Company sets out heritage site plans


Members of the SHF’s board of directors during their recent visit to the La Plaine St Andre heritage site at Au Cap

Their visit was to meet the developer, Trois Frères Distillery, and be updated on the progress of work after the distillery won the bid in an open tender to develop the site.

Below are some of the comments from the Trois Frères Distillery:

Q: Why get involved with this property in particular?

A: We feel a special affinity for this amazing site for many reasons, one being that it has historically been a distillery, and when the opportunity came up to work with the Seychelles Heritage Foundation on this project we jumped at the opportunity. As a Seychellois company we understand the importance of preserving our national heritage for ourselves and future generations. It is our hope that the collaboration between us and the foundation will achieve this.

Q: How do you plan on preserving La Plaine as a historic site?

A: The preservation comprises a major restoration programme as well as the development of cultural activities. On the restoration side, the main house is about 50% complete and will hopefully be finished towards the beginning of next year. We will also be restoring all the outbuildings, including the old storage sheds, bell tower and petit maison to the left of the main house during the course of 2010.
In addition we will be restoring the original furniture from the property, and this will be on display in the main house.

We will also be re-establishing the gardens, including the medicinal herb garden and spice garden.

We feel that the on-going maintenance of the property is crucial to the long-term sustainability of the project and so we have committed ourselves to employing a specialist maintenance team to look after the property in future.

Again, in conjunction with the Seychelles Heritage Foundation, we will have various cultural events that will be geared towards promoting La Plaine as a viable and interesting historical site. It is our hope that the exposure these events should generate will go a long way to promoting Seychelles’ history and culture.

Q: What activities will be available once the property is opened to the public?

A: There will be quite a few different attractions for visitors to the property. A 50-seater restaurant and rum-tasting bar will be opened in the Main House, along with a gallery featuring many of Seychelles’ top artists.

There will also be a shop where visitors will be able to buy arts, crafts and clothing and also various limited edition Takamaka rums that will be distilled on site.

We will also offer guided tours around the entire property, focusing on the historical significance of La Plaine and its family history; the visit will include a tour around the distillery focusing on the history of rum making, along with some rum tasting.

Q: How will this development benefit the local community?

A: It is a priority of Takamaka Bay to work with and actively improve the community which we are part of. The expansion of Takamaka Bay into this property will create an extra 20 jobs in the first six months of operation, which we are obviously very happy about.

In addition we have committed a percentage of all sales of Takamaka products to the Seychelles Heritage Fund, which will be used to upgrade other cultural and historical sites around the country.

Q: When will La Plaine St Andre be open to the public?

A: If all goes smoothly with the building and renovation work that needs to be completed, we will open in April 2010.

One of the primary objectives of the Seychelles Heritage Foundation is to promote the development of the cultural heritage industry of Seychelles, especially with regards to properties of heritage tourism significance.

It feels strongly that the involvement of the private sector, local communities and individuals in developing and managing heritage sites is essential for the preservation and enhancement of the sites and their appreciation by the public, by future generations and by visitors.

The Foundation sees the project at La Plaine St André as an encouraging development and relevant to the belief of the Foundation that innovative and quality development can co-exist and contribute to the enhancement or regeneration of historically sensitive properties and sites.  The Foundation recognizes that over the years much of Seychelles traditional cultural landscape has been affected by development, among other factors.

The Foundation sees, however, the significant opportunities which development can make towards preservation.  In this regard the SHF is presently involved in developing other heritage enhancement projects with private developers.

Seychelles has a rich architectural and built heritage, which despite its losses over the years, is as equally important to its image and its distinctiveness as its natural environment.  Preserving this heritage wherever possible is a major challenge.  The Foundation sees such development as being undertaken at La Plaine St André as critical in taking up the challenge.

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