Ms BEATRICE GRANDCOLAS EMBLEMATIC FIGURE OF SUSTAINABLE TOURISM IN THE Ivory Coast

The Best of Africa hotel complex has experienced the benefits of adopting the concept of sustainable tourism for 10 years, thanks to Ms. Béatrice Grandcolas.

Italian by father and Belgian by mother, this lawyer by training has brilliantly changed course, after more than 10 years of professional experience in international taxation, business and development law, particularly in the United States.

It was in April 1982 that Mrs. Grandcolas discovered the Ivory Coast for the first time, but it was the love of a man that first held her back, and then it was during a trip to Cameroon that she got the trigger…

She embarked on new, more technical studies this time: hotel management.

 

Reassured by the climate of socio-political stability, the level of development of the infrastructure and above all the quality of the welcome and the kindness of the Ivorians, she decided to set up the Best of Africa hotel complex in Côte d’Ivoire and more particularly in the coastal town of Sassandra.

“My first years in Côte d’Ivoire left me with a strong impression of the tourism potential and the lack of hotel accommodation”, recalls Béatrice Grandcolas.

Thus, from September 1999 to September 2009, she successfully took over the general management of the Best of Africa Hotel located in Sassandra in the village of Dagbego.

Her management has left its mark because of the successful immersion of the hotel in the local culture and the life of the inhabitants of the region through, firstly, the investment of the villagers who are part of the staff and who are genuinely involved in several activities offered to tourists, in particular hiking or canoeing to facilitate the discovery of the region and the habits and customs of these populations.

Then for the key aspects of the hotel business, which are the decoration and the cuisine where priority is given to products made in Côte d’Ivoire. Thus it is the authentic Bogolan Woodin that adorns the hotel and a local potter makes the candle holders. Most of the food served is made with local ingredients (vegetables, fish, shellfish, …..), such as the jams and marmalades, which are homemade with local fruit. Charcoal, because of its disastrous impact on the forest, is definitely banned for the braising of dishes in favour of an original and more ecological process: lava stone heated with gas.

Finally, this lover of English detective books has made her hotel a cultural centre not only for tourists and hotel guests but also for the locals who have at their disposal a library made up of her personal collection.

In this room, where books and instruments rub shoulders, there are also DVDs of African films. This sanctuary of art becomes a place of performance for dance groups and also a place of exhibition for painters who sometimes create in the hotel itself. In addition, still under the leadership of Mrs. Grandcolas, Best of Africa expanded and organised local events that featured traditional dances, pirogue races, mask festivals, and beauty contests according to the region’s own beauty criteria. Béatrice Grandcolas aimed at more than a peaceful cohabitation between the hotel and the village, she wanted (and she achieved it very well) that the whole hotel be impregnated with the soul of Dagbego while having all the modern conveniences essential nowadays (offices, access to Internet…). As a daughter of the village, she became involved beyond hotel management by organising meetings of chiefs in order to obtain electrification, and then, in order to make the region better known, she invited the national television to the site.

These 10 years spent at the helm of Best of Africa brought a new breath of fresh air to Ivorian tourism, to the point that in January 2009 a tourist guide entitled “Côte d’Ivoire Today” judged the hotel as the most beautiful in West Africa. This was in recognition of the monumental work accomplished by this great lady.

NAHOUNOU TCHEZEY

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