News Article

In Conversation with Rick Bonnier from Four Seasons Resort Mauritius at Anahita

24 April 2024

For those who have stayed at the Four Seasons’ Mauritian outpost, Four Seasons Resort Mauritius at Anahita, they might not have known at the time, but there’s an awful lot of ocean between them and the horizon. The hotel is plumb in the middle of Mauritius’s east coast, which means that, as guests sip their sundowners on the beach and stare out across the water, it’s next stop Western Australia. The vast majority of the Indian Ocean lies between their cocktails and any kangaroos, though, but it’s the immediate surrounding waters that our interviewee today, Rick Bonnier, calls his office. He’s the resort’s Ocean Environment Manager, a role that basically means he has to look after everything to do with the ocean, the shoreline and the sustainability at the hotel – not exactly a small feat. We sat down with him to see what it’s like.

‘Luxury x eco’ is how Rick describes the ethos of Four Seasons Resort Mauritius at Anahita, a place where beauty is expected given the premium nature of the resort, but that strives for that bit more. That’s where Rick comes in, positioning himself somewhere between guest relations and the executive side. His typical day is, well, anything but typical. It probably involves leading one of the hotel’s activities, answering any questions that guests may have that fall under his remit, and helping out with the long-term plans that he’s putting in place.

Activities first, though. Rick runs the resort’s free nature walk, where guests of all ages and all fitness levels take a leisurely stroll around the local environment, taking in endemic trees and birds as they do so. It’s only an hour, Rick says, but it’s a lovely way for people to see how where they’re staying is attached to the world around it. The local fruit bats are a personal highlight for Rick, their silhouettes always recognisable against a Mauritian sky and always a hit with the guests.

Rick’s a man of many talents and also acts a private marine biologist for those guests who charter a boat for the day. He clearly knows his stuff, too, reeling off facts and information about more Mauritian life than I have time to jot down, but I do hastily scribble monkeys, waterfall creatures (which sound exciting), herons, shorebirds, bottlenose dolphins and turtles. Clearly, there’s a whole world of local nature a stone’s throw from Rick’s office – which happens to be on the beach.

The third activity he runs is a special one. Guests who sign up for seahorse spotting simply jump into the ocean, swim a little offshore into the mangroves that so often frame the Mauritian coastline, and drink in these magical little creatures. I say little, but the seahorses are bigger than average, Rick tells me, clocking in at 12 centimetres, which mean that they’re clearly visible for those lucky enough to see them and never fail to raise the excitement levels.

It’s not all beach and ocean-frolicking for Rick, though, as he runs me through some of the resort’s current and future plans. ‘Four Seasons put their money where their mouth is’, he says, not just talking a good game, but spending to ensure they get there. I can’t help but see what he means: firstly, they hired Rick, who it’s obvious by now is a total pro and who spent 7 years working in and around the hotel for a 3rd party before management recognised his talents and wisely brought him inside the fold. He’s a one-man band for now but, long-term, that’s something he’d love to change, to bring in young marine biologists to work on the hotel’s sustainability and research projects. And there are quite a few of those.

“It’s clear that Rick is a man on a mission. Or perhaps a few missions. He wants to give guests a luxury experience that encompasses everything that usually means, plus a connection with the local environment.”

The Four Seasons have invested real money in a water system that supplies the entire hotel, a landscaping company that are transitioning the resort to a totally electric system, a fleet of electric BMWs and a whole host of bicycles and tricycles for guests and staff to pootle around the hotel on. Rick says that, simply, they’re not scared to make the big decisions. That’s why he’s hatching a plan to transform the 2000 square metres of water feature on the hotel grounds into a proper marine research centre, where he and future marine biologists can run different conservation projects and create more opportunities for our young graduates. It’s a passion project for Rick – marine conservation always has been since he first strapped on an air tank and dived his first dive – and it’s already under way.

As we wind up our chat, it’s clear that Rick is a man on a mission. Or perhaps a few missions. He wants to give guests a luxury experience that encompasses everything that usually means, plus a connection with the local environment. He also wants to conserve this special place for the guests – and creatures – of the future, to ensure that this beautiful enclave of this beautiful island continues to draw in people and animals from around the world. By the sound of things, he’s doing a pretty good job.

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