17 Jan Looking Back At Lindani Lodges
In May this year, it will be twenty years since we hosted our first guest at the Stone House, Lindani. It is amazing that we got past that first hurdle as the guest was drunk for most of his visit and obviously enjoyed smoking in his bath – despite our ‘Thank You for not Smoking’ signs – as he left a cigarette burn-mark on the edge of the plastic bath!
So many memories – most of them wonderful – as we have grown from one to nine units, opening a new one almost every two years on average. From selling less than 100 bed-nights in our first year we now sell in excess of 5000. Hopefully we have also created many good memories for others, particularly families. In some cases, children who we have been told were conceived here, now return as teenagers.
How was this achieved by two crazy risk-taking pensioners who knew nothing about the hospitality business other than having experienced it through many camping trips through Southern and East Africa.
The answer is two reasons:
The first is our staff. From only a handful at the start, we now have 28 employees with a combined service of 314 years. They are virtually all from the local community and we have eleven second generation staff. They have been prepared to work hard, learn new skills – only one or two had any hospitality experience before joining Lindani – and most important of all they have been prepared to take on responsibility.
The second reason has been that we have been blessed by what has become a Lindani family of wonderful guests who love the bush and enjoy the privacy, comfort and freedom that Lindani Lodges offers. Their loyalty – some have been more than twenty times – encouragement and generous advice has given us so much pleasure.
In Lindani’s early years, there were no hiking and mountain-biking trails, no servicing, no game drives and guided walks and certainly no farm kitchen, picnic baskets, Sunset Suppers and hosting of special occasions. At the start, we made a pact that, if one of us ever recommended catering, the other one had a right to sue for divorce. Somehow we today have a very successful Lindani Farm Kitchen and we remain married after 55 years.
We wish all our guests a year filled with love, peace and joy for 2018.
Peg and Sam van Coller