Rooting from the town of Elpitiya in Galle, Thisara Hewawasam, the Chairman and Founder of Ambasewana Holding Pvt Ltd, is a proud product of Richmond College. Despite the position he holds today, Thisara’s days of employment began with undertaking small jobs soon after his education in order to gain some pocket money.
Not long after his school days, Thisara shifted to Colombo in order to pursue his higher studies and build a career pathway in the field of business. Having joined IDM Nations Campus International as well as Aquinas College of Higher Studies, he then took on his first proper job role in the year 2001.
Recalling the cultural shocks he faced during his move from Elpitiya to Colombo, Thisara says, “At that point of time Colombo was something totally new to us as we had no experience being in the city at all. We were faced with a huge difference between Galle and Colombo back in the day”. Keeping such differences in mind and wanting to make the most out of it drove Thisara to explore the business environment of the metropolis. “I was keen on knowing how we can touch the different industries in Colombo.”
Upon juggling through a couple of different jobs for a period of time, Thisara finally unlocked his area of talent and expertise in the field of ‘Marketing’. Elaborating further, he shares with us the fruitful incident of his discovery. “There was a time in my job where I was required to sell twenty units in the span of one month. I would finish my target within the first two to three days, leaving me with nothing to do till the month’s end. And so, I challenged myself to think outside the box thus pushing my maximum sales to five hundred and even a thousand five hundred units sometimes. Although this led the company to drop me due to their inability to meet the increased supplier demand, it only led me towards realizing that I excel in Marketing.”
Aside from perceiving his flair in marketing, Thisara also admits to owning a real estate background since the days of his youth. “With everyone in our village being relatives and with the number of lands we used to own back then, I wanted to touch on the real estate industry”, he explains. Starting off by purchasing lands from areas such as Hokandara, Thalawathugoda, etc. Thisara eventually set about selling them in partitions with the complicity of government organizations including the navy. Despite being faced by a heavy competitor during that stage, Thisara followed on the very same process that led him towards achieving greater heights.
Not wanting to stick to one industry steered Thisara towards experimenting amongst many. While some failed and the others succeeded, he continues to venture across the industries finding joy and experience along the way. “Most important thing is the experience I gain with all those and the people I meet in all different industries. At first I was scared to even talk to a high end individual, but with all this experience gained I got used to it”, he says.
Thisara took his next step in the plantation industry as he was also familiar with such an aspect from his childhood days. Carrying out pepper plantations which led towards both success and failure only further helped Thisara in obtaining a better understanding with regards to the industry he wanted to master. And so, creating a luxurious vision in his mind, Thisara stepped into the idea of Aviyana Private Chalets around seven years ago. What is Aviyana Private Chalets you ask? It is a project that will result in being the nation’s first ever seven star hotel.
The year of 2018 was considered to be the golden era in the Sri Lankan tourism industry. However, this very industry amongst many others was faced with several hitches immediately after due to reasons such as the Easter Bomb Attack, Covid-19 – the global pandemic and even the economic crisis within the country. Knowing very well in his heart that the best way to pull the country up from its fall is through the means of tourism, Thisara set his thoughts towards contributing towards the tourism industry to the best of his abilities.
“I feel like I made the right decision by Aviyana. I took the challenge in changing my industry when I was 38 years old. It was a huge challenge that would be hard on any CEO looking to change the industry”, Thisara explains and goes on to say, “But the reason I took up that challenge was because of the assurance and confidence I had in the project”. Thisara understood that no political involvement was required to boost such an industry. All that was required was a group of highly motivated and committed people that can actually contribute to the upscaling of tourism in Sri Lanka even in the midst of tough situations.
Finding such dedication and motivation within himself only pushed him further towards working on Aviyana. “Regardless of the civil war, tourists used to come to the country and that is simply to enjoy the stunning sceneries, experience the variety of climates and especially enjoy the beaches within the country. So the tourism industry never fell down with the beauty of this country”, he states positively.
Thisara’s main focus on Aviyana is ensuring it is 100% locally invested in so as to ensure the profits are gained and made use of within our own country. “Building a hotel up to 7 star standard is not easy. It was very challenging. But we still decided that even the investors investing on Aviyana, will only be Sri Lankans because we do not want any flow of income escaping the country”, Thisara explains.
With most present hotels being owned by foreign chains, the majority of the tourism incomes are bound to go to their own hands. Compared to several other tourist countries, the expenditure of a tourist within Sri Lanka is known to be low. Thus with 60 Lavish Private Chalets, the best ROI in the country, 24 Acres of breathtaking mountain view and freshly grown organic food, Thisara is focused on creating an opulent locally owned hotel with facilities that are much more state-of-the-art than the already existing high end hotels in the country.
“Aviyana is built in a beautiful place in Kandy, which actually brings out the WOW factor”, Thisara elaborates proudly. “With the hospitality and the environment it is going to be one of the leading hotels in the world. To name a few of our grandeur touches, we will be using the highest end sheets and clothing on different occasions and all cutleries will be Gold and Gem fitted.”
Aviyana is the main project under Ambasewana Holding, an organization that prides itself in protecting the environment. Aside from owning many different groups of industries such as the spice industry called Ceylon Spices, Ambasewana also owns a concept called ‘Breath’. “It is where we plant trees as a business. It works as a “if you pay me, I will plant a tree” kind of a concept”, Thisara explains.
When asked how the company is looking to overcome the economic crisis, Thisara says, “The secret to our success could be how we manage our finances without falling into debt as well as the strong customer base we have gotten a hold of”. He also mentions that knowing all of the investors personally builds up a good relationship that additionally assists the business to excel in many ways.
Above all, Thisara heavily emphasizes the importance of doing something for the country. “My goal is to bring at least a billion dollars into the country from my company in less than 2 years”. He expresses the need to identify all talented people in the country under different industries. “These talents should be diversified. It gives every industry a new and unique opportunity to grow within the country.”
Ambasewana may have started off small, but with a big vision. Thisara encourages all to pursue their dreams, despite being faced with failures. “People are scared to fall, to fail. Every successful business has a very saddening story behind it”, he says, “Even if we fail, we should get the ‘good’ and lessons out of it, and start from the beginning without hesitating or giving up”. Furthermore, Thisara requests all to discover their talent and use it to the best of their abilities. “Most of us still don’t know what we’re talented at or what we’re good at doing. Choosing the right field is key, but not without your talents”.