It was almost inevitable that Dulani would end up managing her family hotel. Now Dulani has founded her own boutique hotel with a focus on eco-tourism.
Interview with Dulani Guruge
Can you tell us about your time at Deakin? Is there anything you especially remember?
I enjoyed my time at Deakin, and I cherish the memories of my studies and the exposure to different cultures, academic intellect and technology, which was the foundation that assisted me in building my career. Also, I acquainted people who have become lifelong friends whom I cherish through my time at Deakin.
What has been your journey since finishing your course? Briefly outline your career path prior to your current role.
I started my career as a Management Trainee at Hemtours, a subsidiary of Hemas Holdings, Sri Lanka and later took over managing the family business, Peacock Beach Hotel, in the aftermath of the tsunami in 2005. Being in the travel and hotel trade for over 15 years, I decided to peruse my passion to create a unique and sustainable hospitality experience, and ventured out to build my own boutique hotel in Weerawila. My hotel has a unique concept that focuses on attracting the high-end traveller segment to the country, with a focus on eco-tourism. We promote a glamping experience to the discerning traveller, while enabling environment conservation and community involvement in our hotel operations.
What has been the biggest influence on your career?
I have always had a passion for the hospitality industry. The love I have for travel, to explore, the unpredictable, and evolving nature of tourism industry that has always driven me to be engaged in hospitality.
Have you always wanted to pursue the kind of career you have embarked on? If so, when and how did you realise?
Having a hotel as a family business, I was exposed to hotel operations and the industry from an early age. It was inevitable that that I would manage the family hotel. However, working for a multi-national company in Sri Lanka, specialising in destination management and inbound tourism, made me realise that this is the field that I would like to focus on. This field has giveen me the opportunity to travel and enhance my knowledge to promote tourism.
What advice would you give graduates wanting to pursue a similar profession?
You need to have a passion for hospitality and travel if you want to be in the hotel industry. Operations, concepts and services are constantly evolving. Also, as this is one of the most sensitive industries to political and economic conditions in a country, you need to be able to adapt and change according to situations that arise.
What do you believe Deakin University has shown you/given you as a person?
The guidance offered by the lecturers and the academic staff, and the flexibility to complete three majors in my degree enabled me to get the knowledge and expertise required to pressure my career goals. Currently I use the knowledge I gained in management, marketing and e-commerce management in my hotel operations, management and marketing initiatives.
What are your passions outside your work?
I love travelling and exploring different parts of the world. My hobbies include nature and wildlife photography, and reading.
How would someone describe you?
An optimistic, determined, spontaneous individual, who is passionate about what they love and do.