The Mauritian Art of Welcoming Meets the Italian Art of Welcoming
I recently met with Rocco Bova, when he was the General Manager of the St. Regis Hotel in Mauritius. An Italian by origin, he has spent the last several years in Mauritius, where he’s brought his expertise as a hotelier from his time at different hotels around the island. Today, he presides over this very fine hotel which has only just opened. St. Regis is the luxury brand of the Starwood Group. It is interesting to see how each hotel manager transmits his expertise and imports a part of his culture. This inevitably brings about influences and sources of inspiration for each employee and thus creates an art of welcoming that is constantly revisited.
What, according to you, is the Italian art of welcoming?
In Italy, hotel staff treat clients as if they were members of the family. They are welcomed as friends. There is a very convivial interaction, even in high-end hotels. Above all, it’s the human contact that makes the Italian art of welcoming. Italy is a very good school for anyone who wants to learn how to execute good service. When you carry a large smile, service becomes easier. I’ve been able to work in every country in the world thanks to this Italian schooling, which teaches one to be pleasant, welcoming, and warm toward clients.
What is the Mauritian art of welcoming in hotels?
Mauritius has only been exposed to the hotel sector for the last 40 years. This is almost nothing. That’s why we have many hotel managers who are actually expats. They bring with them a certain expertise. Yet Mauritians are still the first to be in contact with the client. They’re warm, they always have a huge smile on. The client is recognized with a nod of the head and a smile. The warmth and sincerity of the Mauritian are truly the foundations of their art of welcoming.
How do you bring this Mauritian art of welcoming to your daily activities?
Actually, it’s quite similar to the Italian art of welcoming. These days, I feel very Mauritian. I live here, my family is here; I have totally assimilated to life in Mauritius. Italians and Mauritians share several cultural traits in common. We both love throwing parties and hanging out in big groups. The two cultures have very lively dances. It might sound a bit surprising, but I find many similarities between the two. It is actually probably what made me want to stay here and what has allowed me to integrate so well to the local way of living.
In Asia, for instance, this is completely different. Yes, there is a more visible refinement, but there’s too much distance in the service toward the client. There isn’t, or at least there is very little, familiarity with the client. Here, our clients come back every year because they feel close to the service staff. We may not be perfect, but we do our best to be sincere, and our clients love it. This hotel has only been here for two years, and yet people are already used to coming back and adopting their own routines and signatures. It’s the first and only St. Regis in the Indian Ocean.
Laurent Delporte, an editor and conference speaker, is a strategic expert in the sector of hotels. A visionary, he brings his unique look on hotels in service to the decision-makers in the industry, whether to enhance the development of new projects or strategic visions.
Laurent has visited and audited over 350 hotels across the world and also participates in mystery visits to provide quality control for the world’s finest hotels.