When did you know you wanted to be a hotelier and in particular, a General Manager?
After working in my first year as a commis chef at Wentworth golf club – and them reminded about the dream I had of my career – once I held the position of Food and Beverage director.
Where have you served thus far as GM?
Deputy GM at Twelve Apostles Hotel and Spa, GM at De Hoek Country Hotel, GM and Executive Manager of Operations at Kruger Shalati and Kruger Station.
Have you had any mentor(s) along the way & how important were they to your development?
Yes – indeed – I have 3 mentors that regularly check in with. They have played a big part in my development and brave discussion making.
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?
Yes I have – your mindset is different and has to change from construction, project planning, scenario planning, pre-training, offering development then changes over night to nurture and practical application of a never sleeping giant.
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?
You cannot do everything and you need to rely on the team around you and the skills which they were employed – Boss vs Leadership and ask for help.
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)?
You need to establish the supply chins whether is: Talent/Staffing, community services, all Opex requirements, food and beverage, suppliers, etc. the small town and remote areas have many small micro climates that need to managed like: Community involvement, BBEEE, Environmental Compliance and land management to name a few.
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?
Communication and being real in the desperate time that everyone in your team were living. Being flexible and putting your pride second.
Your favourite thing about serving, at your current post?
The unique property, the unique challenges that we face and the history we are writing in being a new concession in the National Park. The people are great! Animal encounters are always interesting.
How important is it for general managers, such as yourself, to visit other properties?
It is good and has served me well – although I think that staying up to date with world trends and other great service-related offerings needs to be unique developing journey which is often inspired by seeing how other do it and their energy often feeds your energy.
How is your establishment contributing to the greater good & making the world a better place?
Yes – employing 60% of the team as new green hospitality people throughout the property. 60% of that team is employed via the Land Claimant groups that Kruger national Park are engaging with. Upskilling and providing for more people than what we need – we trained almost 20% more staff than we needed which assist with the high youth unemployment for nearly 48% in areas around the Park and Mpumalanga. Using local supply chains. The local community are shareholders in the business with opportunity to buy more shares after a period of time. Doing local workshops as skill transfers from our designers to local artisanal crafters. Offering enterprise developments within our capabilities. There are a few more
Interesting Insights about the General Manager:
What is your ideal or favourite vacation destination?
Beach – Anywhere
What is your favourite wine?
I am interested in fine wines and all beverage – I don’t have a favorite for long.
What is your favourite dish?
Any dish made with thought and effort – dishes with balance, texture and complexity of cooking methods.
What favourite hidden gem, near your establishment, should we visit?
Kruger Station in Mpumalanga ranks up there with the best.
Best question you were never asked or a fun fact about yourself?
“Why would you choose this line of work?”
“Do you ever sleep?”
“How do you stay so patient and calm in chaos?” (opening day)
Fun Fact – love playing golf and breaking away. As a ex chef – with the time available – I enjoy cooking. My little time off is spent with the family.