The journey to GM: David Stepetic joined Gili Lankanfushi from Jumeirah Dhevanafushi in the Maldives and has held the position of General Manager for three years. Prior to that, he was the GM of Laucala Island Resort, an exclusive 25-room resort in Fiji. He is a US national, with over 25 years of luxury hospitality management experience – with 19 of those years spent with Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts in various Food and Beverage and senior management capacities. His experience has taken me from roles in America and Asia, to the South Pacific and the Indian Ocean.
What do you find most inspiring about working in hospitality?
Professionally I really enjoy and appreciate witnessing the development of the hosts (employees) on the team. This business is a rich place to learn and grow and that is an important focus of ours. On a personal note, I enjoy this field as that we have the opportunity to meet and work with such a diverse group of people, in whichever country you are based, and this is a great learning opportunity.
How do you then inspire your hotel staff to ensure a quality guest experience?
Recognition is very important, thus we broadcast and share all the guest comment cards and TripAdvisor reviews, which are a source of pride for the team.
Can you select one USP that makes your hotel stand out in your locale?
Our Private Reserve is the largest standalone over-water villa in the world standing at 1,700sqm, featuring a private spa facility with sauna, indoor and outdoor treatment pavilion, gymnasium, private cinema on the 2nd floor of the central living area, an infinity pool, resident Mr. and/or M.s Friday on call 24 hours, a fully equipped gourmet kitchen, and a water slide installed from the top deck into the coral pool.
Additionally, there are also sea level sundecks with sun loungers with clear views of coral gardens and amazing marine life. Dining spaces include roof-top terraces with daybed and two outdoor dining pavilions.
What do you love most about island life?
The destination is easily accessible by speedboat, just 20 minutes from Male International airport. Guests have the luxury of reconnecting with nature in a natural environment with our “No Shoes, No News” philosophy, as well as doing as much or as little as they want at the resort. There's also the traditional Maldivian-inspired architecture villa suites with large living spaces for guests to relax and feel at home.
The resort's eco-friendly concept puts the focus on sustainability in all activities that we do with our guests and internally with staff. Activities include organic garden farming, producing our own water, an in-house eco-centre to recycle and reuse materials – where we turn them into new items – and then there's our coral line project, where our marine biologist grow corals.
Our Mr. Friday Concept is named after Robinson Crusoe’s loyal friend. Mr Friday makes guests’ stay as pleasant as possible. Day or night, the "Mr. Friday" will swiftly answer any request in mind – even keeping the little ones entertained with storytelling and activities, while parents spend some romantic time reconnecting with each other. Gili Lankanfushi is a place where memories of a lifetime are made: where you arrive as a guest, leave as a friend and return as family.
What do you predict will be the most formative hospitality or luxury travel trend over the next five years?
We may continue to see that new technologies and businesses being developed to assist in selling and booking hotels and resorts. These are new channels are competing with the classic travel advisors.
What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learnt in the hotel game?
Patience and being a good listener – with many hosts on the team, you have to make yourself available and make time for everyone.
Gili Lankanfushi Maldives
Lankanfushi Island, North Malé Atoll, Maldives