News Article

In Conversation with Eddie d'Offay, Managing Director of L'Archipel

31 January 2024

A Home from Home in the Seychelles

On the day that I’m talking to Eddie d’Offay, the Seychelles is in a state of national emergency. A late-night explosion at a factory in the industrial zone has sent the island of Mahé into lockdown and, despite the fact that, mercifully, no one was killed, I was still expecting to encounter a slightly more stressed face as I open Zoom. Instead, I’m greeted by the charming Eddie, Managing Director of the Hotel L’Archipel on Praslin island and member of a French family whose ties to these islands extend back almost 250 years. I’m talking to him today about his beautiful hotel, the tropical idyll that he’s lucky enough to call home, and the daily challenges of being a hotelier.

Were you to sail a ship a little over 1700 kilometres due east from Mombasa, you would eventually see, coming into view over the horizon, a collection of 115 islands that, together, make up Africa’s smallest country: the Republic of Seychelles. That is exactly what the d’Offay family did in the late 18th century, arriving in the country as part of the buccaneering corsairs expeditions – ‘a bunch of pirates’, in Eddie’s words – making them one of the earliest French families to set foot on this slice of Indian Ocean paradise.

They’ve never left, and their family-run hotel was opened by Eddie’s eldest brother, Louis, 37 years ago. As an engineer, Louis had been working on the construction side of hotels before setting up L’Archipel, which started out in life as a 9-room boutique hotel. The family ethos and personal nature of everything on offer at the hotel has never changed; today, it’s slightly bigger, with 32 rooms, but there’s still very much a d’Offay at the helm. Eddie’s professional life has taken him through the airline and tour operator worlds, before being tempted by the family business a decade ago, the reins of which he took over in 2018.

It’s obvious within 5 minutes of chatting what L’Archipel means to Eddie. He knows the numbers inside out, what percentage of his clients come from where. In fact, he’s been leading an active push to broaden their client base, reducing the reliance that the hotel previously had on the French market and broadening its appeal to Europe in general, as well as to Asia and the Middle East. It’s the repeat booking numbers, though, that really speak to what Eddie and his team have achieved. Against an island average of around 10%, L’Archipel sits at double that, with clients returning year on year to enjoy the luxurious Praslin hotel, its spa, restaurants, and poolside bars.

Why do they keep coming back, I ask? Eddie’s response is simple: L’Archipel’s service. His team is a melting pot of local Seychellois, Kenyan, French, Madagascan and Sri Lankan – ‘happily colour blind’, he calls them – and they all work together to provide the most personal, attentive service possible. The hotel is of a size where that’s possible and Eddie knows that people aren’t just after a hotel room these days; they’re want a home from home. That’s what L’Archipel provides, with a guests only private beach and pool, facing out to a palm-fringed beach and a sparkling sea. It really is picture perfect stuff, combining the best of the Seychelles’ different cultures into one gorgeous hotel.

The islands, too, keep them coming back. The Seychelles are, Eddie tells me with a jovially competitive glint in his eye, the only Indian Ocean destination where you can quickly and easily island hop, taking in an array of landscapes and terrains in the process. Praslin, where the hotel sits, is classic tropical island, all white sand and clear blue water. Mahé, where L’Archipel’s main office is located, is more densely covered in luscious forest, its vegetation rising to a dramatic peak on the Morne, the country’s highest mountain. La Digue, the third of the Seychelles’ principal islands, is a juicy combination of the two, a small paradise that visitors can cycle around in a day. Combine the opportunity to see all of this in a single trip with an intoxicating blend of African, Asian, and European cultures and cuisines and the Seychelles are a fairly compelling sell.

“L’Archipel’s green initiative is Eddie’s baby, combining an innovative food waste reduction scheme with 100% biodegradable products and a roadmap for an even more sustainable future.”

They’re not immune, though, from the perils of a changing climate and Eddie is quick to run me through what his hotel is doing to alleviate its impact on the gorgeous environment that surrounds it. L’Archipel’s green initiative is Eddie’s baby, combining an innovative food waste reduction scheme with 100% biodegradable products and a roadmap for an even more sustainable future. The hotel has been awarded the Ministry of Tourism’s sustainability label, something that has to be renewed every other year and which, in order to keep hold of, you must show a 10% improvement on whatever it was you were doing previously. That means it drives a constant quest for improvement and Eddie plans for the future include a revolutionary way to capture rain water and feed it back into the irrigation system.

Those aren’t the only future plans, though, with a slight increase in the hotel’s capacity touted for a couple of years’ time, including a number of secluded pool villas, providing guests with top-end privacy and their own private pools. The plans are already in full swing but Eddie is quick to stress that the hotel itself, its ethos, will remain true to itself. This is a family place, for the discerning traveller on the hunt for a slice of island luxury, genuine human service, and Seychellois culture. It’s obvious that Eddie means what he says and we can’t wait to see what’s in store because what’s there at the moment is already rather special.

Read more about the hotel here

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