“Garden that perhaps a god laid on the ocean Mauritius where the sea sings as the birds sleep…”
It was with Paul-Jean Toulet’s delightful lines that Hector Espitalier-Noel, Chairman of the Compagnie Sucrière de Bel Ombre, began his speech on 24th June last, during the cocktail party marking the company’s one hundredth anniversary.
“How can we talk about a hundred years of the Compagnie Sucrière de Bel Ombre without talking about dreams and imagination? The estate dates back to 1765, so writers tell us – including my friend, Jean-Pierre Lenoir, to whom we owe this handsome volume, which you will be able to take a look at shortly. Its history is intimately linked to the men who invested in it both financially and through their own hard work. On 22nd June 1910, ten of them got together to form the Compagnie Sucrière de Bel Ombre.
It’s that moment that we’re commemorating today. The company strove to consolidate the sugar estate and expand by buying up neighbouring properties, to make it the largest in the country. In 1999, we had to close down the sugar factory, which for a long time had not been a viable concern, but Bel Ombre lost an aspect that had echoed around the countryside for more than a hundred years. At the time, we promised the local community, distressed by the closure, a better future. And now the result is here, all around you. You have only to walk around the new Bel Ombre and harken to the new blood beating through its veins. Every day, more than 3,000 people are at work in the region’s hotels. Some 150 villas have been sold, bringing Bel Ombre a buying power which has made all the difference to the company. The region’s contribution to the country’s economy is now very significant. What we’ve opened up is a great source of energy, a creative force which has already changed the economic face of this corner of the country. It can clearly be seen in the strong interest of many people from here and elsewhere have in coming to live and invest in Bel Ombre…It’s not given to everyone to begin afresh at 100 years old!”