Hold your breath with Mr. Ismail Nasheed, Resort Manager at Joali Maldives
Mr. Ismail Nasheed, Resort Manager at Joali Maldives is presently preparing for his first freediving competition in Egypt. He takes some time off his busy training schedule to share an exclusive online interview with us as we learn about his journey across the hospitality industry and down underwater.
Don’t complain when things don’t go your way every time. Also, anyone can quit; an eight-year-old can quit, but those who don’t quit win. Growth might be slow, but if you keep on trying, you’ll eventually succeed.Ismail Nasheed
RN: Start us off by talking to us about your Professional life?
IN: I spent most of my life with Four Seasons, starting as a receptionist and slowly getting promoted over the years. They made me who I am today and I am forever indebted to them. Having said that I also felt that my career development with Four Seasons had reached its max upon becoming Consulting Front Office Manager.
As a local in the industry making it beyond a senior department head is never easy and I felt that I had reached my peak with the chain.
With Four Seasons, I worked here in the Maldives in Kuda Huraa, Landaa Girravaru and was cruise director on board the Four Seasons Explorer, worked in Singapore as a room’s trainee, in Mumbai as Asst Front Office Manager and as a Consulting Front Office Manager in Tanzania.
I also worked in Qatar for the minor group as Director of Guest Services and Later Director of Front Office. That’s when I quit and took a break. I joined Joali as the Front Office Manager as I had not worked for some years. 4 months in, I got promoted to the Rooms Division Manager in and Resort Manager 18 months later.
RN: I think congratulations are in order! Well done on making it this far! So how did you get into freediving?
IN: I was working in Doha a couple of years ago quite burned out as I just quit my job and took a break from work. At the time I was living in Maafushi and saw some of the guys dive deep and got fascinated. I took a course and I absolutely loved it! I then went to Bali for two months of training and never really stopped.
RN: How long can you hold your breath for?
IN: In static which is lying on the surface, face down, my personal best is 5:22 seconds and that was three years ago when I started freediving. My longest actual dive is in 30 meters for 3:55 seconds.
I can get into any public toilet anywhere, do my thing, and come out without ever smelling the place. Haha
RN: How do you balance your life as a resort manager while freediving?
IN: We used to hit the water at 06:00 am – done by 07:30, in the office by 0800am latest.
In the evening,17:30-18:15 pool, these times work as the guests are mainly in their villas, and it’s the quietest time. But we only do it when no arrivals or departures are coinciding with those times.
When the resort was under operation, it was an almost weekly day off thing and few pool sessions and quarterly R&R trips where I dive.
Then COVID happened, borders were closed, we were stuck in the resort and used that as an opportunity to train more. I managed to dive deeper from my previous personal best of 53 to 60 meters in three months without a coach.
RN: What skills or philosophies from freediving do you in cooperate into your professional life?
IN: not every dive will be good, not every day will be good, perseverance is the key, patience and calmness are important, rushing isn’t going to help.
I don’t think I will go on with a “life-changing” notion, but for sure it has had positive changes. I never smoked or was a fan of energy drinks, but I had to give up coffee, have to ensure I exercise, stretch a bit, and I am self-disciplined to maintain the routine.
RN: How’re preparations going for the AIDA Dahab Apnea Competition this month? Give us a peek into your training regime?
IN: This will be my first competition, so I don’t want to push it. All the judges on the surface, count down, limited time to executive dive, etc. will be overwhelming; everyone who has done it says it is like public speaking for the first time, you stand in front of the crowd, everyone looking at you, makes you nervous.
So, I will go easy; I plan to do 3 X 50-meter dives in three disciplines, Free Immersion (pulling yourself on a rope to go down and to come up) constant weight with monofin and bi-fins. I know that it is something I can do any day.
I am training with Harry Chamas from the UK who is an accomplished free diver himself and a very experienced instructor. I am working on dry exercises (visualizing dive, dry equalizing, mouth fill techniques, etc.), base training (conditioning body with weight training and strengthening) and, of course, in-water training.
RN: As someone that spends a lot of the time in the ocean, how do you feel about the state of our underwater ecosystem and the efforts that need to be made to preserve its beauty and health.?
IN: It is in a horrible state; the amount of plastic and other garbage you find is heartbreaking, the government must impose severe penalties to resort who dump their trash (through garbage dhoni).
We should also stop building more resorts until average occupancy is over 90% around the Maldives; we are destroying too many islands, lagoons, and reefs to develop more properties when the demand isn’t there for all of them.
I feel like the governing bodies need to address this issue better.
RN: How has the global pandemic affected your life? How are you coping so far?
IN: As you rightly said so, its global, and everyone is affected, including me. I learned the importance of saving during my time in India back in the 2008-2009 recession. Hence, I am doing well; I took extended no pay leave and is in Dahab, Egypt, for three months.
My principal is, save X amount every month and use rest for leisure, don’t waste your money, or take loans to buy phones, drones, Air Pods, laptops, motorbikes, etc. save a certain amount every month, don’t touch it, then save from leftover to buy those.
RN: What words of motivation do you have to share with the rising hoteliers of the Maldives and to the young starters interested in freediving?
IN: We have so many advantages because the world isn’t fair to us. I will not be here; where I am, if it’s all fair and square, I was given chances probably over more deserving people. So, don’t complain when things don’t go your way every time. Also, anyone can quit; an eight-year-old can quit, but those who don’t quit win. Growth might be slow, but if you keep on trying, you’ll eventually succeed.