Louis D’Offay, the well-known and highly respected hotelier from the Seychelles island of Praslin, died on the 18th July 2017 leaving the industry he led for many years in shock and dismay.
Louis, the much-loved tourism personality, was a father and grandfather, a partner and a brother to some, and a cherished friend to so many. For the last two or so months, he fought bravely against cancer with the support of his beloved children, family members, and friends. Louis D’Offay was 73 years old. Today he leaves behind five children, namely Jean-Paul, Simon, Jean-Marc, Lucas, and Caroline.
Who was Louis D’Offay?
The sea and everything related to the sea was very much his passion, and he derived great joy from studying and working on ships for many years. He was a keen and avid fisherman.
Louis on Silhouette Island
Louis lived on Silhouette Island and managed it for many years. He established himself as a hard worker who showed that he had the tenacity required to make this big island work and to make it profitable. It was during his time on Silhouette Island that he helped coin the song ‘Grand Barb’ together with the well-known singer and compositor, Patrick Victor. This was the song Louis would sing loudly and happily at social evenings and in the company of friends.
Louis The Hotelier
He was a self-taught hotelier, as he loved to say, and after the many years he owned and managed hotels, the verdict is that he was a very successful one. He began his journey with the quaint and charming ‘Village du Pecheur’ situated right on the beach at Cote D’Or, Praslin. This little establishment made its mark with its good food and the homely atmosphere. The successful years at ‘Village du Pecheur’ gave Louis D’Offay the confidence to move into something bigger and better. He built, together with Cecile Hodoul, the famous L’Archipel Hotel of Praslin.
L’Archipel Hotel was a purpose built hotel which Louis D’Offay saw as his baby. He spent his life at this property which was renowned for its good food, the ambiance, and the Creole flair. Louis never stopped investing in his property and the hotel welcomed faithful and repeat guests who saw Louis as their Seychellois friend.
His son, Lucas D’Offay, worked in the hotel with him and Eddie D’Offay, his brother, was responsible for all Sales and Marketing activities. L’Archipel Hotel is known as a “Home Grown” property and is regarded as a success story of the Seychelles Tourism Industry.
Louis D’Offay wanted to see the Seychelles tourism industry succeed. He also seized opportunities and was never known to shy away from a venture if he thought it would help the industry. Louis’s business acumen pushed him to take over a lease for the Bamboo Guest House of La Digue and, in partnership with Daniella Payet-Alis, the Cote D’Or Apartments. Both small properties worked well and he personally visited them frequently to ensure his personal vision was guiding the show.
Seychelles Hospitality & Tourism Association (SHTA)
Louis’s leadership qualities were recognised when he was appointed as the Chairman of SHTA. The Tourism Industry’s Association became one of the most important groupings of professionals and it was very fast acknowledged by the Government as the spokesman for tourism. The SHTA was vocal on matters affecting the tourism industry. It had its own Newsletter that ensured the Private Sector Trade and the Government were always well informed on matters of importance.
It was under the Chairmanship of Louis D’Offay that Seychelles really opened the Tourism Public / Private Sector partnership. Discussions on budget with Government, as well as labour matters to ensure an adequate expatriate workforce, became possible for the tourism industry. Louis was one of the longest serving Chairmans of the SHTA and will be remembered for his dedication to the industry’s association. He led by example and gave time and money to make the association work.
Louis and Politics
Politics is in the blood of most Seychellois and Louis D’Offay was no exception. He was a notable candidate for the Baie Ste Anne Constituency for the 1979 general Elections. Louis was not successful in this election but continued to play an important part as the Branch Chairman before running again in the 1987 elections and winning the seat by a large majority. He continued to be very involved in politics and was a serious member of Parliament. On the ruling party structure, he was pushing for the return of multi-party politics before associating himself with Jacques Hodoul in the MSD Party (Mouvement Seychellois pour la Democratie) for the 1992 Constitutional Commission Elections. He continued to give advice on the political affairs of the country, expecting nothing in return but a better Seychelles.
Thank you, Louis
I was fortunate to have known Louis D’Offay for many, many years and consider him to have been a wonderful and very cherished friend of mine. My re-entry into Government was very much at the insistence of Louis who wanted a representative of the private sector to lead the tourism industry. At a private sector meeting at the Tourism Academy at La Misere, Louis went as far as to iron out the salary I was to earn as a Consultant to market Seychelles.
Before taking up employment at the Tourism Board and later assuming a Ministerial Office, I spent time with Louis at the L’Archipel Hotel and was privileged to oversee the property when he was absent from the country. Louis was a friend anyone would want to have.
During the final days of both my own father and mother, he travelled to La Digue to spend time with them. The final trip to the hospital on La Digue for my father was with Louis and myself after we had lifted him into the ambulance in his wheel chair and maneuvered with difficulty to get him out at the hospital which prompted the old man to give both Louis and myself a few choice stern words.
The time I spent with Louis at the hospital in Victoria and at his Anse Boudin property marked me deeply. He had wanted to see me alone and had said so to many who visited him. Yes, we spoke alone at Praslin and his words were appreciated and well understood. Knowing how difficult it was for him to lift his arm last Friday, I am deeply touched by his insistence on giving me a final hand shake as we said goodbye.
Goodbye Louis, my dear friend. I am honoured to have known you. Seychelles will miss you. I will miss you.
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