When did you know you wanted to be a hotelier and in particular, a General Manager?
After my national service, I started a job as a waiter at the Bay Hotel in Camps Bay in 1991, I was promoted to a restaurant manager at Blues Restaurant also part of the group. I had no idea at that point where my career would go, but I decided to study business and did a Micro MBA. This background really assisted my career to develop. I worked my way up from there across many hospitality and tourism spheres.
Where have you served thus far as GM?
Country Hotels, Victoria & Alfred Hotel – Newmark Hotels, Silvermist Mountain Lodge, Dal group, Leeu Collection
Have you had any mentor(s) along the way & how important were they to your development?
Yes, they formed the basis of my skill set today.
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 opened the Pepperclub Hotel, over 400 rooms and we opened 2 weeks before the soccer world cup.
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?
Hospitality is about people. The front line customer facing employees are especially the ones that can help distinguish a hotel from its competitors. General Managers have a critical role in terms of leading, training and guiding their teams. Happy staff, Happy guests.
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)?
General managers need to be adept at assimilating into different situations and environments. Essentially the focus must be the job at hand not the place. This way, the respective tasks and goals can be set that are required to make and keep the hotel successful. It is very important for the GM in these scenarios to make time to meet the local community and most importantly, support it.
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?
Every adverse situation presents its own set of opportunities. It is important to not look at life and its happenings negatively, rather in a positive light. During the lock downs we stayed open and redefined the accommodation offering to fit quarantine business. This allowed us to keep afloat.
Your favourite thing about serving, at your current post?
The hotel is situated out of town and this presents its own challenges. I enjoy such challenges and those associated in growing a business that is relatively isolated in the northern Cape
How important is it for general managers, such as yourself, to visit other properties?
It is important for two reasons, firstly to understand the competition and second to network and create partnerships. Partnerships are like a team, they work better than individual drives. This is particularly true for small towns
How is your establishment contributing to the greater good & making the world a better place?
We work very closely with communities in terms of skills development, mentorship and trainee ship programs, we support the local music industry by giving platforms to those that do not have the opportunity to publicly showcase their talents, We support the disabled community program with donations of physical items that can be used in homes. We are working on a project that will give a platform for local artists to showcase their work in a Arts & Crafts space, this will not only create jobs, but create a focus point for tourism in the area.
Interesting Insights about the General Manager:
What is your ideal or favourite vacation destination?
South Island New Zealand
What is your favourite wine?
Andreas Shiraz 2015
What is your favourite dish?
Linguine pasta with scampi, garlic, chilli, olive oil and parmesan cheese, with toasted sourdough bread.
What favourite hidden gem, near your establishment, should we visit?
The Kokerboom Forest outside Kamieskroon.
Best question you were never asked or a fun fact about yourself?
I live life to the fullest everyday, Other than hospitality I am a wedding photographer, baker, fly fisherman, I collect bonsais, and love to travel.