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Bruno Le Gac on sustainability, slow travel and being a leader of Constance Lemuria

If you're interested in how hotel complexes are approaching sustainability and the slow travel phenomenon, read our interview with Bruno Le Gac, who manages the Constance Lemuria Hotel on Praslin Island in the exotic Seychelles.

How have the last two years impacted the hotel industry?

The impact is obviously enormous. I believe however that countries like Seychelles and hotels like ours "tick all the boxes" of what potential guests are looking for in times of pandemic: a preserved environment, a strong sense of freedom and space, incredibly beautiful nature, no pollution, a friendly and easy going population, a very safe environment and... no mass tourism. At governmental and also company level, we have been very agile in managing the sanitary measures during the worst of the crisis and as a consequence we have recovered pretty well. I am optimistic for the months and years to come, and I know for sure that more people will want to travel to this amazing place. 
Foto: Contance Lemuria Seychelles
Foto: Contance Lemuria Seychelles
Foto: Contance Lemuria Seychelles

How do you see sustainability? How is it reflected in your services?

Sustainability has been part of our DNA since day one, long before this word was even mentioned anywhere. To start with, the architecture is respectful of the site. For example, Seychellois pink granite has been extensively used, as well as natural "latanier'' (palm tree leaves) for the rooftops. Then, if you are sailing in front of the hotel, the latter is so well integrated into the site that you will barely see it. We are Green Globe certified and in 2018 we received the gold standard for our great sustained achievements in terms of our good environmental practices. Of course we keep on improving our practices and working on initiatives to reduce our impact. For instance, we eliminated most of our single use plastic, including the room keys that are now made out of wood. We drastically reduced our energy consumption through the implementation of our own "SCADA" measurement project and sensors in the rooms. We also inform our guests about our practices and we take them on eco-tours - an activity which is very much appreciated by them. And countless other things, big or small that contribute to the alignment of the guest's experience with our own values and principles. 

How do you encourage your colleagues and employers to make sustainability a natural part of their work?

Foto: Contance Lemuria Seychelles
Bruno Le Gac
Every team member who joins the company follows an induction program to better acquaint them with our philosophy and standards. We also conduct regular actions such as cleaning days, training sessions in local schools, planting of mangroves and trees with local NGOs and we support different local artists and suppliers, among others. We also share as much as possible our good practices with the other tourism establishments of Praslin, we develop creative competitions with recycled materials, we take the team on nature walks and mountain trails. These are just a few examples, and I can say that when you work at Constance Lemuria, sustainability forms part of your lifestyle.

What impact has the pandemic and the measures taken had on sustainability?

I feel blessed to have been in Seychelles when the entire World was locked down, and the surrounding nature that is already so powerful and vibrant in normal times was even more striking with no tourists around! So in every bad experience there is always something good. One aspect of sustainability that needs to be highlighted is employee well-being and mental health, and I think that we are only now seeing the tip of the iceberg. Constance Hotels & Resorts is a company with deeply rooted human values, and I am very proud to highlight that during the toughest times of the crisis, we were true to our values. As I always say to my team: "we are together in good times, and we are also together in bad times". I regret that so many companies behaved very badly at the beginning of the covid pandemic, and were very prompt in sending their people home as if they were just numbers. Here we did exactly the other way around, and right from the start we promised that we would do our very best to protect our team members and also that we would not let a single Seychellois worker go jobless. We have kept our word and I am delighted to notice that the effect is an increased level of mutual trust, an amazingly grateful and motivated team and a very high level of credibility as an employer. We believe in long term vision, we trusted that business would come back and indeed when it did we were ready for it. At Constance Hotels & Resorts, we are True by Nature - we say what we do and we do what we say. I am very proud of this.

You are the head of a large hotel complex. What does your role entail?

As the General Manager of the hotel, I am ultimately responsible for all aspects of the business. Of course, our context is very different from a city hotel for example, and as we are located on a small island there are very few functions that we can subcontract. So my team and I end up managing very diverse situations, in many different fields, which is very interesting and always challenging. There are no two days similar, and I split my time into very different activities. From finance to welcoming guests, from developing a training program with our human resources team to discussing a maintenance project with our chief engineer, from tasting a new menu with our executive chef to meeting with commercial partners, I would describe my job as a lifestyle more than a job. Managing Constance Lemuria is a bit like managing a small city in fact.
Foto: Contance Lemuria Seychelles
Foto: Contance Lemuria Seychelles
Foto: Contance Lemuria Seychelles

What can guests expect in your hotel?

Constance Lemuria is much more than a hotel, it's a natural sanctuary located in one of the most beautiful sites one can imagine, including the mythical and spectacular Anse Georgette beach located within the property. We are part of the Leading Hotels of The World so of course our guests can expect excellence in terms of service level and facilities, but we are also well known for the very personalized and friendly service that our 400 team members from more than 25 nationalities provide. Did you know that we have a turtle manager in the property and also a "fruit ninja" on our breakfast buffet? We are offering a very wide range of services, sports and activities, including the only 18 hole championship golf course in the country (and what a course!). Last but not least, we are famous for the high quality of our culinary offers including the amazing DIVA restaurant orchestrated by our Executive Chef Jordi Vila and our wine list is simply the most desirable in the country with more than 15000 bottles of 1400 references.

What is your personal and professional opinion on the phenomenon of "slow travel"? 

Again, companies can't wake up from one day to the other and declare in a boardroom that they will be more human, sustainable and practice slow tourism henceforth! What I call slow tourism is what we have been practicing for years at Constance Lemuria, and that we have kept on developing and relentlessly improving over the years. We are operating on a small island, we are the biggest employer on Praslin and as such we have a huge responsibility. Our guests can feel that we are genuine in what we do from the minute they enter the property, and I am absolutely convinced that more than ever, guests know what they want and are very well aware of what is happening in the World. This phenomenon is here to stay and we are well positioned to welcome with open arms those guests in search of a meaningful and soulful experience during their holiday.
This article has also been published in Czech
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