Rathnayaka Mudiyanselage Punchi Banda started out at the Galle Face Hotel in 1966. Now, at 71 years-old, he is still greeting guests and has become a hugely popular figure at the property.
Over the years Mr Banda has welcomed world leaders including Indira Gandhi, Marshal Tito and Fidel Castro, and such famous figures as Yuri Gagarin and Arthur C. Clarke.
“Mr Banda is more than just a doorman. He is the face of the property,” said Sanjeev Gardiner, chairman of the Galle Face Hotel. “He’s the first person guests see when they arrive and often the last person from the hotel they see as they depart. In his role he embodies the hotel’s grace and charm.”
Mr Banda trained under Kottarappu Chattu Kuttan, Sri Lanka’s most famous doorman who worked at the hotel until his passing in 2014. At the time of his death Mr Kuttan had served at the hotel for 72 years and was one of the oldest hotel employees in the world – at 94 years of age.
Banda says he plans to follow in his mentor’s footsteps by continuing to work for many years to come. (Courtesy traveldailymedia.com)