What benefits does World Leisure Holidays enjoy, by virtue of this relationship with Sun Resorts?
An intimacy with our properties. The portfolio is relatively small – four hotels in Mauritius: Le Touessrok, Long Beach, Sugar Beach (all 5-star), and La Pirogue (4-star); and one in the Maldives: Kanuhura (5-star).
Long Beach is a unique property – contemporary in design, offering and layout. What was the thinking behind building this type of property in Mauritius?
Long beach has a signature character and appeals to a specific lifestyle and energy. It was designed by a South African architect to maximise the hotel in its natural setting. It radiates urban energy and a relaxed lifestyle. Simplicity is key. Standard rooms are differentiated from superior rooms simply because superior rooms are on the ground floor (there is a mere 4m² in room size between a standard and a superior room). All rooms are sea facing, have a sea view, and have all the latest modernisations, like 42-inch flat-screen TVs and iPod/iPad docking facilities etc. The urban energy is driven around a piazza area, where music spills into from the bar and surrounding restaurants. There are five restaurants, covering French Mediterranean, Italian, Chinese, Japanese and poolside dining. We also have live music in the bar area, whilst the pools are treated with ozone water, and the spa is a destination within a destination. The hotel opened in April 2011 and it is quickly establishing itself in the South African market, particularly.
Are you not concerned that Mauritius is over-traded, in terms of the number of hotels now available to travellers?
Yes we are. The bigger part of our concern is that, for those people that have not been before, it must be bewildering to choose and one is often too aware of how good a vacation could have been. To counter this, World Leisure Holidays constantly endeavours to provide information to consumers, via our website: www.wlh.co.za.
What are the current trends, in terms of travel to Mauritius? Is there a greater appetite for the top-end hotels, or are budget properties becoming more popular?
Market segment sizes increase as one slips down the aspiration curve. This indicates that more people travel in the middle to lower segments than in the top-end segments. Consumers aspire to come to our resorts and the top-end resorts (arguably) have more repeat clientele than the other segments. It becomes the annual holiday of choice in our hotels.
Even though your name would suggest otherwise, does World Leisure Holidays cater at all to the business travel market?
No, with the exception of the Meetings, Incentives, Conferences and Events (MICE) market. Many corporates use our hotels for incentives and other group-oriented activities. We have a specialised MICE business unit that tailors these travels to briefs received from corporates. Our hotels are adept at dealing with a wide variety of themes to exacting standards.
As a tour operator, what does World Leisure Holidays have to make sure it gets right, in terms of the service it provides to the traveller?
A vacation experience should include the pre, during and post phases. The ‘pre’ phase starts with anticipation and moves through the gathering of information and the booking process. Then follows the ‘during’ phase, when clients know that we are on standby to assist, should they need assistance when there. Then there is the ‘post’ phase – World Leisure Holidays remains proud of the vacations in our portfolio and to hear from clients when they come back.
What can the rest of Africa learn from the Mauritian approach to hospitality?
Quite a bit I’d say. Mauritius has a high service ethic. The country is safe. It is in one of the most beautiful settings on earth. It does not have health risks. It is progressive, with new hotels, new roads and a new airport terminal soon. To my mind, Mauritius sets a standard that is hard to beat.
What can the country of Mauritius do to change the perception that it is solely a leisure travel destination?
They already do a lot, just by being progressive.