By ERIC PHIRI
Zanami Lodge was first established in December 2007 with the ANC Conference (Polokwane) delegates as their very first guests, including the then Minister of Trade and Industry Arlec Erwin.
They were a fairly intimidated crowd, but they were very impressed and felt at home .It was only then, that I suddenly realized we were in business, all along it had felt like a dream.
The guesthouse started off with six rooms; by 2009 Zamani Lodge had fourteen rooms, all exquisitely and tastefully furnished. By June 2010, an additional sixteen rooms had been added bringing the total to thirty rooms. These include a self catering unit, six executive rooms and two conference facilities.
Zanami is an Exclusive guesthouse in the heart of Polokwane. We pride ourselves in proving quality accommodation, by paying attention to detail offering a very good personalized service to our guests and constantly improving our service levels.
My inspiration comes from the love of travelling and the love of hosting people at home. I was lucky enough to have been able to travel to many places in y life time, and I was always amazed at the beauty and creativity that I came across, and secretly wished that somehow I was part of that creation.
Travelling allowed me the opportunity to open up my mind to the possibilities that usually lie right before our eyes and are unexploited. It wasn’t until one day late at night that my family and I arrived at a favourite hotel destination without a booking, only to find out that they were fully booked. We were referred to a nearby guest house, and much to my relief I realized that I didn’t need money to build a hotel. I genuinely didn’t know that one could do “accommodation” on a small scale without requiring huge amounts of capital as is required in a hotel setting. I have never looked back, nor am I about to anytime soon.
Did you ever dream of becoming a guesthouse queen at any stage?
I have always dreamt of having my own establishment for such a long time, and not just any establishment but a beautiful one at that. I have dreamt of having one of the best guest houses available. As we travelled on holidays, my kids would get tired of me talking about what I would do if I owned a guest house or some resort of some ort. They would roll their eyes and say “here we go again!” I have never entered a hotel, resort or entertainment place without mentally re-arranging their décor in a way that makes sense to me.
My qualifications are not tourism related, I have just got a huge passion for tourism and my experience as a traveler helped in the sense that I vowed to eliminate the things that irritated me on my trips and to improve on the things that I found to be value adding and exciting . I have a Diploma in Marketing: B Com degree in Business Management, and a Masters in Business Leadership.
Do you think it’s important to choose the right place?
I think it is extremely important to choose the right location in this industry; you first have to decide who your market is? Adventure tourists will want your business away from the city centre in some bushy mountainous place because it’s what they want to experience. Zanami Lodge is aimed at the Business traveler who wants to qualify accommodation. It was imperative that the lodge was situated not too far from the city centre. We had to find a location that was not too far from CBD but also in a quiet location so that the quests could relax after a long day at work.
What do you do to make people see your guest house as the best?
At Zanami Lodge we try our best to treat our guests with the utmost respect and to offer them a personalized service. We also pay a lot of attention to detail; it’s the little things that have the potential to irritate a guest, and our décor that is like no other and it has helped create our own distinct “Zanami Brand”
What does it take for one to own a guest house?
It takes a lot of guts, sheer determination and a lot of hard work to own a guest house and to succeed it. You also need to be passionate about the hospitality industry and to have a dream. When you dream, dream big! It takes the same amount of energy to dream big or small.
Being a provincial ETEYA finalist: What do you premise the Limpopo people?
I promise the people of Limpopo that I will fly the Limpopo flag high, my staff and I are committed to offering quality service levels to our guests. Zanami Lodge will promote Limpopo Province at any given by working in collaboration with local tour operators and other guest house owners.
How do you feel about representing the province?
I feel very honoured and humbled to represent Limpopo province. The province has a lot of good products and the competition was very tough, but to have made it this far, was just amazing! Unfortunately it also means a lot of hard work for e and my staff. The fact that we won the provincial ETEYA award doesn’t mean we can now relax because the people who are going to come to Zanami Lodge will expect a certain quality level of service, and this is going to keep us on our toes for the foreseeable future.
How many workers do you have?
I have 14 staff members, three of these are office bound including a manager, and the rest are operational stuff. They are a wonderful dynamic team, and it is strictly because of them that I became the provincial ETEYA finalist. I am very proud of them all.
What are your future plans in the industry?
We have recently added an additional 14 rooms to increase our capacity, so in the interim we have embarked on a marketing campaign to market ourselves to those organizations that couldn’t stay with us due to a lack of capacity. In the future, we aim to increase our conference facilities to cater for big groups and to host weddings, Banquet dinners and other events. Eventually I have my sights at the coast; it would be nice to have a hotel by the seaside.
Are you married? How do you juggle family and work?
I am married to a very wonderful and supportive husband, Francis. He is my friend, my rock and pillar of strength. He has allowed me the space to grow o a personal and spiritual level. Zanami would have remained a dream had it not been for his support and for that I am eternally grateful.
Juggling work and family hasn’t always been easy; my job requires long hours and sometimes late nights. Luckily my family understands that sometimes I have to be away from home and they have been supportive throughout. However I also priorities them so that the first opportunity I get time off, they know that they come first no matter what!
What can you say about the ETEYA awards?
It has been a steep learning curve for me to be part of the ETEYA awards. They don’t give it to you for free! The organizers and judges are very passionate and thorough about tourism. ETEYA also launches one’s business onto higher platform both nationally and internationally, for me the journey has just begun and I am looking forward to the ride.
For info contact
Lorraine Chitate: 0828546704