JA Resorts & Hotels recently announced the appointment of Scottish National, Karen Merrick to take over the operation of multi award-winning JA Manafaru, the private island resort in the Maldives. Karen is the second female General Manager in the JA Resorts & Hotels portfolio of 8 properties, and currently one of few female General Manager in the Maldives. She joins the JA Manafaru team to maintain the islands longstanding popularity with international guests and to communicate the unique soul of the island with her innate understanding of Maldivian culture and heritage.
Karen’s career spans 30 years across a variety of boutique hotels in the Indian Ocean and Europe. This will be Karen’s fifth leadership role in the Maldives, as she has a personal connection to the area with a home on Addu island with her Maldivian husband, Alim. Prior to joining JA Resorts & Hotels, Karen has spent the last three years running the Song Saa Private Island in Cambodia. with her previous tenures being The Taaras Resort & Spa in Malaysia, Kemang Icon by Alila in Indonesia, Soneva Fushi Resort & Residences, Diva/White Sands Resort & Spa and The Rania Experience – all based in the Maldives and Ackergill Tower, Scotland.
Karen will be leading a team of 350 associates in the idyllic 5-star luxury island resort. Fringed with exquisite powder beaches in pristine, lagoon ringed Haa Alifu Atoll, at the northern tip of the Maldives, the chic tropical hideaway features 84 luxurious beachfront and over-water villas and bungalows, each with their own private plunge pool. Seven scenic dining destinations provide a culinary journey with traditional Indian Ocean cuisine, international fare and seafood feasts. China’s most renowned chef, Da Dong, brings his Michelin acclaim to White Orchid Asian restaurant with a collaborative menu launched in 2019. World-class recreational facilities include Calm Spa, a fully equipped dive, water sports and excursion centre, plus a Marine Research Centre to conserve local ecology.
JA Manafaru is one of the Indian Ocean’s most sought-after holiday destinations and a popular choice for both couples and families. ‘Legend’ hotels by Preferred Hotels & Resorts are the ultimate collection of extraordinary properties in the world’s most remarkable destinations and JA Manafaru is the only property selected in the Maldives. At the 2019 World Travel Awards, it was named as ‘Indian Ocean’s Leading Honeymoon Resort 2019’, the ‘Indian Ocean’s Leading Hotel Suite 2019’ and ‘Maldives’ Leading Hotel Suite 2019’. With a 5-star rating on Trip Advisor, JA Manafaru was also selected for a Travellers Choice Award in 2019. Karen’s aim is to bring the Maldivian culture to life on the island and ensure that guests experience both seamless 5-star service whilst also enjoying the freedom to roam as an explorer on the raw, remote beauty of the islands.