Jean-Jacques Vallet, CEO of Constance Hotels and Resorts, shares his (very insightful) thoughts on the evolution of the Mauritian hotel industry. Without borders.
In 2016, you achieved a combined occupancy rate of 78% in your two Mauritian hotels. A result that is higher than the regional average. What are the reasons behind the success of Constance Hotels in Mauritius?
At Constance, we do not compromise on quality. Some years back, the situation was not as easy due to the crisis. However, the quality standards of our services have remained unchanged. I would even go so far as to say that we have improved our quality: we have optimised our products – like Le Prince Maurice which was completely renovated 4 years ago and the Belle Mare Plage which was given a new look earlier this year – and we have focused on customer experience more than ever.
What makes the Mauritian tourism sector successful?
As a luxury destination, Mauritius must provide high- quality services. Fortunately, the tour operators in Mauritius adopt a long-term approach. They are not merely after quick money, they here to stay. Therefore, they invest regularly and look after their assets, as may not be the case in many other destinations. This is the undisputable key factor to the success of our tourism sector. Other elements are also involved such as the health and safety of the destination, the warm hospitality of Mauritians and the wide range of activities available between sea, golf, excursions, tours and museums… Mauritius is rich in history, culture and discoveries. It is an indisputable strength.
Can we say that the luxury hotel market in Mauritius has regained much needed vitality?
Even if we say that the luxury hotel sector in Mauritius is doing well with a bright future, I don’t think that we can state that this vitality will long forever. The common desire of all the role players to maintain the prestige of the destination is beyond question. The actions taken by the Minister of Tourism to slow down the construction of hotels during 12 to 18 months, shows the willingness of the Government to promote a quality policy for the destination. I am, of course, not leaving out the continuous improvements to infrastructure and air access. The industry is, however, fragile and it is important to remain cautious; let us, therefore, hope that no geopolitical or health event gets in the way of this new vitality.
“ONGOING ADAPTABILITY IS, IN MY OPINION,
OUR WAY FORWARD.”
According to you, how will the market evolve in the coming decade?
We live in a globalised world. The Internet is an indispensable tool and all information is now only a click away. Distribution is in constant mutation. The digital era offers consumers a wider choice but also more power. All of this calls into question many management rules that have been taught in the greatest business and hotel management schools. Our clientele is evolving and is becoming more and more unpredictable. Besides our historical European market, emerging markets like China, Turkey, Gulf countries and India are rapidly developing, with different ways of travelling. Ongoing adaptability is, in my opinion, our way forward. It is the greatest challenge we face today!
Constance Hotels and Resorts also includes five 5-star hotels established outside of Mauritius. What development projects do you have planned?
We are currently well established in the Indian Ocean with 7 hotels in dream tourist destinations: Mauritius, Seychelles, Maldives and Madagascar. We are still trying expand the frontiers towards South-Eastern Asia, Sri Lanka and why not the Gulf countries where our clientele is dynamic and where the visibility of our brand would be significant. There are many ongoing discussions which should materialise in the near future.
Mauritian know-how in the hotel industry is getting wider international recognition. Has acquiring an international reputation become a necessity for Mauritian hotel groups?
The Mauritian know-how in the hotel sector is recognised on an international level. In our globalised economy, where social networks reign supreme, and in a context where people are travelling more and more, our international visibility is not only a necessity; it is crucial.