Ever wondered what a Hotel Manager does outside of work or how he defines success? Cue the lights and enter Vikash Dawoo’s world, who has been at the helm of Veranda Grand Baie for 3 years now.
We managed to steal some time with him to discuss his remarkable 25-year journey in hospitality: aside from a three-year stint in Bangkok, he has established himself as a worthy Mauritian executive. We are thrilled to give you a behind-the-scenes tour of Veranda Grand Baie through the lens of our Hotel Manager.
Q: Can you recall your first contact with the Hospitality industry?
It all happened by coincidence! During my school holidays, my friends and I were in need of pocket money – this is how we ended up spending that winter working at a hotel on the West Coast. My career just snowballed from there on.
Q: What advice would you give someone who aspires to become a Hotel Manager someday?
Work hard, look for opportunities, have the right people around you. Most importantly, believe in yourself. Young people today have the advantage of being surrounded by information on social media: grab opportunities wherever you find them and expose yourself to new things. I would most definitely urge young Mauritians to travel abroad and step out of their comfort zone. Work in all departments to really grasp how a hotel runs across all divisions, even in sales and finance.
Q: You have worked with several hotels in Mauritius and Bangkok; what makes Veranda Grand Baie unique?
I think that Veranda Grand Baie’s biggest asset is, without a doubt, its warm hospitality and service. We actually have three generations of staff: our executive housekeeper is completing 30 years of service this October. We have a high number of regular guests, some of whom have been coming to the hotel for the past 25 years, sometimes twice a year. They remember our staff, and our staff remember them. This is what makes them happy, and this is what brings them back. We may be a 3-star hotel but the service is nothing short of a 5-star.
Q: Veranda Resorts brings its travellers “Deep into Mauritius.” What is your favourite spot on the island?
I love the North coast and everything about it – the sea, the sun, the people, and the ambiance. Veranda Grand Baie is connected to the village and everything is only a short walk away. Grand Baie has almost 70 restaurants and bars and it is about so much more than just the beach – even if it is raining, grab an umbrella and head out to a mall!
Q: If a guest had only 48 hours to experience Mauritius, what activities would you recommend? (in and around the hotel)
When traveling to a new destination, you have to immerse yourself in its culture. It’s all about having fun while really getting to know the place and the people: we teach our guests how to dance sega, different local traditions, and our delicious mix of cuisines. Our entertainment team even organizes outings at different bars and clubs in Grand Baie.
Q: What is the best compliment you have received about the hotel?
Our guests really appreciate the architectural style and layout of the hotel. They love the creole-style rooms and the black and white photos of the island back in the day. We have tried to make it as authentic as possible, to give it a “home away from home” feel. We even make sure not to trim the bushes too much to keep them looking natural.
Q: What do you notice when sitting in a restaurant (besides the menu)?
I often eat out with my family, and funny enough, I notice absolutely nothing! I make it a point to completely disconnect from my job the second I walk out of the hotel. I enjoy discovering new restaurants and I have made it a habit to not scrutinize a place with a critical eye.
Q: How do you make sure the service is the best it can possibly be?
I empower my employees and allow them freedom to make decisions – I believe this is what brings out the best in them and makes them go above and beyond for our guests.
Q: What makes a hotel successful?
The employees and service. Hands down.
Q: In one word, describe yourself.
Q: How do you learn?
The hotel organizes many trainings throughout the year, I attend them all. I also try to read as much as I can and watch relevant Ted Talks. I recently subscribed to Harvard Business Review because I want to accustom myself to all the latest management techniques. I even regularly exchange with my colleagues abroad so that I can remain updated with the happenings in other countries. If you do not continue learning, you will be left behind.
Q: How many messages are in your inbox right now?
I have read them all. Like everyone else, I am armed with a smartphone and I have no excuse to not be updated with my e-mails. I keep my smartphone at arm’s length on Sundays, though.
Q: What qualities do you look for in your team?
Loyalty, honesty, humility and a good sense of humour.
Q: On a scale of 1 to 10, how lucky are you?
Definitely 10! Considering my background and where I come from, I am more than just lucky to be where I am today. It is also all a matter of perspective – I like to see the glass half full. If I had to change anything about my life today, I would change nothing.
Q: What are you really into outside of work?
I love family time – there is nothing I enjoy more than spending time with my wife and daughter. I try traveling with them as often as I can, especially to Asia. Singapore, Malaysia and Vietnam are all great destinations.
Q: Which talent would you most like to have?
I would love to play music.
If you would like to visit Veranda Grand Baie, read more about it here.