|I LOVE THE PHILIPPINES
RIYAZ MOORANI -
Asia-Hotels.com’s Chief Technology Officer and a certified world traveller
Citizen of the world
Riyaz started as a Software Engineer at Bell Canada, transferred to Telecom Malaysia as a Software Architect, and set off to Hong Kong to work for Hong Kong Telecom (HKT) where he spent 12 years of his career. He was HKT Group Manager for Internet and Intranet applications, when he setup the largest intranet in Hong Kong and launched the world’s first online telephone billing application.
It is no wonder why Riyaz Moorani, Asia-hotels.com’s Chief Technology Officer gives a long answer to the question: Where do you come from? This one time recipient of the Smithsonian Institute award for Innovative Use of Technology has Indian roots, born in Africa, grew up in Canada, and spent years living in different Asian cities. He finally settled in the Philippines in 2001 after opening the local office of asia-hotels.com, a company he co-founded.
In 1996, while still with HKT, he started asia-hotels.com with a former colleague, Jon Stonham, almost as a hobby and out of frustration at the lack of quality information about hotels in Asia. As frequent travelers, Jon and Riyaz thought that putting up the website was a good way of making information available to people who wanted to visit Asia.
Asia-hotels.com’s initial office, servers and computers were setup in the spare bedroom of Jon, who is the Chief Executive Officer. Much to their surprise, their first order came from Africa, not from Europe or America as expected. “That made me say wow! The internet is going to be everywhere and the world has just become smaller,” Riyaz narrates.
In 2000, Riyaz felt it was time to leave the corporate world behind and focus on asia-hotels.com, which at that time has grown to 25 employees. Also in the same year, they opened a Philippine office in Ortigas CBD with only 3 employees. Soon they realized the potential of Filipino talents, and decided to move their operations to a bigger office in Makati.
At home in the Philippines
Alongside opening the Makati office, Riyaz chose to make the Philippines his home. Since then, he has been traveling all over the Philippines, visiting places like Laoag, Baguio, Cebu, Palawan, Batangas. “There are still many places I would like to see,” he adds. Among the vacation spots he visited, he picks Boracay, Pearl Farm in Davao and Bohol as his favourites. “I enjoy Boracay for its beautiful beach and carefree environment. Pearl Farm is a nice and relaxing place to be and the people are very friendly. Bohol has a lot of history, there are lots of old churches, and I truly enjoyed listening to the children’s choir and bamboo organ performances,” he elaborates. In Manila, he is delighted by the wide range of dining places available. “I usually go to several restaurants in Malate especially Sala, Fidel, Raj and Lolo Dad’s. I also dine at Sentro in Greenbelt for a taste of local cuisine”, he revealed. Riyaz is also a film enthusiast so he considers it a treat that Manila boasts of excellent movie houses and the latest movies at a cheaper price.
Asked on what he can advise those who are moving to the Philippines, he says, “Take it easy, move with the pace of the Philippines. No point getting frustrated with traffic because it is not going to go any faster. There are lots of great places to visit so don’t let small nuisances stop you.”
Asia-hotels.com now has offices in 5 countries and around 50 employees. It has also become one of the top online reservations company in the region, handling some 350,000 room nights from over 6 million visitors a year, with customers who are broadly 60% Asian, 20% North American and 20% European.
Recently, asia-hotels.com launched, Asia’s Best Hotel and Resorts guide, the region’s first ever accommodation guidebook based on customers’ genuine opinions. Published in association with Insight Guides, this guidebook features 300 most recommended hotels in Asia Pacific, and is packed with independent reviews, full-colour photos and helpful maps. Click here for more details.
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