Mauritius is like a land of dreams, so much so that would-be visitors and tourism professionals end up sharing their visions of a perfect holiday. It all starts with friends recounting their adventures or leafing through the pages of glossy brochures. You begin to imagine, almost to breathe, a kind of earthly paradise with beautiful land and seascapes. It’s not always plain sailing, what with Icelandic volcanoes and financial crises, but the visions of fantastic sunsets begin to project themselves in your imagination. A sunset, promising so much. And then you find what you are looking for, perhaps through a travel agency or perhaps on the Internet. Maybe there’s a wedding looming or a more simple holiday plan, lazing by an infinity pool that seems to merge with the sand and ocean beyond. Yes, it’s a perfect match. That’s it, as you clap your hands together. Falling in love again, a love that will last a lifetime.
In working on marrying tourists’ expectations to what Mauritius has to offer, tourism professionals don’t just live in a dream world. This year, they hope to be able to celebrate the arrival of almost a million tourists at Plaisance airport between 1st January and 31st December 2011. For these anticipated travellers and the actual moment they step foot here, the island’s hotels deck themselves out in their best finery, “leur 31 as we say in French”. Some sport famous, international brandnames, whilst others, like those of Veranda Leisure & Hospitality (VLH), the Rogers Group’s hotel sector, prefer to display local colours by design, based on the principle that there is the backdrop of a country, a people and a country behind each tourist destination. Indeed, in other sectors, the company does have partnerships with international firms, partnerships that we greatly value and intend to grow.
Rogers’ investment in the hotel sector takes two forms. On the purely financial front, the group was the founder and the first shareholder in one of the Indian Ocean’s sector leaders, the New Mauritius Hotels (NMH) group. Under the Beachcomber label, NMH owns and manages a number of famous hotels. In Mauritius, there is the Royal Palm, the bolt-hole of many famous people, as well as the Dinarobin Hotel Golf & Spa, which also attracts many VIPs, the Paradis Resort & Golf Club, the Trou aux Biches Resort & Spa, the Shandrani Resort & Spa, Le Victoria, Le Mauricia and Le Canonnier. Beachcomber also runs the Saint Anne Resort & Spa in the Seychelles as well as the Royal Palm Marrakech in Morocco. Moreover, sales offices are present in Europe, Australia and South Africa.
Quite independent of this share-holding, Rogers is also directly involved in the sector through VLH, which has established its own Veranda and Heritage Resorts brands. The former, which will celebrate its 30th anniversary in 2012, runs hotels of local and international three-star standard: the Veranda Paul & Virginie, the Veranda Grand Baie, the Veranda Pointe aux Biches and the Veranda Palmar Beach. With Veranda’s savoir-faire and experience, the company launched its second brand in 2004 with the opening of the Heritage Awali in 2004. More recently this five-star hotel, decked out with shades of Africa, has been joined by another luxury hotel, the Heritage Le Telfair, featuring a more classic colonial style of architecture, equally taking inspiration, from Mauritius’ history and cultural heritage.
Since then the latter has flourished, like one of the beautiful plants grown on the site by its one-time owner, Charles Telfair. As well as developing various sites, along with other officials this major role-player in the history of Mauritius, helped the former Isle de France’s transition to British rule in the early 19th century.
Encouragement for Heritage Resorts
With its wide and luxurious range of facilities in terms of accommodation (rooms, suites and villas) 11 restaurants (including 7 open in the evening), leisure activities (several swimming pools, many water sports activities in the lagoon), a 3,000-acre nature reserve, an 18-hole golf course of international standard) and well-being facilities (including a fitness centre and two Seven Colours spas with their related restaurants offering a similar concept), Heritage Resorts is aiming to raise the Domaine de Bel Ombre to the rank of The destination within the holiday destination. Whilst guaranteeing holiday-makers authenticity, peace and exquisite pleasure, Rogers is also aiming to encourage business visitors and passing investors to come and enjoy this 6,400-acre oasis of tranquility just thirty minutes away from the airport.
As well as very high-speed broadband internet access and two magnificent reception and event venues (the Château de Bel Ombre and the C Beach Club), the domaine has a conference room accommodating up to 200 participants. The congress and seminar centre occupies the site of a former sugar factory, now known as the Place du Moulin, which also houses a craft gallery and on some weekdays a market where local merchants and inhabitants sell fresh produce. As well as educational, health and social programmes run by the Bel Ombre Foundation, the market is one of the links established by the hotel group’s management team, with neighbouring communities. These are the kind of indispensible links that we need to open, develop and build on in pursuit of authenticity and sustainability. With its quest for excellence, the Rogers Group’s tourist services in general, and the development of Heritage Resorts in particular, have been well received and encourage us in what we are doing.
In this first issue of Presence, we have sought the reaction of the CEO of the French tour operator, Exotismes, which has twenty-five years experience in arranging travel to French-speaking tropical islands. We have also asked regular and loyal guests from various places for their comments, as well as inviting some journalists, including one of the most famous in France, Patrick Poivre d’Arvor, to give us their impressions of staying at Bel Ombre.