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» 01 Mar 2010

Andrew Harrison has spent all of his 25 years in the hospitality industry in management roles. He first joined Four Seasons as Executive Assistant Manager of the Jimbaran Bay Resort in Bali in 1995, helping to open Four Seasons’ second Balinese Resort at Sayan three years later. Following that, he worked in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia at the Regent.

Mauritius has long attracted a strong family market, though Harrison is keen to point out that Four Seasons Resort Mauritius at Anahita is not just another self-contained family-friendly resort. "Mauritius is one of the top repeat destination islands in the world. People expect the hotels here to be all-encompassing, but we want to take this expectation one step further," he explains. "The Resort is about more than offering the island's most comprehensive dining, leisure, golf and spa facilities. It's about introducing guests to the natural experience that extends beyond the Mauritian shoreline and creating opportunities to interact with the contrasting surroundings that can be found there."

Between 2001 and 2004, Harrison was Resort Manager and Hotel Manager of the company's Palm Beach and Aviara properties respectively. In November 2004, he moved to become General Manager of the company's Chiang Mai Resort. While there, he also oversaw the opening of Four Seasons Tented Camp Golden Triangle.

Clearly, 'paradise' destinations are Harrison's forte. So how does Mauritius compare?
Welcome to Harrison's paradise… "Here, it's all about the people and the element of surprise," he explains.

"It's great to come here with Four Seasons expectations and find such a strong core service culture already ingrained amongst the locals.And the island's beautiful association with nature is a great feature --- you expect the beaches and the sea but not the inner tropical wilderness and all the opportunities that it brings."

Harrison is an outdoor enthusiast. Having climbed the Matterhorn (4,478m), Mount Kinabalu (4,095m) and Mount Fuji (3,776m) twice, he scaled Mauritius' Pieter Both Mountain during the Resort's pre-opening phase, enjoying the challenge of its famous boulder summit that looks set to topple at any moment. He has also been known to cycle the 25 km between the Resort and the home he shares with his wife, Francette and daughter, Nikita ("who has been instrumental in the development of the Resort's kids' and teens'clubs, just as she was in Chiang Mai," Harrison adds).

Andrew’s thoughts on Mauritius In our business there is always a great buzz opening a hotel and even more so in a new country. Challenge is the first word that comes to mind but it's more than that.You have to contend with the location, culture, religion, customs, business modus operandi --- the list is endless.

Having seen the Four Seasons emerge from a building site with heavy plants and thousands of workers intertwined within the Deep River Beau Champ estate to become part of the Arnaud and Jean-Pierre alais' vision is quite inspiring. We now have a world class resort along with a stunning Ernie Els designed golf course which forms part of the Anahita World Class Sanctuary. Having weathered the storm of
the worldwide economic downturn we are in a much stronger position to face the future. "Destination Mauritius" is being exposed further afield to new markets and customers. Mauritius offers a plethora of diversified activities on offer. The resorts have enough to keep families entertained without even venturing outside, which is very often the case.

From a day at the races at the oldest racecourse in the Southern hemisphere, to understanding about the life and blood of Mauritius at the Sugar Adventure interactive museum or experiencing the wilder side of life at L'Etoile and Domaine de Ferney, it is even possible to Sky Dive in the North --- the sky's the limit (puns excused). On a personal basis he loves exploring the island by foot at higher altitudes
but with his feet on the ground, there are some spectacular mountains such as Le Pouce, which he has taken his wife and thirteen year old daughter up.And some where he leaves them behind, such as Bambou and Pieter Both, recognised by its stone boulder perched on the pointed summit. "Sitting atop you are quite literally on top of the whole of Mauritius".

Another activity which allows him to wind down from the frenetic resort business is road racing.The two wheeled version without a motor. In fact the MTPA has launched a great initiative to promote Mauritius as a cyclo-tourism friendly destination.

Every year a team from the Four Seasons enters the Coast to Coast race 100km from the airport to Grand Bay in the North. They have been doing this for the past three years and have a burning ambition to cycle the entire island in one day. "That's our next goal"! So, there is much more to discover in Mauritius away from the generic beach destination activities. Soon Mauritius will be a hub for the soccer-loving World Cup fans this coming June and July; yet again giving tourists the opportunity to enjoy the warmth of Mauritian hospitality. For a remote outpost in the South Indian Ocean there is a lot to discover. No wonder people keep on returning to our little paradise.
Mauritius "C'est un plaisir"

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