Thierry Montocchio VLH new CEO

Thierry Montocchio was appointed VLH’s new CEO on the 1st September 2019. In this interview, he outlines his far-reaching vision for the group and discusses the projects that are closest to his heart.

What was your background prior to joining VLH?
After completing a Bachelor of Commerce and a graduate degree in accounting at the University of Cape Town (UCT), I worked as an auditor at an accountancy firm in Cape Town for three years. I then worked in England for a year in 2001 before moving back to Mauritius to join BDO as Partner – Corporate Finance, a role I held from 2003 to 2012. I then joined VLH as Chief Financial Officer in July 2012.

What do you enjoy the most about the hotel business?
I like the industry’s dynamism and the variety of professions that you come into contact with on a daily basis. The hotel business offers its customers memorable moments and helps promote Mauritius as a destination. It’s also a buoyant industry that is able to offer career opportunities to young people from every background. Finally, and this is an issue that is dear to my heart, the hotel industry is leading the way with its commitment to conservation, respectful environment practices and social inclusion.

In your opinion, what sets VLH apart?
In addition to Heritage Bel Ombre’s unique setting, in which we are shaping the hotel business of the future, and to the excellent reputation of our brands, I strongly believe that our teams are our main strength. Whether in our headquarters, our hotels, or within the Rogers Group, our employees are dynamic, efficient and draw on strong values to move our projects forward. They are without a doubt the driving force that allows us to deliver on long-term vision.

What upcoming projects has the VLH group got in store?
We are currently working on several major projects. First and foremost, we are building a second iconic golf course at Bel Ombre. Its construction is already underway. We are also taking over the operational management of Tamarina Hotel & Golf and plan to expand it and give it a new identity going forward. We are also planning to develop our international presence by building up the Veranda brand in the region; to renovate Veranda Grand Baie by 2021; and of course, to continue to strengthen our sustainability approach and work on inclusion.

What issues do you plan to focus in your role as CEO?
Four projects are particularly close to my heart. My main commitments are to develop Heritage Bel Ombre and to strengthen Heritage’s positioning as the region’s undisputed golfing leader. I also intend to build up the Veranda Resorts brand by increasing its notoriety in the Indian Ocean region. And within VLH, our main objectives are to optimise our teams’ digitalisation while continuing to deepen our sustainability approach.

The group is very active when it comes to sustainability. Why is this issue important to the hotel industry?
Leaving aside the hotel business, sustainability is a crucial issue for the country and the planet as a whole. Hotels as the standard-bearers for Mauritius and I believe it is important that we set a positive example. But sustainability is also a matter of survival for our industry. It’s crucial that we operate in a healthy environment – from our beaches and lagoons to our rivers and villages. And for our actions to be truly sustainable, it is essential that they involve the communities who live in the vicinity of our hotels.

Which of the VLH properties do you like best, and why? And which of your hotels has seen an increase in popularity in recent years?
That’s a trick question! It depends on what you are looking for… We are genuinely proud of Heritage Le Château, which we’ve recently renovated, and which boasts one of the region’s best restaurants. Its enchanting setting offers every guest the promise of a magical moment. I particularly enjoy Veranda Tamarin for its fun personality and its perfect integration into Tamarin village. When it comes to popularity, Heritage Le Telfair is in the ascendant: in addition to being voted Best Golf Hotel at the World Golf Awards for the second year running, it also has the island’s best wellness offer and offers guests a range of unique experiences within the Heritage Bel Ombre estate – something that few other hotels are able to!

Finally, what do you think Mauritian tourism is doing particularly well?
Mauritius has many selling points, from the kindness and hospitality of its inhabitants to its proven ability to adapt. It also benefits from agreement across the private and public sectors about the importance of the tourism industry for the island.