Having been recognised as Seychelles’ Leading Hotel by the prestigious World Travel Awards, Raffles Praslin, Seychelles is riding high.
Here Breaking Travel News sits down with general manager Christoph Ganster to discuss tourism in the country, what is on offer at the property and what improvements we can expect over the coming year.
Breaking Travel News: Perhaps we could begin with a brief overview of the property for our readers who may be unfamiliar with what is on offer at the hotel?
Christoph Ganster: Raffles Praslin, Seychelles is an all-villa resort located on the magical island of Praslin, famous for its stunning beaches, including Anse Lazio, the Vallée de Mai UNESCO World Heritage Site and the Marine National Park.
The resort boasts 86 architecturally exquisite villas, each with a private plunge pool and mesmerising views across the ocean, pristine beaches and lush vegetation.
It is the ideal place to indulge in luxury, with the legendary 24 hours Raffles butler service.
The resort features a selection of superb restaurants and bars: Curieuse Seafood Restaurant is an elegant venue for fine dining; Losean Restaurant offers themed evenings with Mediterranean and Indian Ocean cuisine and live entertainment; the Pool Restaurant & Bar is ideal for relaxed poolside dining; Danzil Lounge Bar offers sophisticated drinks and cigars; and Takamaka Terrace & Sisha Lounge is a rooftop venue for cocktails and the only shisha lounge in Seychelles.
When it comes to relaxation, the award-winning Raffles Spa is a destination in itself, famous the world over, with outdoor pavilions, couples’ suites and the very best pampering experience.
We also cater to the young ones with a dedicated kids club designed for toddlers, children and teenagers.
The resort features two outdoor infinity pools, 45 meters long, where guests can relax and sunbath amidst stunning surroundings.
Alternatively, our resort’s beachfront, spanning 500 meters, is ideal for swimming and water sports.
BTN: From where do you draw your guests? Do you attract a lot of European visitors, or are you mainly focused on the Asian markets? Has this been changing in recent years?
CG: We have a wide diversity of guests coming to our resort.
We attract a lot of European guests mainly from Russia, Germany, France and UK. China is the fastest developing market for the resort, and we also have a lot of guests from GCC countries, mainly United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia.
The variety of our experiences allows us to cater to these various audiences. For example we offer Halal food and have Arabic butlers and Chefs for the GCC guests, we have Chinese speaking team members and Asian specialties for the Chinese guests, and we have German and French speaking colleagues as well as leisure activities particularly attracting the European market.
BTN: Do you attract a business market all, or is the property purely focused on the leisure side of the industry?
CG: People do not typically come to Seychelles for business; however we attract incentive groups and corporate events to our resort thanks to our idyllic location, stunning facilities and personalised service.
With a diverse choice of meeting and dining options and a dedicated team available round-the-clock, Raffles Praslin is a perfect destination for smart gatherings.
We can cater to gala dinners, team building activities, private functions on the beach, barbecue luncheons, and dazzling cocktail receptions.
Our resort particularly suits incentive groups as we can establish a tailor-made itinerary for them and make special arrangements such as personalised macaroons with the company logo, live entertainment, and cocktails themed with their corporate colours, on top of the usual delegate services that we provide.
BTN: Raffles Praslin has been recognised as the Seychelles’ Leading Hotel by the World Travel Awards. How important are honours like this to the property?
CG: We are very pleased to be recognised as Seychelles’ Leading Hotel by the World Travel Awards for the past two consecutive years.
The World Travel Awards reward the finest properties, which have made the greatest contribution to the industry in quality, innovation and service.
Our resort only opened two years and half ago and being considered as the leader in the destination is a significant achievement.
This recognition demonstrates that our guests can expect the highest level of service and most luxurious facilities at our resort.
From Seychelles’ Leading Hotel, our resort is now reaching further, and establishing its worldwide reputation.
We are now part of the best properties in the world as we have been nominated for the 2013 World’s Leading Luxury Villa Resort at the World Travel Awards.
I wish to thank all the travel professionals and the public voting for us, as an acknowledgement of our luxury standards, which is very valuable to us.
I also wish to thank all the team at the resort who has achieved such level of professionalism and have made this possible.
BTN: Do you have any improvements planned for the property you could share with us to make sure you take the title again next year?
CG: The resort recently opened, so we already have state-of-the-art facilities.
However, it is always our aim to bring some improvements and an even better guest experience.
We are now planning to build a helipad at our resort’s premises, allowing our guests to land directly at our beautiful resort, for a smoother journey and an unparalleled luxury experience.
We are also revamping our food & beverage offerings, for example with the introduction of the new Raffles Boutique & Café, the perfect venue for guests to shop, connect, meet and unwind in stunning surroundings.
One of our major improvements is on recruiting multicultural colleagues, which can offer round-the-clock service in multiple languages.
With 25 different nationalities, our colleagues speak 12 main languages, including English, Arabic, Mandarin, Russian, Ukrainian, German, French, Italian and Spanish.
We have recently welcomed five new Russian colleagues, six Arabic, three Mandarin and three German speaking team members.
We are also constantly working on improving our landscape and vegetation. Since the resort opened we planted 200,000 new plants and today Raffles Praslin is featuring a beautiful landscape with lush vegetation allowing great privacy from our villas.
BTN: Seychelles is a world leader for tourism; do you feel the government has been successful in assisting the industry in its development? What more could officials do?
CG: Seychelles government played a vital role in positioning Seychelles as a world leader for tourism.
First of all, Seychelles do not require any visa to enter the country, which is really convenient for visitors from around the world.
The Ministry of Tourism & Culture, Alain St-Ange, and the Seychelles Tourism Board are playing a significant role in propelling Seychelles into the limelight with a proactive approach and a good level of visibility in all markets.
They also introduced Seychelles into the world of events with the annual Carnival International de Victoria and the Festival Kreol, to name few.
On another note, the Government’s efforts to conserve the environment are laudable and Seychelles is regarded as a pioneer in environmental protection and conservation.
Protected areas in the archipelago represent half of all Seychelles land being protected.
This has a great impact on tourism as visitors can really appreciate the natural habitat of the islands.
On this note, Raffles Praslin is also strongly involved in sustaining the environment, as we received the Certificate of Recognition for Wetland Protection by the Seychelles Ministry of Environment, for the hotel’s efforts in conserving the protected environment.
Interview: Chris O’Toole