Feel good stories are a favourite of any reader. There is nothing better than reading a story that instils a sense of pride or gives the reader a happy buzz. It would be impossible to write anything about Mary Geers that wouldn’t make the reader feel good as a result. The tiny island nation of Seychelles has long prided itself on local businesses driving its economy. Mary Geers is an example of a local Seychelles resident who contributes massively to her small nation’s economy through her grit and determination.

The island nation of Seychelles depends heavily upon tourism to drive its economy, and the government has long encouraged local business magnates to be the driving force behind the tourism industry. Local business woman Mary Geers is a perfect example of a Seychelles local who has not only established strong businesses, but has also made strides to give back to her community in a number of ways.

Mary’s early years

Geers became successful in the hospitality industry because she cut her teeth in the industry years ago. She got her start working in the industry that she now succeeds in as a restaurant manager at Vista do Mar Hotel. Following her success in that role she struck out on her own, opening two retail operations. Those endeavors, Trendy Boutique and African Jewels, have proven fruitful over the years and led her to her greatest endeavour.

Geers broke into the hospitality industry with the purchase of Sunset Hotel. The operation of Sunset Hotel, as well as its subsequent development over the years, is proof of Geers’ magical touch when it comes to developing a successful hospitality-based business.

The Sunset Hotels chain

Geers has become a well-known business woman in Seychelles, serving as the director of the Sunset Hotel group, a home-grown network of three hotels located in several of the hottest tourist destinations within the network of islands that make up the Seychelles. The chain of hotels includes Sunset Beach Hotel, Village Du Pecheur, and Eden’s Holiday Villas.

Sunset Beach Hotel is the centerpiece of Geers’ tourism machine. The hotel is located 30 minutes outside the nation’s capital city of Victoria on the island of Mahe. The hotel features 29 rooms that offer all the comforts of civilization like air conditioning, ceiling fans, TVs, and mini-bars. All 29 rooms are sea-facing and the resort won the World Travel Awards of Seychelles Best Boutique Hotel title in 2007 and 2008.

Village Du Pecheur is located on the island of Praslin and can easily be reached from the main island of Mahe in just 35 minutes by air. This hotel exhibits everything it means to be a Seychellois. The building features white washed walls and a thatch roof with a relaxed tropical atmosphere. Best of all, this Geers’ run hotel is located right on the famous Cote d’Or beach on Praslin. Village Du Pecheur offers 19 air conditioned rooms, many of which are sea facing.

Last but not least in the Geers hospitality empire are the Eden’s Holiday Villas. Unlike the offerings of her other hotels, the Eden’s Holiday Villas boast a unique offering perfect for family getaways. Located on the northwest coast of Mahe island, Eden’s Holiday features 10 fully furnished villas with private gardens and hillside views of the bay at Port Launay. The location of this resort in a small fishing village gives tourists a taste of Geers’ native Seychelles in a quiet and relaxing atmosphere.

Geers is not done expanding the reach of her hospitality business. In late 2010 it was learned through documents provided to the Planning Authority of the Seychelles that Geers was leading a reclamation project on L’Islette Island near the island of Mahe. The initial goal of Geers’ project is to make L’Islette more accessible for the hospitality industry. This project goes hand-in-hand with Geers’ other hospitality goals as both Sunset Beach Hotel and Village Du Pecheur have undergone recent expansions.

While the reclamation project on L’Islette Island has been criticized for its potential negative impacts on the local environment, Geers quickly answered those questions by stating that the project is “not a reclamation project, but a proposed development for an excellent resort.”

Giving back to her community

Before assuming that Mary Geers is all about business, it is time to take a look at how she gives back to the community. As a proud Seychellois, Geers and the Sunset Hotel Group have donated money to numerous causes and activities across the country in the interest of boosting tourism and supporting fellow Seychellois.

Among her biggest charitable contributions were her actions to help bring the Indian Ocean Island Games to Seychelles in 2011. As a member of the fundraising committee for Seychelles’ bid to host the games, Geers played a pivotal role in helping her country land the games. Her Sunset Beach Hotel hosted a dinner and auction during the bidding process that yielded R187,000 (Seychelles Rupee).

Other charitable actions from Geers and her hospitality group include sponsoring and supporting the Seychelles Golf Club and its events. The Sunset Hotel Group, and Geers, have hosted past prize ceremonies at Sunset Beach Hotel and donated money for various events.

Most importantly, Geers strives to contribute to causes that ensure the tourism industry remains strong in the Seychelles, as a strong tourism industry benefits both her enterprise and her fellow citizens. In January 2012 Geers donated R20,000 to the Seychelles Tourism Board to help put on the annual Carnaval International de Victoria, an event that showcases the culture of the Seychelles. While Geers and the Sunset Hotel Group are not currently supporting any charitable groups in 2012, she emphasized her commitment to charitable organizations in a brief interview with Kreol Magazine stating that her group “will always support worthwhile projects.”

Geers has been lauded by Alain St. Ainge, the Seychelles director of tourism marketing, as the perfect example of “home grown” hospitality contributing to the economy of the nation. St. Ainge noted the success of Geers’ local Sunset Hotel Group in competing with international hotel brands and credits Geers and those like her for “ensuring our authentic Seychellois Creole culture and ambience is seen and appreciated by our visitors.”

The basis of Mary Geers’ success

When asked by Kreol Magazine what she attributes her success to, Geers put it simply by saying her success was due to a “hands on and hard-working” approach. However, such an approach can only go so far when smaller businesses face off against the giants of the hospitality industry. With international hospitality groups coming into Seychelles and setting up shop, Geers and her group face a big challenge. The Sunset Hotel Group continues to succeed against bigger competition, and Geers attributes that to her groups’ “Creole touch”.

There are successful people who strive for ruthless business oriented success, and there are those who work to ensure their business gives back to those who help make it possible. Mary Geers and the Sunset Hotel Group understand the importance of Seychellois standing together to establish a strong tourism industry. Her success is attributable to the unique offerings of her hotels and shared among all Seychellois in her group’s donations to causes across the nation.