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From March 6 to 9, 2019, Four Seasons Resort Mauritius at Anahita is set to welcome nine acclaimed French and Australian guest chefs for a four-day culinary showcase of live demonstrations and exclusive experiences, culminating in a live Star Chef Cooking Showdown at Bambou Beach.
In partnership with the Resort’s culinary team led by Executive Chef Nicolas Vienne, each event across the four days will offer insights into different ingredients, cooking techniques, culinary pairings and international flavours, all designed to engage and inspire diners and fellow chefs alike.
After 4 years STAR CHEF is coming back in China Didier Corlou Hotel De Carantec Patrick Jeffroy David Charier Xavier Thuret David Rathgeber @ Hervé Rodriguez Mike Tafe Thierry Drapeau Michel Portos from the 06 to 09 of March 2019 at the Four Seasons Mauritius Cédric Raffray Emmanuel Lafont Emmanuelle Coquet
Chefs’ Market: Up to 20 guests have the opportunity to discover the best of local street food and the buzz of the nearby Flacq market with guest Chef Michel Portos and Four Seasons Executive Sous Chef Patrick Soochit. After ingredients have been selected, guests will return to the Resort to see the two chefs prepare a lunch menu that combines local ingredients with a French touch.MUR 3,500 per person
Signature Sips: Adding to the evening’s Happy Hour Menu in O Bar, a signature selection of cocktails, wines and Champagnes will be available.
Dinner Around the Sea, by two Michelin Star Chefs Patrick Jeffroy and Xavier Thuret:Beau Champ restaurant will host this seafood spectacular, with a six course menu being paired alongside a variety of hand-selected spirits by La Maison du Whisky.MUR 4,000 per person
Thursday, March 7, 2019
Takamaka Boutique Winery: Chef Thierry Drapeau and Vietnamese specialist Chef Didier Corlou will invite up to 20 guests to join them on a discovery of the Takamaka Boutique Winery to enjoy a Franco-Vietnamese lunch and the flavours of the Takamaka wines of Mauritius. MUR 4,500 per person
Meet and Mingle: The event’s guest chefs and Resort’s management team will gather in O Bar for a chance to interact with all Resort guests over a choice of complimentary wines and cocktails.
Gourmet Dinner, by Chef Mike Tafe: Explore the finest cuts of meats from Australia in a menu designed by Chef Mike Tafe. A five course set menu with wine pairings will allow Chef Tafe to share his passion for combining the highest qualirty ingredients with the purest flavours. MUR 4,000 per person
Friday, March 8, 2019:
Four-handed Cooking Class with Chef Hervé Rodriguez and Chef David Rathgeber: While enjoying a three course lunch, our two guest chefs will introduce guests to new recipes and the latest culinary techniques, with ingredients from Gourmet Emporium. MUR 3,500 per person
Signature Sips: Adding to the evening’s Happy Hour Menu in O Bar, a signature selection of cocktails, wines and Champagnes will be available.
“6.6.6” Michelin Chef Dinner: Six courses, six hands, six Michelin Stars; guest chefs Thierry Drapeau, Michel Portos and Patrick Jeffroy combine their knowledge of regional varieties of French cuisine to create a six course set menu, paired with a choice of wines from Grays and Gourmet Emporium. MUR 4,000 per person
Saturday, March 9, 2019:
Signature Sips: Adding to the evening’s Happy Hour Menu in O Bar, a signature selection of cocktails, wines and Champagnes will be available.
Star Chef Showdown: As the event finale, six guest chefs will compete on stage at Bambou Beach alongside a Four Seasons commis chef to be named victorious, with the winning team’s commis chef being awarded the opportunity to travel to France to work at the two Michelin Star restaurant of Chef Thierry Drapeau. Upon presentation of a secret ingredient, each team of chefs will have just 45 minutes to create two courses, with judging to take place by local MC Maesh Soneea and Executive Chef Nicolas Vienne. Guests will also be able to enjoy a gourmet selection of dishes from a choice of live cooking stations, accompanied by canapés, spirits and local cocktails. MUR 1,800 per person
The Star Chefs
David Rathgeber – A connoisseur in traditional French cuisine, Chef Rathgeber honed his skills under Alain Ducasse, who served to be his mentor for more than five years. Working in a number of Ducasse’s global restaurants – from Louis XV in Monaco to Essex House in New York – Rathgeber went on to support the expansion of the group into Asia, namely in Osaka and Tokyo. He was awarded his first Michelin Star at Ducasse-owned Benoit, Paris, in 2006, before taking the reins at the historical Lulu Rousseau, ahead of establishing his own Parisian bistro, L’Assiette.
Thierry Drapeau – Having been awarded two Michelin Stars for his current restaurant on the historical site of the Logis de la Chabotterie in Vendée, Thierry Drapeau is known for cuisine that demonstrates an artistic flourish. Favouring herbs over spices, no doubt inspired by the countryside setting of his restaurant, Drapeau says: “I compose my dishes as if they were paintings.”
Didier Corlou – Having had the opportunity to travel and work internationally since a young professional age, Chef Didier Corlou soon became inspired by exotic spices and fruits of Africa, Asia and distant islands. Establishing himself in Vietnam in 1991, Corlou has not looked back since. Now boasting a total of five restaurants in Hanoi and a number of cookbooks to his name, his cuisine has become famous for marrying French ingredients with Vietnamese taste.
Hervé Rodriguez – Originally from Dijon and now based in Paris, Chef Rodriguez is of Spanish origin and through his curiosity to discover this heritage, he has learned to explore the cuisines of not only Spain, but around the world, paying close attention to the visuals of how a dish is created. Bold and passionate in his approach, Chef Rodriguez has worked at no less than three Michelin Starred restaurants, including his own MaSa Restaurant in Paris.
Patrick Jeffroy – Frequently travelling internationally to promote and showcase French cuisine, Chef Patrick Jeffroy has developed an in-depth knowledge of his native cuisine from a career working across multiple regions of France. Alongside his passion for signature French cooking, Jeffroy takes inspiration from nature and the simplicity of its purity. First awarded a Michelin Star in 1984, his second followed in 2001, which then became two Michelin Stars for his still current restaurant at L’Hotel de Carantec in Brittany.
Michel Portos – Hailing from Marseille, Chef Michel Portos was not originally destined for a life in the kitchen, with his father keen for him to follow in his footsteps of accountancy. However, his natural desire for cuisine won out and he began his professional journey in Bordeaux under the guidance of Michelin Star chef Michel Gautier. Time in Toulouse and Perpignan followed, where he was awarded his first Michelin Star, with his second to follow at Bouliac in Bordeaux in 2009. Michel Portos was named “Cuisinier de l’année” in 2012 by the Gault Millau and now runs two restaurants, Le Malthazar and Le Poulpe in his home city of Marseille.
David Charrier – Having worked in the kitchens of fellow Star Chef Patrick Jeffroy at L’Hotel de Carantec, David Charrier has since established his own culinary identity, with a focus on seasonal dishes and ingredients. Chef Charrier was awarded his first Michelin Star in 2016 for his current restaurant Chateau Troplong Mondot’s Les Belles Perdrix in Saint Emilion.
Xavier Thuret – Growing up in Brie, France where his parents were dairy breeders, Xavier Thuret, was immersed in the world of cheese from a very young age and has since developed an encyclopaedic knowledge of the subject. Passionate about cheese variety and use in cuisine, Xavier still lives in Brie today, while travelling the world to share his expertise.
Mike Tafe – Passionate about the finest Australian produce – from red meats to the purest herbs and spices – Mike Tafe is the Corporate Chef for Mulwarra Export, recognised as Australia’s leading supplier of premium Australian produce to five star hotel markets internationally. Having begun his career studying hospitality management, Mike Tafe went on to be awarded Australian Apprentice Chef of the Year in 1981, before a series of positions in some of the world’s top hotel kitchens led to him opening his own restaurant in Sydney before continuing to share his passion for his native cuisine through his current role as a corporate chef.
CONGRATULATIONS to every blogger that has made this Top Mauritius Blogs list! This is the most comprehensive list of best Mauritius blogs on the internet and I’m honoured to have you as part of this! I personally give you a high-five and want to thank you for your contribution to this world.
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Have you ever given thought of opening a bottle with a sword that adds drama to an occasion? Well, in Mauritius, that has become a trend, or rather has a seriouspurpose in promoting the enjoyment of Champagne, the lifestyle of fine diningand as they call it ‘The art of Sabering’. The Confrérie du Sabre d’Or in Mauritius has made it more memorable recently, during an annual initiation night that was hosted on October 9 at the Château Labourdonnais, by Mr Ravin Untiah, Ambassador of the Confrérie du Sabre d’Or in Mauritius where the association shared insights on ‘Sabrage’, which is a technique for opening a champagne bottle with a sword, mainly used in ceremonial occasions.
To begin with, The Confrérie du Sabre d’Or is devoted to promoting the act of Sabrage and the enjoyment of Cham- pagne. It can seem challenging when one is initially handed a sword and a chilled bottle of Champagne with the expectation that you will open the bottle with the blade of a sword. The Confrérie du Sabre d’Or was created in Senlis in France in 1986 by Jean Claude Jalloux the Grand Master, with the aim of sharing the expertise of opening a champagne bottle with a sword, a no- ble product that is celebrated around gourmet dinners. However, it should be noted that the actual tradition of Sabrage dates back to Napoleonic days (the Regency period here in Great Britain). Although the custom continued for some time in British Cavalry Regiments, it is now encouraged across the world by a society of like-minded Sabreurs – the Confrérie du Sabre d’Or.In the United Kingdom, it was first setup in 1999 by UK Ambassadeur Emeritus, Julian White. Jean Claude has helped in setting up this prestigious Confrerie in Mauritius since 1996. It’s been 22 years since its launch, and they are among the oldest and one of the first outside Europe.
Well, it can seem frightening when you are initially handed a ‘sabre’ (a Champagne tool: sword) and a chilled bottle of Cham- pagne with the expectation that you will open the bottle with the sword’s blade. Do not be discouraged! The technique goes like this: Take a chilled bottle of champagne, not ice cold but suitable for drinking. The ideal temperature is around 37°F or 3°C. Carefully remove the wire around the cork. Find one of the two seams along the side of the bottle. At the same time, you can remove the foil which will impede the sliding movement of the sabre. With your arm extended, hold the bottle firmly by placing the thumb inside the punt at the base. Make sure the neck is pointing up – around 30 degrees from horizontal. Calmly lay the sword flat along the seam of the bottle with the sharp edge ready to slide firmly against the glass annulus, or ring, at the top of the bottle. With a firm sweep, slide the sword along the seam to meet the ring at the top. Your firm sliding of the sword against this ring is aided by the internal pressure of the bottle, so that the cork flies dramatically away. This leaves a neat cut on the neck of the bottle and the champagne is ready to be enjoyed. Not as easy as we think, but all it needs is a firm wrist and you’ll be telling tales of how easy it really was! Furthermore, as one gets well versed and experienced with this art, there are different titles you can associate yourself to depending on the years of experience, such as, “Chevalier Sabreur”, “Officier Sabreur” and “Commandeur” which can become official after five years of being an Officier and by opening a Jeroboam (4 bottles/ 3 Liters).
Since its creation, the Confrérie du Sabre d’Or has acquired worldwide fame bringing together lovers and enthusiasts of Cham- pagne. In Mauritius, Mr Untiah together with the support of the Confrérie du Sabre d’or, have so far launched 12 champagne vaults which means that 10 percent of the resort and hotels here are already practicing the art of Sabrage. It should be high- lighted that this percentage is much more than the number of hotels recognized by La Confrerie in France. With the success and interest for this art, the association has recently opened a cellar in Madagascar and at the beginning of this year, at LUX Resort, Ile de La Reunion.
Having said that, as some might consider the art of Sabrage a theatrical alternative for the unknowingly clumsy twisting and explosion of the cork, or as some say, weapons and alcohol don’t mix; This French tradition is being given a new lease of life in Mauritius and is definitely being appreciated as a very spectacular way of celebrating Champagne!
“Jordi Vila describes his journey from helping out in family restau- rants in Barcelona to becoming Executive Chef at Constance Le- muria, on the island of Praslin, Seychelles, where he has the free- dom to bring forth his experience and creativity to create unique dishes to tantalise the taste buds of the clientele.”
The position of Executive Chef at Constance Lemuria, on the north-western side of Praslin island, Seychelles, is one which Jordi Vila truly relishes. Constance Lemu- ria is one of two Constance Group luxury hotels in the Seychelles, which opened inDecember 1999. The five-star eco-friendly hotel is one of the Leading Hotels in theWorld, and it has five restaurants offering a range of different cuisines.
So what is it like working at the heart of the culinary operations of the hotel?
Jordi explains that “at Constance Lemuria the concept of “cooking” is about perfection and precise timing – everything has to be on time! Operating the timing of the restaurants, the time service of our restaurant and kitchen team, the timing of the dishes, how long does it take to prepare a dish and the pace of the guests according to their needs, therefore during the day I am busy with many timings! It is difficult to balance home and work as a Chef, considering as well that it is not easy in a small island like Praslin and I can say that my “normal” working day reflects many timings, many meetings and of course the passion for food.
PLANNING THE DAY
The life of an Executive Chef is certainly a busy one with many meetings and activities over the course of the day. “Every day I wake up at 7am! At 8am I have my first meeting over a coffee with my Executive Sous Chef, and at 8.30am I have my second meeting with all the heads of the departments where we all discuss the daily operations. At 11am, I have my third meeting with all the chefs de cuisine in my office and my last meeting is at 1pm, with the team from the ‘Diva’ restaurant where we always brainstorm new menus, new concepts and trends,” Jordi explains.
In terms of his evening routine, “at 6 pm I start to supervise all the restaurants: our main buffet restaurant ‘Legend’, our Creole restaurant ‘The Nest’, private and exclusive dinners and our fine dining ‘Diva’ restaurant, where I work until 10pm, and at 11.30pm I have my first glass of wine…”
DEVELOPING CREATIVE SKILLS
Jordi has been working for Constance Group for the last four years and at Lemuria since January 2018. Describing his move to the company, Jordi comments that “what attracted me mostly was the freedom that was given to me to run the culinary team. It has been a good opportunity for me as well because Constance Group is well known and popular for its passion for wine and culinary experience. I just knew, from the beginning, that the Constance Group was giving me the chance to develop my creative skills with high quality products. For a Chef it is priceless to work with the best products in the world! I can surely say that Constance Lemuria is an essential port of call for lovers of rejuvenated traditional gastronomy,” he adds.
He also highlights that Constance Lemuria has a focus on local products. “At ‘The Legend’ and ‘The Nest’ restaurants we offer a big variety of local cuisine using local products such as rice, fish, pork, pineapple, mango, okra, breadfruit, pumpkin, eggplant, cabbage, exotic fruits, watermelon, chili, curry leaves and, of course, a lot of coconut,” he says.
“The sea is a real source of inspiration which provides me power and creativity”
ROAD FROM BARCELONA
So how did Jordi end up as Executive Chef at Constance Lemuria? “Well, throughout my childhood and my teenage years, my family ran a few restaurants in Barcelona. I have always been very enthusiastic about the culinary arts, hence when I turned 15, I started helping out my family at the restaurants,” he explains.
From his early days, doing odd jobs around the kitchen, Jordi’s interest in the culinary field and Chefs continued to grow, which led him to undertake a traineeship as a pastry Chef. “However, with more maturity, I chose to develop my knowledge and get closer to the business area. Hence, I have diverted my skills from pastry to the hot kitchen side,” he comments.
At the age of 20, Jordi started travelling around the world as his ultimate goal was to attempt to learn more and broaden his horizons in this field, and finally he has worked all over the world.
PROJECTS IN THE PIPELINE
While Jordi has already come a long way from his starting point, he has a number of new projects in the pipeline. “I have in mind a first project at Constance Lemuria with our Sushi Bar. I am planning to elab- orate a very personal tasting menu called “By the Sea”. The idea is to combine Japanese and Spanish products and maximize the umami’s flavours by using only seasonal products. The concept is to create a different menu each morning which will be served at dinner time. Therefore, we will offer new dishes on the menu on a daily basis which means a lot of creativity, and there will be only 15 seats available,” he elaborates.
He has a second project in the offing which is to implement a special menu called “The Raw” which will be served at the counter of ‘Diva’ restaurant, which is the hotel’s fine dining restaurant. “This menu will be tailor-made with the best products and the concept will be simply based on applying less heat to the ingredients. By using this method, it will allow the product to be served in its purest form and to be the centre of the nutritious natural flavor,” he enthuses, with the seating capacity to be around 10 seats for this special experience.
SOURCES OF INSPIRATION
To sum up, what are the key sources of in- spiration for Jordi as he seeks to improve the experience for his customers? First of all, Jordi highlights that “the sea is a real source of inspiration which provides me power and creativity”.
Secondly, and more directly, Jordi ex-plains that his customers give him the drive towards constant improvement of his creativity, day by day. “I must admit that my way to cook is a real personal interpretation,” he admits. “Hence, with any comment or criticism a customer might mention to me, I usually take it to heart but always in a positive way. My only goal is their satisfaction and to make them happy with the dishes I create. When I receive any comment or encourage- ment from them, it provides me with the strength to do even better and try to go always higher.”
L’Explorateur is a real invitation to travel. The crossing begins with the discovery of different at- mospheres. On one side, nestled in the heart of the hotel is the stone terrace close to the pool. On the other side of the sea, you will find the bay of Grand Bay and the horizon where getaway dreams are fed.
We are seduced by the singularity of the place, captivated by the menu, the different flavors, the marriage of fine cuisine facing the sea and local products sublimated by the expertise of a passionate and creative chef.
Hidden behind a large oak door of Pointe aux Canonniers Coastal Road, L’Explorateur is the main restaurant of the 5 stars hotel 20 Degrés Sud. At its head the Chef Sanjeev Purahoo leverages his creativity and worldwide experience to amaze your taste. Let him embark you to a culinary journey with an “A La Carte” menu mixing traditional Mauritian meals, exotic gastronomic or European revisited dishes. Discover Theme Menus every Wednesday evenings : 5 courses following a monthly theme, offering the best of the Chef’s talents.
Try the famous Black Crust Half Cooked Red Tuna, one of the speciality of the house, or the Morel Mushroom Risotto accompa-nied with 24 months refined reggiano parmesan cheese… you’ll be stunned. Another amazing experience : having diner on the Lady Lisbeth, the most ancient motorboat of Mauritius. Get on board and enjoy an aperitif while cruising in Grand Bay’s water, and enjoy a 5 courses menu with your loved one, family or friends…
RESTAURANT REVIEW L’EXPLORATEUR @ 20 DEGRES SUD | GRAND BAIE
FOOD – 5 STARS
SERVICE – 5 STARS
AMBIENCE – 5 STARS
OPENING HOURS Lunch from 12.00 to 2.30pm Dinner from 7.15pm to 9.30pm
Reservation compulsory at 263 5000 or visit www.20degressud.net
“Luxury has become an exceptionally difficult territory in which to compete propositionally as well as to make adequate returns.”
Piers Schmidt, Founder of advisory firm Luxury Branding, based in London and Cape Town, explains why two local hotel groups which he has experience of working with have unveiled second brands within days and metres of each other
During September 2018 and within weeks, there were two significant announcements from The Lux Collective and Constance Hospitality Management: the two leading Mauritian hotel groups are to launch second brands – Salt and C Resorts respectively. Intriguingly, the inaugural properties of both debutant marques will be located less than a mile apart at Palmar on the East Coast of Mauritius.
What do these strikingly parallel developments tell us about the state of health and innovation capacity in the island’s hotel groups, a key player in the Travel and Tourism sector, which is forecast to contribute MUR34.7bn or 7.5% of GDP in 2018?
Judging by the recently launched website for the LUX* Collective, the success of LUX* Resorts & Hotels has emboldened Paul Jones to fabricate a house of brands, emulating the established stables managed by the global hospitality behemoths, including Hilton, Hyatt and IHG.
By adopting an opportunistic, multi-brand strategy, has Jones been inspired by the example of the merged Marriott/Starwood supergroup, which now boasts some 30 more or less discrete brands, addressing nine different segments? Or Accor surely the most innovative and dynamic of the big groups today which has overtaken Marriott, the world’s largest hotel group, with no fewer than 40 hospitality propositions of its own?
In addition to its eponymous marque, LUX*, which is now seven years old, and Salt, The Lux Collective will soon be managing two new hotel brands: Tamassa and Socio, about which we are still waiting for further detail. And that’s not to mention the Group’s successful Café LUX* franchise.
CONSOLIDATION VS. INNOVATION
What is going on here? Was it not only a few short years ago that local politicians and commentators were deeply pessimis- tic about the Mauritian tourism industry? In 2012, despite increasing supply, demand was more or less static, growing only 3.7% from 930,500 tourist arrivals in 2008 to 965,400 by the end of that year. A study conducted by the MTPA in 2012 in the is- land’s core market of France critically revealed that Mauritius was “losing its charm among French tourists.” Furthermore, the 2013 Global Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Index saw Mauritius not only yield its number one position in the sub-Saharan regional ranking to Seychelles but fall from 53rd to 58th in the overall table.
In remedy, a rapid diversification from the EURO to BRIC tourists was pursued but even in combination with a welcome liberalisation of air access occupancies hovered stubbornly in the mid-60s. The giddy days of 76%, last enjoyed in 2007 before the Eurozone crisis, seemed like a distant dream. Throughout this period, however, the four largest hotel groups (NMH, Sun, LUX* and Constance) continued to represent around 50% of the entire industry, a consolidation that did little to foster innovation.
During 2011, while we were working together on the development of the LUX* Resorts & Hotels concept and branding, I remarked to Paul Jones that Mauritian hospitality seemed to have gone dormant since I was a regular visitor a decade earlier. In 2002, we had been planning the launch of One&Only Resorts from its mother ship Le Saint Géran and preparing the re-opening of Le Touessrok, two resorts imagined and managed by the legendary South African hotelier Sol Kerzner. Even then, we had to admit, innovation, in the form of Kerzner International, came from an external catalyst.
REDISCOVERING THE MOJO
Fast forward six years and Mauritius hoteliers seem to have rediscovered their mojo. Rates and occupancies are at record levels, debt is back under control and share prices are outperforming the market. Not only can their success be seen domestically as local operators have co-developed hotels and acquired management contracts both within the Indian Ocean (Seychelles, Réunion, Madagascar and Maldives) and further afield in France (Beachcomber andLUX*), Italy, Turkey, China, UAE, Vietnam (LUX*) and Tanzania (Constance).
Until the September announcements from Lux Collective and Constance Hospitality Management, this growth in properties, owned or operated by Mauritian hotel groups, had been derived from one of two models: either by expansion of the house brand (i.e. Beachcomber, LUX*, Constance etc.) or by managing hotels, which failed to meet the ‘luxury’ specifications of those brands as independent properties (e.g. Merville Beach and Tamassa by LUX*).
This was an approach we pioneered with Sugar Beach, La Pirogue and Coco Beach (now Long Beach), the Sun Resorts hotels that were ‘Managed by’ One&Only.
During strategy reviews at One&Only and LUX*, I recall vigorous debate about the most appropriate form of brand architecture to accommodate properties like Sugar Beach and Merville that fell short of the minimum luxury (hardware) standards that had been specified for the house brands.The issue became all the more vexatious given that the service and guest experience in these 3 and 4-star properties was often on a par with that enjoyed in their fancier and more illustrious siblings.
Given these circumstances, there was al- ways the potential to introduce a second tier brand or ‘diffusion line’ under which to house these poorer cousins. Indeed, there were plenty of precedents for this ap- proach: Courtyard by Marriott was an early pioneer of brand extension but from pure- play luxury operators, Evason (Soneva), Angsana (Banyan Tree) and Vivanta (Taj) are prominent examples.
TIME FOR CHANGE
In Mauritius, this strategy met resistance for a variety of reasons. Frequently, Board directors deemed the introduction of a second brand as an unwelcome distraction from management’s proper focus, which was to grow the luxury house brand. Whether this fear was grounded or not, with access to only two or three properties to flag with a second brand, its slight physical presence and modest marketing budget would make it difficult to gain traction. Additionally, we faced an inconvenient truth: Coco Beach and Sugar Beach or Tamassa and Merville Beach were as distinct from one another as they were different from the main lines One&Only or LUX*. Would it be possible to build a credible brand if it was stretched across resorts as diverse as Tamassa and Merville Beach? To this day, the evidence suggests not as LUX* Island Resorts will not only be managing the four brands of its Lux Collective but continues to market and operate Merville Beach and Hotel le Récif in Réunion Island as independent properties. Although I am sure it has little intention of rolling out either of these as a brand, the same assumption applied to Tamassa until recently.
SO, WHAT’S CHANGED? WELL, FOUR THINGS.
First, the increasing need for customer segmentation. In common with the supply side of most industries, the fundamentals of a hotel or resort offering are very similar. The basic accommodations, facilities, food & beverage outlets and those all important immersive experiences are largely the same.
When it comes to demand, however, it is all about horses for courses. There are at least 400 brands of wristwatch available today. Their products perform the same basic function and most of them keep the time as accurately as the next. And yet most of these brands will survive because one man’s Panerai is another’s poison. So, too, with hotels and resorts. There are Aman ‘junkies’ and Four Seasons devotees that would never be seen in the lobby of The Ritz-Carlton. While there is little perceptible difference under the hood between many of the 30 Marriott brands (e.g. The Ritz-Carlton vs. St. Regis), theirs is an exercise in badge engineering.
Closer to home, a loyal client of Prince Maurice would probably feel less comfort- able at LUX* Belle Mare whose own client feels more at home there than at the St. Regis Le Morne. So long as there are sufficient numbers of customers with distinctive tastes and different levels of spending power, producers will be able to slice and dice their offerings ever more thinly to meet the needs and aspirations of precisely defined and deeply understood market segments.
Second, most global hotel companies now employ an asset-light strategy pitching themselves against one another for the same lucrative management contracts. The leading Mauritian hotel groups are no exception. Rather than developing new assets for their own account, groups may even prefer to dispose of their bricks. LUX Island Resorts Limited, for example, off-loaded Tamassa to Grit on a sale and leaseback basis for US$40m in 2016. Going forward, Mauritian operators will also be seeking to grow the distribution of their brands via the acquisition of management contracts, a model that requires no capital outlay and produces attractive annuity income, which is much cherished by stock markets but deceptively difficult to execute.
Here’s the rub, though, and our third driver of change. Owned or not, luxury has become an exceptionally difficult territory inwhich to compete propositionally as well as to make adequate returns. The capital budgets it takes to develop at this level have escalated significantly and the long-term operating costs of luxury hotels are increasingly prohibitive. As a result, there are fewer promoters developing in the luxury segment than previously and yet there is an increasing number of asset-light management companies chasing the same deals.
This double whammy produces a buyers’ market for hotel owners and however at- tractive your Brand Concept, however powerful your sales, distribution and marketing and however impressive the results you are achieving with your owned properties, third-party owners are seeking bulletproof track records achieved on behalf of investors like themselves. They crave the reassurance of a management company that is able to demonstrate repeated and sustained success in relevant markets with equivalent projects. Of equal importance, so do the banks providing the debt portion of their project financing.
In a crowded market for scarce management contracts, small local players, such as those starting to emerge from Mauritius, may still catch the eye of an owners’ representatives and their advisors and this is one of the reasons why one should never discount the value of personal relationships. Nevertheless, as negotiations proceed, it quickly becomes difficult for an ascent and unproven management company to match the metrics and ratios of a Four Seasons (with its mono brand focus) or a Marriott with its reputable stable of thoroughbred brands, each boasting reams of performance data to lend credibility to its projections. And that’s before they even mention the secret sauce, which is their global loyalty programmes.
Fourth, in small destinations, there is market saturation to factor. How many Constance or LUX* resorts can an island sustain? LUX* has three in Mauritius but would it be able to gain Tour Operator support or find even more direct business and airline seats for a fourth in the South? Constance has two resorts in each of Mauritius, Seychelles and Maldives and I know they wouldn’t want yet more rooms in the Maldives, if for no other reason than to hedge their market exposure.
On the other hand, when it comes to risk management, where better to develop more product than in the destinations where you operate successfully already? On that basis, it makes total sense to develop depth in places where you know how to operate and where both consumer and trade trust your reputation in those markets.
It’s to address this quartet of challenges that the international groups have architected carefully, segmented and regulated multi-brand portfolios. And it’s for these same reasons that the Mauritian operators are following suit.
TOWARDS A NEW MODEL OF SISTER BRANDS?
Constance Hospitality Management an- nounced its intention to launch a sister brand to Constance Hotels & Resorts to the European trade in May 2017. The result of more than a year’s development work since then, C Resorts, has been thoughtfully positioned and conceptualised not to cannibalise the Group’s luxury brand. It will offer a distinct proposition designed to appeal to long-haul leisure travellers to largely package tour destinations like Mauritius and Seychelles.
While Salt is also opening its first proof of concept hotel in Mauritius, I believe it won’t be long before we find LUX*’s seasoned sibling sprinkled in less conventional, fly and flop destinations. Salt’s promise of “meaningful” travel experiences designed – in the brand’s own words – for “cultural purists, modern explorers and mindful travellers who travel to satisfy their curiosity and challenge their perception of the world” seems better matched to the more off the beaten track destinations favoured by younger and truly free, independent travellers.
These recent developments are clearly encouraging and we wish both the new ar- rivals every success. One word of caution, however, in closing. In recent months, we have been approached by two internation- al operators whose brand aspirations have got the better of them. These are independent hotel groups both of whom have reached around 20-25 properties open and under management with another 5-10 in their pipelines. Their issue? Too many propositions and too many brands for the number of properties with not enough clear water between them. The resulting confusion in the minds of the consumer and owner communities alike now needs to be undone and the portfolio both simplified and rationalised. Although it makes interesting work for us to untangle the mess, maybe Four Seasons have had it right all along – one brand.
Piers Schmidt is Founder of Luxury Branding, an advisory firm based in London and Cape Town which assists luxury organisations with elevating service and transforming experiences.
The enchanting premises of Shandrani Beachcomber Resort & Spa served as the platform for the contest MOM ( Meilleur Ouvrier Mauricien) on Friday whereby Ajnisha Neeloo Ugnoo became the first woman to win the title of ‘ Meilleur Ouvrier’ in Mauritius in the ‘Gastronomy’ category. Renaud Azema and his team proceeded to the selection following the recommendations of the jury which for the occasion comprised of 4 members of the kitchen brigade of the most celebrated inn of Pont a Collognes by Paul Bocuse. 52 chefs took part in the contest which entailed 8 of them to come up with creativity, authenticity and cooking techniques in the menu that they proposed and that too under certain given constraints and conditions. The winner conquered the heart and the palate of the jury with her mastery over her art. She came up with the best starter and dessert and topped the qualification round for the theoretical test. She hereby won a month’s training at Bocuse, financed entirely by the MCB and ‘ la maison Paul Bocuse’. The other candidates were also awarded fairly for their participation. Upon receiving her medal from ‘Les Meilleurs Ouvriers de France’, Neeloo who received her training at Ecole Hoteliere and was under the internship of Chef Neezam Peeroo at the be- ginning of her career, was reminded of the new covenant that she needs to abide by for being the first ‘MOM’ : Excellence, Sharing of knowhow and adequate representation. The freshly awarded ambassador of MAURITIAN Cuisine now sets out on a new path of excellence which she will be required to live by throughout her career.
“Moving to Mauritius was a decision first led by the island’s reputation for fascinating cuisine, but when I discovered the passion and warmth of the people, I knew there could be no better place for me.”
Four Seasons Tenure: Since 2015
First Four Seasons Assignment: Executive Chef, Four Seasons Resort Mauritius at Anahita
Sofitel Guangzhou Sunrich, China; Sofitel So Bangkok, Thailand; Sofitel Shanghai Hyland, China Sofitel Bora Bora, French Polynesia Coral Palms Island Resort, New Caledonia; Fine Ca- tering and Event Company, Florida, USA; Café Moderne, Paris, France; Bal- thus Restaurant, Beirut, Lebanon; Sur Un arbre perche, Paris, France; Bistro Humbert, Boston, USA
Birthplace: Paris, France
Languages Spoken: French, English and Spanish
With a career that incorporates more than 14 years professional cooking and kitchen management experience across three continents, it is perhaps no wonder that keen traveller Chef Nicolas Vienne has found his home in the beautiful surroundings of the In- dian Ocean, on an island famous for its rich cultural diversity and welcoming nature. His role of Executive Chef at Four Seasons Resort Mauritius at Anahita now extends his experience across a new, fourth continent.
Beginning in his native Paris, Chef Nicolas developed his skills under the guidance of multiple Michelin Star chefs, including Alain Ducasse and Eric Briffard at Four Seasons Hotel GeorgeV. His first international opportunitycame in 2001 when he accepted the position of executive chef for Bistro Humbert in Boston, USA – a stepping stone towards his global journey. Following Boston, Chef Nicolas held various international positions as executive chef, including locations such as the bustling city of Beirut in Lebanon, the sunshine state of Florida, USA and the paradise South Pacific islands ofNew Caledonia and Bora Bora. During a return to Paris in 2004, Chef Vienne was awarded a Michelin Star while head chef of Café Moderne.
Joining Sofitel in 2007 while in BoraBora, Chef Nicolas embraced the company’s expansion into Asia, first taking on the executive chef role in Shanghai, before becoming part of the pre-opening team of Bangkok as culinary designer and then into his most recent role as area executive chef in Guangzhou in January 2013, where he oversaw five of the region’s hotels, leading a combined team of more than 600 chefs and 20 restaurants.
A multiple award-winner, Chef Nicolas is fluent in French, English and Spanish and is the proud author of three published cookery books. Chef Nicolas is married to his wife, Donia, and is the proud father to Meryl.
In this edition we are privileged to introduce you to the latest Hotel Brands, C-Resorts from Constance and SALT from LUX Resorts. Mr Piers Schmidt, Founder of the advisory firm Luxury Branding shares what it takes to create, launch and build a hotel brand in this competitive industry. Chef Jordi Vila describes his journey from helping out in family restaurants in Barcelona to becoming Executive Chef at Constance Lemuria, on the island of Praslin, Seychelles. And more…
Unfortunately the recently appointed publishing team to manage our magazines did not manage to deliver the previous edition Sep/Oct/Nov in time and we had to terminate their contract. We thank all the contributors, advertisers and subscribers for their patience and understanding.
Because of this delay, we postponed the main prize (Rodrigues Trip) Lucky Draw to Dec 2019 as we were not able to publish an additional magazine and best market the lucky draw 2018.
The winner for this 2018 edition is Mr Stephane Mathieu who wins a Nespresso Machine from our partner Scott.mu and a Rs10,000 voucher from MariDeal.mu. Congratulation to him and thank you for supporting our magazine.
On a more positive note we wish to welcome onboard our new Editorial Assistant Ms Anishta Ruggoo who has shared her enthusiasm and interest in working with both our magazines. She has proven to be the right team member and addition to the team:
We now all look forward to distributing this 2nd edition to all Hospitality players around Mauritius starting with posting the magazine to all 110 Hotels CEO’s, Head Chefs, Brand & Purchasing Managers as well as to all the corporates of the featured hotels this 2nd edition. As well as our key strategic distribution partners:
La Maison Du Gourmet
L’Epicerie Shops and
The Gourmet Emporium to name a few.
Our mission is to become the leading B2B Hospitality magazine sharing the latest news, events and trends and which will cater for local and international advertisers.
Thank you all again for the support and best wishes for 2019.
“Skills can be taught but attitude is what you are born with and what you nurture by breeding the right habits”
It is on these terms that Anju Hawoldar , Brand Ambassador for Decayeux Golf and Director of Oceandash Fresh Seafood Ltd, embarked on her entrepreneurial journey and has built up a reputation which won her an award in 2017 for ‘Femme Entrepreneur’. The right attitude, according to her has shaped up her journey where passion , precision, dedication and quality are the key ingredients to meet up clients’ expectations.
Driven , determined and dynamic, she began her career by the set up and launch of an Indian restaurant in Moka and subsequently selling it to meet up new challenges and move in different more promising segments namely : Golf, as the Brand Ambassador for Decayeux Golf; Seafood , as the Director of Oceandash Fresh Seafood Ltd and more recently in property development and real estate sector as a consultant.
According to her, the secret which fosters the success of an entrepreneur lies in engendering the right attitude “ Skills can be taught but attitude is what you are born with and what you nurture by breeding the right habits. The drive factor for the success of any entrepreneur relies heavily on how result-oriented and how dedicated he is. The pace at which our society is moving and evolving ,embracing culture change and innovation , reasserts my core beliefs about work ethics, discipline and consistency’
Having embraced different work responsibilities and in spite of having herself a very busy schedule, she is adamant that ‘there is a huge difference between business and busyness! It is only by adopting the right mindset and working towards optimal customer service within set deadlines in a challenging and competitive environment that one can turn an unproductive busyness in a successful business.
Passion for golf
The past decade has seen a major paradigm shift in the economic players of our market. Anju’s drive to tap in new market opportunities paved her way as Brand Ambassador for Decayeux Golf, a French company having set up a subsidiary company in Mauritius since two years. Decayeux Golf , based in France has been a pioneer in the processing of metal parts /accessories for luxury goods and jewellery to well reputed houses such as Louis Vuitton. It has over a century sustained development in this sector and enhanced its expertise to come up with a prestigious line ‘Decayeux Golf’ offering a range of opulent-statement makers to refined timeless pieces and jewellery such as Gold plated cufflinks, Belts, Necklaces , Bracelets, Clubhouse lamps, Keyrings and tees (to name a few).
Golf tourism has undoubtedly emerged as a promising sector in the past decade. Our country not only boasts of some of the best 18-holes courses but can at the same time provide the right climatic conditions and hospitality that could propel it from ‘ the new kid on the block as a golf destination’ to being a golf destination par excellence’
The market always dictates the rules for entrepreneurs like us and we can only take the cue to go ahead with the launch of a new product when we see old players holding a monopoly of the market but not offering the competitive advantage that we have to offer. Already present on our market are Lacoste and Boss Green for which there is a huge demand from Golfers. However our products at Decayeux Golf have an unparalleled competitive advantage in that these have been designed specifically for golfers.
Seafood as a growing opportunity
Being herself a foodie and having held a restaurant for a decade, Anjustruggled to find on the local market products which were fresh and readily available upon demand. She saw the huge untapped potential of Oceandash Seafood Ltd and took it over two and half years ago to propel it to another level of distribution targeting Hotels , resorts and key supermarkets.
As at date the company supplies fresh seafood from Scotland namely Salmon , Oysters, Lobsters, scallops and Mussels. She has through a short span of time, through her premium quality products secured the trust of well established restaurants and hotels around the island. Though according to her the market is “ small, tough and challenging’, she is confident that as long as her products reflect competitive strength and her team is geared towards customer service , she will only be moving a step ahead. As explained , the price-quality equation always comes into play in a market as competitive as seafood. ‘ It is hard to explain at a tasting with a new client why our salmon ( for instance) is different from that coming from Norway. At the end of the day to some clients , Salmon is Salmon. This is when I always point out and re-emphasize the difference between my products and that available on the market. Loch Fyne , the Scottish supplier I am working with , is the proud holder of ‘The Queen’s award for the premium quality of their products. This is in itself a statement”
Being a regular in London , she has always been amazed by the wide range of fresh , high quality products which was available on the market and for which there could be a huge demand on our market. She rightly believes that there has been a change in consumer trends, where people are now looking for a healthier and fresher alternative on their plates. It undeniable that in recent years there has been an evolution in the quality of products available on supermarket shelves : Food items from Waitrose and Jacobs are now available on the market. With Oceandash Fresh Seafood Ltd Anju aims at bringing home, products which are in line with the new market trends keeping in mind the size of the market.
In spite of the continuous growth of her company , she believes that it is ‘only a baby swimming with the sharks’. So for the next quarters her objective for the company is to conduct a market research to identify new opportunities for the distribution of ready-to-eat and ready-to-cook items given that we are evolving in a fast moving society where people hardly have time to prepare a meal.
Building on existent work ethics and targeting new markets
What next ? Anju takes a wide interest in the economic development of Mauritius more precisely in property development. Recently she been appointed as a consultant in the real estate sector although she believes that ‘it is quite slow moving at the moment, there is still a potential for growth’ She perceives that land will never be devaluated but will at some point become scarce due to numerous ongoing projects. The key would then lie in tapping revenue in the face of these constraints and opt for smarter development.
‘No challenge is worth the ride , if when taking it up, there are no struggles involved’
It is on this positive note that she concluded this enlightening interview and adds that she holds quality family time as her priority as this is what keeps her grounded to her core beliefs : humility , dedication and honesty!