Home Youth service The first Seychellois woman to run a Hilton-branded hotel in the Seychelles

The first Seychellois woman to run a Hilton-branded hotel in the Seychelles


(Seychelles News Agency) – For the first time, a Seychellois woman, Doreen Valentin, has been promoted to the position of hotel manager of a DoubleTree by Hilton hotel in the Seychelles, the Allamanda Resort & Spa, from March 1, 2022.

SNA caught up with Valentin to find out more about his journey to the top of a 4-star hotel and what it means to become a Hilton-branded resort manager in Seychelles.

SNA: Tell us about yourself and how did your career start?

DV: I grew up in the Port Glaud neighborhood where I attended primary and secondary school. Following that, I went to the NYS (National Youth Service) like most children at the time and from there I went to Polytechnic where I studied secretarial studies for two years. My first choice was the tour guide because I loved talking and tourists, and the others teaching and healing.

I always wanted to find a job quickly to be able to help my parents because we were a poor family. My parents had eight children – four girls and four boys – and I was the third child. Seeing my parents struggle so much pushed me to find ways to help them.

By studying secretarial studies, I learned a lot about administrative work. Once my studies were completed, I was hired as secretary of the Ministry of Education in the secretariat section of Polytechnique. I worked there for about a year and then moved to the Department of Employment which was still located at Unity House at the time. I was a secretary in the workforce planning section.

SNA: How did you get into the tourism industry and what were your aspirations at the time?

DV: The idea of ​​working in a hotel was always there and I was constantly looking for available positions. I applied for a position as secretary in the human resources department of Le Méridien Barbarons and it was then that I joined the tourism sector.

At the time I was about 22 years old. At no time did I think I would be where I am today. The first day I started working for Le Méridien Barbarons, I left at 9pm. Leaving work late has never been a problem for me. After only a month of work, my boss went on leave, leaving me behind to take care of everything for him. He kind of threw me into the deep waters, but I got through. Throughout my career, I have kept the same state of mind.

SNA: When did you join the Hilton hotel chain and what positions have you held?

DV: I started working with Hilton on October 6, 2006 – it’s one of the dates I will remember. I started as a training coordinator after leaving my position as human resources manager at the Coco de Mer hotel in Praslin. I really wanted to develop my training skills and left my higher paying job to join Hilton, a chain that invested heavily in me in terms of training.

In 2010, I moved to Namibia for two years with my then general manager who was going to open a hotel in Windhoek. He wanted me to train his staff there. My husband joined me as it was a family package. The time I spent there, doing certain things for the first time, gave me a new perspective and provided me with valuable experiences.

From Namibia, I was sent to the Hilton Abu Dhabi, where I spent a year and a half, still in HR and training. It was a very nice experience and I would not have returned to the Seychelles if it weren’t for personal problems. Upon my return to Seychelles, I became the cluster training manager for the three Hilton hotels in Seychelles at the time – Labriz, Northolme and Allamanda. I did it alone with the help of secretaries. Hilton trained me as one of two master trainers in Africa, and because of that, I travel a lot, which I really enjoy.

In 2014, I did HR for Northolme and Allamanda until end of March 2017, after which I was promoted to resort manager for Doubletree by Hilton Seychelles Allamanda Resort and Spa. When Hilton was looking for someone to fill the job, I was always HR and everyone who applied had something missing, and I asked my GM if I could do the job, and after some thought, I got the job.

The surprise came at the end of February this year when the vice president in charge of all Hilton chains in Africa told me that he was promoting me to hotel manager. It was a real surprise because I did not expect it. For a second I doubted myself but said yes. The main difference between a Resort Manager and a Hotel Manager is that I am fully responsible for the hotel, although I have a Regional Manager who proves to me the support I need.

President Wavel Ramkalawan personally congratulated Doreen Valentin on her new promotion to Hotel Manager at DoubleTree by Hilton Seychelles – Allamanda Resort and Spa. (Seychelles Nation) Photo License: CC-BY

SNA: What does it mean to become the first Seychellois woman to be promoted to the position of hotel manager of a major chain like Hilton?

DV: I did not focus on becoming the first Seychellois woman to hold such a position. I focused on taking every available opportunity that came my way, allowing me to do better. I am happy as a Seychellois and I just hope that other fellow citizens will take up these international challenges.

I know it’s not easy, but if you’ve developed a career with them like I have over the past 15 years, you get noticed. Allamanda is a four star hotel while the other two Hilton hotels in Seychelles are five star, and I manage 68 staff and 30 rooms. I’ve been in this role for a little over a month now, and I have to say there are challenges, but it’s been a fun ride as I’m still learning. As long as you are willing to learn new things, everything becomes easier. I now need to develop my finance and business skills.

SNA: What advice do you have for young people aspiring to run a hotel in the Seychelles?

DV: There are other Seychellois who are on the right track. The first thing I will say is that you will get discouraged along the way, but don’t give up. Moving to another hotel means the new workplace won’t really know you and you’ll be set back in your career path.

Stick to your job and by persevering through tough times, your superiors notice you. They will see that you are not here for the title or just the salary but for a career. Learn as much as you can from your boss so that when he moves on, you can take his place.

SNA: Many Seychellois are discouraged when foreigners are employed in high-level positions in international hotel chains in Seychelles. Why do you think these big chains recruit more foreigners than Seychellois?

DV: I don’t know what happens in all hotels, but I think an investigation should be carried out by the ministry of employment or the ministry of tourism to see what is causing this.

When I look at my business, Hilton gives us training at all levels. For my part, I made sure to take all the opportunities I had, but I see fellow Seychellois not doing the same, and I think that’s a barrier.

Some people allow their social problems or challenges to become an obstacle to their career. Many might say it was easier for me because I don’t have kids. When you want something, no matter the circumstances, you find a way to achieve it.

Foreigners who come to Seychelles leave their families behind and it is a struggle for them too, but they want to progress and, as such, make the sacrifice. Some Seychellois are comfortable and feel stable in the position they occupy but complain when a foreigner occupies a position that could have become theirs.

Valentin manages a four-star hotel with 68 employees and 30 rooms. (Doreen Valentin) Photo license: All rights reserved

SNA: Listening to you, I have the feeling that you would like to see your fellow Seychellois progressing higher in their careers. Are you going to mentor someone?

DV: I will not open any association, but at the Allamanda, I do a lot. I receive students from the STA (Seychelles Tourism Academy) and Shannon College and work closely with the tourism and employment department. I’m already automatically mentoring a young woman from Shannon College.

A development association in the Seychelles recently approached me and I told them that I was ready to help as a member. Wherever I can make a difference in someone’s life, I will. I am also a mentor for Hilton online. In my last position, I was being mentored myself while I was mentoring someone else and it builds more skills.

SNA: How do you reconcile private and professional life?

DV: When I was still with my ex-husband, my job was never a problem. He met me in tourism because he also worked in the field. We spoke the same language and we never argued because I came home late from work. We managed our time well. When we had to work, we worked hard, but when the hotel was less busy, we took our annual leave and spent time together. It was not a problem for us.

Now that I am alone, I work but make sure to take time for my family and especially for myself. I love working in my garden because it is therapy for me. I am satisfied with the cleaning and sometimes I work in the hotel garden with my staff. I love to sing and I released a gospel song which airs on SBC. I also sing in my church choir. I love to travel even though I’m claustrophobic and don’t really like planes.

SNA: How do you see your future unfolding?

DV: To be honest, right now I’m not saying I’m aiming to become a general manager. I am still developing my skills. Many opportunities will arise in Seychelles in the near future. There is an awning [hotel] which will open in 2024 in Anse à La Mouche which will be managed by Hilton.

Another hotel will also soon open on Ile Platte, as well as an airport hotel. There are many opportunities in Seychelles and even more abroad. More so, as Hilton offers many different hotel categories, with many new hotels under the brand opening around the world, the opportunities are therefore endless. We’ll see what the future holds.