A Conversation with Alicia Rountree: Model, Swimwear Designer and Wellness Warrior
Paul Jones: I am Paul Jones and you are listening to the Spirit of Lux.
Alicia Rountree: With swimwear, I really want to create a brand that women feel comfortable in their swimwear because you're on the beach, you're not wearing a lot of clothes. So, you want to feel comfortable, whatever body shape you have, or age you have. So, it was important for me to make something for every age.
Alicia Rountree: I am the biggest fan of Mauritius. And I've always through my travels and through living abroad, whenever somebody says, "Where are you from?" I say I'm from Mauritius and I'm very excited about it.
Alicia Rountree: I feel like all the LUX* hotels have a similar kind of essence where you just walk in and you just feel comfortable straightaway because the people working there are so friendly and really kind of greet you and take you into this whole experience.
Paul Jones: Welcome to another episode of the Spirit of Lux. Today, I'm joined by model and swimwear designer Alicia Rountree as she shares her guide to island life in her home of the beautiful Mauritius. Alicia has had a successful modeling career since starting at the age of 17. She has starred in campaigns for Victoria's Secret, Ralph Lauren, and L'Oreal to mention a few. And we're very fortunate to have her as one of the LUX* ambassadors. There's a lot to cover in this episode. Alicia explains how her upbringing in Mauritius helped shape her from a young age to live a responsible lifestyle where sustainability is the core of everything she takes on. This includes Alicia Swim, which is a premium sustainable resort wear brand launched in early 2019 made in Mauritius using high quality, Italian sustainable and recycled textiles. Alicia will be launching this collection personally when we open the wonderful LUX* Grand Baie in Mauritius later this year. Thank you.
Paul Jones: Welcome to the Spirit of Lux. Today we are all very fortunate to be together with the delectable Alicia Rountree. Alicia is one of the most interesting young ladies that I've met in a long, long time. Especially as she calls home, Mauritius. Mauritius for me is my favourite place. I spent a long time there and I will tell you how long but I'm sure Alicia will. And before we get to that, this episode of The Spirit of Lux is going to be all about Alicia. You will learn how she grew up in Mauritius and then what led her to become a prolific globetrotter, an author, a model and more recently a swimsuit designer. And on top of it all, Alicia is one of our very special, if not our favourite, LUX* Ambassadors.
Paul Jones: Alicia, where do we find you today? And I know it's not Mauritius, unfortunately. I believe it's another island. Where are you?
Alicia Rountree: Yes, I'm currently in Menorca, and thank you for that beautiful introduction. Very beautiful.
Paul Jones: Yes, Mauritius and Menorca share many similarities, except Menorca is on the dry side. Whereas Mauritius is very green. And the part where you come from, where you were born, is right in the south of the island, which many people think is buffeted by the southeast trade winds. But your particular slice of Mauritius is very, very special. Please describe your place in Mauritius so that the listeners can get a picture of where you were born and where you grew up.
Alicia Rountree: Yes, well, it's quite funny because a lot of people coming to Mauritius don't really know that kind of wild south of Mauritius because most of the hotels are higher up in the islands and you have the reef that's stopping ... So, you have lagoons and you have very still water but where I am from is much more wild and there's not much around. So, we have beautiful cliffs and crashing waves. So, there's quite a lot of energy down there. So, it's very kind of untouched, beautiful, wild. And then you can just go for walks and you won't see anyone. And sometimes it's kind of tricky, because if you need to go shopping, you have to go quite far away to go and find the things you need. But yeah, it's a little bit of a gem. And so, I grew up on this side of the island and I do feel super, super lucky. I mean, growing up there for me it was all very normal. But now I realize, no, it wasn't. It's very, very special. And my parents did create quite a magical space for us. They were always creating, planting, we'd have different kinds of animals appear when we came back from school. One of the things I really remember was coming back from school, and there was a car we didn't know that was in the driveway and then my mom says, "Go and see what's in the car." There was this tiny little lemur, little ring-tailed lemur and my brother and I went like, "Oh, my goodness, what is this?" And my mom was like, "Do you want to keep it?" Yes! So, that basically became our cat, it would always sleep in bed with me until my mom didn't think it was such a good idea anymore. But yeah, we had that kind of magical upbringing with lots of unexpected things happening on an island, always barefoot and magical.
Paul Jones: That is so lucky, of course, barefoot and magical as you say. And I think having been several times as a guest of your parents on the estate, you must have every species of palm trees, coconut trees, plants of all the tropical vegetation, which is so delightful. I think your mother took a pride in ensuring that she had all these different species including the native trees and plants, I think we have the Round Island palms and the Rodrigue Palm and all these different plants, which are absolutely gorgeous, gorgeous, gorgeous. So, you're so lucky, having such a wonderful backdrop because when people think of Mauritius, they think about the beach, of course, they think about the lagoon, as you described. And where you are in Mauritius, you have this gorgeous plantation field, but it's really tropical. And I remember the most exquisite experience was the freshwater pool, and you had the water coming down cascading into the pool. And then of course, it would discharge back through onto the cliffs. And that, again, was a gorgeous experience.
Alicia Rountree: And very fresh experience because it's freezing cold, but it's wonderful. It definitely wakes you up.
Paul Jones: That's a sure. And the estate as I remember is nestled within the sugarcane plantations, which completely surround where you live and where you grow up. And of course, your father was a sugarcane farmer and he was also milling the sugar, and he was producing the sugar, and all for export. And I think Mauritius started off being so strongly associated with sugar. But more recently, has become known for its tourism. And you, of course, grew up with your father being a shareholder in one of the larger hotel groups, one that I worked with.
Alicia Rountree: That's how we met. When I was very little. We've known each other a long time.
Paul Jones: Yeah, I remember that. And then I think that was a very special launch event at a beautiful hotel on the east coast. At the same time, we were launching the new brand of One&Only associated with Le Touessrok. And I think that as I remember, we had so many famous guests, celebrities.
Alicia Rountree: Yeah, yeah, you had lots of celebrities. And this was me when I was at an age, I think I was maybe 14 or 15. And I was really, maybe younger, I don't know. Well, growing up in Mauritius, there wasn't much fashion around or anything like that happening. So for me, I was so excited because it was my dream to kind of work in fashion and be around that world. And all this was very unknown to me. So, when this event happened, and then there was all these I think there was some singers, amazing photographer Rankin, that were just there and I was just having the best time and they were taking pictures of me. And I was like, "Oh, this is what I want to do. Really, this is really what I want to do." And I think it all started there because I got that little taste of what that kind of lifestyle would be like, and after seeing all my mom's magazines for years and years and years being shipped to Mauritius because you couldn't buy anything there. Yeah, I was that's kind of like was my first taste of what the fashion world would be like at this event that you organized.
Paul Jones: Yeah, it was so funny. I mean, I remember one of the several photographers that we'd invited was in fact, Rankin, who one of the world's most famous-- you could call him a celebrity photographer today. At that time, I think he was famous as well. But what I noticed about Rankin, he forgot about all the models. So, we've invited him and he was only shooting pictures of yourself, which was very funny, but I think your mother was absolutely delighted.
Alicia Rountree: She loved it.
Paul Jones: Not sure about your father, though.
Alicia Rountree: A bit less. But my mom was loving the whole time. Yeah, very supportive of that whole career that I wanted to take.
Paul Jones: Yeah, it was a wonderful time. And it was good to witness that evolution of your career. Because I think from there with also many friends of your mother, I remember one particular friend, Nicky Haslam-- you'll remember Nicky.
Alicia Rountree: Yeah, he's the one that also then introduced me to the scene, let's say in London. Again, I was quite young, I think was 16-17. And he took me to this big Vogue event called It's Fashion. And again, it was the first time I was really dressing up for an event. So, I had this big full skirt on and I kind of mixed it because I thought I was really cool with like a punk T-shirt, with like this big wild skirt and makeup and everything. And I guess it was a good thing to do because I was spotted there and I was scouted by a really great agency. And at first, I thought, "Is this for real?" Then they gave me their number. And then the next day I went with my mom to go and see them, and it was the real deal. And I signed with the agency in London and that's basically how it all started. So yeah. And it was Nicky Haslam that brought me to that party.
Paul Jones: Yeah, no Nicky, what a wonderful character. For the listeners who don't know Nicky, he's an interior designer, but what he's famous for is when he goes out to any event, he always dresses up in these rather distinguished outfits, which are designed to catch the eye, so to speak. I'm not sure what he was wearing on that occasion with you. Do you remember?
Alicia Rountree: I think it was a bit punky as well with some leather jacket or something, and I think that's why I had the choice between like the corset top that went with the skirt and this kind of punky T-shirt and he was like, “No, go with the punky T-shirt.” So, that's kind of what happened. We had a fun night and literally he knew everyone.
Paul Jones: I'm sure Nicky had the time of his life with you. What a wonderful gentleman, Nicky, for sure. So, he helped you and then you signed with the agency in London but you also spent as I remember quite a lot of time in New York and of course Paris because you speak fluent French. So, for you, France no problem.
Alicia Rountree: Yes, and also a bit in Italy, although my Italian, I speak a lot better if I've had a glass of wine. After London, I spent a little bit of time in London, a little bit of time in Paris, and then I kind of flew to New York and that was my base for quite a long time after that. Obviously, traveling a lot but my main base was New York, because I mean, I had always seen in my mind that the States was going to be the place that I would go and do my career and I was right because the second I got off the plane, I was actually going to visit someone there. I never went back. I went with a small suitcase and I fell in love and I didn't go back to go and get my clothes. I just got an apartment and stayed. And yeah, that's how it all started and it all kind of started quite fast as soon as I got there and started getting booked on quite big jobs for Ralph Lauren, Abercrombie and Fitch, at the time, which were big American brands. So yeah, kind of kickstarted my career in the States.
Paul Jones: Fabulous. And did you do any swimsuit jobs?
Alicia Rountree: Yes, a lot of swimsuit jobs. One of the biggest brands was Victoria's Secret and basically because I wore so many swimsuits, I think in my career and in Mauritius is kind of the reason why I wanted to create my own swimwear brands. And because I tried so many on that I always never quite found they were the right shape or the right style or the right print. I just wanted to make something that I wanted to wear all the time and that my mom would want to wear, and that my sister would want to wear and that my little niece who's four would be happy wearing. So yeah, that's kind of my newest adventure. But it all came from my years working as a model, and obviously, being brought up barefoot on the beach.
Paul Jones: Fantastic. And you're doing a collaboration with LUX*, which will be launched very soon. Tell us about this very special collection collaboration.
Alicia Rountree: I'm super excited about it. First of all, I guess we're working on a print. We’ve already worked on it. It's actually printing right now, as we speak. And we wanted to create something that was timeless, a print that guests coming to the new LUX* would be able to take home with them and be reminded by Mauritius. And so, the print is a coconut, and one of my favourite things, because I eat coconuts, I use it on my skin. I love coconuts. So, I've actually been wanting to do a coconut print for a long time. And this collaboration was just the right time to do it. And we did a little poll on Instagram to see which prints would win. We had a few different ones and it's very cool coconut print won. So, very excited to be launching this in December with LUX*.
Paul Jones: Wow.
Alicia Rountree: Quite a dreamy print, and I can't wait to wear it.
Paul Jones: Yeah, me too. I was going to ask you; do you have any costumes for men?
Alicia Rountree: Well, we are working on something. But actually, it's much harder for me to create something for men because I fit everything on myself and I make sure that it looks right for a woman's body. But for a man, it's a little bit different. And I know comfort is key. And also, I'm still trying to find the right fabric because all my fabrics are sustainable, made out of either recycled fabrics or as natural. And for the men's, I haven't found the right one yet, but I am looking.
Paul Jones: I hope you find it quickly because I can't wait to wear coconut shorts. Also, for my two little boys, I want them to have the same little shorts.
Alicia Rountree: The matching one. I mean, that's the whole idea behind my brands is that, you know, I'd love for the whole family to be matching. So, now I'm doing moms and daughters, but eventually, I would love for the whole family to have the matching look, because that's so cute.
Paul Jones: Yeah, and you know, I've been many, many times to China, and in China, they have what they call family clothes. So, when the family goes on holiday, you'll see they all wear identical outfits. So, I think the matching swimwear, matching with the girls and the boys and mums and dads would be fabulous. And I think you'll do very, very well. So the Chinese market, as you know, is huge. 1.6 billion people all were lining up for the coconut swimwear line from Alicia.
Alicia Rountree: We could sell quite a few.
Paul Jones: And of course, this is all going to be launched at the wonderful LUX* Grand Baie. Now that hotel, did you visit before you left Mauritius the last time?
Alicia Rountree: No, I was unable to visit but I did see lots of pictures, so that kind of obviously helped me to get inspired for the prints and I'm so excited to go in November. I hope you'll invite me.
Paul Jones: Of course. It’s your place.
Alicia Rountree: I mean, it just looks so beautiful because they're very clean lines, muted colors. I feel like I'll go there and feel very calm and relaxed. And it looks like such a different kind of place to the other hotels in Mauritius. So, I can't wait to see it for real with my eyes.
Paul Jones: I think there's two places I know that are going to be perfect for you to show off your swimwear. The first one is Bisou, which is the rooftop and that is really incredible because we got this gorgeous pool which merges with the lagoon and you're elevated with lots of plants and it's really stunning so I can just see wonderful shows going on in that pool. And on the second place is the Beach Rouge. The Beach Rouge is just absolutely out of this world. Very, very nice.
Alicia Rountree: I can't wait to see.
Paul Jones: Yeah! So, we're looking forward to launching Alicia's coconut-inspired swimwear at LUX* Grand Baie. And then Alicia, you're also in the restaurant business.
Alicia Rountree: Yeah, so I love doing lots of things at once. I'm interested in lots of different things at once. So, while I was in New York, I started with a partner, the restaurants called Tartinery. And it was basically based around French tartines, kind of sharing, but the more kind of upscale tartine, let's say, and then a very cool vibe. So, very healthy dishes but in a cool environment, nice music. And New York was obviously, probably the hardest place to start something like that. But at the same time, yeah, something challenging is always exciting. And that's where I was at the time, I've now sold my shares. I'm no longer involved. But it was a beautiful experience, and kind of the start of feeling a bit of the entrepreneurial spirit. And that also got me into wellness, which I later studied also in New York. And at first, I just studied wellness and nutrition because I was more interested for myself to know a bit more about how to look after my body. And obviously, it's not all about food, it's about mental space, your work, your relationships, it all kind of goes together. So, this school I went to really helped. I feel like it also brought me back to my roots to how I felt growing up in Mauritius because after being longtime in New York, kind of lose your mind a little bit. I was also on a plane every two minutes going from one shoot to the next. So, it was hard to kind of have a balance. And yeah, studying nutrition really kind of brought me back down to earth. And that's why I also wanted to do this, which is launching a book. It's actually the first out of a few. And yeah, I wanted to bring my two passions together, which was obviously Mauritius and well-being. So yes, we launched that last year during COVID, which was not the best time but still great. And this book was fully shot in Mauritius and all my favourite places and at home and they have lots of different delicious recipes in there, obviously Mauritian-inspired and beautiful views in Mauritius. And yeah, I'm really proud of this coffee table book, which was with Rizzoli, the publisher.
Paul Jones: Yeah, well famous Italian publisher. And we will have a copy in all the accommodations at LUX* Grand Baie. So, anybody who visits LUX* Grand Baie will be able to see your book. And if they want to take one home, of course, we will have it in the boutique. And the book is incredible. I mean, it really is very representative of Mauritius and your life in Mauritius and how you see Mauritius. And as you say, you introduced the wellness aspect beautifully in the book. And talking about wellness, of course at LUX* Grand Baie, we've got an incredible lineup of wellness activities. We've got a gorgeous yoga studio, we've got a wonderful cycling studio that we've done with Technogym, it really is incredible. And we'll have these instructors, and we're going to surprise everybody. We're going to have a virtual tour of Mauritius on your stationary bike in the cycling studio. So very, very exciting. We got a great fitness place, cardio, strength. And then up on the rooftop next to Bisou, we've got outdoor fitness, we've got what's called MyBeast where you can pump yourself up for those who like to do that sort of thing. And we've got our 30-metre running tracks. We've got so many activities in the hotel.
Alicia Rountree: Sounds amazing.
Paul Jones: Yes, because as you say, people, especially since COVID, realize that they have to take care of themselves. In fact, we care about helping people care about themselves. This is what we see as one of our main objectives in providing hospitality for our guests and also for our team members. So, we try and inspire as you do, people to take care of themselves. Now the cuisine of course you learn from your mum, because I remember going to Bel Air in the south, and having many times the most delicious lunch, which seemed to follow a pattern. So, tell us about that lunch.
Alicia Rountree: Ugh, this lunch, even just thinking about it, my mouth is watering. It's so tasty. I mean, in any case, Mauritian cuisine, whether it's something you cook at home or something you buy in the market, is just so tasty. So, my mum's cooking is beautiful - lots of big dishes all over a big table. And so obviously there's rice and lentils, and different kinds of curries. So, I think you liked the dry curry.
Paul Jones: Oh, I love the dry curry. Woohoo! Only in Mauritius.
Alicia Rountree: Yeah. Delicious. That and then obviously vegetarian curries. And what I love is all the different chutneys that you kind of put on the plate, which really makes such yummy textures and tastes in the plates. And a lot of what's on the plates is from the garden. Freshly picked in the morning and then cooked into delicious meals. And then do you remember the gateau piment?
Paul Jones: Oh, my goodness! The gateau piment! Incredible!
Alicia Rountree: I love that you're so excited about them. Because so am I. It's probably the first thing I asked my mom to do when I get off the plane.
Paul Jones: I think there's an ingredient. Is it called cotomili or something?
Alicia Rountree: Cotomili - That's secret thing, secret ingredient.
Paul Jones: Some things that you put in those gateau piment and then as you say, the chutney.
Alicia Rountree: The chutney, the tomato chutney. So delicious. Yeah. So, those are my favorite things. I love it. I don't know if you're a fan of dhal puri in the market. I love those, too. I do. One of my first trips off the plane as well.
Paul Jones: Yes, well, dhal puri for the listeners is a famous dish that we have in Mauritius. And of course, there's a few dhal puri sellers that have become celebrated in Mauritius. And very often if you try and buy a dhal puri at those places, you'll have to wait in the queue. It takes a long time.
Alicia Rountree: But it's worth it.
Paul Jones: Yes! Of course I have to be educated on how to order and what to order. You want piment and you don't want piment, and then how to eat it? With your hand.
Alicia Rountree: That's an art as well. You've got to eat too quickly, if not, all the sauce will fall out.
Paul Jones: Yeah. Absolutely. Only in Mauritius.
Alicia Rountree: Yeah, and there’s a few ‘marchands’ around the island, but there are some that just have the edge also that are really delicious.
Paul Jones: And another place that you've been recently I know where we've done some work in one of our hotels, it's at Le Morne. Tell us about what you found at Le Morne after everything that we did last year.
Alicia Rountree: Well, first of all, it's one of my favourite parts of the islands as well because the mountain is just so beautiful. You can just look at it all day. So, not only is there a beautiful mountain, but the water there is pretty special. And so, we did some wonderful pictures on the beach there and actually two years ago, I actually also took pictures for the first collection of my swimwear line on that beach at LUX* Le Morne. Yeah, this is one of my favorite places on the island. It's really, really special. I feel like there's such an energy there as well. Such a beautiful hotel, beautiful sunset, beautiful mountain, which I think you can also go to the picnics on there, which I've always wanted to do, which I haven't done yet. Because it must be so beautiful to see the sun setting and the amazing view. Magical, magical, magical. Yeah, I'm making a stream here. And I have once also done the whole trek to the top of the mountain and that's pretty special, although it's quite hard.
Paul Jones: How long did it take?
Alicia Rountree: A few hours, I think. Yeah, I took it a bit easy or maybe it was an hour and a half. But at one point, you have to kind of climb as if you're climbing a ladder because it's quite steep towards the top end. But the views up there are just magnificent.
Paul Jones: They must be gorgeous. Yeah, and as you say, the sunset, it is incredible. Oh, so gorgeous. Absolutely. And many times you've been to Belle Mare, which is on the east. And we have a LUX* property there. And how do you feel about that hotel? How do you see that as being different or that particular place at Belle Mare?
Alicia Rountree: Yeah, I think the pool is amazing. I really love the kind of atmosphere you have around there. Again, beautiful, beautiful beach. And yeah, there's a different kind of vibe. But I feel like all the LUX* hotels have a similar kind of essence where you just walk in and you just feel comfortable straight away because the people working there are so friendly and really greet you and take you into this whole experience. And what I also love is like the little areas you have to discover during your stay, let's say you have little areas that's got like a nice little swing or the hammocks in the water at the different locations, which I think is always something that you'll remember after being in one of the LUX* hotels. Obviously, take a picture there and put it on Instagram.
Paul Jones: So Alicia, what is next for you? What are your dreams about the future? I think you've got some plans.
Alicia Rountree: Yes. A lot of dreams. Well, obviously, first of all, my main focus at the moment is my swimwear line and helping it grow, and I'm working on new collections and different collaborations such as yours. I think I've kind of changed my mind on how I see life and I see things. Because before when I was younger, I was kind of running like a headless chicken everywhere, thinking that I needed to achieve so many things and arrive somewhere and which yes, of course you do. But I'm really now more interested in enjoying every moment through the process, which is it was just so important because it's the little things that really counts. And what I noticed in the past is every time I kind of achieved something I really wanted, nothing really changed in my life. It was the journey that made me into a different person, achieving different things. Obviously have to have goals and yeah, with the swimwear brand well basically I'm working on a second book also, because I did love the experience of creating the first book, although it took years and it was quite hard. But now that I've done it once, I know how to do it. I know the second one will be easier. And so, I'm really very inspired by the whole wellness industry as I just said working on other things in that kind of area as well but it all kind of goes together, whether it's a book, a swimwear. Because with the swimwear, I really want to create a brand that women feel comfortable in their swimwear because you're on the beach, you're not wearing a lot of clothes. So, you want to feel comfortable, whatever body shape you have, or age you have. So, it was important for me to make something for every age.
Paul Jones: You come from a very talented family. Tell us about your sister. She also has some special talents as well.
Alicia Rountree: Yes. Oh my goodness. I'm a big fan of my sister's work. She's a jewelry designer and her jewelry are also very much inspired by Mauritius, by the sea. It's called Oceana pearls. So, lots of pearls jewelry, but every piece has a story. She studied art, and she was doing lots of sculpting also. And so every piece is really like kind of she's sculpted into something and as I was saying it was very inspired by the sea. And yeah, I have lots of her pieces, which I'm always wearing. And they're very easy to wear. They're like pieces of art but very wearable.
Paul Jones: Wonderful. And she lives in Italy.
Alicia Rountree: She lives between Italy, Kenya, and Mauritius now because her atelier is in Mauritius Yeah, spending more and more time now that the kids are grown up so she has more time to travel
Paul Jones: And your brother is following in your father's footsteps, I believe
Alicia Rountree: Yes. He's taking over and looking after the family property. Yeah, big job to do but somebody's got to do it. Yeah, no, he came back to Mauritius a few years back and has been working in Mauritius. And yeah, it's funny, I think all of us kind of have been traveling and lived abroad. And I feel like we'll all end up, my brothers and sisters, back in Mauritius at some point or at least part of the year, because I think we were all away and also being so far away for so long. I was in New York and I was also in LA which was 12-hour time difference which is quite tricky. Especially when I'm so close to my family and wanting to speak to my mom at midday is impossible because it's midnight for her. So, it's quite frustrating. But yeah, I feel like Mauritius is the kind of place you always want to get back to at some point because really, I mean the second, I land there, I just feel every worry goes away, everything's okay. Yeah, it just has such a beautiful energy this island and so much to do and discover. It's a beautiful place, and I can't wait to get back.
Paul Jones: I'm sure your family are very proud of you, especially your mother and father and I really, I'm very impressed how loyal you are to Mauritius and how excited you are about the island. And you'll be coming back in November. So, that's exactly the right time when we'll be opening up LUX* Grand Baie.
Alicia Rountree: I know. It's a good coincidence. I did do the quarantine last Christmas. I did do the two weeks in quarantine to see my family. It was worth it. I actually did it as a surprise. I didn't tell anyone I was coming. And it was the hardest thing I've ever done because my mom would call me and I would have to hide in the bathroom because there was chirping birds. I didn't want her to know that I was actually in Mauritius. So, it was a big surprise when I turned up at home.
Paul Jones: I'm glad you mentioned the chirping birds because that is the signature of Mauritius.
Alicia Rountree: Yeah, every time I'm on the phone with my mom, they're like, "Chirp, chirp, chirp." It’s really like you’re in the jungle or something.
Paul Jones: Even the birds are happy.
Alicia Rountree: Yeah. So happy. So happy.
Paul Jones: Alicia, any last thoughts about what you'd like to tell the listeners about Mauritius or what you're doing?
Alicia Rountree: I am the biggest fan of Mauritius. And I've always through my travels and through living abroad, whenever somebody says, "Where are you from?" I say I'm from Mauritius and I'm very excited about it. And a lot of times, people don't know where that is. So, I kind of have to explain. And then people Google it. And then go, "What are you doing here? Why are you not there?" So, I'm always telling people about it and telling people that it's not just people think you come from an island and then there's no cars and you're living in a hut, which you could do, but there's a lot going on there. There are so many different cultures. And as we were talking, the food is just amazing also because of all these different cultures, but really a melting pot in Mauritius. And yeah, it's so special, these amazing waterfalls to go and visit, lots of hike. Yes, you have the beautiful waters. But then you have all this culture and the markets and you have churches, temples, everything.
Paul Jones: Gorgeous people.
Alicia Rountree: And gorgeous people, friendly people. And really growing up at school, I really got to experience the biggest community of all the different religions and getting along which was really wonderful. So, you got to come and visit. Whoever's listening, come and visit. We'll be happy to welcome you.
Paul Jones: Thank you so much, Alicia Rountree. What a pleasure it is to discuss and talk about our wonderful island of Mauritius.
Alicia Rountree: Well, it was wonderful speaking to you. Thank you so much.
Paul Jones: Thank you for listening to the Spirit of Lux with me, Paul Jones. If you like what you heard, don't forget to subscribe to our channel on Apple Podcast, Spotify, or wherever you listen.
Paul Jones, CEO of The Lux Collective, chats with Ron Kaufman, a thought leader on customer experience and service culture development. Ron is a New York Times bestselling author and has penned 15 books, including the famous Uplifting Service. In the first episode of our travel podcast, we discuss the paradigm shift happening in the hospitality industry, whereby service providers have become caregivers in the post-COVID world.
The second episode of our hospitality podcast reunites our host Paul with kindred spirit Kelly Hoppen, a name that no longer needs an introduction in the world of interior design. Her brilliantly executed neutral-toned havens can be found from East to West. In this episode, Kelly takes us through the creative process of our flagship resort, LUX* Grand Baie, and how ultimately, hotel design is about creating a space where guests fall into an experience of relaxation and luxury.
For this third episode of our hotel podcast, Paul, our host, chats with the passionate hotelier and General Manager of LUX* Le Morne Resort, Jérémie de Fombelle. In the middle of a pandemic, Jérémie rallied all 300 of his team members to upskill and renovate the hotel all by themselves! It was such a success that the London Business School has made it a case study. We also discuss the taboo that is food waste in the hotel industry and how LUX* Le Morne became the first Zero Food Waste hotel in Mauritius.
The invitees on the fourth episode of our travel podcast are two of LUX* Resorts & Hotels’ most loved culinarians, chefs Dave Minten and Walter Lanfranchi. From travelling the world in search of inspiration, to research and development in a test kitchen, from concept to real life, these two take us behind the scenes of LUX*, a hospitality brand known for its creative conceptual restaurants and dining.
The invitees on episode 5 of our hospitality podcast is none other than Micheal Freeman, the editorial photographer famed for his unusual ability to capture the people and landscapes of the storied Tea Horse Road in Yunnan, China. More recently he published The Life of Tea, after spending three years documenting China, Japan, Sri Lanka, and India. That Michael is somewhat of a globetrotter comes to no surprise: his first stint took him to the Amazon. The photographer with a background in Anthropology from Oxford University discusses his travels and journey.
This 7th episode of our travel podcast reunites our host Paul with the man behind the world’s best pedicure: Bastien Gonzalez, known as “The Foot Virtuoso”. Famous for tending to some very high-profile toes, the French podiatrist and pedicurist recounts his career from opening his first address at Place des Vosges at age 23 to making his entrance into the luxury hospitality industry and being present in 27 countries today. He also tells us the secret behind his black diamond scrub –caviar for the skin- and ultimately, about his longtime relationship with Mauritius, where he will soon be inaugurating his salon at the much-anticipated LUX* Grand Baie.
For this 8th episode, Paul, our host, chats with a longtime collaborator, Afeef Hussain, the very first Maldivian to be nominated “100 most influential global HR professionals” at the World HRD Congress 2016. Born and raised in the Maldives, Afeef’s skills as a speaker, coach, and runner have taken him around the world–including the Boston Marathon. In this episode, he recounts the success story that is the Maldives’ tourism, from its early days when just a few islands were populated by resorts to being the first destination in the world to emerge as the incontestable winner of the pandemic.
In the 10th episode, Paul speaks with Colin and Steve Hall, the energetic father and son duo taking over Africa by storm through their Seven Habits programme. Always on the run to inspire, instil a sense of hope and uplift people’s sense of self-care and self-motivation to continuously push their own boundaries, Colin and Steve have been and continue to be instrumental in coaching the team members of The Lux Collective to go that extra mile.
In the eleventh episode, Paul speaks with Stephen Woodhams, one of the youngest gardeners to ever win a gold medal in the renowned RHS Chelsea Flower Show, held in the United Kingdom every spring. Stephen’s magical touch, combined with his intuitive ability to turn any space into a tropical oasis, is one of the reasons why LUX* Belle Mare, LUX* Grand Gaube and the newly opened LUX* Grand Baie have received such tremendous acclaim all over the world. In this episode, Stephen speaks about his inspiration for the group’s latest flagship in Mauritius and his plans in this Indian Ocean paradise.
The 12th episode reunites Paul with Mauritian architect Jean-François Adam, the man behind the groundbreaking design of the very complex LUX* Grand Baie. Together they discuss what inspired Jean-François, whose childhood was spent on the very beach on which the hotel is, the complexities of building such a grand structure, of turning constraint into potential, and the importance of having a strong vision and the team spirit to carry it through.