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Fatima Chuttoo : “I am closing the chapter but not the book.”

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On April 30, Fatima Chuttoo, Assistant Executive Manager at Trou-aux-Biches Beachcomber bid farewell to the employees after 33 years of loyal and dedicated service. A leading figure in this beautiful resort of Beachcomber Group in the north of Mauritius, she definitely carved in stone her career at Trou-aux-Biches Beachcomber. So much so, that clients would joyfully say that they are going on holidays to Fatima’s! In her last interview dated April 26, 2019, she narrates her debuts as Administrative Secretary to her promotion as Assistant Executive Manager.

How did you come across the hotel industry?

It was sheer coincidence. Family is a priority for me. This time it had to do with my father. The doctor advised that we stay near the sea and we were at Trou-aux-Biches, not far from here. I then told myself, “It would be nice to earn some money and have a part-time job as secretary during afternoons.” I had no clue how a hotel works. This is how I found myself calling Trou-aux-Biches hotel. I asked to be employed as part-time secretary. The Director General said, “I need a fulltime secretary.”, adding, “We can still schedule an interview.” I went to the interview following which he stated, “Are you ready to start?” I said, “When do I start?”. He mocked, “Yesterday!”. That’s how it all started and here I am, 33 years later!

So, you were recruited as Administrative Secretary and Head of media relations at Trou-aux-Biches?

I wore many hats during this enriching career of 33 years. In addition to being an Administrative Secretary, my director wanted me to handle media relations. At the embassy, as personal assistant to the Ambassador, I was regularly in touch with the media. I had no qualms dealing with local and international press. I still do it today.

How would you describe the learning experience?

I always say, “Where there is a will, there is a way.” There is no secret. You learn on the job. I do not hold any academic credentials in hotel management. Still, I am proud of my achievements in the industry. I have a message for the young graduates, “I am very happy for you. But please, do not forget the human touch. It is of utmost importance - if not the most important component - in the hotel industry.”
 

 

You come up through the ranks. You are promoted to Commercial Director and then to Executive Assistant Manager. Have you always been driven by your sense of responsibility?

It wasn’t challenging really. Rather, it was about being able to live up to the trust that was given to you. The trust of the management, who had a vision, who knew where it wanted to take me in my career. Once I decided on the direction I wanted to take, I stayed focused and did my very best to succeed.

What values matter the most to you and which ones helped you go up the corporate ladder in the hotel industry?

I strongly believe in loyalty, righteousness and self-belief. I have always believed in myself. Some things are impossible – fair enough – but when you believe in yourself, you know you can do it.

Can you we say that your mission was to make sure that clients would always to return?

Exactly. From the moment he sets foot at our resort, we know that he is looking for happiness, joy, and we want him to be able to say out loud, “I made the right choice. This is the place to be.” Actually, it’s not about his first steps really. We have to be with him all throughout his stay - from his arrival to his departure. On his last day, we have to hear him say, “We are coming back.”

There is no such thing as one client being more important than the other…

Young and old, all the clients are important to me. The same goes for a VIP. I always say, “All clients are VIPs.” I walk from table to table during breakfast, lunch and dinner. They are all here.

 

 

You have a reputation of knowing the names of all the clients of the hotel by heart….

That’s so true. Clients always ask, “How do you manage with all these clients?” I memorize. I rely on my experience. I repeat to myself, “The first, second time, is always difficult. Try to remember the name of this client. The client is king.” You know calling someone “Mr.” or “Mrs.” is so ordinary. However, when you call someone by his/her name, he/she will forever remember you. “How does she do this?” is something I hear often. But with time, the memorization process becomes easier.

And within Beachcomber Group?

Beachcomber is opening its doors to more and more women. I am very happy to see this. Women can bring so much. Their role is crucial. Just like the men, we are part of the chain. Women have a role to play, that of moderator. Men are more responsive, more action-driven. Women keep their cool. They know they can take action, but differently.

 How does it feel to leave Trou-aux-Biches Beachcomber?

(Gets emotional, tears in her eyes) I am closing the chapter but not the book. It was an amazing book with 33 long years of memories that I will never forget. This book changed my life. It will always be here. I am not leaving with a heavy heart. I will never forget the clients, the artisans, all those who supported me and brought me joy and happiness these past 33 years.

 

Is there a specific memory that you treasure the most?

Every day, I know what’s waiting for me. More beautiful days, moments and memories. These past 33 years were filled with beautiful memories, one as important as the other. Each day was filled with happiness.

How are you going to keep yourself busy now?

Trou-aux-Biches was my home. I had a home without having one actually because Trou-aux-Biches was my home. I will now take care of my real home, of Fatima’s home. Back then, clients would say, “We don’t say that we are going to Trou-aux-Biches but to Fatima’s.” Fatima’s will from now be my house. This is where I will spend the most of my time.

Thank you, Beachcomber, thank you, Trou-aux-Biches Beachcomber for everything you did for me.