When did you know you wanted to be a hotelier and in particular, a General Manager?
I was privilege growing up to have travelled extensively and was always amazed at the hidden doors, that as guest you couldn’t access in these hotels. I was also amazed that they staff somehow always knew who we were…..as a kid, this was like magic. My fascination grew and hospitality has been a way of life since then.
Where have you served roles in hospitality?
I have had the pleasure of working at a number of South Africa’s most prestigious properties, include The Saxon and The Cape Grace. More recently I was based in Dubai before coming to join Newmark Hotels and Reserves.
Have you had any mentor(s) along the way & how important were they to your development?
Have had a few and still do. They are believe are vital sounding boards to bounce ideas and challenges off. I have found that its also important to have mentors from across the spectrum and not just from hospitality.
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?
Have opened 6 hotels & lodges ranging from 10 rooms – 600 rooms will open another 3 before the end of 2022. You definitely find a love, excitement and thrill around opening properties. You need to be able to remain calm and focused under immense pressure and ensure that you can pull all the strings together at the right time.
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?
Foster and build relationships, while ensuring you stay true to who you are. The GM/MD/CEO play important roles in the business and your teams continuously look to you for the that guidance and support. This doesn’t however mean you are “the king of the castle” mentality still exists. This has changed over the last 10-15 years and I strongly believe that the new era of “ecosystem” management is far more effective than “ego” management.
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)?
I believe the principle’s of hospitality don’t change, regardless where you are based. It is certainly more challanging the further from the busy hubs you go in terms of supplies, trade, staff etc. What has worked extremely well for us, is the development of our people and creating the desire to join our business. This has yielded create results from a retention perspective. I also strongly agree with supporting local surrounds. Our suppliers etc who we look after, have undoubtedly been part of our successes which also then fosters a much stronger community spirit.
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?
I think it goes without saying that it was the most difficult time that we have ever been through. The key to our survival was based on our day to day normal operating model, which was focus on the granular. Each one of our properties faced different obstacles and challenges, each one requiring its own survival strategy. Bringing our GM team into the “war room” with us, allowed to be transparent, open and frank in the decision making and recovery strategies. I am very proud to say that all of our properties are stronger, more agile and more resilient than ever before.
Your favourite thing about serving, at your current post?
The ability to continue growing one of South Africa’s strongest growing hospitality brands, curate the culture and deliver memorable guest experiences.
How important is it for general managers, such as yourself, to visit other properties?
Vitality important. Knowledge is power, and if you don’t have the insight to see how others are doing it, then you are lagging behind,
How is your establishment contributing to the greater good & making the world a better place?
We have a number of CSI projects that our individual properties are involved with across the portfolio. We also will have created over 500 additional jobs in the hospitality sector in the next 2 quarters.
Interesting Insights about the General Manager:
What is your ideal or favourite vacation destination?
I love Bali internationally, and have a special place for the Northern Cape locally
What is your favourite wine?
Currently really enjoying the Jean Roi Cap Provincial Rose.
What is your favourite dish?
Best question you were never asked or a fun fact about yourself?
I have a twin brother….he is well trained and will answer to my name as not to confuse people.