AccorHotels CEO Sébastien Bazin and Mantis Group founder Adrian Gardiner at the announcement of the new partnership. Picture: Lou-Anne Daniels
When Adrian Gardiner and Sébastien Bazin talk about the fifty percent stake that AccorHotels has acquired in the Mantis Group one word keeps popping up. Both men continually refer to the DNA of the other's business as being central to the partnership.

It's not difficult to see why they believe that there is common ground.

* Both businesses offer high-end vacation experiences.

* AccorHotels has an enormous global footprint in the leisure industry with over 4 300 properties worldwide, while the Mantis Group offers luxury holiday experiences at hand-picked properties on every continent.

* Each brand has committed to a range of programmes including education, environmental awareness and conservation and the advancement of women.

* Both men have their finger firmly on the pulse of the changes within the travel industry and their partnership will enable each of them to capitalise on the strengths of the other.


There are also huge differences and IOL asked both men whether merging a global chain with a conglomerate that has managed to retain the aura of a family business would not put the smaller company at risk of losing that close-knit feel among both management and ordinary staff.

Adrian and Sébastien are adamant that Mantis will retain its autonomy while benefitting from the expertise and systems that AccorHotels brings to the table, and the passion with which they speak makes it clear that neither brand is looking to fundamentally change the way the other is doing business.

Sébastien speaks with great respect of Adrian's work in pioneering tailor-made experiences for his clientele and it is obvious that the two share a healthy respect for each other as businessmen and especially as leaders in their individual space in the leisure industry.

While Mantis is firmly rooted as a major player in the luxury travel industry in South Africa, AccorHotels has yet to claim its space here, but this acquisition is definitely about to change that.

When asked what the partnership means in terms of making some of these experience-based travel opportunities more affordable for the South African market, it was clear that this is something that both men had been considering for some time and we look forward to seeing the result, possibly in the shape of affordable hotels inside some of South Africa's game reserves.

IOL