When did you know you wanted to be a hotelier and in particular, a General Manager?
Cameron– My interest in hospitality started towards the end of my high school career when I was unsure of what I wanted to do after high School, but the one thing I knew for certain was that I always enjoyed people and doing things for others as I got great joy out of seeing people happy especially when I had a part to play in their happiness. It was then when I realized that I wanted to be a hotelier and one day a GM and have my own team of hoteliers that I could one day mentor and teach to become the very best of themselves and succeed within hospitality.
Barney – Four Years into my working Carrier I realized I had a passion for the Hospitality and Food industry, and decided I had to make the change.
Where have you served as GM thus far?
Cameron – This is actually my very first General Manager Position since starting in the industry in 2019
Barney – Ndaka Safari Lodge, Bosch Hoek Golf and Country Estate & Mount Camdeboo Private Game Reserve.
Have you had any mentor(s) along the way & how important were they to your development?
Cameron – I have had a great number of excellent leaders through out my Journey in hospitality that have taught me and helped me get to where I am today. But currently I am blessed to have my partner Barney Swarts who is a great mentor to me. He is always there for me as a my fellow GM and is always pushing me to succeed.
Barney – Absolutely had mentors along the way, not always directly in relation to Hospitality, but they have helped shape me into the leader I am today, I continue to learn and grow from anyone along the way.
Have you ever had to open a hotel or lodge and would you say that requires a unique skill set? If not, would you be interested in doing so or not?
Cameron – I have not opened a lodge or hotel no! and I’m sure it’s not for the faint hearted and requires a lot of skills, hard work and dedication. I would however be interested to take on such a challenge.
Barney – I have yes, at Bosch Hoek I was the GM of the Golf Club and then built a 12 Bed Boutique Country Lodge and Wedding Venue on the Golf Course, and then was the Operations manager for the entire property. It is not an easy task at all, however I would recommend it as it has helped me learn a lot of hands on experience which is priceless.
From the first day you served as a GM, until today, you must have learnt so much. If you could share any one piece of sage guidance, to new GM’s, what would it be?
Cameron – Make sure that as the GM you set by example, always be prepared to do the same tasks that you expect from your staff. Remember even though you hold a GM tittle, You are no better than your juniors, A General Manager is the leader of his/her team and respect is earned not demanded.
Barney – Throughout your career people are going to Talk, Question your abilities, Objectives and Goals…..LET THEM, learn to brush it off Rise above them, you are the only person who knows your end Plan and what is required to get there.
I imagine that being the GM of a property, in the bush, would come with different dynamics to being the GM of a property in a big city. The same would go for managing a beach property on an island or a hotel, in a small town etc … can you share how one adapts to managing different environments?
Cameron – Having worked in both a big city and bush environment, being a all rounder is important in both environments.
Barney – Being a great All-Rounder is a must in the Bush, this would also be a fantastic attribute in any Hotelier environment.
Being the general manager of a hotel, during the Coronavirus Pandemic, must have been very challenging. What was the key to survival and did you gain or learn anything from the adverse situation?
Cameron -it is with no doubt that the covid pandemic has had a huge impact on the tourism industry and has been tough for everyone, luckily I only came back into the industry after lockdown, but even then it took a lot of hard work and effort . If you put in the hard work, you will reap the benefits, and it is clear that we are seeing a change in the industry and a light at the end of the tunnel.
Barney – During the hight of the Pandemic I was not in the Hospitality industry, however felt the heat of it when going through the application process, as it was evident there were a lot of people that had lost their jobs and were also seeking, I do see a silver Lining and international Guests have started flooding in.
Your favourite thing about serving, at your current post & the value of working as a management couple (as opposed to being alone, in the role)?
Cameron – Is seeing the property develop more and more each day. And the impact we have as a management team not only on the property as a hole but on our staff too.
Barney – My favourite thing about my current post would have to be the support from Newmark and the Trust by the Owners instilled upon us to make much needed changes. The Value of being a Management Couple is having that support and understanding from Cameron as he knows exactly what I’m going through and dealing with, often as a GM you have to deal with a lot of problems and stress solo, we are fortunate enough to.
How important is it, for general managers, such as yourself, to visit other properties?
Cameron – Connecting with fellow General Managers at other properties is important in building relationships and creating a large support structure.
Barney – Visiting other properties is a huge eye opener, often you and your staff fall into a fall into habit and routine, seeing the way other properties operate inspires you to make a change or improvement.
How is your establishment contributing to the greater good & making the world a better place?
Cameron – creating a wellness programme that focuses on the development of staff wellbeing and covers many aspects from social wellbeing, to physical wellbeing, and even financial wellbeing.
Barney – Gradually we are going completely off Grid, along with Recycling drives across the property.
Interesting Insights about the General Managers:
What is your ideal or favourite vacation destination?
Cameron – New York – I have always wanted to experience a white Christmas in New York
Barney – Maldives and Thailand
What is your favourite wine?
Cameron – A simple Rose
Barney – Kanonkop Kadette & Cederberg 5th Gen Chenin
What is your favourite dish?
Cameron – My Mums amazing peppermint crisp tart & then definitely Sushi
Barney – Pizza
What favourite hidden gem, near your establishment, should we visit?
Cameron – The Owl House in New Bethesda
Barney – The Town of Nieu Bethesda
Best question you were never asked or a fun fact about yourself?
Cameron – I am full of mysteries
Barney – Nothing comes to mind, guess I’m still waiting for the best question to be asked