by his colleagues and as a truly treasured member of the Jetwing Family, Bandara takes pride in imparting all that he's learnt in his 36 year tenure on his team, striving to uphold the values of sincerity, loyalty and honesty through the company's vision, mission and core values.
General Manager, Jie Jie Beach By Jetwing
"We need to remember one simple rule no matter what designation you carry. All of us in the trade have one simple job – that is to anticipate, and take care of the wants and needs of our valued guests."
Anthony is a big believer in teamwork. His friends and colleagues say that they can always count on him, and ensure that they always rise to the occasion together. So much so that one often finds Anthony not at his desk, but walking the seaside corridors of Jie Jie Beach by Jetwing – where he meets each team in their own spaces.Irrespective of what time Anthony wraps up with his team each night; he’s always up by 5:00 AM on the next day. Even at home, Anthony has a team for life – his wife, Charithri, who he helps make an early departure at 6:30 AM for her job every day. With a smile on his face, Anthony speaks highly of Charithri, and attributes his success to her as a pillar of strength and understanding through a career in hospitality that has spanned over three decades.
Prior to joining the Jetwing family, Anthony began his career at the Ceylon Intercontinental Hotel in 1987, and later moved to The Hilton Colombo in 1992. Having begun his career as a Trainee Restaurant Cashier, Anthony quickly rose through the ranks with a background in hotel administration and finance, before eventually taking up the mantle of General Manager at Jie Jie Beach by Jetwing. He recalls that pursuing a career in hospitality was never on his mind, but after being rejected by the Navy to be a Cadet Officer because of his visual impairments, he took up the opportunity with a passion. The rest is history.
Head of Galle Hotels
“…hospitality means primarily the creation of free space where the stranger can enter and become a friend… this is a favourite quote of mine, and something I believe in strongly and try to apply to my work”
Hakmana, Matara in the extreme south of Sri Lanka is a peaceful and tranquil village virtually dozing in the shadow of the Sinharaja Forest Reserve is where Indika was born and bred in a large family with two brothers and two sisters. Both parents being in the teaching profession, he and his siblings enjoyed a simple and idyllic, environment in which they grew up. Educated at Central College in Matara, he represented his school in cricket. Although he did not become a star in the sport, he was a good player who stood out and was recognised.
Leaving school, he had no dreams of a career for himself, but was influenced by his brother who was a Food & Beverage Manager and also his Brother-in-Law who was a Chef. Gradually he was “steered” in the direction of the hospitality trade and decided that this would be his future. It is only when he actually stepped into this field that he discovered his natural talent and an interest in relating to people - a trait that served to spell his success in this field. In 1999 Indika started work as a trainee receptionist at the Oasis Hotel in Hambantota immediately after completing his first basic level course at the Sri Lanka Institute of Tourism and Hotel Management in Weligama. With determination and passion, Indika followed a Diploma in Hotel Management in 2005 and subsequently secured membership in the Ceylon Hotel School Graduates Association Executive Committee.He joined the Jetwing group in 2006 as a Sales and Reservations Executive, and has progressed in leaps and bounds thereafter. The Jetwing group opened up many avenues to explore, which Indika relished - especially the opportunity to bring his talents to the fore and he stood out among the associates; so much so that Jetwing provided him the chance to study Tourism and Hospitality Management at one of the leading hotel schools in Netherlands known as ‘The Hague’ in 2012. Indika’s gratitude rests with the Management who recognised his talents and capabilities, opening the way for him to progress, and then later appointing him to manage the flagship Hotel at Jetwing Vil Uyana.
Thereon, Indika took on the role of General Manager at Jetwing Lake and it became the ideal playing field as it presented a variety of challenges which he met with ease. With his latest achievement of being appointed as the Head of the Cultural Triangle Hotels, he continues to strive for better results, new innovations and changes, and ensures that the needs and requirements of not only the guests, but members of his staff are met. Indika firmly believes that maintaining good guest satisfaction is the key factor in the hospitality trade.
Spending time with his wife and little daughter, he considers as his fondest pastime. Indika is also full of appreciation towards his parents for providing him with ideas, advice, and encouragement to be what he is today.
General Manager, Jetwing Colombo Seven
"I always wanted to join an airline or hotel, and travel around the world experiencing other cultures."To date, Ajantha has already joined numerous hotels and that too, around the world. After graduating from hotel school in Sri Lanka, Ajantha began his career as a Management Trainee at The Hilton Colombo and worked his way through the ranks as a Business Development Manager and Front Desk Manager. His knack for the industry later saw him take on roles in The Hilton Dubai Jumeirah and The Hilton Brisbane, before eventually returning to Sri Lanka as the Director of Sales and Marketing for Cinnamon Lakeside in Colombo. Of course, Ajantha’s passion for travel meant that he would jetset beyond our shores once more – this time to New Zealand, where he not only completed a diploma in Business Management, but also served as the Assistant Manager for Heritage Hotels.
Ajantha’s role as the General Manager at Jetwing Lagoon and his latest role as General Manager at Jetwing Colombo Seven has allowed him to bring his international expertise closer to home – by sharing his worldview with a team he considers family.Having grown up hearing stories from relatives who worked in hotels around the world, a career in hospitality was fitting not only because it was one he could relate to, but one that remained close to his heart. Today, as Ajantha completes two decades of experience in the industry, he holds numerous stories of his own - ready to inspire the next generation of professionals who want to pursue a career in hospitality.
General Manager, Jetwing Yala
"Hospitality is not rocket science; it is simply taking care of a guest as if they are family."- Naminda Rathnayake
Surrounded by nothing but greenery Naminda was born in picturesque Belihuloya, a village that is in abundance of rivers carrying clear cool waters. Naminda’s father was a forest officer, which allowed him to wander freely into the deep green forests instilling in him an interest towards preserving nature and building a life around it. Educated at one of the most beautiful schools in the country St. Thomas' College Bandarawela, Naminda spent most of his time playing cricket, hitting the ball in all directions.
Naminda didn’t shy away from studies and was an enthusiastic learner; after his A/L examination together with a bunch of his friends he applied to the Ceylon Hotel School in Bandarawela where he completed basic level courses in housekeeping, front office, cookery, restaurant and bar. Determined to excel in the hospitality industry Naminda went on to obtain a Management Diploma in Hotel & Catering Operations specializing in housekeeping from the Sri Lanka Institute of Tourism & Hotel Management in Colombo. It was no surprise that he was awarded the best student in his batch for his steadfast nature proved in his daily work. He shone further during his industrial training at Koggala Beach Hotel, Taj Exotica Bentota and Galadari Hotel, which paved way for a management traineeship at John Keells Hotels, where he worked within his expertise as housekeeping executive at both Cinnamon Wild and former Chaaya Village Habarana. During this time he attended a Professional Development Program in Dubai, UAE conducted by the Emirates Academy of Hospitality Management. Naminda then went on to work with Cinnamon Hotels & Resorts in Sri Lanka and the Maldives for five years and also at Avani Bentota, where he underwent a Professional Exposure Training Program with Minor International Hotels (Anantara Hua Hin and Marriot Hotel) in Thailand, and also at Club Palm Bay before he joined the Jetwing family in 2013.
In a matter of three years he soon showed signs of leadership which allowed him to breeze through the roles of Executive Housekeeper, Rooms Division Manager and Assistant Manager at Jetwing Yala. Having deep respect for Gamunu Srilal, former General Manager at Jetwing Yala, Naminda followed in his leadership footsteps. Naminda’s talents and capabilities stood out from the rest, his belief in maintaining high guest satisfaction led him to pay extreme attention to detail in the interest of upholding high standards. This complimented with his warm nature enriched his charisma making him one of the youngest managers in the family when he took up the role of General Manager of Jetwing Kaduruketha. Always up for a challenge Naminda was enthusiastic in taking on his new role as General Manager at Jetwing Yala, which takes him back to his roots of being well within nature. Having big plans for the property Naminda passionately works closely with his associates to offer a memorable service to each guest visiting the heart of Sri Lankas wildlife.
Naminda met his beautiful wife in the hospitality industry and he enjoys spending time with his daughter during his free time.
General Manager, Jetwing Kandy Gallery
"A dream does not become reality through magic; it takes sweat, determination and hardwork." – Colin Powell
In a word Dilip can be described as determined – always up for a challenge and sees every task into perfection. Born and bred in the royal hill capital of Kandy, Dilip showed a keen interest towards sports. From a young age this exposure towards sports curved him into a team player allowing him to get the best out from his peers and follow a strenuous yet resolute path towards achieving a goal. As a member of the school athletics team and captain of the rugby team, Dilip has followed a winning streak.
After having successfully passed his examinations in school Dilip’s ambition was clear – he wanted to play his part in the hospitality industry. Immediately afterwards he followed a front office/reception and housekeeping course at the Ceylon Hotel School & School of Tourism in Kandy. From this point onwards Dilip was unstoppable, from Triton Ahungalla, Blue Waters Wadduwa, Swiss Residence Kandy, Yala Safari Hotel and Hunas Falls, he performed exceptionally well in the front office. His talents were immediately recognized when he joined the Jetwing family 10 years ago; having started as a Reservations Executive in 2007 at Jetwing House, his leadership qualities shone through which resulted in him taking up the role of team leader for reservations sales. His friendly nature and persistence led him to a promotion as Front Office Executive at Jetwing Vil Uyana and yet again to Front Office Manager within a year. His passion and drive complements his achievements which saw to him taking up the role of Rooms Division Manager at Jetwing Vil Uyana. With the promise of providing an exceptional service to the guests Dilip was committed to uphold the best standards and ensured that his associates were motivated to follow a common goal. He was enthusiastic to learn about the environs in keeping to the concept of the property – although it was not his area of expertise he was determined to learn about the bio-diversity and so he did. He has always an interest in bird watching – Jetwing Vil Uyana was the perfect location to better his knowledge. His enthusiasm led him to take guests on nature trails in the absence of the naturalist. Dilip says, “Anything is possible when you have love and interest towards your work, and that inspires me every day!” Dilip loves to take up challenges, his role as general manager at Jetwing Kandy Gallery is one that he took up with a passion. His charisma is infectious making him one of the friendliest managers in the family.
During his free time Dilip likes to keep in touch with sports – he enjoys playing badminton to keep fit. He also takes pleasure in spending time with his beautiful family.
General Manager, Mermaid Hotel & Club
"Success is no accident - it is hard work, perseverance, sacrifice, and most of all love of what you are doing or learning to do."With humble beginnings as a dishwasher, there is no better personification of the above quote than Dayan Ganegoda, General Manager at Mermaid Hotel & Club. Dayan’s journey began in the rolling hills and cool climes of Kandy, where he spent his childhood playing rugby, being a part of the school cadet platoon and as a member of his school’s western band, hoping to one day join the Sri Lankan Army. Born into a tight-knit family, Dayan cites his father’s passing as one of the most significant events that have made him who he is today, having to step into the role of head of the household for his mother and brother, a challenge he faced with the same spirit he has exemplified throughout his life - with courage, humility and persistence.A natural born leader, Dayan’s team describe him as a strong advocate for professional growth and performance, loyal, respectful and always ready to go the extra mile, while striving to foster a strong, supportive culture amongst his colleagues. While at work, Dayan’s responsibilities range from the smooth operation of 81 highly occupied rooms, reaching financial targets and ensuring the best possible experience for his staff and guests alike, and while at home, his interests are equally varied. A tenacious reader, he spends his time expanding his knowledge on the world around him, gardening - something he considers as the ideal way to deal with stress, stay healthy and stay in tune with nature, and exploring the art of astronomy, a subject that has fascinated him throughout his life.
Ravindra de Silva
Manager, Jetwing Blue & Jetwing Beach
"Man's prime duty is to serve the man."Ravindra’s story begins in Galle, the administrative capital of the Southern Province and home to the culturally significant Galle Fort, and although he has only been at Jetwing Hotels for 7 years, many (including himself) would say that it was his destiny to be a part of the Jetwing Family. Having lived only a few metres away from the iconic Jetwing Lighthouse, Ravindra was privy to the ins and outs of the hotel, even watching the hotel’s employees go about their duties as he walked to and from school - instilling in him a desire to one day be a part of the hospitality industry.
A man driven solely by his desire to work hard, with honesty, integrity and a relentless pursuit of his goals, Ravindra finds inspiration in his role as a Manager of the best hideaway on the East Coast - often aligning his ambitions with the company’s objectives. He champions teamwork, and is described by many as reliable and strong in character. As such, a regular day for him includes overseeing the hotel’s day-to-day operations including coordinating and supervising multiple functions from across departments, monitoring the performance of revenue outlets, reviewing new business development opportunities and ensuring that guests are given the complete Jetwing treatment and completely taken care of. When Ravindra is off the clock - you wouldn’t be pressed to find him with his nose in a book.A graduate of the Sri Lanka Institute of Tourism and Hotel Management, Ravindra’s track record is equal parts impressive and a clear reflection of the values he has upheld throughout his life. He was awarded the ‘Most Outstanding Management Diploma Holder’, the Colombo Hilton Trophy for being the best student in his intermediate level studies and the Chandana Jayawardane Trophy for being the best student in his advanced levels studies at his alma mater.
Resident Manager, Jetwing Kaduruketha
Born and raised in Kandy and later in Mawanella, Kelum spent his childhood days with his father; now a retired electrical engineer and his mother, a stay-at-home mum together with his brother and sister. Growing up, Kelum enjoyed playing Rugby as well as power lifting - one of his favourite past-times.
For a man who likes to live in the moment, Kelum is an eager traveler who loves discovering new spaces and exploring the many experiences around Sri Lanka. Though he had no special interest in joining the tourism and hospitality industry as a kid, his social and outgoing nature eventually led him to pursue a career in the industry. After having graduated from SLITHM - specialized in F&B, Kelum stepped into the field working at Cinnamon & Heritance Hotels where he gained much training and experience for a good two years specializing in food and beverage before joining Jetwing Hotels in 2010. Passionate about leading a simple life, Kelum's love for Jetwing Hotels stems from the simplicity of its associates and the work culture at the company.
Being a part of the Jetwing family for 11 years, Kelum's long-lasting passion for the tourism and hospitality industry constantly motivates him to reach greater heights.
Kelum describes an average day at Jetwing as productive, while he spends most of his time at the hotel looking into the daily operations, he makes allowance to spend some quality time with his family.
Kelum's favourite memory with Jetwing Hotels thus far is working at Negombo as it opened up multiple avenues that helped advance his career in the hospitality industry.
Having worked at many Jetwing properties gave Kelum a range of unique and distinct experiences, however working at Jetwing Lake has served a different purpose – "All places I worked at gave me different experiences in my professional life, but I mostly loved working at Jetwing Lake as it always gave me an energy to be open minded."
When asked if there was one thing he could attribute to his success, Kelum's reply was simple: self-discipline and a constant focus - a lesson he believed to have picked up from his young Rugby days. At present, Kelum lives in Panadura with his wife.
A. Vivian Vaz
Team Leader, Hotel J Negombo
“Earn people more than money – that’s the advice my dad gave me when he dropped me to work for the very first time.”Although he began pursuing a career in finance, hospitality was always an integral part of Vivian’s life. Most weekends growing up were spent in Kalutara with his mother and brother, at the hotel his father worked for at the time. Vivian considered it a second home, and the birthplace of his inspiration to join the industry – so much so that he applied for his Diploma in Hospitality Management at the Sri Lanka Institute of Tourism & Hotel Management, while studying for his CIMA qualification at the same time.
Heeding his father's words, Vivian was eventually entrusted with the responsibility of leading our team at Hotel J Negombo at the mere age of 26. From running between the wickets down the streets of Colombo 13, to running the first select service brand in Sri Lanka, and now steering the quintessence of luxury hospitality in the North that is Jetwing Jaffna, Vivian continues to live up to his colleagues' description of him as a 'busy bee'. His contagious motivation fuels the hotel with an energy that puts a smile on anyone he encounters, eternally driving his passion toward helping others grow.And even when he’s not on his feet at the hotel, he's still on his feet with his friends playing cricket and soccer – a sport that has held a special place in his heart ever since his days at St. Joseph’s College.
Farrel J. Blom
Team Leader, Hotel J Unawatuna
"My mum always said, 'aim for the moon, at least you may end up the stars'. I’ve always given myself higher targets in life, even if I have to fail several times before achieving them."Farrel's latest achievement was his appointment as the Team Leader of Hotel J at the age of just 25. Following his days at St. Joseph’s College in Colombo, Farrel went on to pursue an Advanced Certificate course in HR at the National Institute of Business Management (NIBM) before graduating from the Sri Lanka Institute of Tourism & Hotel Management. It was at the latter where his career began as a hotel school trainee in the AVANI Bentota Resort & Spa, and later progressed in the Food & Beverage Departments of Jetwing Blue and Jetwing Lighthouse thereafter.
Although he wanted to follow in the footsteps of his father, a veteran planter, Farrel’s love for cooking eventually brought him to the hospitality industry. His friends and colleagues are always quick to describe him as a lover of all things food, and he continuously proves them right when he’s plating up some of his finest dishes for his family and loved ones in his spare time.Growing up in the Colombo suburb of Ja-Ela, Farrel would always look forward to weekends in the mountains – where, along with his mother, his sister and himself would often join their father in bungalows within highland tea estates. The cool climes with only the sounds of nature would always draw him back to hills, and though today he has chosen to leave the misty winds behind, the sea breeze of the southern coastline has already earned its place as his second home.
Team Leader, Hotel J City Beds“Hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard” – Tim Notke.A quote Sameera keeps close to his heart: as rarely as it occurs, he believes that if one day he fails, his hard work and dedication will get him right back on track. Growing up in the tropical city of Negombo, and following his early education at St. Mary’s, he first joined the national carrier, Sri Lankan Airlines and has been well versed in customer service ever since. With a passion for hospitality, Sameera joined the Jetwing family in 2012 with the hopes of following a career he loved. Years on, his latest achievement is being appointed as team leader of Hotel J City Beds, a cozy, budget friendly accommodation in the heart of Colombo!Always hungry to learn, Sameera enjoys watching documentaries and researching different cultures, countries, and people in his free time as he finds that it brings value to both his personal and career development. His biggest inspiration being his late father, Sameera values every lesson learnt from him, as patience, empathy, focus, loyalty, and responsibility is what has moulded him into who he is today.
Bungalow Manager, Jetwing Warwick Gardens"Protect Mother Nature and she will always take care of you, even in the hardest of times."Dinesh's childhood was spent in the Ampara area, where he played in the surrounding forests, waterfalls, lakes and paddy fields. When he was 12 years old, he came across an injured deer, caught in a hunter’s trap and unwilling to abandon it, Dinesh saved it. It was at this moment that he knew he would dedicate his life to saving and conserving Sri Lanka’s flora and fauna.An alumni of D.S. Senanayake National School and Nilai University in Malaysia, Dinesh began his Jetwing career in December of 2018 as a Naturalist and has since been situated at Jetwing St. Andrew’s, Sri Lanka’s only locale dedicated to frog conversation, home to a range of critically endangered frog species. This perhaps is Dinesh’s favourite part of being at Jetwing, having conducted international scientific research and producing publications on frogs (amongst others), where he spends his time in the wetlands, conducting further research on the diverse and exciting plethora of animals that reside there.A typical day in the life of a Jetwing St. Andrew's Naturalist kicks off with a 5 AM hike at Horton Plains, Kirigalpotha or Thotupola. On days Dinesh doesn't hike, a 6:30 AM bird watching tour takes its place, followed by an 8 AM morning meeting with his department staff. Then, the day is spent with guests, looking after the organic farms at Jetwing St. Andrew's and Jetwing Warwick Gardens, preparing the garden for the Nuwara Eliya Wasantha Senakeliya, organizing educational programmes for schools/ hotel school students and finally, a 7 PM frog watching tour. A true adventurer, Dinesh spends his off days hiking (he has climbed a total of 67 mountains - 7 of them being the highest in the country), rock climbing, camping and partaking in wildlife photography.
Executive Chef at Jetwing Lighthouse
"…I may have travelled the world and sampled great cuisine, but my favourite chef is my wife, she prepares such tasty food…"
A devout family man and a simple soul with a ready smile, Nihal’s unpretentious manner belies the fame he has achieved as a celebrity chef supreme. Hailing from Galle he is a true Southerner at heart, and deeply rooted to his heritage he is a passionate advocate of the region’s cuisine. With an avid interest in the culinary arts he wanted to learn something new and different - to explore a possible career in the field. To that end, upon completing his schooling, Nihal joined Mount Royal Beach Hotel as a trainee cook.
A quick and dedicated learner, Nihal was able to move on to the then Galadari Meridian to train under the tutelage of renowned French master chefs such as Antoine Rodrigues. He progressed steadily at the Galadari over the next 9 years, and his drive, commitment, and impressive ability enabled him to take his place with the elite chefs in Dubai where the Le Meridian gave him ample opportunity to gain valuable experience in a glittering world of five star glamour and the achieve the high levels of professionalism required to thrive in it. In this highly challenging atmosphere he was able to prove his proficiency and hone his skills, before returning to Colombo to take up position as Head Chef. During his tenure overseas, Nihal also gained wide global exposure participating in programmes in Hungary, Switzerland, China and Germany at five star hotels such as Radisson, SAS and Ramada.
Returning to his Motherland, Nihal joined Jetwing Lighthouse in 1997 in time for the hotel’s opening as a Sous Chef and has, over the years, risen to become its Executive Chef. Finding clear direction and a ‘second home’ at Jetwing Lighthouse; and with a restaurant named after him - the world renowned Nihal’s - he continues to be the quiet strength behind the reputation the hotel has earned for its unparalleled culinary excellence.
An executive committee member of the Chefs Guild of Sri Lanka Nihal also takes time off his busy schedule to train youth in the Southern district, sharing his vision and expertise, inspiring them to progress with the same drive and determination that enabled him to succeed. Passionate about local ingredients, he loves teaching about their versatility and value using choice picks from nearby village markets. His lessons are also liberally sprinkled with fascinating tales of Southern rural life. A voracious reader – especially on topics related to his field, his unceasing desire to learn and innovate makes Nihal a truly exceptional culinary expert.
H. A. Tharanga Dharshana
Executive Chef, Jetwing St. Andrew's"Back when my parents were working, my grandmother used to feed me. I noticed her delicious way of cooking with local ingredients, and always helped her out."It was these memorable moments that inspired Chef Dharshana to follow the path he is on today. As part of the Jetwing family, the opportunity to share his cooking with the world is one of his greatest sources of pride and success- having won more culinary awards than his hands can count.Chef Dharshana's decorated career in the hospitality industry began amidst the mountains of his childhood home in Bandarawela. From a trainee cook in the hills, his culinary prowess took him to the Holiday Inn in Colombo, followed by several other resorts around Sri Lanka including Jetwing Beach. Chef Dharshana later took his career to Dubai and the Maldives before eventually returning home to the Jetwing family as an Executive Chef on the eastern coast.
With live seafood and organic vegetables within easy reach, Chef Dharshana attributes much of his newer creations to the unique dining spaces of Jetwing Surf. That being said, the kitchen is his natural habitat – even in his spare time, where it’s not uncommon to find Chef Dharshana surrounded by a huddle of young cooks learning one of his innovative recipes. At Jetwing Surf, he has instilled a culture of continuous learning together with his team – unless they’re on the sand. That’s when they decide to compete against each other in a friendly game of beach volleyball.
Nalin S. Nanayakkara
Executive Chef, Jetwing Yala"There are no complications. Nor do you need to remember everything you said, or everything you've done. Just do what you say, and say only what you can do."Growing up in the southern village of Baddegama, Chef Nalin has always enjoyed the simple things life has to offer. It comes as no surprise then, that you will often find him in his element when he’s outdoors. From a childhood spent between the river and the sea, to a passion for wildlife and cooking on camping trips, Chef Nalin lives and breathes the spirit of Jetwing Yala – and his food is no different.Prior to Jetwing Yala, Chef Nalin worked at Jetwing Lighthouse and the present-day Heritance Ahungalla. His talents have also been recognised beyond our shores, having worked as a pastry chef in the Cayman Islands, and winning a number of medals in culinary competitions around the world.
While the kitchen may seem the most fitting place to encounter him, Chef Nalin’s active lifestyle keeps him on his feet throughout the property on any given day. Even when he has the luxury of time, his workday leisure routine consists of visits to the gym or the dunes of the beach. Only when his off days come around do you lose sight of Chef Nalin, as he disconnects to spend time with his wife and son at home.
Kolitha H. Narangoda
EXECUTIVE CHEF AT JETWING BEACH"Associating with positive-thinking people will, and always has motivated my inner spirits."Chef Kolitha often speaks of the helping hands that extended a warm welcome to our family when he joined us in 2015. His team is one that shares his belief in ‘true commitment to the profession’, which kick-starts every morning at the Jetwing Beach kitchen, where each of Chef Kolitha’s dishes are served with a signature touch of hospitality he has honed from his younger days.
Back home in Gampaha, Chef Kolitha recalls how his father would always make mouthwatering dishes for him and his two brothers. Above all, it was this home-cooked food that inspired Chef Kolitha to pursue a career in hospitality, and the same home-cooked food that taught him how to prepare unforgettable dishes for any palate they encountered. After starting his career as a trainee cook at the Galle Face Hotel in Colombo and earning his Advanced Higher Diploma at the Sri Lanka Institute of Tourism & Hotel Management, Chef Kolitha’s intrinsic culinary inspiration later took him to the Middle East, where he was not only part of the pre-opening team for the Atlantis Palm Jumeirah in Dubai, but was also once the Employee of the Month at the Hilton Corniche in Abu Dhabi.
Returning home in 2011, Chef Kolitha then took his international experience to different coastlines around Sri Lanka - having worked in Yala on the south coast, Passikudah on the east coast, and now Negombo on the northwestern coast. His travels around the island have since enhanced his culinary repertoire in regional Sri Lankan cuisines, which now serves as yet another source of inspiration for the fusion food experiments he carries out in his spare time.
Executive Chef, Jetwing Kaduruketha“…the successes of life are based on tolerance, dedication and responsibility are two wise words that I always attempted to live by…”Born in Kelaniya – his father’s hometown, Subath grew up amidst the hustle and bustle of urban life. He never dreamed that when he left his cherished school days at Kelanitissa Vidyalaya Gonawala to move to Habarana where his mother’s relatives lived, he would be entering a whole new chapter in his life. At Habarana he was close to some of the most significant and beautiful landmarks of Sri Lanka including the world renowned Sigiriya Rock Fortress. Habarana was a picture perfect portrayal of friendly, simple people, seeped in Sri Lankan culture, history and as well as culinary traditions.
Subath enrolled at the Habarana Maha Vidyalaya to continue his studies, where his love for sports blossomed. Long distance running and team sports such as Cricket and Football were his favourites. He made many friends at school, and when it came to choosing a career path, he listened to the good advice of a school mate who was working at the Hotel Sigiriya who gave him insight to the flourishing hotel industry and how he could put his skills to good use. Thus, he began his tenure in the hotel industry as a kitchen helper at Hotel Sigiriya, where his enthusiasm enabled his quick progress to Assistant Cook. After a further successful period in Galway Forest Lodge – Nuwara Eliya, and some overseas experience at Meeru Island, Maldives he joined Jetwing St. Andrews in 2006 as Chef de partie.
Since then he has teamed up with at least 5 chefs, including Chef Lal whose support and advice he values greatly. ‘The bond between people at Jetwing is like that of a family’ he says ‘working together is so satisfying’. He considers hard work as accomplishments and personally rewarding, recalling the hectic days, the achievements being celebrated with the team over a quick game of carrom.
Enthusiastic about his future plans, Subath wants to revamp the a la carte menu with a variety of Indian dishes to suit the upcoming season. Subath has already captivated the interest of many foreign guests through cooking demonstrations on authentic Sri Lankan dishes like ‘Batala Roti’ (sweet potato roti) and hopes to hold more to get the guests involved as well. Strawberry is one of the signature fruits of Nuwara Eliya and he is planning to create new a la carte menu including a wide variety of strawberry based dishes using freshly grown strawberries from the locality.
At his present residence in Kelaniya, Subath enjoys spending time with his wife, 2 children and 2 foster children - a poignant story of Subath’s personal life. During his early years in the industry Subath’s best friend and co-worker was fatally injured in a motorbike accident, and Subath undertook the task of fostering the 2 little children who were left behind after their mother deserted them. Marrying later, Subath has 2 children of his own too, and is a proud father of 4. It is very evident that his philosophy of dedication and responsibility is truly lived by, every day.
Executive Chef, Jetwing Ayurveda Pavilions“…cooking is winning hearts and my aim is to promote healthy, wholesome food, to create unique dishes of authentic Sri Lankan cuisine blending with the Ayurveda concept…”A resident of the Negombo district more or less all his life, Rohan’s home town was Minuwangoda and he began schooling at a Roman Catholic school in Yatiyana till grade 8, and then attended St. Sebastian’s College at Kandana for his higher studies. A keen sportsman, Rohan was very involved in athletics and excelled at discus throwing. His Father was a building contractor and his mother, a housewife; Rohan grew up in a large family with 3 brothers and 2 sisters to share his fun filled childhood escapades.
Rohan’s interest in cooking began at an early age, and he was very keen on becoming a Chef someday. A TV programme called ‘Intimate Escapes’ was Rohan’s inspiration - seeing various dishes and food types being prepared, particularly the varieties of food around the world. The wonders of the culinary world seemed a fascinating one he wanted to explore in depth.
His entry into this dream career began when he joined Blue Oceanic Beach Hotel (now Jetwing Blue) as a Kitchen Helper in 1998, and he has grown with the Jetwing family ever since. Rohan’s hard work and determination to succeed soon saw him climb steadily up the career ladder, quickly moving from the three Commis levels at Blue Oceanic Beach Hotel and at Jetwing Beach to become Demi Chef de Partie there in 2006. Promoted to Chef de Partie in 2008 and to Junior Sous Chef in 2011 he continued to make his mark at Jetwing Beach. He moved to Jetwing Ayurveda Pavilions in 2014 to continue as Junior Sous Chef and continues to impart his considerable talents to date.
An achiever of many accomplishments in the competitive world of culinary arts, Rohan has a string of awards to his name: with accolades for subjects ranging from carving to creative cuisine. Although Rohan’s career has been based in Sri Lanka, his devotion to exploring the fantastic array of fare from various nations is very apparent in the dishes he prepares. With a great interest in fusion cooking and always exploring new ways to combine unusual ingredients and conjure up innovative fare his favourite recipe is the Dhal and Maldive Fish Pattie – his signature dish.
Devoted to his family – his wife and two young sons, he contrives to spend as much time as possible with them – especially to be a guiding light for his children to follow. An avid reader, Rohan also loves gardening and tries to extend his creativity there too.
Executive Sous Chef at Jetwing Sea"I believe experiences are what complete the human experience, which is why I face challenges head on, every day!"The saying goes that to be a good cook, you have to have a love of the good, a love of hard work, and a love of creating, and Ranil’s love of food can be traced to his roots in Dagonna, Negombo where, from a young age, he carefully assisted his mother prepare food for the family and tend to the fruit, vegetables and flowers that grew in their garden. It was here that his dream to become a chef was born, for he knew that there was no greater joy than cooking a meal for those around you.Having been a chef for decades both locally and internationally, spending 5 years at the Taj Airport Garden in Sri Lanka and a further 12 years working at four 5-star hotels in Dubai, Ranil has amassed along the way, a handful of awards - namely the bronze at the 2001 Chef Guild of Lanka and the bronze and two merit awards at the Emirates Culinary Guild. Ranil then found his way into the Jetwing Family in 2016 and has since been delighting guests and staff alike, with his passion for cooking good food.A beloved member of team Jetwing Sea, Ranil begins his day by greeting everyone with a smile. Known as a hands-on leader, he then makes his rounds to ensure the kitchen and his staff are ready for the day, while creating lunch and dinner menus and exploring and experimenting with new ideas for exciting culinary adventures. When he’s not indulging in all things food, Ranil can be found spending time with his wife and three sons or binging on action movies!
R. H. A. Thushara Chaminda
Chef at Calamansi Cove Villas By Jetwing"I have an inner desire to express myself through cookery. So I don’t come to work, I come to live out my passion."Inspired by Gordon Ramsay’s belief that being a chef never seems like a job because it becomes a true passion, Chef Thushara is all smiles when he’s in a kitchen. Naturally, that feeling of joy is also reflected in his multiple culinary art accolades, including two bronze medals and one silver – the latter which he earned within our family at Jetwing, where his prowess has been one to remember for over a decade and counting.Chef Thushara had no intention of joining the hospitality industry though; his wish was to simply help his family. Growing up in the Southern hinterlands near Galle, he recalls his father earning for a close-knit family of six, and wanted to support him in any way he could. Decades later, Chef Thushara garnered a wealth of culinary experience from hotels on the Southern and Western coastlines of Sri Lanka as well as the Maldives, and has given back to his family, joined our family, and even started a family of his own.
Following his time at the bygone Tangalla Bay by Jetwing and Jetwing Lagoon in Negombo, Chef Thushara joined Calamansi Cove Villas by Jetwing – a property he describes as peaceful for the mind, and as a result, making it a pleasurable setting to work with his team. Although his day starts at 7 AM, there’s a good chance you would catch Chef Thushara after one of your meals, when he often enjoys striking up a brief conversation. Often described as strong and hardworking, Chef Thushara is always occupied with ensuring that his team delivers the best culinary experience for our guests. And when he’s not, his spare time is always cherished with his wife and children at home.
- Experiences & Sustainability
Agriculture Manager, Jetwing Kandy Gallery
"Observing animal behavior is enthralling! It’s absolutely mesmerizing to identify and learn about their every movement. Why they act the way they do is like a puzzle ready to be solved."
A vault of knowledge indeed, Bandara, Resident Naturalist at Jetwing Kandy Gallery, has an unstoppable need to learn about bio-diversity when not being amidst it. To him every minute aspect in the environment screams out its circle of life instilling in him a passion to learn and inform others of the beauty of nature.
His inquisitive nature came about at a very young age when he had the knack for running after every insect and animal in his birth village in Kandy. This interest continued on to his school days at Dharmaraja College where he went on to play his part in Environmental Societies, Art Competitions, and Essay Competitions all in relation to nature and science. Following the same stream he successfully completed his examinations in school to obtain a Bachelor of Science degree from the Open University of Sri Lanka where he studied botany, zoology, and physics in detail. He didn’t stop there, Bandara was determined to obtain a Masters Degree in Environment Forestry and so he did from the Postgraduate Institute of Peradeniya.
Deviating from his interests Bandara first joined the advertising field before he soon took up the role of research assistant at the Sinharaja Rain Forest in keeping to his love for the natural world and then went on to be a research student experimenting simple cost effectiveness propagation and growing techniques both with the Botany Department of the University of Peradeniya.
In 2004 Bandara was absorbed into the Jetwing Family where he took up the role of naturalist at Jetwing Eco Holidays. Giving room to strengthen his passion and to make use of his talents, Bandara joined Yala Safari Game Lodge (former Jetwing Yala) as a resident naturalist where he was proven valuable in both tusker and leopard identification research projects. He also initiated the model organic farm to supply fresh vegetables making use of the manure recycled from wet garbage and use of treated water from the sewage treatment plant. Bandara is a survivor of the tragic tsunami that completely destroyed the property in 2004. Determined to further his experience and knowledge, Bandara joined Hunas Falls managed by Jetwing at the time as naturalist where he imitated waste management and herb garden. During this time he managed to reinforce 40 acres of reforestation in the hotel premises under the Jetwing Eternal Earth Program. During this time he had the rare opportunity to record the first Shaheen Falcon’s (Falco peregrinus peregrinator) nesting site in Sri Lanka. Hunas Falls Hotel was awarded as a HACCP Hotel, PATA Gold Award, and Best Green Hotel Award by Switch Asia among many other water and waste management awards. Also a weather station was introduced here to provide information to guests, Jetwing Eco Holidays and government –it was also the very first time that a weather station was introduced in the hotel industry. In 2019 Bandara joined Jetwing Kandy Gallery as a resident naturalist, where he continues to learn and impart knowledge on guests.
Bandara not only takes pictures of wildlife but also is a talented artist. During his free time he enjoys drawing and sketching wildlife.