Rise in room nights on Mauritius due to growth of travel from South Korea, Brazil and even ArgentinaMauritius is an island isolated in the Indian Ocean, but there is much to be learned from it – especially when so many developed economies are fighting recession.
I was fortunate enough to spend a week in Mauritius and, during that time, I was able to visit the brand new head offices of Beachcomber Hotels. The offices are located in Curepipe, a town in the very centre of the island and as far away from the beaches as any town can be on that island. The building is reminiscent of a 5-star hotel and visitors are able to admire the pool and plants in the atrium whilst waiting to be taken to their meeting.
The name Curepipe is fancifully thought to derive from the fact that being so central, the settlement was a very good resting spot on any trek across the island, a place where a traveller could clean a pipe, refill it, have a relaxing smoke and be ready for the onward journey.
Beachcomber has eight properties on the island (as well as a beautiful resort in The Seychelles) and so Curepipe is nicely located from the point of view of being in touch with the beaches of the North East, North West, South East and South West where Beachcomber Resorts can be found.
My meeting was with Bruno Bosquet, Beachcomber’s Groups Co-Ordinator and Mikael Le Luron, the Marketing Manager, so I was able to discover how Beachcomber – and Mauritius – was faring on the global MICE scene and which markets were attracting interest and providing business.
The first point of interest was that Beachcomber enjoyed increased room nights in 2012 compared with the previous year.
Did this mean that the traditional markets of Europe were re-awakening? No. ‘We welcomed more guests’, said Bruno, ‘from South Korea and China’.
‘And’, added Mikael, ‘we have been generating growing business from Brazil and Argentina. The South Americans,’ he went on, ‘are enjoying double-header programmes. They stop off in South Africa for safaris and then they come to Mauritius for an Indian Ocean beach holiday’.
The reduced state of the European markets means that Air Mauritius, the main carrier (code sign MK), has cut back on the frequency of flights from Europe. ‘This makes it’, says Mikael, ‘a vicious circle. The reduced numbers of passengers produces a fall in flight services and this in turn makes it harder for us to market Mauritius to Europe’.
Bruno confirmed that there is still a false perception amongst the markets of Europe, especially the UK and France, about the cost of an incentive programme in Mauritius. ‘It is always worth exploring an incentive, because organisers are frequently surprised, pleasantly surprised, at how well such a trip can fit into their budgets.’
Mauritius is constantly gaining accolades on the MICE scene. ‘A French car manufacturer recently chose Beachcomber’s Paradis Hotel & Golf Club as the destination for an incentive’, said Bruno, ‘and later reported to us that it was the first time ever that a post-event research had shown 100% satisfaction’.
Beachcomber can offer very attractive group rates but, they insist, ‘we will not take part in any price war to get the business. It is always vital for us to ensure that our high standards are maintained’.
I stayed at the Shandrani Resort & Spa which is popular for groups. It has the twin advantages of being less than 10 minutes from the international airport and it also offers Beachcomber’s Serenity Plus all-inclusive package. The whole resort is cash-free, with no need to sign bills, to pay for any drinks, to carry credit cards and so on. It is really a boon for organisers that group delegates are totally free and easy, with everything to hand, and with no bills waiting for anyone at the end of the stay. It also greatly simplifies tipping, which many people find awkward.
ITCM’s visit to the totally re-built Trou Aux Biches resort will be the subject of a later article.