Interviews/Opinions

In Conversation with Christophe Piquet, Head of Sales and Marketing, Heritage Villas Valriche

Leading the marketing and sales operations, both locally and internationally, for Heritage Villas Valriche is a role that Christophe Piquet enjoys immensely, and after moving to Mauritius himself four years ago he is well-placed to advise his clients. A primary motivation behind his work is to bring joy to people’s lives, and he is committed to maintaining this objective!

Read on to discover more about Heritage Villas Valrich, life in Mauritius, and how luxury travel trends for are shifting.

Please describe a typical day for you – if such a thing exists. 

I enjoy this job immensely because each day presents new challenges and experiences. On Mondays, we kickstart the week with a morning session dedicated to monitoring the sales process and ensuring that our valued customers are kept informed about the progress of their projects. The rest of the week is a dynamic mix of activities, including site visits with potential clients, meetings with international partners and investors, coordination sessions with the resorts regarding the future plans for Bel Ombre, and the creation of marketing materials.  Furthermore, we host cocktail events with hotel guests each Wednesday, which enables us to introduce potential buyers to homeowners and engage in private discussions with them to foster deeper connections and provide a personalized approach. Additionally, we organize dinners with journalists or potential buyers at various facilities within the resort at least one night per week.

The primary motivation behind my work is to bring joy to people’s lives, and I am committed to maintaining this objective every week.

You moved to Mauritius, from France, four years ago – please tell us about your own journey and if/how life has changed for you. 

This decision has been the best of my life, truly life-changing! At the time, I was living in Brittany in a comfortable position. My girlfriend and family (parents and brother) were already in Mauritius. When news of the impending lockdown reached me, I drove from Brittany to Paris airport, purchased a ticket on the spot, and flew to Mauritius for the lockdown. Unable to return, I made the bold choice to resign from my job and accept a position at Heritage Villas Valriche during a challenging period with few customers. Despite the initial uncertainty, it turned into an incredible journey with over 80 sales in 4 years. I am now happily married and a father to a little boy. This change has blessed me beyond measure, greatly enhancing my quality of life. I feel more fulfilled and accomplished, cherishing my weekends. The outdoor lifestyle in Mauritius, particularly in Bel Ombre, is simply extraordinary in its quality and diversity. There’s never a dull moment here. I’d like to express my heartfelt gratitude to Anton de Waal, our CEO, and Mr. Philippe Espitalier Noel, our Chairman, for their unwavering trust and support. None of this would have been possible without them.

Based on your own experience, what is your key piece of advice to anyone considering a similar move?

I would offer two pieces of advice: “Trust your instincts and Prepare yourself.” While these may seem contradictory, they are not. Trusting your instincts is often the best decision you can make in life. Mauritius is a welcoming place; everyone is kind, the atmosphere is peaceful, and you feel safe. English is widely spoken, offering the comfort of Europe with the exoticism of the tropics. However, it’s essential to prepare yourself for a smooth transition, and that’s where we come in. We’re here to assist, guide, and connect you with the right people. Nonetheless, you’ll need to put in some effort to ensure you arrive under the best possible conditions based on your project. While it’s not Europe here, there’s a different mentality and pace, requiring some adjustment. However, we’re here for you every step of the way, ensuring you have the most enjoyable experience possible. I would never encourage someone to come to Mauritius if I feel they wouldn’t fit with the island’s tropical way of life.

Heritage Villas Valriche epitomises ‘refined Tropical Mauritian Living’ please elaborate on what this entails.

Ah, what an excellent question! Describing our territory, Bel Ombre, is truly a challenge, as it’s difficult to convey the emotions one feels when living here. Our previous tagline, “Live the extraordinary,” while accurate, lacked depth and failed to capture the true essence of our offerings. The term “luxury” often evokes images of ostentation, which didn’t fully encapsulate the atmosphere we wanted to convey. Collaborating with a Communication Agency, we reimagined our tagline, resulting in “Authentic Island Living,” which perfectly encapsulates our vision. “Authentic” embodies the genuine Mauritius – its pristine sandy beaches, azure lagoons, lush green forests, and the warm hospitality of its people. While Mauritians’ mentality remains unchanged, the island has evolved into a bustling city, with real estate developments sprawling across its landscape. It’s increasingly challenging to find the serene Mauritius of the past, a luxurious retreat away from the hustle and bustle. “Island” brings this tropical side. “Living” emphasizes that life is at the heart of our project. To truly appreciate the beauty of our territory, one must immerse themselves in the experience. Here, everything comes alive – from the vibrant corals to the lush forests – through you, the individual.
Then come and experience the “Authentic island living”.

And the Heritage Villas Valriche Owners Club, we’re intrigued to learn more…..

Another excellent question! In Bel Ombre, we offer a plethora of world-class facilities that provide numerous benefits to homeowners at Heritage Villas Valriche. From preferential pricing at restaurants to reserving one-third of tee-off slots at the golf course, our residents enjoy exclusive privileges. What truly sets us apart from other similar estates in Mauritius is our vibrant lifestyle and close-knit community. Here, homeowners forge strong bonds and enjoy frequent celebrations together. Whether it’s attending the prestigious AfrAsia Bank Mauritius Open Competition or participating in our annual Homeowners End of Year party, there are countless opportunities for residents to come together and create unforgettable memories.

The development was established in 2008 if/how has the estate evolved to meet the dynamic demands of your audience? 

Since the inception of our development on a sugar field with just one golf course in 2008, there have been remarkable transformations. Firstly, we are proud to unveil our latest addition, La Réserve Golf Links, inaugurated three months ago with the prestigious ABMO. This golf course epitomizes our vision for the territory, respecting environmental conditions with its GEO certification and prioritizing people’s pleasure and comfort.

In terms of infrastructure, we now boast two 5-star beachfront hotels and a private beach club offering a variety of bars and restaurants for gastronomic enthusiasts. Additionally, we’ve meticulously renovated Le Chateau de Bel Ombre, a 19th-century Mauritian mansion, transforming it into a venue for exceptional events featuring Michelin-starred chefs.

Responding to our customers’ desire for modern design, we’ve developed four prototypes of Contemporary Villas in collaboration with the renowned South African architect Scott & Partners. Furthermore, we’ve partnered with the esteemed French architect Frédéric Paul Goux to create a new prototype, setting our development apart in terms of architectural diversity to fit our customers’ need.

And have you observed any trends/shifts in terms of your buyer/client profiles and purchase behaviour? 

Since the onset of the pandemic, we’ve witnessed a significant surge in demand for green spaces and expansive environments, aligning perfectly with our surroundings and offerings. With 70% of our estate dedicated to common areas, we’ve maintained a pristine environment, creating a truly unique living experience within a UNESCO Man & Biosphere Reserve.

While our community was predominantly South African in the past, we’ve observed a notable shift towards more European residents, particularly from France and Britain, as well as Germany and Switzerland following the conflict in Ukraine. Mauritius, being a bilingual and welcoming destination known for its safety, has attracted diverse demographics. Although Europe continues to be our primary market, we are seeing a significant increase in demand from expatriates in the UAE and Asia who are opting not to return to Europe and are seeking a retirement destination like Mauritius.

Then, traditionally a haven for those aged 50 and above seeking second homes, we’ve recently seen a trend of young entrepreneurs, like our latest 23-year-old buyer, choosing to settle in Villas Valriche. Our community offers an unparalleled setting for children to grow up surrounded by nature and fresh air.

What are your predictions for Mauritius as both a luxury holiday destination and a residential domicile over the next 5 years? 

I firmly believe that Mauritius holds immense potential in the coming years as a premier luxury destination and residential hub. The infrastructure standards have notably elevated and can now be compared to European benchmarks, particularly in healthcare and education. Additionally, Mauritius has now become a well-connected destination, with multiple direct flights to Europe, Asia, the Middle East, and Africa.

In terms of luxury, Mauritius, and specifically Bel Ombre, holds a pivotal role to play. Nature, freedom, and intimacy are becoming the quintessential luxuries of tomorrow. Amidst a world increasingly beset by pollution and overcrowding, we offer a haven with lush tropical gardens where one can breathe fresh air, listen to the soothing sounds of waves crashing on reefs, and wake up to the melodic chirping of birds. I am confident that Bel Ombre, with the strategic decisions made by its stakeholders, will continue to stand out as a truly exceptional and timeless destination.

The ‘Now for Tomorrow’ sustainability programme is a key focus at the estate, please tell us more about this.   

The “Now for Tomorrow” program, initiated by Heritage Resorts, marks the beginning of a genuine testament to our dedication to preserving our heritage and shaping its future. We recognize that environmental stewardship is paramount, whether for a tourist destination or a residential community

Through this program, we’ve committed to various pillars, including circular economy, biodiversity, and inclusive development, among others. Our aim is to shape the future with a focus on respecting our people and our environment.

Any other exciting news on the horizon for Heritage Villas Valriche?

Stay tuned !….for more updates on our social media channels including LinkedIn, Facebook, and Instagram. Exciting announcements are on the horizon in the coming months!

Luxury is highly subjective, what does it mean to you personally?

Absolutely, in my opinion, luxury goes hand in hand with what I said about nature and freedom. What I love about this job is the ability to provide people with the freedom to fully enjoy life. It’s about offering individuals the opportunity to embrace life to the fullest after working hard to achieve their goals, and that, to me, is priceless.

What is your life motto? (If you have one) 

“You have one life, enjoy every second of it.”