There is something indescribably special about celebrating a milestone anniversary. Thirty-five years is no ordinary feat for an individual, and even less for a resort. Veranda Grand Baie celebrates thirty-five glorious years of consistently keeping high standards and drawing travelers seeking escapism. We kicked off the celebration with a lavish evening to honor this special anniversary, as employees and guests – in unison – danced, sang and laughed the night away. But beyond the festivities, the get-together marked a solemn occasion to take a trip down memory lane; to pause and look back on a wonderful journey; and above all, to reflect on how faithful we have been to our vision and ideals.
Veranda Resorts’ seeds were planted in 1982, when “Veranda Bungalow Village”, nestled on the vibrant coast of Grand Baie, opened its doors. It began with 29 bungalows, or seaside homes, built in thatched roofs and wood, and oozing Creole authenticity. Backpackers and families in quest of sea, sun, sand and all things Mauritian flocked to the then-untouched North Coast. Veranda Bungalow Village, a small family-run business, offered their guests just that: a home away from home. What started as one of the very first small-scale hotels in Grand Baie blossomed into a leading hospitality Group with no less than seven establishments, celebrated today as Veranda Leisure and Hospitality (‘VLH’). And as the first hotel to lay the cornerstone of what later burgeoned into VLH, Veranda Grand Baie rooted the ideals that are deeply cemented in the Group’s DNA – Veranda Grand Baie is where our story started.
And who best to share Veranda Resorts’ transformation than the resort’s oldest and most respected employees, some of whom have played crucial roles in its journey since its very inception? Chandranee, Toolsi, Gaetan and Jocelyn, who have respectively served at the hotel for 25, 35, 30 and 25 years, reminisce about the time the hotel was laying its first stones. Gaetan, our head housekeeper, recalls his first day like it was yesterday. He remembers Veranda Grand Baie’s humble beginnings, founded on a genuine desire to receive visitors with open arms. The reception was only just being built, 24 bungalows were being conceived still. No air conditioning or restaurants. True to its name, each bungalow boasted a charming veranda – a roofed porch that served as an extension to the villa – perfect for getting lost in the pages of a book or an aperitif with a front-row seat to a breathtaking spectacle of the setting sun. Back then, guests were more inclined to do their own cooking, made easy thanks to fully-equipped kitchens in each bungalow. Gaetan witnessed first-hand the evolution of the resort in a coastal village that was evolving even faster. Over the years, the hotel was handed to seven hotel managers, each of whom tried to be true to the hotel’s core values.
While the leadership and name did change, some things did not. Jocelyn attributes his success in the company to the close-knit community that the employees built together. With fewer guests to tend to back then, the teams grew reliant on each other, laughed together, worked day and night alongside each other and built a solid, resilient team. One that has grown today, but where camaraderie, loyalty and team spirit still prevail.
For several families, it’s all about the tried and true. Many return to Veranda Resorts for what is now a recurrent family tradition – for some, repeat visits have spanned almost 20 years… and counting. Veranda Grand Baie has woven itself into the fabric of families who choose their much-loved resort for meaningful rites of passage – birthdays, weddings, anniversaries. The credit, unquestionably, goes to our unsung heroes, those who lace thoughtful details to exceptional service. And so devoted is Veranda Resorts to its guests, that little sandy pathways within the resort bear the names of our most regular ones. Chandranee particularly cherishes her connection with some visitors. To date, she receives Christmas cards from far-flung corners of the world.
Toolsi, whose face and name are almost synonymous with the resort’s, quite literally planted the first trees and grass on the property. He fondly recalls transforming patches of earth into lush, blossoming vegetation. His hard work and sweat are today still glaringly manifested in the soaring palm trees dotting the resort – the palm trees that make Veranda Grand Baie’s hallmark. From a gardener, he climbed the ranks to an indispensable member at the VLH head office, one who is trusted with tasks of all sorts.
The next time you find yourself in Veranda Grand Baie, have a conversation with a housekeeper, bartender or waiter – and you’ll hear the word “family” with unusual frequency. They pride themselves on taking care of their guests like they are family members. And while this philosophy isn’t necessarily a wholly original concept today, it certainly makes the resort beloved to its visitors. If you haven’t already, now’s the time to start a vacation tradition of your own, deep into Mauritius.
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