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Visionary Maldives Hotelier Salil Panigrahi Awarded India’s Top Honours

Atmosphere Hotels and Resorts founder Salil Panigrahi has received the Pravasi Bharatiya Samman Award 2021, the highest recognition for overseas Indians, for his contribution towards Maldives Tourism and strengthening Maldives-India relations.

Salil Panigrahi, the Founder and Managing Director of Atmosphere Hotels & Resorts, has been conferred the Pravasi Bharatiya Samman Award (PBSA) by the Government of India. This annual award is the highest honour given to an elite selection of overseas Indians for their outstanding contributions in diverse fields in their respective countries of residence.

Instituted by the Government of India in 2003, this award is conferred annually by the President of India as a part of the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas (PBD) Conventions. Past awardees have included illustrious personalities, such as IMF chief economist Gita Gopinath, CEO of Microsoft Satya Nadella, NASA Astronaut Kalpana Chawla, and eminent politician Shashi Tharoor.

The 16th edition of the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas Convention was held virtually on January 9, 2021. Salil Panigrahi is among the 30 NRIs, Indian-origin people, and organisations conferred the Pravasi Bharatiya Samman Award by Indian President Ram Nath Kovind. The much-deserved recognition for Salil Panigrahi has been universally applauded by politicians and industry leaders, including the Former President of the Maldives, Mohamed Nasheed.

A jury-cum-awards committee reviewed the nominations for the Pravasi Bharatiya Samman Awards 2021 and unanimously selected the awardees. The committee comprised Indian Vice-President Venkaiah Naidu as the Chairman and Indian External Affairs Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar as the Vice-Chair and other distinguished members from various walks of life.

This award recognises Salil Panigrahi’s significant contributions to the tourism sector in the Maldives, thus enhancing India’s prestige in his country of residence.

A true visionary, Salil is well known for creative ideas that are ahead of their time. He moved to the Maldives 25 years ago and has been a name to reckon with in the Maldivian tourism industry. Salil’s strength lies in the mastery of two very diverse skills – an instinctive understanding of numbers (thanks to his CA background) and a flair for visual design.

The ease with which Salil has carved a niche for himself in the fiercely competitive world of luxury resorts indicates a deep understanding of the regional market dynamics and a keen eye for potential and value creation. Salil is known for his business acumen and ability to build strategic partnerships, which has helped him reap profits consistently from a dynamic sector. He has also contributed to the Maldives investment market by bringing several new banks into the country over time. He has a proven track record in setting up innovative structures in both equity and debt.

Salil began his entrepreneurial journey in 2003 when he founded EoN Resorts Group with his Maldivian partners. The company offers specialist expertise in the development and operation of luxury resorts in the Maldives, working on behalf of investors and owners.

Salil spearheaded the development and launch of over a dozen internationally acclaimed resorts in the Maldives. Included in the list are Island Hideaway, Constance Halaveli, Jumeirah Dhevanafushi, JW Marriott, and Centara Grand.

In 2012, along with his Maldivian partners, Salil launched Atmosphere Hotels & Resorts as a luxury resort management brand in the Indian Ocean region. Salil’s unique perspective of hospitality revolves around the philosophy of Joy of Giving – people-centric, genuine, heartfelt hospitality. His innovative idea was to offer leisure travellers a world-class luxury holiday experience in the Maldives, without any worries or hidden costs. With everything included in the unique holiday plans, guests can leave their wallets behind when they stay at any Atmosphere resort!

In just seven years, under Salil’s leadership, the group has launched six resorts in the Maldives, with the latest addition being OZEN RESERVE BOLIFUSHI in South Malé Atoll. Salil is the master architect behind the company’s many successful brands, such as The White Label Set By Atmosphere and Selection of OBLU comprising OBLU SELECT, OBLU By Atmosphere, and OBLU Xperience.

His latest feat is launching the uber-luxe brand, THE OZEN COLLECTION.

Salil’s life motto revolves around a passion for his people, their needs and aspirations. As an entrepreneur, he understands that it is not only about delivering guest experiences but also anticipating and meeting the expectations of shareholders, colleagues, and partners.

The company is poised for further expansion with two resorts set to open in Malé Atoll in 2021 and two resorts under development at Tangalle, Sri Lanka.