Meet Nimal Fernando - Chief Gardener at Kanuhura
May 22 2019
May 22 2019
For those who have had the privilege of experiencing the Maldives, there’s no surprise that it is considered one of the ultimate island destinations in the world. A glittering oasis characterized by crystal-clear waters that shimmer in every shade of blue, rich with an array of vivid marine life, lap powder-fine white beaches, bordered by lush tropical gardens that team with an abundance of unusual flora and fauna - it’s an exotic wonderland.
The Maldives is a destination of wonder and natural beauty. It’s the type of destination that delivers on the promises outlined in glossy travel brochures. Here, unbelievable and unparalleled experiences await discerning travellers. Local islands allow for authentic experiences, while five-star luxury island resorts, like the gypset haven that is Kanuhura, unfurl along private beaches and offer unique experiences to ensure that guests have unforgettable moments in paradise.
At Kanuhura, guests are treated to signature offerings and novel moments to ensure they have a once-in-a-lifetime holiday in the sun. One such experience is a tour of Kanuhura’s Orchid Garden conducted by Nimal Fernando, Chief Gardner on the property, there to make the experience all the more memorable.
We spoke to Nimal Fernando to find out more about his role at Kanuhura and this is what he told us:
How long have you worked for Kanuhura?
I first started working at Kanuhura in 2007 and stayed until 2012. At that stage, it was still part of the One&Only group. During this period, I was taking care of the - at that stage - little Orchid Garden. It was infinitely smaller than it is now and I started to grow and propagate more and more orchids.
When Sun Resorts took over the property and completed their renovations at the end of 2016, I rejoined Kanuhura once more and I have been here ever since!
What does a typical day at work look like for you?
The first thing I do in the morning is to finish up all my admin and email tasks. Next, I gather up my gardening team in the morning for their assigned work and in the afternoon we have a briefing to follow up on all the work completed. I then usually get on a bike and tour the island and visit the Orchid Nursery to check on progress. In the late afternoon, my team and I manage the resort’s waste on a daily basis.
What about your Kanuhura makes you excited about working there?
In addition to the deep passion I have for my work, there are always areas we can improve and there are always new things to learn. Not only that but the management team and my colleagues are very supportive and it gives me added confidence about what we are doing. Most importantly, we have a very friendly environment and that makes a huge difference in the workplace.
How did you develop your interest in flowers?
My passion for flowers - orchids in particular - really started during my academic studies. I’m professionally qualified in Agriculture; I first studied in Sri Lanka and furthered my studies in India. In the final year of my studies, we were asked to do a presentation on a plant and I chose the orchid, which I then had to research. During this process, I learned that orchids are highly economic plants. I was totally fascinated by this beautiful and proud flower and that fascination has never left me. My wife and I even started selling orchids at home and made some extra income. It’s been an incredible journey for me.
Can you tell us a bit about what you do?
Basically, I am in charge of monitoring the vegetation on the island on a daily basis along with my team. But it’s not just about taking care of the vegetation, we are also in charge of pest control and beach maintenance - we have already implemented a master plan in order to avoid a problem with beach erosion on Kanuhura.
Further to that, we are responsible for solid garbage disposal and segregation units. All the fallen leaves are added to the ashes from insulating material and made into compost for soil improvement.
What are some of the things guests enjoy most about what you offer?
Guests are very interested in the nature walk activity on the island. Especially when they are visiting the Orchid Garden, which I naturally love because we get to educate the guests about how we grow the orchids and indigenous plants. They are also very fascinated by the fact that we are growing our very own unique breed of orchid, the Dendrobium Kanuhura. They love that we are growing our own herbs in the magical Chef’s Herb Garden restaurant - by the way, a meal in this garden makes for a great experience.
Why, in your own words, do you think your role at the hotel is so important?
Of course, together with my experienced and well-educated team members, we ensure the nature of the island well-kept and preserved. There are a lot of aspects when it comes to the maintenance we do like maintaining the vegetation, beach cleanliness and all that I have mentioned above, so I really feel we play an important role to ensure the island thrives for many more guests to enjoy.
What makes working at Kanuhura so special?
There are a lot of reasons why working here is special. Kanuhura’s management allows their staff to constantly improve in every way, we are also given freedom of speech where we can freely express ourselves and we are empowered to act accordingly. There are no barriers between each other here and other departments are always understanding and always there to help out. It’s a very supportive environment all around.
What is the most treasured memory of your job?
When I re-joined the hotel after Kanuhura’s refurbishment in 2016, I thought we had lost our special Dendrobium Kanuhura, as there was no one taking care of it and we weren’t able to find it initially. That was heartbreaking. But as I started nurturing the other orchids in the garden, to my utter amazement, I found our rare Dendrobium Kanuhura hidden amongst the young plants again. The memory was priceless and the thought of being able to propagate more of it excited me beyond belief.
What is your favourite part of your job?
Definitely being able to visit the orchids every day. I feel like the orchids have given me the strength and courage that they symbolise. They gave me a new life. I have gained a lot of strength from these incredible plants.
What drew you to the Tourism Industry?
I first started my career as a teacher in agriculture. Due to the economic environment changing over the years, I had to support my family financially and realised it was time to switch careers. I started my hospitality career in 1983 at the Marriot in Saudi Arabia and have always found myself learning. The Tourism Industry offers never-ending opportunities to improve yourself and grow and I enjoy that.
What element/part/facet of your country are you proudest of?
I absolutely love the Maldives, but I am actually from Sri Lanka originally, so I admire the upcountry of Sri Lanka very much. The topography and beautiful landscape my country has to offer as well as the vegetation. You can grow any plants there as the soil is really rich.
If you would like to relish once-in-a-lifetime experiences, like seeing the Dendrobium Kanuhura for yourself alongside Nimal Fernando, in gorgeous tropical surrounds, then book a stay at Kanuhura. It’s a truly breathtaking holiday destination, sure to stay with you for the rest of time.