Graduate Insight : Lara Dupré

Lara Dupré, graduated from our Bachelor’s degree in International Hospitality Management, has jumped into the entrepreneur adventure by creating and opening her boutique-hotel in Africa and more precisely in Abidjan, Ivory Coast. She shares with us her experience and african adventure since she left the Institut Paul Bocuse. 


LARA DUPRÉ, an hospitality entrepreneur at abidjan


Can you tell us about your career since graduating from Institut Paul Bocuse?

As soon as I graduated from the Bachelor in International Hospitality Management, with a specialisation in entrepreneurship, I opened my first lifestyle hotel in Côte d’Ivoire, Aichti Hotel, as co-founder and general manager.

A year later, I founded the company “IDC Consulting & Event”, specialised in designing bespoke events, as well as hospitality and food service consulting.

In October 2023, coming from a constant perspective of development and innovation, the opportunity presented itself to acquire a house with a unique character and turn it into a boutique hotel that will be opening in mid-April 2023.


Tell us about your establishment and your responsibilities today.

Today, I am the co-founder of the Palais d’Akwa, a boutique hotel that highlights the local culture and pays tribute to my great-grandmother, whom the founding father of the  Côte d’Ivoire, Felix Houphouet Boigny, called Mamie Akwa.

This hotel has been designed to create unforgettable moments and events. It is mainly aimed at the local community, so that they can have unforgettable experiences. We are going to design the first pop-up restaurants in West Africa so that our guests are completely engaged in a totally immersive atmosphere. Large gardens and spaces dedicated to events allow us to host festivals, weddings, birthdays and much more.

This place is a gathering point for the local and international communities, in a festive and colourful atmosphere that pulses to the rhythm of the city of Abidjan.

What challenges have you encountered?

I never talk about challenges but rather about experiences. Initially, you need to build a team of “warriors” who share your goals and vision. Once the plan is defined and shared by all and the basic principles are established, you must have the courage to overcome all obstacles to progress together, regardless of the difficulties you encounter.


What are you most proud of today?

  • Creating new projects every year that have an impact on the tourism sector in Côte d’Ivoire.
  • Launching innovative projects where I transmit a vision and where my teams believe – as much or even more so than me – that the impossible can be achieved.
  • Transmitting my knowledge acquired thanks to Institut Paul Bocuse through my work with students
  • Creating jobs and valuing the work of my employees, because it is thanks to them and also for them that I have to fight and continue to create, so that they can constantly learn and evolve in their fields.
  • Getting recognition from our customers who are for the most part loyal ambassadors for our brands.


How did Institut Paul Bocuse allow you to achieve this result?

Thanks to the values transmitted and the quality of the professionals who are experienced and passionate.


Do you have a particular memory/ anecdote to tell us about?

In the fourth year, during my specialisation in entrepreneurship, I was coached by my mentor, Mr Bach, for the realisation of our graduation project, which was for my part the design of the Aichti hotel. Four months later, I opened the hotel. It’s concrete, we’re not just talking about a project but about action. He coached me afterwards and continues to guide me today on certain strategic decisions to be taken for development.


Do your training and your path at Institut Paul Bocuse continue to open doors for you today?

Mr Pélisson, in his speech at the time of the death of Paul Bocuse in front of the Château d’Écully, on 22nd January 2018, told us that we must continue to fight to make Monsieur Paul’s star shine. So yes, this training has had a lasting effect on me and continues to open doors for me every day.


What is your ambition for the future?

My ambition has not changed since 26th October  2016, when our Talent Manager at the time asked us to write our dreams on a piece of paper (photo of my dated sheet attached): to open a hotel chain in Africa to contribute to the development of my continent and position tourism on another level.

What would you like to say to students who want to get started in this industry and these professions?

Have dreams that scare you and above all the courage to make them come true. In 2016, when I was writing down this dream, I was convinced that I would succeed one day, and I fought for four years, during the various internships that I had to do around the world, to excel in all the operational departments of the hospitality and food service industries. There are no miracles, you have to be passionate and work with consistency and discipline.

We often says it, the Institut Paul Bocuse reveal talents and give the students the keys to fulfil their dreams. Lara realise days after days a bit more her dream. You also wish to create a professional life that suits you ? Learn to dream big by our side with our Bachelor’s degree in International Hospitality Management.