In the fast-moving, aggressively-competitive business world, there are no secrets to success. It is the result of preparation, hard work, learning from failure, and facing challenges head on. For the D’Offay brothers, Richard and Bernard, they seem to have concocted the right recipe.
La Plaine St. André was honored on Saturday, December 6, 2014, at the Eden Bleu hotel as Seychelles “Best Tourism Establishment” by members of the Seychelles Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SCCI) at the second edition of the Seychelles Business Awards Ball.
Choosing the best among the best is not a straight forward process. From the first ten nominees suggested by the three-hundred plus members of the SCCI, only four are then considered based on the following criteria: services, product and marketing, value for money, community integration, and above all being a member of the SCCI. This last criteria signals a change that has been made in the organization of this event. In 2013, all interested businesses were considered for awards.
A seasoned committee of members with years of experience in the business field, along with the chairman, then sit down to deliberate over who will eventually walk away with the accolade. Finding out who will win is a mystery until the envelope is opened and a name is called out on the day itself.
The “tourism establishment” umbrella covers a wide range of tourism-related activities and businesses, from hotels, restaurants, self-caterings, and guest houses, to dive centers and live boards.
So what made “La Plaine St André” stand out?
One of the key factors is its ideal location as a stop point for tourists touring the southeast coast of Mahé. The colonial plantation house originally built some 222 years ago by Jean-Francois Jorre de St. Jorre offers so much more than an exquisite Creole dining experience.
Visitors looking for something different can go for a guided rum tasting tour of the Takamaka Bay distillery and also of the lush medicinal, herb, and fruit tree garden. Its bar offers distinctive signature cocktails using fresh, homemade rum as the key ingredient along with an extensive wine collection with a sommelier at hand to answer any burning questions. Years of history can be uncovered in the Heritage Room, which can additionally be booked for private functions such as business meals or romantic dinners. As stated on their website, La Plaine St André “is the perfect setting to relax, unwind, and indulge yourself.”
It is that personalized touch that they stamp on their services and products which makes them exclusive. According to the managing director, Richard D’Offay, who feels deeply honored to have won, “there is no secret in the fact that the core of this success is interaction between the unique plantation atmosphere and joint effort of our motivated and dedicated team along with the partners of Takamaka Bay.”
Customers sing their praises on tripadvisor.com commending the friendly staff on their “excellent customer service” and describing the rum tasting as “a stand-out experience.” Clients can walk away with rum bottles packaged in a wooden gift box with coco-de-mer motifs carved on the cover.
The SCCI’s secretary general, Juliette Sicobo-Azais, admires their relentless effort to “put themselves out there” through crafty publicity and marketing strategies. And winning the coveted prize of “Best Tourism Establishment” represents a seal of approval coming from fellow SCCI members. This will surely be a boost for the “La Plaine St Andre” team to take it to the next level, to outdo competitors or even themselves, and inspire other businesses to join the SCCI not only as a voice for their businesses but also as a means to receive due recognition. After all, hard work always pays off.
Mr. D’Offay looks ahead to the future enthusiastically, stating that along with his team they would like to continue to enrich and develop their services to their guests through “the best heritage experience, the best rum experience, and the best restaurant experience of Seychelles.”
Seychelles is a founding member of the International Coalition of Tourism Partners (ICTP) .