Andre Borg, area general manager, Seychelles at Hilton, discusses the inspiration behind Mango House Seychelles, its distinctive design features, and how sustainability is critical for brand success.
What was the inspiration behind Mango House Seychelles, and how did it get started?
This intimate and exclusive resort was originally built as a family dwelling by celebrated Italian photographer Gian Paolo Barbieri. His curiosity and a shoot for Vogue Paris is what led him to Seychelles in 1975, where he instantly fell in love with the lands in the South of Mahé and rekindled his connection with nature again.
The house was surrounded by some wonderful trees, and most significantly, a mango plant behind the kitchen produced juicy white mangoes as he has never eaten before. For this reason, Gian named his third and final home in Seychelles, “Mango House”.
With this inspiration in mind, lead architects at JT+Partners approached the property with the aim of maintaining the original essence of the home, while still reflecting the rich island culture, preserving the island’s natural surroundings, and reflecting the rich Seychellois culture across all pillars of the resort’s intricate design details.
Tell us about the property’s distinctive design features.
The resort’s design features are the perfect blend of the history of the property and the exceptional natural surroundings, along with the rich local culture. The historic mango tree has been preserved and remains a prominent feature in the centre of the main house, which opens out onto the deep blue of Anse Aux Poules Blues Bay, whereby the structure of the resort mirrors the curvature of the coast and offers all 41 rooms at the property an expansive view of the ocean. Preserved handmade furniture with sleek wooden finishing from the original home coupled with muted beige tones creates a contemporary but comfortable feel that is deeply connected to the local culture and colours of Seychelles.
How important is sustainability for the hotel?
Staying true to the LXR Hotels & Resorts brand, every element of Mango House is connected to its surroundings and rooted in sustainability and heritage. The resort’s architectural and design elements highlight the local textures and have created a multi-sensory environment in which guests can experience Seychelles from within the resort. The materials used throughout the property have primarily been sourced in Seychelles, from the local granite cladding to the Nalau wood used for structural elements, to the off-white stucco wall texture finish on the façade and grano wash used for pathways. The interiors have been also been designed to provide guests with a sense of home using tactile, natural, and earthy materials.
The resort also implements certain year-round sustainable initiatives, demonstrating its love for the environment through a multitude of sustainable practices, including using more locally grown ingredients in F&B operations, reducing waste, and decreasing the use of plastic to almost zero.
How do you see Seychelles’ hospitality industry evolving in the midst of these unusual pandemic times?
Several countries have opened their borders and lifted quarantine regulations, which has rekindled the idea of travel and tourism. Some travellers, however, are still taking precautionary measures, which is why we’ve seen an increase in GCC travellers from neighbouring nations.
Do you kind of have any key predictions for changes you expect in the hotel industry?
Following two years of uncertainty and ongoing global travel restrictions, we are finally beginning to see a return to normality, and this has resulted in a significant uptick in travellers looking for their next adventure. We see a rise in luxury multigenerational bookings with a bespoke, one-of-a-kind experiences-led itinerary for the whole family to enjoy, and from another angle, we do anticipate increased interest in the wellness-led itinerary.
What is your vision for the hotel’s future?
Following the successful opening of the property this past year, and staying true to the LXR brand, we are keen on continuing to enhance our wide offering as a luxury escape in the heart of nature. We are eager to further grow our culinary offering at Mango House, in line with the island’s rich culture and commitment to sustainability.