Being the General Manager of a resort can be a fascinating job that takes you all over the globe, in the latest of our General Manager interview series we caught up with Christoph – currently the GM at the Raffles Praslin in the Seychelles, he has held the position at a number of hotels across the globe. This is what he had to say about his current posting in the Seychelles and the Raffles Praslin.
How long have you been General Manager at the hotel?
I was transferred – within our mother company, FRHI Hotels & Resorts – in July 2013, prior to this, I was General Manager at Fairmont Grand Hotel Kyiv, Ukraine, where since October 2011, I established Fairmont’s first property in Eastern Europe. Since 1996 I held various Management positions in some of the best Hotels & Resorts around the world, including Switzerland, North America, Mauritius, Maldives, Mauritius and Seychelles before I joined Raffles Canouan, St. Vincent & The Grenadines in 2005. Thereafter I moved to Dubai to open Raffles Dubai in 2007 and in 2009 I was appointed to my first General Manager’s role at Fairmont Heliopolis & Towers, Cairo, Egypt.
If you could sum up the hotel in three words, what would they be?
Laid-back luxury in paradise
The accommodation at the hotel looks stunning; could you tell us a bit about the style of the property, and where that inspiration came from?
Raffles Praslin is an all-villa resort with a contemporary architecture designed by Wilson Associates – consistently named as one of the top interior design firms in the world. The decor in the villas follows a soft colour scheme inspired by the local surroundings such as blue for the ocean, green for the lush vegetation and orange for the coral beds. Each area has been designed to take full advantage of the magnificent surroundings, maximizing on open spaces and views across the ocean. For example our beds are elevated so that you can contemplate the azure waters while lying down and the bathtubs are specially placed for stargazing… The modern design is combined with authentic local touches such as the pink granite wall by the bedside. The villas have been conceived as a living space, with an extensive outdoor pavilion featuring a private plunge pool, day bed, dining area and sundeck, to enjoy the outdoor surroundings at their best.
Do you get to know the guests that come and stay with you at the hotel?
It is one of my priorities, and part of the Raffles luxury experience. I get to meet every guest upon arrival or at some time during their stay. We are focusing of making our guests feel at home, and as the host, I have to welcome them and be accessible. It is also important to have a direct interaction with guests, to ensure the delivery of Raffles’ hallmark style of emotional luxury.
Which is your favourite restaurant? Do you have a favourite dish?
All our restaurants have their own character and tantalizing specialties, but if I would have to choose one it would be Curieuse Seafood Restaurant. It has an island-chic atmosphere in cosy surroundings which makes you feel special. It offers great privacy with different levels of decks and is nestled amidst the tropical vegetation. There you can taste al fresco contemporary dining featuring the finest seafood with influence from the cooking style and traditions of the Indian Ocean. My favourite dish is the whole fresh Red Snapper, served with creole rice, green papaya salad and Creole sauce. This is the best dish to enjoy fresh local products, which we are blessed with, and have such a rich taste that cannot find anywhere else in the world.
Do you tend to have a lot of repeat guests coming back to the hotel every year?
The resort just opened in February 2011, and we are already seeing several repeat guests coming back to the resort and many leaving saying they have to come back. For example couples who get married at our resort are planning to visit us again for their wedding anniversary and some of them even come back as happy parents!
Which is your favourite excursion on offer to the guests at the hotel?
We are located in proximity of many natural wonders such as the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Vallée de Mai, the Curieuse Marine National Park, or La Digue Island… But my favourite excursion is going to the nearby Zimbabwe Mountain, and having a sunset aperitif with Champagne and canapés on the rocks. The best part of it is when you see the beautiful colour scheme as the sun sets on one of the most beautiful beaches in the world, Anse Lazio. Magical!
Finally – would you say the hotel is more suited to couples, or families? Or both?
Spreading across 30 acres of land, the resort suits both, couples and families, who can enjoy our facilities in perfect harmony as we feature dedicated spaces where each one can indulge in its own way …
Couples can enjoy mesmerizing romantic experiences such as a private dinner on the beach, an idyllic honeymoon with a luxury couple’s massage under the stars, a romantic sunset cruise, or a dream wedding at our pristine beachfront. We also cater to anniversaries and can create tailor-made romantic experiences for couples to live their once in a lifetime moments at our resort. We have a Romance Specialist at Raffles Praslin, who is first-hand on couples’ expectations and ensure their romantic celebrations will be memorable. We aim at creating a personalised experience for couples, and with this in mind, we have launched the “tree of love celebration” where couples who get married at the resort can plant a tree, personalised with their name. Every year, on their anniversary they will receive a picture of the tree growing at the birthplace of their union.
When it comes to families, we have one of the largest kids clubs in Seychelles, with 3 different rooms, catering to various age groups: toddlers to 4 years old, 4 to 12 years old and 12 to 18 years old. Kids can enjoy our paradise island as much as their parents do with outdoor activities such as nature trails, crab hunting, or Creole fishing, to name a few. Families can connect together through our daily changing programme of activities including beach football, table tennis competition, pool basketball… and discover the stunning Indian Ocean scenery with a wide range of leisure activities: kayaking, snorkeling, stand-up paddle boarding or biking.