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Hilton Double Tree, stunning and picturesque

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By Steve A. Morrell

The Hilton Double Tree, at Weerawila, a Rajawarna Resort, was a stunning revelation to a traveler. Not was, but is, one of incredible natural beauty.

That too, after the hustle and bustle of the city, you travel on the Galle highway, on to Hambantota, and about an hour later, travelling on asphalt smoothness you arrive at the Hilton Double Tree. If one could call it that, it was a revelation of a well placed hotel, that an international brand like the Hilton would manage a guest holding quite as luxurious as the Double Tree.

Although opening of the hotel was as recent as November 2020, we noted the hotel guest list was such that the hotel was at least 90 percent occupied. A big plus for the reputation of the Hilton, more so, its fame for good visitor attention was an added incentive that local tourism was a dynamic message that covid 19, although a serious restrictive influence, alternatives were in place to also encourage internal travel.

At the convened press conference, at Double Tree, General Manager, Krishanta Damunupola, Cluster Commercial Director, Hilton Hotels Sri Lanka, Chris Zappia, were present. Also from the Colombo Hilton, Gigi De Silva, Sanoj Perera, with Thushari and Anish Subhedar.

Chris Zappia, said the Weerawila, Double Tree Hilton, was the first of 607 Double Tree hotels to function in the face of restrictive influence of the covid pandemic. With the Mattala Air Port attaining functionality and expected passenger traffic would increase, the Hotel would be a viable option to both foreign and local tourists. His enthusiastic remarks on the natural beauty of Sri Lanka, including wild life, eco tourism, he said the island had so much to offer that could lure tourists. He agreed the Maldives was better known in the US, attributed to better publicity, than Sri Lanka. He also agreed Sri Lanka had more to offer, and would not be long before the tourist trade would increase.

General Manager Krishanta Damunupola said the Hilton Double Tree is in trend with greenness and an environment of tranquility which is in line with what the hotel offers. The 95 room and its wide space stretched out to a full kilometer in length, which was a concept for peace with salutary amenities that ensured visitor comfort and more in relationship with nature.

We experienced the nature trip to Bundala, a short drive from the hotel; which proved the essence of the relationship with nature was an on-going experience. Bird life, mainly, was an irresistible trip, and more so the guide, who was also the driver of the modified 4 wheel drive, was well versed with the sights and the profusion of bird life.

Although we did not see them, elephant presence was also noticed.

Manager Damunupola said the future of the travel industry was good. Particularly that the Double Tree and its nature concept is in line with the international ‘green lobby’, was an appealing concept for tourism. The Hilton Brand, usually in line with urban stays, completely turned round with the Double Tree concept. Particularly its surrounding atmosphere of salubrious surroundings.

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Seylan Bank’s Islamic Banking Wins Gold at SLIBFI Awards 2019 and Bronze at IFSSA Awards 2020 for Islamic Finance Deal of the Year

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Seylan Bank PLC’s Islamic Banking Unit has placed Sri Lanka prominently in the world of Islamic Finance, securing the joint Gold Award for Deal of the Year 2019 at the recently concluded Sri Lanka Islamic Banking and Finance Industry (SLIBFI) Awards 2019 and Bronze for the same deal at the regional Islamic Finance Forum of South Asia (IFFSA) Awards 2020. Seylan Bank was recognized for successfully financing a Diminishing Musharaka Facility to Timex Bukinda Hydro (U) Ltd as part of a syndicate facility.

The SLIBFI Awards, the premium industry awards for Islamic Finance in Sri Lanka, are presented in conjunction with KPMG, whose key role is to ensure an impartial evaluation process. An independent panel of judges of repute assist in the final adjudications, under the guidance of KPMG. The IFFSA Awards recognize the high achievers in the South Asian region for their efforts in Islamic Banking and Finance during 2019 with industry leading practitioners from Pakistan, Bangladesh, Maldives, India, and other South Asian Countries competing alongside Sri Lanka for accolades.

“Islamic banking is broadly adopted around the world and the preferred choice for some of our clients. Seylan Bank’s Islamic Banking Unit takes pride in being able to facilitate such an important deal for our client. Furthermore, this multiple award-winning deal has also placed Sri Lanka firmly in the global Islamic Finance map” said Ramesh Jayasekara, Chief Operating Officer, Seylan Bank.

The Timex Bukinda Hydro (U) Ltd project transaction has resulted in Sri Lanka understanding the proficiencies and capabilities of Islamic Banking and Financing which has a mere 20-year history in the country. It also portrays Sri Lanka’s own management expertise and engineering capabilities in establishing hydro power plants overseas, thereby putting Sri Lanka on the Global Islamic Banking map.

Speaking on the dual awards M Z Sameer Mohamed, Head- Islamic Banking Unit – Seylan Bank stated, “We are very humbled by the recognition this transaction has received from the wider Islamic Finance community. It has firmly placed Sri Lanka as a partner of choice for future cross border transactions via Sharia compliant platforms, and also created confidence in Foreign Investors and other leading Islamic Financial institutions to obtain more syndicate financing facilities in achieving their corporate goals, which as a result would promote Islamic Finance.”

Seylan Bank, the Bank with a Heart, operates with a vision to offer the ultimate banking experience to its valued customers through cutting-edge technology, innovative products, and best-in-class service. The Bank has a growing clientele of SMEs, Retail and Corporate Customers and has expanded its footprint with 173 branches across the country and an ATM network of 216 units. Seylan Bank has been endorsed as a financially stable organisation with performance excellence across the board by Fitch Ratings, with the bank’s national long-term rating revised upward, from ‘A-(lka)’ to ‘A (lka)’. The bank was ranked second among public listed companies for transparency in corporate reporting by Transparency Global. Seylan Bank has also been named the Most Popular Banking Service Provider in Sri Lanka in Customer Experience by LMD consecutively in 2019 and 2020. These achievements are a testament to Seylan Bank’s financial stability and unwavering dedication to ensure excellence across all endeavours.

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LOLC Finance launches SAVI, the first Credit Card for Pensioners and State employees

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Taking Sri Lanka on a journey towards a cashless world, LOLC Finance – Sri Lanka’s largest Non-Banking Financial Institution (NBFI) has introduced a Credit Card named Savi, which has been exclusively designed for pensioners and State sector employees in the country.

The card was introduced as a part of LOLC Finance’s overall digitisation strategy which is in line with the Central Bank’s ‘2020 – Year of Digital Transactions’ plan to promote and create awareness on digital payments throughout the country.

The Savi Credit Card comes with a variety of offers and benefits exclusively for pensioners and State sector employees. The applicants are not required to pay the joining fee and the annual charges which makes their experience with the card much more rewarding.

A special savings account with a free ATM card with zero charges on withdrawals and online transactions are among the many benefits offered with the Savi card. In addition, LOLC Finance has partnered with some of the country’s leading retail outlets to offer valuable discounts and offers to Savi cardholders.

Conrad Dias, Director/CEO of LOLC Finance PLC and Director LOLC Holdings PLC said, “LOLC Finance is on a mission to support and promote cashless transactions to all segments of the society. We believe, it is our duty to enable pensioners with a cashless journey with multiple benefits since they are the forefathers of our society. Our digitisation strategy has always been a definite competitive advantage that has placed us ahead of our peers at all times”.

The Head of Consumer & Digital Business of LOLC Finance, Hasala Thilekaratne added, “The Savi card is designed to offer unmatched convenience and financial support to this very important segment of our economy. It is also designed on a unique concept to attract and build partnerships with key service providers and to ultimately deliver significant value to the end user. These partnerships will be based on key verticals, always ensuring that the focus and relevance to the target audience is given priority, which in turn will give the end user more reasons to embrace the product”.

In addition, Savi Cardholders are eligible to apply for an instant loan to the maximum value of Rs. 2.5 million with approvals within 24 hours to fulfil any of their urgent financial requirements.

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JKOA joins hands with Asus to release the all-new Expert Center Series Desktop PCs

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ASUS Global designates JKOA as their authorized dealers in Sri Lanka

John Keells Office Automation (Pvt) Ltd. (JKOA), the nation’s leading provider of office automation solutions has partnered with ASUS, the leading multinational company known for the world’s best motherboards, PCs, laptops, notebooks, monitors, graphics cards and routers. ASUS with over 16000 world-class employees and around 5000 R&D teams diligently working towards novel innovations and advanced technology has indeed gained itself a world-renowned recognition for their contribution towards the advancement of the digital world. ASUS Global has designated JKOA, established in 1992, a fully owned subsidiary of John Keells Holdings PLC as their authorized dealers in Sri Lanka. JKOA is highly regarded and is known as a veritable mover and shaker in office automation solutions encompassing a product portfolio of globally established brands. Through this partnership, ASUS has unveiled the All-New Expert Center Series Desktop PCs to Sri Lanka. These are varied, state-of-the-art business desktops that enables extended asset lifecycles, wide range of configurability and eco-friendly sustainability.

To satisfy the needs of every different type of trade and industry, ExpertCenter desktop PCs are built and available in a wide scope of segments and structure. These range from ExpertCenter D3 to D9, offering diverse configurability and meeting or surpassing a variety of world-leading reliability and environmental certifications. Encompassing every single industry, from education and creation, manufacturing to retail, ExpertCenter desktops are prepared to supply long, steady benefits with consistent performance, demonstrating unwavering quality and enterprise-grade manageability.

Extended asset lifecycles empowered by industry-leading ASUS motherboards, plus easy expandability for lower total cost of ownership (TCO) with an ASUS motherboard at the center of each ExpertCenter desktop, businesses are guaranteed of world-leading versatility and unwavering quality. These include the renowned 5X Protection III, a set of hardware safeguards that ensure long-term durability of ASUS motherboards. ExpertCenter desktops have also passed US military-grade durability standards and are also engineered for long-term reliability and quiet operation, even at full performance with multi-channel thermal solutions, customized fan profiles and power-efficient power supplies. The added advantage is that each ExpertCenter desktop PC is prepared both to boost efficiency and remains steady, indeed after several years of functioning. All these advantages along with a 3-year manufacturer warranty makes the product well suited for any organisation.

Based on performance and needs of an organization, the ExpertCenter desktop PCs have been grouped under three categories. First, specially designed for enterprise, organizational and governmental use: ExpertCenter D9 desktops feature effortless multitasking power and Intel vPro® processor technology to manage thousands of hardware endpoints. Secondly, specially designed for advanced SMBs: ExpertCenter D7 desktops maximize employee productivity with high computing and graphics performance, plus comprehensive connectivity to cope with diverse demands.

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