Interview with Gert Puchtler, General Manager of Constance Belle Mare Plage

I met the General Manager of Constance Belle Mare Plage Hotel during the inaugural luncheon of the Culinary Festival Bernard Loiseau. Even though he has a very busy week ahead of him, the German born hotelier seems relaxed and pleased by the surroundings.

Constance Belle Mare Plage's General Manager, Gert Puchtler

Constance Belle Mare Plage’s General Manager, Gert Puchtler

Mr Puchtler tells me that the Culinary Festival Bernard Loiseau means a lot to the Constance Group. ‘We want to bring an international culinary spirit – not only to our hotels – but to Mauritius in general,’ he says with passion, ‘and it seems to be working. Also, it is nice to see that the event works both ways, as more and more European chefs put Mauritian spices and other specialities on their menus.’

‘It is also obvious that the week of the festival becomes an important feature for our guests – and I am very pleased by the fact that an increasing number of guests return to Belle Mare Plage to take part in the event,’ he continues.
But the competition is not only a matter of image building within the hotel industry and beyond. It is also very much a tool to motivate the employees of the Constance Group.

‘The island contestants are initially hand-picked by their peers, after which they have to pass a rather tough test, both oral and written. The competition is fierce, as everybody wants to have a chance to win a one-month apprenticeship at a European star restaurant. Several of the previous local winners today have important positions in the restaurants of our group of seven hotels,’ Mr. Puchtler happily adds.

We end our discussion by discussing if the Culinary Festival is good business for the Constance Group. ‘Absolutely not,’ he says with a smile. ‘The festival is not about money, but rather about sharing and building friendships across the borders in addition to motivating the staff. Luckily, we have many loyal sponsors to share the financial burden of the event and more are coming on board each year – so we must be doing something right,’ he adds at the very moment his youngest daughter turns up at our table asking him to join her sega dancing. I guess the interview is over…

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Constance Hotels supports Earth Hour 2014

In support of the global environmental movement, Earth Hour, we held a number of candle lit events in the Maldives and Seychelles.

Earth Hour at Constance Halaveli, Maldives

Earth Hour at Constance Halaveli, Maldives

At Constance Halaveli guests celebrated the global solidarity of Earth Hour with a beach barbecue. We turned the lights off in staff areas, guest villas and along the jetty and guests enjoyed the occasion in atmospheric candlelight at Jahaz Bar , Restaurant  and the reception area.

At Constance Ephélia guests were invited to a ‘chilled wine dinner’ at fine dining restaurant Cyann. All dishes for the gastronomic 3 course dinner were prepared in advance and served chilled by candlelight.

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Read how Constance Hotels & Resorts is working to support the environment

 

 

Constance Halaveli perfect spring escape for top luxury travel blogger

Luxury travel blogger Mrs O has included Constance Halaveli in her top 5 Destinations for spring.

Constance Halaveli, Maldives

Constance Halaveli, Maldives

Mrs O has developed a huge following for her honest reviews of luxury hotels and luxury travel related products.

In her countdown to spring, Mrs O is looking forward to spending time in the Maldives where she will stay at Constance Halaveli.

She tells her readers she’s so excited about her Water Villa at Halaveli that she is ‘lost for words and losing sleep over it.’

Follow her adventures and her stay at Constance Halaveli on her blog mrsoaroundtheworld.com.

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Culinary Festival Bernard Loiseau gets underway in Mauritius

Journalist Peter Bojesen reports from the 9th Culinary Festival Bernard Loiseau in Mauritius.

Culinary Festival Bernard Loiseau - ingredients

Wonderful colours and ingredients

To me, a seasoned travel journalist who covers food events in many countries, the highlight of the year is the Culinary Festival Bernard Loiseau held at the luxurious Constance Belle Mare Plage in Mauritius.

I have just returned to the hotel after a splendid lunch, which marked the official opening of the 9th edition of the event. Six days lie ahead, filled with international bonding and sharing between six Michelin star chefs from six countries and six ‘island chefs’ from Constance Hotels.

Today’s lunch was held at Le Chassé, a charming hunting lodge, next to one of Constance’s two championship golf courses, The Links. Some 100 people took part, where the chefs had the opportunity to taste the Mauritian cuisine, and meet the sponsors, the organisers and their fellow competitors.

I am greatly impressed by the super ambiance that already exists between the six foreign chefs. In spite of being competitors, I hear a lot of laughter and see plenty of smiles. Around the lunch table I listened to the chefs talking about their passion of cooking, sharing ideas, comparing techniques, discussing new trends.

We sampled sea urchins, oysters, palm heart salad, different kinds of curry, fried prawns, Chinese style dumplings – even a sorbet in the colours of the Mauritian flag!

After all that I should be heading to the gym but a sun bed under a palm tree on the beach sounds much more inviting. It’s a question of character, I guess.

On Monday, there is a draw to decide on the teams. Then everyone sets off for the market in the capital Port Louis. I look forward to joining them – and to following their hard work during the coming days.

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Find out more about the Culinary Festival Bernard Loiseau.

 

Chocolate recipes for Easter

The seed of the cacao tree has been considered a precious delicacy for over 4,000 years.

Chocolate recipes: Lémuria’s chocolate and coconut nougat nest with chocolate ganache

Chocolate recipes: Lémuria’s chocolate and coconut nougat nest with chocolate ganache

From its origins as a medical cure via a religious offering to its position today as one of the world’s favourite treats, chocolate has become an integral part of many cultures around the world.

In recent years scientists have even come to agree with the ancient Mayans that it has important medicinal properties because of its richness in large flavonoid molecules known to help maintain cardiovascular health.

To get you in the mood for some chocolate-indulgence this Easter, here’s the first of a selection of chocolate recipes from our sweet-toothed chefs at Constance.

Recipe I: Halaveli’s Chocolate ice cream

Ingredients

  • 2kg full fat milk
  • 90g milk powder
  • 200g sugar
  • 180g invert sugar
  • 12g stabiliser
  • 540g guanaja chocolate

1. Take some of the sugar and mix with the stabiliser. Heat the milk powder.

2. At 30ºC add the sugar and inverted sugar.

3. At 45ºC add the sugar and stabiliser mixture and the chopped or melted chocolate. Mix vigorously and let cool in the fridge or freezer.

4. Leave for 4-12 hours at +4ºC, then mix vigorously with an electric mixer to obtain a homogeneous mass. Store at -18ºC and serve between
-10ºC and -12ºC.

Recipe II: Lémuria’s chocolate and coconut nougat nest with chocolate ganache

Ingredients (serves 4)

Chocolate and coconut nougat nest:

  • 250g fresh coconut (prepared in julienne style)
  • 500g white sugar
  • 15g vanilla essence
  • 5g nutmeg powder
  • 125g dark chocolate

1. Heat a saucepan and add the sugar, let it melt until it’s golden brown caramel then add the fresh coconut followed by the vanilla and nutmeg.

2. Stir well and add the dark chocolate, mix until the chocolate melts.

3. Place the nougat in a paper case in the shape of a nest and let it set.
Top with little candy Easter eggs.

Chocolate ganache:

Ingredients

  • 500g fresh cream
  • 500g dark chocolate semi-sweet

1. Boil the cream and pour on to the chopped chocolate. Stir until the chocolate is melted.

2. Let it cool down, then pour on to the coco nests.

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When to go whale watching in Madagascar

Every year between June and November more than 7,000 humpback whales migrate from the Antarctic to the waters of Madagascar to breed and calve.

Whale watching in Madagascar

Whale watching in Madagascar

During the mating season the male will put on dramatic displays of physical dominance and acrobatic stunts to vie for the attention of the females making for a truly awe-inspiring experience for spectators.

The government of Madagascar has put in place regulations to ensure that the whales are not disturbed or stressed by boats in the area. As a result most trips are hosted by experienced guides with a wealth of specialist knowledge.

One of the most amazing experiences for visiting whale watchers can be listening to the male’s unique whale song, one of the most complex vocal displays in the animal kingdom, via an on-board hydrophone.

Whale watching at Ile Ste Marie (June to September)

Situated on the Eastern shore of Madagascar this is an ideal place from which to watch the stunning mating rituals and calving of the whales.

Whale watching at Tsarabanjina/Nosy Be (August to November)

The migration through the waters off the North West coast of Madagascar is slightly later but you are still likely to see mothers with their calves and pods of whales showing off their breath-taking acrobatics.

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