Alicia Rountree signed to Models 1 at the age of 17. She has written a travel book about her home country of Mauritius and most recently launched her own eco-conscious swimwear brand. The idea for Alicia Swim was an obvious one, having worn so many bikinis as a model, but never finding quite the right shape or print. Roundtree saw there was a gap in the market for something sustainable, elegant, and comfortable. Something that she could wear, but so could her mother, her sister, and even her niece.
What makes great swimwear? I believe that you should always feel good and confident in your own skin, and that great swimwear should feel like a second skin. Two things that shouldn’t be compromised are look and comfort, which can be achieved through the use of high-quality fabrics and timeless design. That’s all I wanted for Alicia Swim, and I’m thrilled to say that we made it happen.
How did your experience as a model inform your work now as a designer?When you work in the fashion industry you come across and learn from such a variety of professionals that it’s almost like school. I didn’t study to be a fashion designer, but I did live it and saw how it all worked behind the scenes. As a model, I tried on thousands of different swimsuits and noted what cuts were the most comfortable and flattering. I also learned what tiny details come between a suit that looks good and a suit that looks and feels good.
How do you design your prints and source your fabrics? I hand paint all of our signature prints with watercolours. Mauritius is my main source of inspiration, so naturally most of our prints came to life during visits to my birthplace. At Alicia Swim, we source high-quality recycled Italian fabrics, regenerated from fishing nets intercepted in coastal areas. Our resort accessories are made from a mix of cotton and silk, using 50 percent less water in the printing process. Mauritian craftsmanship is an essential part of our brand identity, so we use a local production team and local artisans.
As someone who I imagine has travelled a great deal—where are some of your favourite hidden gems? I have travelled a lot and been to some of the most incredible places in the world, but being from Mauritius—nowhere surpasses my home. The only place I really feel the same connection to is Menorca. The fact that only seven percent of the island is built up is so rare, so you really feel disconnected from the rest of the world!
You’ve done a collaboration with LUX*… How did that come about and tell me about the partnership? LUX* started stocking my collection in their hotels, which they found to be popular, so they asked if I would design a special print for the opening of LUX* Grand Baie, Mauritius. This collaboration is close to my heart, as I have known Paul Jones (LUX*’s CEO) since I was born!
What’s on your mood board at the moment? Bright colours! Next summer we will have some flashy colours as well as some new designs. We are also working on a new collaboration to create some mum and daughter looks, which are so fun to dream up. The original idea behind Alicia Swim was to create a collection for all the women in a family—from a grandmother, to a mother, to a daughter.
How does sustainability feed into what you do? Growing up on an island surrounded by wildlife and the ocean, you naturally respect mother nature. Sustainable brand management has always been a part of my identity, and I don’t know any different. This applies to my lifestyle, Alicia Swim and any projects I’m working on. I only collaborate with brands that share my ideals and want to work towards the same mission.
Founder of the Zannier Hotels group, Arnaud Zannier opened Nonna Bazaar in a farmhouse with typical Menorcan architecture, and surrounded by 400 hectares of cultivated land. His inspiration? Childhood memories of family gatherings in the south of France for lively meals around long tables facing the Mediterranean. The name “Nonna” evokes the family spirit, the sharing of stories, memories and ancestral recipes, while “Bazaar” is a reference to the “bazaaris,” the souks and markets that enliven every village in the Mediterranean.
Why did you pick Menorca to launch Nonna Bazaar? I’ve been visiting Menorca for about 10 years, and I was scouting out locations across the island to create a hotel as I was completely in love with it. As I spent more time there, I realised that it was in need of a new and modern restaurant concept based on, not just local, but also Mediterranean culture. The rural lifestyle, the farming estates and the Mediterranean Sea really helped inspire us.
How has your experience in the hotel industry informed Nonna Bazaar?Naturally, with 10 years in the hospitality industry and having launched six hotels on three different continents, I’ve gained a sizeable amount of experience and knowledge.
What makes a perfect meal? For me, what makes a perfect meal is a relaxing setting, so I can sit back and soak up the moment with close friends or family. I appreciate basic, simple, and honest food with friendly but professional service, alongside good entertainment and a beautiful setting.
I’ve read that you have a “relentless attention to detail” how is that reflected in Nonna Bazaar”? I believe that details are what sets a product apart. During the restoration of the farm in which Nonna Bazaar sits, we had to be meticulous so as not to destroy the energy and soul of the place. I made sure to keep as much of the patina, floor materials, and old doors as we could.
What is your favourite dish on the menu and why? I really love the “Cochinillo Asado,” which is a specialty from our farm where my team is focussing on rearing the best pigs on the island. I also really like the Moroccan Pastilla; it reminds me of my childhood, as we used to travel to Marrakesh every year.
You’ve said to succeed at a business you need to be passionate—why are you passionate about this projects? Yes, I am always passionate about all the projects I start, otherwise I wouldn’t do it. I love creating a concept and finding new places for others to enjoy.