The New Look HotelL’Archipel Seychelles By Glynn Burridge
I am not sure if there is an accurate geographical term to describe a place that forms part of a larger entity yet remains wonderfully separate from it. In the context of Seychelles, certainly, such a term would describe the beautiful Hotel L’Archipel, snug in its glorious niche in the north-east corner of Praslin Island and with an imperious view over almost the entire shimmering, silver strand of Côte d’or, one of Seychelles most exquisite beaches.
In this secluded corner of Praslin, L’Archipel, with its splendid history and pedigree as one of the island’s finest hotels, has continued to weave its spell over successive generations of travellers for over 30 years.
The name L’Archipel – which is French for Archipelago – geographically describes a string of islands , the Seychelles Archipelago , some of whose island names have been adopted by the hotel to christen its impressive suite of accommodation options, each one blending discreetly with the surrounding tropical gardens and commanding a sweeping panorama of the sapphire ocean gently lapping at its front door.
L’Archipel was inspired by the vision of its late departed owner, Louis d’Offay, one of the pioneers of Seychelles’ hospitality industry and a tourism icon, who together with his wife Cecile commenced the construction of the hotel in 1985 with just 9 rooms, with the latter even helping in the kitchen when necessary. Powered by an energetic marketing campaign in France and with the help of two French chefs, they conscientiously built the foundations of the successful enterprise that L’Archipel is today.
Today, the hotel, which has been ingeniously and tastefully refurbished to capitalise on every aspect of its unique location, (and with even more future surprises in the pipeline), continues to dominate Praslin Island’s accommodation scene by virtue not only of its spectacular geographical location, but also on account of a tried and tested philosophy characterised by a very high standard of personalised service, meticulous attention to detail and genuine Creole flair.
The hotel’s range of accommodation options includes two family suites, 9 senior suites, 16 deluxe rooms and 5 superior rooms. Located on the top floor of the main building, at 120 sq.m, family suites are extremely spacious with two bathrooms, a separate lounge and a veranda and ideal for two adults and three children or three adults and one child.
The 65 sq. m senior suites feature an elegant seating area and bathroom with bath and shower. Two of these suites are interconnecting and ideal for families.
Deluxe rooms, at 60 sq m, are spacious yet intimate and scattered discreetly across the hillside, the well-tended gardens and the approach to the beach –ideal for seniors, honeymooners or guests in search of a dash of Seychelles-style seclusion and tranquillity.
Finally, the 60 sq.m hillside and garden superior rooms are roomy and enjoy excellent views of the bay of Côte D’or.
In terms of interior design, all rooms fuse fine taste and aesthetic beauty with a high level of functionality, ensuring that your stay in this luxurious tropical cocoon will be as inspiring and soulful as it will be comfortable – and memorable!
Room features include air-conditioning, flat screen TV, free Wi-Fi, room service and everything you might expect from a 4-star hotel with an eagle eye for detail. Hotel amenities include an infinity pool, lobby bar, souvenir shop and the possibility of in-room massage and baby-sitting.
Throughout, L’Archipel’s distinctive Seychellois Creole architecture with its understated, clean lines and colonial aura resonates with the aesthetic charm and timeless appeal of a bygone era.
In its operations, first and foremost in L’Archipel’s corporate culture comes the welcome it extends to its guests and the enduring policy of Louis d’Offay that each guest must be welcomed personally upon arrival by the hotel’s hands-on management team and a rapport quickly established to ensure that those guests’ expectations are not only met, but surpassed. The high ratio of return guests to the hotel with certain clients returning as many as 10 times, speaks volumes of its effectiveness.
L’Archipel is also very conscious of the positioning of its product and the importance of it reflecting the Creole soul both in terms of architecture, decor and overarching personality. In a modern world where many competitors appear to have lost their sense of identity, this is most assuredly not the case with L’Archipel where even much of the furniture in renovated rooms has been manufactured on site by the maintenance team using local wood and the hotel’s Balinese furniture provider is encouraged to adopt the strictly responsible and sustainable approach demanded by the operations team.
Minute attention is also paid to the hotel’s amenities and levels of comfort by maximizing potential through the adoption of the optimal room design, layout and suite of facilities. Painstaking care is also taken to make sure that high standards of cleanliness and maintenance are sustained throughout the hotel at all times, by the long-serving maintenance team.
The L’Archipel philosophy also encompasses the concept of continued growth by increasing yield through product enhancement, particularly via the creation of new room categories which in turn leads to an improved cost of operation ratio leading to available income for hotel upgrades across all departments. One example of this will be the pioneering introduction of pool chalets during 2021; the first on Praslin in a 4-star category hotel.
Much of the hotel’s success in securing market share can be attributed to effective advertising and the identification of appropriate sales channels pairing L’Archipel’s products and services with a matching mix of consumers.
L’Archipel prides itself on the cuisine of its restaurants La Gigolette and La Feuille d’Or, both recognised as being among the finest in all of Praslin and offering enticing variations on a fine-dining theme with the former located right on the beach from where to enjoy the soft breezes and stunning ocean views while the latter occupies the first floor in a more secluded ambiance.
The hotel’s à la carte menu proposes an eclectic variety of international favourites as well as popular Creole dishes. Not to be missed is the Friday night Creole buffet proposing an excellent and varied offering of mouth-watering local cuisine: octopus curry; salted fish and snake gourd salads; satinis of pumpkin and mango; tender tuna steaks; succulent chicken combined with an unforgettable array of suitably decadent desserts.
This is highly recommended as it also features a beachside extravaganza of Creole dance which is an excellent introduction to lively, island-style revelry. Typically, the hotel organises theme nights with two buffets per week. Wonderfully complementing the menu is a fine wine list featuring some excellent French, South African and New World wines as well as an enticing array of cocktails, beers, spirits and flavoured rums. An additional plus is how the L’Archipel kitchen makes use of a range of herbs, vegetables and spices grown within its own grounds with plans to extend its vegetable garden in future.
The management of L’Archipel are aware of the importance of sustainability throughout the hotel’s operations and this is echoed in the introduction of a food waste management programme to complement its sustainability practice in power generation and eco-friendly cleaning systems.
This initiative targets the problem of unconsumed food which has sometimes been imported from abroad at considerable expense but which ends up in landfill sites, producing unhealthy levels of methane gas which is a major contributor to global warming. Visitors to Seychelles are increasingly aware of the need for responsible environmental behaviour and L’Archipel has already earned global recognition for the way it is using new technology to reduce food waste., resulting in a marked decrease in wastage of food through effective management throughout the chain, from the ordering and purchasing of food items to the disposal of unavoidable waste.
This initiative runs in tandem with existing sustainability drives such as the intelligent energy management systems in operation in guest rooms which reduces AC energy consumption by 30% but without comfort loss to the guest. The property is rapidly moving towards 100% LED lighting systems which, in an average guest room, reduces power consumption by no less than 80%! The hotel has also invested in 244 solar PV panels which contribute as much as 20% of its overall power requirement.
In a further push towards sustainability, the hotel uses bio-technology cleaning products resulting in the removal of more than 43,000 litres of toxic chemicals from the property per annum. This is in addition to the use of ozone cold water dish-cleaning systems in the hotel kitchens and other ozone technologies designed to reduce the use of chemical cleaning agents in the kitchen and create safe food preparation zones. These combined initiatives have resulted in L’Archipel being only one of 7 hotels with advanced sustainability recognition from PACE Seychelles, the leading Green Technologies supplier in the Indian Ocean region. Mr. Eddie d’Offay, the hotel’s deputy managing director believes that the hotel’s reputation for excellence in sustainability actively contributes towards greater guest satisfaction and hopes that L’Archipel’s success in this area will serve as an inspiration to other hotels to achieve the same, resulting in a massive win for the environment.
L’Archipel is also an ideal stepping stone for clients’ wider enjoyment of all that Seychelles has to offer via a range of paying excursions that can be organised through the hotel, in particular, both deep-sea and bottom fishing, scuba diving, excursions to neighbouring islands and, of course, car hire for those personal voyages of discovery around the island. Meanwhile, free activities include the use of a two-seater canoe, snorkelling with all equipment provided and a stand-up paddle board. The hotel is also a natural venue for weddings, honeymoons and impromptu romantic getaways where the staff’s long experience and attention to detail will make all the difference when it comes to preparing for your special day.
A stay in L’Archipel succeeds in distilling the very best that Seychelles has to offer in terms of other-worldly appeal, seclusion, tranquillity and almost surreal natural beauty, with the refined elegance of a unique hotel and the eminent professionalism of its caring team into a truly unforgettable tropical escape and lifelong memory of the islands.