With great presence all over French Polynesia, in 2018 the world renowned brand of Sofitel took over the management of a luxury hotel that was baptized as the Tahiti La Ora Beach
Resort by Sofitel. With 150 employees attending 150 rooms, it has been operating at almost full capacity since its rebranding, a testament to the strength of the Sofitel name. “This is the newest of four resorts we operate in French Polynesia”, explains General Director Didier Lamoot, “Our oldest and best known resort started in the 70s, and so we know the country better than anyone”. Legend has it that the Marara Beach Resort was originally built for the cast and crew of “Hurricane”, a Dino di Laurentis film set on the island. It was later turned into a luxury resort, and today is under reformation, which has required a USD90 million investment, and will employ 200 workers when finished. “When Di Laurentis first came to the islands everything was for sale”, adds Mr. Lamoot, “So he got first pick, and he picked the best spot”. Sofitel also manages the exclusive Sofitel Private Island, and the Moorea La Ora Beach Resort, which is located on the largest beach of the Moorea Island, with 39 over water bungalows and 114 total rooms.
Sofitel hotels are widely recognized as the top luxury brand internationally, and the vision guiding their resorts in French Polynesia is no different. In addition to establishing the Tahiti La Ora as the place to go for luxurious leisure, the local goal is to make it the number one place for food, beverage and entertainment. “We already offer culinary excellence, with two Michelin-starred Chefs working for us”, says Mr. Lamoot, “But we are also expanding our entertainment activities, having added concerts with international bands, nights with DJs on the beach, and other events. Right now we are organizing a pool party for 1000 people, which is going to be great”. With new generations of visitors more interested in experiences than amenities, Sofitel understands the importance of unique and high quality entertainment, which will not only attract more guests, but also widen the appeal for others. “We are visited by many honeymooners”, explains Mr. Lamoot, “But we also receive a lot of cruises, families, and all sorts of guests. Our varied clientele is a valuable asset to us”.
Statistics show that tourism in Tahiti has been growing steadily for the past years, after a critical time following the 2008 global crisis. Today, there are around 200.000 yearly visitors, which is close to the numbers the Island was used to seeing. “We are not back to the old capacity yet”, says Mr. Lamoot, “But we know it will happen. There are lots of new opportunities”. With airlines like United offering new routes directly to Tahiti, and low costs like French Bee offering competitive prices, tourism will certainly continue to grow, a fact that Sofitel seems to be fully prepared for. “Our goal is to get rid of the low season”, explains Mr. Lamoot, “We are more than ready to operate at full capacity all year round, so our guests can be sure they will enjoy 100% of the time here”.
“Today, there are around 200.000 yearly visitors, which is close to the numbers the Island was used to seeing”.
Tahiti La Ora offers a wide range of activities, from swimming with sharks to spa and fitness facilities, as well as special deals for those who wish to experience the different Sofitel resorts on different islands. “Mana is the spirit of each island, it’s like they have different personalities”, says Mr. Lamoot, “People have different relationships with each island. Tahiti is about the mountains, the waterfalls, and healing trees for example”. Many recommend visiting Tahiti during the low season, between November and March, because it is the best time for many of the water based activities, and most airfare and hotels have lower prices. “Most of the people in Asia have their vacation time during this season, so they will probably be able to enjoy it the most”, adds Mr. Lamoot.
With so many different activities and amenities to offer guests, Sofitel is doubling down on their vision to make their multiple resorts places for experiences, where guests not only have a place to sleep or eat, but are also encouraged to socialize, meet new people and interact with a completely new surroundings. “If a customer is unhappy, it is very easy to give back the money”, explains Mr. Lamoot, “But we can never give them back the time. It is our job to ensure guests don’t waste time, and that they enjoy every minute of their stay”.
“We are expanding our entertainment events, with international bands, nights with DJs on the beach, and other events”.
In a time of political and economic stability for French Polynesia, many foreign investors have been drawn to the evident growth potential of the Islands, with large investors coming from places such as the U.S., China and Samoa. “We invite everyone to contribute to make business better”, says Mr. Lamoot with a smile, “This country has a population
of 280.000 people, and unemployment is an issue. I think our collective goal should be to employ each and every one of them”. Sofitel has in fact shown a strong commitment to the community, with most of their 500 total employees being local, and having implemented
local sourcing policies across their resorts. In addition, they created the Planet 21 program, designed to enact their social, environmental, managerial and energy responsibilities. “We believe in giving back to the community”, adds Mr. Lamoot, “Not just to the people, but the environment as well”.
“Mana is the spirit of each island, they have different personalities”.
With the proven track record of the Sofitel brand behind the resorts, the Tahiti La Ora will surely continue to increase its appeal to visitors from all over the world. “When you have security, a unique environment and the richest of cultures, all you have to provide is the best service”, says Mr. Lamoot, “We have the experience, we have the know-how, and in Polynesia we have the real thing”. Even in a destination where competition is high, with five different five-star hotels in the region, they are confident that what the Sofitel resorts offer is unique. “We sell what we are”, adds Mr. Lamoot, “And we make sure guests get all of it”. Beyond the paradise- like surroundings and the beautiful architecture and comfort of their suites and bungalows, quality of service seems to be at the core of what Sofitel offers, a challenge they take on very seriously. “I always tell my team: if we don’t see guests crying when it’s their time to leave, we are doing something wrong”, says Mr. Lamoot playfully, “We want people to have unforgettable experiences, and most of our clients never want to leave, or just want to keep coming back. I invite the readers to come and see for their selves, because there is no amount of description I can give them that will match the amazingness of what happens when you visit Tahiti”.