What it does: Cinnamon Hotels & Resorts is one of Sri Lanka’s largest hospitality companies. It has over 2,500 employees across 11 hotels.
Best known for: Being one of the most recognisable John Keells brands.
Financials: The John Keells leisure sector as a whole recently attained Rs 24.11 billion in revenue, of which roughly half is attributable to Cinnamon. Arrivals to the group’s five-star properties increase by 13% year-on-year. They recently made over 1.8 billion in profit after taxes.
The good: Recognisable brand with rewarding graduate opportunities for select degree holders.
The not so good: Limited opportunities for non-business or management graduates.
Hiring grads with degrees in: Business and management
After the government signed a ceasefire agreement with the Tamil Tigers in 2002, Sri Lanka became more open than it had in decades. John Keells capitalised on this by purchasing a controlling stake in several hotels, resulting in the founding of Cinnamon in 2004. Its name commemorated the smell that had wafted through Sri Lanka for nearly four thousand years along the ancient spice routes.
The timing was unfortunate because the ceasefire agreement was broken that same year. Yet the business persisted, growing its holdings and services. By 2007 it started getting approached by foreign investors, allowing it to accelerate after the end of the civil war two years later. Sri Lanka saw a 40% boom in the tourism industry, which Cinnamon promptly reacted to by investing Rs 5.4 billion into the sector in 2011.
The years to come saw it not only developing its own presence but managing the brand that is Sri Lanka, attracting tourism to its shores. To this day, Cinnamon works not only as a hospitality staple, but an ambassador for the country.
Cinnamon is an excellent place to start a hospitality career, offering the Cinnamon LEAD program to graduates of applicable business and management degrees. This is an eighteen-month program designed to expose graduates to three key areas of the business. Even if you leave the company afterwards, this alone is a strong reason to apply if hospitality is your passion.
If you’re not particularly interested in hospitality, there are better options to gain general experience in your field, even within the John Keells group. Opportunities here are narrow beyond the LEAD program.
Cinnamon aims to build up the local Sri Lankan communities surrounding each of its properties. Its vision is to facilitate socio-economic progress whilst minimising carbon footprint.
Cinnamon has reduced its carbon footprint by 0.8 metric tonnes in recent years. It achieved this through open dialogue with stakeholders to implement adequate sustainability policies. They use food waste to generate biogas at two of their premises, in addition to solar water heaters at another. They recycle water for gardening and washing purposes wherever possible.
They have their own waste management system to segregate and manage different categories across the business. They use wet waste to generate green energy, while the rest is sent to piggeries. This has resulted in a landfill waste generation reduction of 16% in recent years.
The company also employs naturalists to observe wildlife, particularly elephants, leopards and sperm whales. They do this to monitor the growth or decline of their populations to inform decisions as to whether conservation efforts are necessary. They even have an elephant research station at the Cinnamon Lodge.