When did you know you wanted to be a hotelier and in particular, a General Manager?
Ive always been in the hospitality industry ever since I was young. Waitering here, some bar work there and then working in hotels over in England. After matric I took a gap year and lived in Saltzburg for a year and that’s when the traveling bug bit me hard. When I came back to South Africa I completed a degree in Town Planning and Urban design, but my heart was always in the hospitality industry. There is just something about those odd hours and personal contact with fellow travelers I still today can’t get enough of.
Where have you served thus far as GM?
When I made my decision to finally come back to hospitality, I was very lucky to become part of the very cool Last Word group. I started at their Long Beach property in Kommetjie and then moved onto their Franschhoek location.
Have you had any mentor / mentors along the way & how important were they, to your development?
I have had mentors throughout my whole life from schoolteachers, coaches, friends who are actually professional speakers and to one of the greatest in Mr Fleck who had the vision of starting The Last Word. None of these people can be thanked enough for all the positive influences they have had on me and my career.
Have you ever had to open a hotel / lodge and would you say that requires a unique skill set? If not, would you be interested in doing so or not?
I had the “privilege” to reopen our Franschhoek hotel after a total interior renovation and extra rooms added. To say it was stressful is such an understatement. But by hook or crook it all just comes together in the end, but those last 48hours was the longest in my life. The duck on the water analogy here would probably be appropriate.
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?
That’s easy, sweet and simple. The staff are the backbone of any establishment and create the environment.
I imagine that being the GM of a property, in a small town, 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 bush lodge in a remote corner of the world. Can you share how one adapts to managing in different locations (environments)?
Franschhoek is a small town where everyone knows each other, and all the small businesses are in it together. So, making that call to a plumber or electrician late on a Saturday or Sunday night doesn’t have to be that daunting. (We all know things have a tendency to brake after business hours)
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?
Your favourite thing about serving, at your current post?
Meeting fellow likeminded travelers on a daily basis. Everyone has great stories to share if you are willing to listen.
How important is it, for general managers, such as yourself, to visit other properties?
Very important. It’s a good way to keep up to date with changes and what the new trends are as things are forever changing.
Interesting Insights about the General Manager:
What is your ideal or favourite vacation destination?
I have to say Mexico as that it where I’m planning on going to next.
What is your favourite wine?
That’s a coinflip between the Chamonix pinot noir reserve or the Rupert & Rothschild Baron Edmond.
What is your favourite dish?
A Vietnamese pepper crab dish I discovered on my last travels.
What favourite hidden gem, near your establishment, should we visit?
Franschhoek motor museum. Once you spend even a few minutes amongst those classic automobiles you start to realize that it’s not only about the cars themselves, but the art of design.
Best question you were never asked or a fun fact about yourself?
“Tarantino or Scorsese?”
This could take days to discuss.