Sri Lanka - Rohan Karr

Bailliage Sri Lanka
Colombo, February 10, 2023

A stellar reputation in the hospitality industry
" Maître Hôtelier Rohan Karunarajah (Karr for short) has 40 years of experience and a wealth of knowledge "

Maître Hôtelier Rohan Karunarajah (Karr for short) has 40 years of experience and a wealth of knowledge in the hospitality industry. He holds a Master’s Degree in Hospitality and Business Studies from the University of West London. Subsequently he developed a name for himself within the Marriott Group.

Rohan’s reputation is stellar. He has headed re-branding projects; transformed an organisation into multi-million-dollar profit making business; been instrumental in revitalizing standards for the entire domestic hospitality sector; joined the Board of Hayleys plc in 2019 where he currently serves as Executive Director as well as being Managing Director of Hayleys Leisure Sector. Headquartered in Colombo, Hayleys is a story of resilience and pioneering spirit; a journey of accomplishments spanning over 144 years.

In interview, Rohan expressed his thoughts:

Did you always want to work in the hotel industry?
No, not really. I started working in a bank in Sri Lanka but in 1983 I decided to move to England. A student visa was my only option, so I enrolled on a banking course. To fund my education and living expenses, I found a job as a kitchen night porter in a hotel. Attending college in the day, working overnight I had four hours sleep. That was how I entered the hotel industry.

In terms of leadership style, how would you describe yourself?
A passionate perfectionist who encourages innovation. I’m a strong believer in being inspirational. Someone who never settles for second best. My moto is always “be a trendsetter and not a follower”. I highly value the wellbeing of my associates.

What do you like most about being part of the team at Hayleys, especially about your own role in the organization?
As a main board member of the diversified Hayleys conglomerate which covers 16 business sectors, there is always opportunity to learn and be a part of new things. That excites me the most. With Hayleys I have an opportunity and a free hand to take the Leisure Sector to greater heights. To establish Hayleys Leisure Hotels as the most preferred chain of hotels in Sri Lanka. This enables me to make a difference and a positive impact on people’s lives by sharing knowledge and skills which I enjoy very much.

How did you find out about the Chaȋne? Having decided to join, what do you enjoy in particular from your membership?
First of all, I was invited, by the then Chaîne Committee which included Bailli Délégué Nigel Austin; Felicia Sorensen; Janak Hidramani, to host a Chaîne Christmas dinner at Cinnamon Grand when I was General Manager. After which I decided to become a Chaîne member. I enjoy the fellowship with likeminded individuals who celebrate fine food and wine.

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