Anne van Hoey Smith

Anne van Hoey Smith
“When I was looking for an internship, I applied wherever I saw a sailing boat, blue water and a palm tree.”
Anne van Hoey Smith
Alumni International Tourism

Anne van Hoey Smith, International Tourism alumnus, is living the dream of many: she’s the General Manager of a guest house on the Maldives, with white sands, clear blue water and whale sharks swimming nearby.

“It was such a good choice to do my studies in English! I’m still reaping the benefits from it in my work at the guest house on the island of Dhigurah. Where my studies have also really helped is being able to work with different cultures in a common ‘foreign’ language. You see how problem-based learning and case-based learning are not just for during your studies, but also day-to-day approaches now. And the management skills I developed during my studies are still really useful, whether I’m dealing with the construction phase (managing the shipping of containers as there is, of course, no Ikea down the road) or making sure the supplies boat gets here on time with the food for the restaurant.”

Tourism Management internship

“It all started during my International Tourism Management degree at NHL Stenden when I got the chance to develop my skills abroad. In addition to study trips to France, Belgium and Spain, I also went on a six-month exchange in my third year to Argentina. After that, I got the chance to choose an internship and I frantically searched for something related to water sports abroad. I sent emails to every company I saw that had a picture of a sailing boat, blue water and a palm tree – it resulted in an internship as Guest Relations Officer on a resort on the Maldives.”

One-way ticket to Sri Lanka

“After I’d finished my internship and written my dissertation in the Netherlands, I updated my CV and booked a one-way ticket to Sri Lanka. I quickly found a job as Guest Relations Manager for two boutique hotels and soon after as General Manager for a small family hotel. Within a year, I’d got a message from the Maldives asking if I wanted to help start up a guest house on the island of Dhigurah. After a year of building and an awful lot of preparations (shipping furniture from Indonesia, kitchen utensils from China, curtains from Sri Lanka), we opened the doors to Bliss in October 2017.”

Future dreams

“There are people who know exactly what they want to be – but I’m not one of them. I used to think it was a great idea for instance to open a sailing school in the Caribbean or somewhere where there are palm trees. Maybe once Bliss is fully up and running, I’ll slowly let it go and look for a new challenge. What I’d say to students now is to stop looking for a reason not to do something. Just ask yourself what the worst thing is that could happen, and then take the plunge!”