The Strength of a Woman – HYACINTH GUNEWARDENE OF JETWING
“I have learned that all people whether they be associates or guests, they should be treated as family. That is the essence of true, traditional Sri Lankan hospitality.”
It is this very sentiment, which Hyacinth Gunawardene believes in that makes her one of the most respected associates in the Jetwing Hotels family. Her contribution to the progress of the brand known as the home of Sri Lankan hospitality and the industry was honoured with the Hospitality Award at the 06th Professional and Career Women Awards, which was held on June 24th, 2016 at the Kingsbury Hotel.
Being in the hospitality industry for the past 35 years, Hyacinth is one of three female General Managers in Sri Lanka (the other two are with Jetwing as well). A true pioneer, she leads over 500 associates, and personifies a ‘hands-on’ approach towards hotel operations and guest interaction.
Hyacinth has followed a certificate course in General Management and has attended many training programmes organized by the WTO, Ceylon Tourist Board, HCIMA and Sri Lanka Convention Bureau. Beginning her career as a Trainee Receptionist at the Blue Oceanic Beach Hotel (now known as Jetwing Blue), Hyacinth through her undying dedication and enthusiasm climbed the ladder of success at Jetwing by moving up to the posts of receptionist, front office manager, assistant manager and is now the Director/General Manager of Jetwing Blue and General Manager at Jetwing Beach. She also overlooks operations at Jetwing Ayurveda Pavilions and she is in essence a mentor to all associates who work under her leadership. Additionally, she has held the position of secretary in the Kandy Hoteliers Association and President of the Negombo Hoteliers Association.
Her long standing bond with Jetwing Hotels and success allows her to see the best in her associates and groom them to attain their fullest potential. Currently, she has 522 associates working under her but has influenced the success stories of many more. Jetwing Hotels prides itself on the fact that she was a signatory for the 2015 Women’s Empowerment Principles, UN Global Compact on behalf of Jetwing.
One of the many associates Hyacinth inspired is Nilanthi Wejesorriya, Assistant Manager at Jetwing Jaffna. Nilanthi joined Jetwing Beach as a Guest Relations Officer and was groomed under the supervision of Hyacinth. From Guest Relations Officer at Jetwing Beach to Guest Relations Executive to Rooms Division Manager and now Assistant Manager at Jetwing Jaffna, Nilanthi happily goes on to say that Hyacinth is her role model, and it was purely under her guidance that she was able to move up the ladder of success. She owes her success to Hyacinth and hopes to be like her someday.
“I have always believed that you can expect the best from people only if you have faith in them, and trust them to do the right thing”, says a smiling Hyacinth. “God has blessed me with the ability to see the best in people, and has given me the opportunity to guide and mentor my associates to the highest they can achieve. This award to me is an honour indeed, and I would like to thank the management of Jetwing – namely Herbert Cooray who is no longer with us, Hiran and Shiromal Cooray, and Ruan Samarasinghe for placing their trust in me” she continued.
Family owned and in the tourism industry for the past 43 years, Jetwing Hotels has surpassed expectation at every aspect. Building on their foundation of being passionate, as well as the experience of true, traditional Sri Lankan hospitality, constantly pioneering discoveries captures the essence of the brand. Such a strong statement and direction have enabled Jetwing Hotels to imagine, create and manage marvels and masterpieces, where distinctive design and elegant comfort complement each other and the environment. Considered a priority, sustainable and responsible practice is implemented through the award winning Jetwing Eternal Earth Programme; with energy efficiency, community upliftment, and education of earth saving measures to schoolchildren being a few tenets of the Programme.
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