Picca Laa became a twinkle in my eye in 1997 when I first visited The Gambia and fell in love with the people, the climate and the lifestyle. I resolved to find a way to have a reason to spend more time out there and met Paul my soon to become Gambian partner in Picca Laa.
Paul is literally his Christian name being educated in a catholic school although his Muslim name is Bakary and was already a successful businessman with his own tourism interests.
From the start of the project we agreed that, as far as possible, Tanji would benefit from the project by employing local people through-out and, going forward, we would train and support local hotel staff to meet the standards of service expected by European guests.
From that time all the labour was sourced from Tanji. All the breeze blocks were made on site by local tradesmen and the unique dalasi shaped accommodation unit was developed as an improvement on the traditional round house design as it was easier to build bigger accommodation units and to work to corners which meant better workmanship and less insect life than the traditional version!
Local tradesmen built the units using locally sourced materials like rhum palms for the roof chosen because of their high resin content which makes them less tasty for termites and other wood eating insects.
Gravel from the river was used to make the concrete for the foundations of the bungalows. The local community benefitted being paid for their efforts.
This means that guests get the best of all worlds – a great Tanji accommodation experience, local knowledge and friendly Gambian service.