The Brand: Kaz’alala Hosted B&B

By Vincent Cavalot and Kareesh Manraj

Vincent was previously the Chief Experience Officer (CXO) Midscale Accommodation of the Rogers Group. This cluster groups Voilà Hotel and Voilà Meetings, as well as Kaz’Alala Hosted B&B. He also works actively on developing more Kaz’alala B&Bs on the island. Vincent is responsible for driving Operational Excellence and developing compelling customer experiences for each of these above brands.

This cluster groups the Domino’s Pizza, Ocean Basket, Moka’Z and Savinia Bistrot brands in Mauritius. The Domino’s Pizza brand has known a rapid expansion since its launch in Mauritius in 2018. It currently has 5 stores on the island, with plans to open 2 more before the end of 2022. Kareesh is responsible for Operational Excellence and compelling customer experience for each of the above brands.

The lines between traditional resorts and other accommodation options are blurring. Since 2007, Para-hotels (guesthouses, tourist residences and rented bungalows) have continued to gain momentum and currently accommodate more tourists than hotels. Statistics demonstrate that while tourist arrival has grown by 4% on average from 2007 to 2018, the number of tourists staying in hotels has only grown by 2% while those staying in para-hotels has increased by 7%!

Customer booking behaviour is evolving from traditional offline tour operators to online tour operators. The demand for classic resorts and standard all-inclusive packages is on the fall to the benefit of para-hotels. Travellers want to travel more yet spend less on their accommodation. They wish to see more of their destination, and they wish to live like locals. This change has been spearheaded by Airbnb which has made it easier for travellers in quest of experiential stays to connect easily with locals having spare rooms.

On the other side, tourist arrivals to Mauritius in 2019 decreased by 1.1% while destinations like Maldives and Seychelles are enjoying a growth of 10% on average; this despite being more expensive destinations.

There is thus a need to rethink the whole strategy of what will make Mauritius more appealing to tourists. We need to change our tourism offering so that it becomes a vacation with a meaning, an opportunity to learn and/or change something! Millennials are the ones who will shape the next 20 years of travel. They are explorers at heart, with free spirits, wanting more authentic experiences. They clearly want to discover our destination through experiences that connect them to Mauritius’ history, people, food, art and culture. Failure to do this will eventually lead to the collapse of our tourism industry!

It is this clear shift in tourist behaviour that motivated the Rogers Group to venture into the industry of Experiential Tourism.

The name Kaz’alala is a fantasy name that combines local expressions such as ‘Alala’ and ‘Alalila’ with the word home or ‘kaz’ in Creole. Kaz’alala satisfies the needs of the free -spirited traveller for local experiences, personalisation and freedom while maintaining the basics of hospitality such as daily cleaning, good linen and good breakfast.

Kaz’alala Hosted B&B has four pillars: hosting, sense of place, sustainability and discovery.

Hosting is about being welcomed in a Mauritian home by a delightful host in the person of Nathalie. She is like the Mama of the home and tells her guests all there is to see, do, taste in Bel Ombre and in Mauritius. She also welcomes guests in her kitchen to help prepare ‘1 bon manzer lakaz’ (homemade dish).

Sense of Place and discovery – The houses are located at the heart of Bel Ombre, a region with a history of over 250 years, in an estate of 2500 hectares. The tourist in Bel Ombre can wander in a pristine nature reserve of 1300 hectares or discover the refurbished Heritage Le Chateau, overlooking wonderful French gardens and the stunning Heritage Golf course. Just steps away, they can learn all about the sugar history of Mauritius and admire the largest Seashell Gallery in Africa.

Sustainability has been tackled in two ways: giving a second life to unused sugar plantation houses and contributing to the economic development of the people of the south. The team at Kaz’alala lives in the Bel Ombre region – which ensures reduction in carbon footprint. By contributing $1 per guest per night to Maison Familiale Rurale, Kaz’alala is the first project of its kind that supports vulnerable young people back into society through education and apprenticeship.

Our idea was implemented by keeping our DNA at the forefront of everything we developed for the Kaz’alala Hosted B&B brand:

We champion the local experience with a hosted experience. We leverage our location – strong, iconic and with a historic sense of place. We offer travellers distinctive, authentic and intuitive local experiences to discover, explore and learn! We are causedriven, committed to the sustainable development of the community we are located in. We are an alternative to conventional and predictable resorts and hotels. Kaz’alala Hosted B&B is also a hide away, to escape from the hectic and noisy everyday life – it celebrates connection to nature, to find oneself.

With the main target market being millennials, it was only normal that media used be digital with a strong focus on: Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, TripAdvisor, Internal Rogers emailer, the Brand Website and Google advertising.

Our storytelling focuses on the following:

  • The four colours of the Mauritian flag, highlighting unique traits of the Mauritian hospitality and culture.
  • Authentic Mauritian dishes with its typical condiments, made from ‘legim letan lontan’ (vegetables used by our grandmas).
  • Integrated approach to sustainability
  • The human-scale of our operations and how the Kaz’ alala team is like a family.
  • Commitment to welcome guests like a Mauritian ‘Mama’ would.
  • Proximity to historical landmarks and places of interests.

Creative rationale:

  • Simple | easy to understand | Reflects Mauritian values and way of life
  • Relaxed and spacious
  • Using creole words in the video
  • Local music with guitar and ravane
  • Instilling a sense of fantasy

To launch Kaz’alala, the strategy adopted was to make the concept video of Kaz’alala go viral by reaching the maximum number of people interested in travel, Mauritius, golf and beach holidays. The markets of focus for the Campaign were: France, South Africa, Reunion and Mauritius, targeted at tourists aged 24 years and above.

The sales strategy is mainly online with strong focus on Airbnb, Expedia,, Agoda, as well as the brand website.

Since the launch of the website in August 2019, traffic had been increasing healthily by 5% and averaged 4,200 visitors per month.

The percentage of direct booking (website, phone, email) on average was 50%. We also met our budget occupancy for the 4 months of operations from September to December 2019.

TripAdvisor and Facebook ratings have consistently been at an excellent level, at 4.3 and 4.9 respectively. Excellent ratings have been collected across the service dimensions of rooms, sleep quality, service, location, cleanliness and value.

Even though the Mauritian market was a secondary target market, for the 4 months of operations, we have achieved a Brand awareness of 15% across the island.

In March 2020, COVID hit Mauritius, resulting in borders being closed for 18 months up to October 2021 (5 months of which the country was in full lockdown). This put Kaz’alala Hosted B&B seriously at risk; more so because it had only operated for 7 months and was still building its brand awareness and reputation. During the remaining 13 months, the business turned towards the local market and residents to survive the resilience phase. During that phase, Kaz’alala undertook its Feel Safe certification – a label that demonstrates the high level of sanitary measures and protocols enforced by the brand. It launched Day Packages, special rates for residents, as well as heavily marketed its exceptional Mauritian cuisine at the Lakaz Mama restaurant, all the while focusing on its pillars of: Sense of Place, Hosting, Discovery and Sustainability. The uniqueness of the concept is attested by the reviews we receive and proof that the Experiential Tourism is a winner.

With borders open again since the 1st October 2021, Kaz’alala is gearing up again to become a reference in the field of Experiential Tourism in the extraordinary territory of Bel Ombre, Mauritius.

As at November 2021:

Followers on Facebook: 6,677
Instagram followers: 3,144 followers

Vincent Cavalot and Kareesh Manraj
Vincent Cavalot Chief Operating Officer of Veranda Resorts
Kareesh Manraj Chief Experience Officer (CXO) for the Quick Service Restaurants cluster of the Rogers Hospitality group