The Im­por­tance of Ho­tel Entertainment

At a re­cent ho­tel in­dus­try func­tion, I was asked which was THE best ho­tel I have ever stayed at. This has been a com­mon ques­tion over the years and one that has an easy an­swer. It’s also a ques­tion to which I en­joy watch­ing the re­ac­tions to my re­ply.

Tourism Tattler - - EDITORIAL - By Guy Stehlik.

I sup­pose I am ex­pected to men­tion the likes of ‘The Ritz Carl­ton in Shang­hai’ or ‘The Lanes­bor­ough in Lon­don’; how­ever, my de­ci­sion is not based on six-star fa­cil­i­ties or Miche­lin-rated restau­rants, nor is my ver­dict based on white-gloved wait­ers or state-of-the-art cock­tails. My choice is based on one thing – how the place made me feel.

I was very for­tu­nate as a young­ster to es­cape the doom and gloom of the Cape Town win­ter, whisked off to one of the prop­er­ties that my dad worked at: a high­light for me and my fam­ily. I will never for­get how it felt, from the an­tic­i­pa­tion of our stay to the ab­so­lute joy and delight dur­ing our stay, to the dis­ap­point­ment of it all end­ing. San Lameer on the KwaZulu-Na­tal south coast gets my vote. The best ho­tel in the world!


The true se­cret to hos­pi­tal­ity – be it at your home, in your of­fice or at a ho­tel – comes down to “how did we make you feel”. I can hon­estly say that I don’t re­call the qual­ity of the food or the style of the dé­cor in the room, but I def­i­nitely re­mem­ber the smell of the buf­fets and braais on the ter­race, the sight of the Zulu dancers and the sound of the African drums. The in­tox­i­cat­ing entertainment, leav­ing chil­dren and adults gasp­ing in delight. I re­mem­ber the staff and how they treated me, the hands-on man­ager – Mr An­dre Steyn – no­tice­ably in­volved, ev­i­dent even to a young boy of 8. We had a blast, and we cre­ated mem­o­ries. There was so much stuff to do! Kid­dies and teenagers were catered for and con­sid­ered with re­spect. Adults had an entertainment pro­gram too, so ev­ery­one was happy.

Re­sort man­age­ment is a tricky thing, be­lieve me. And we have, at times, found our­selves want­ing. It seems that mod­ern-day re­sorts, apart from the likes of Umh­langa Sands and Sun City, don’t nec­es­sar­ily give enough con­sid­er­a­tion to their entertainment. Mak­ing sure that they of­fer high-qual­ity entertainment, across all ages and in a safe and se­cure en­vi­ron­ment, should be a key driver.

San Lameer was al­ways busy, so you were never the only kid. We made friends at the disco and ‘played it cool’ with the DJ (who was al­ways top qual­ity, shipped in from Dur­ban). We had a games room, with the latest and great­est ver­sion of Don­key Kong or Space In­vaders, and a pool table that didn’t veer off to the left top pocket. We played vol­ley­ball on the beach and couldn’t take our eyes off the life­savers. On rainy days we were bun­dled off on shop­ping trips to Mar­gate (I kid you not!) The new ar­rivals or shy lit­tle ones hid­ing be­hind mom’s skirt were en­ticed by a team of entertainment spe­cial­ists, drum­ming up sup­port for ac­tiv­i­ties and get­ting ev­ery­one in on the fun. Our par­ents could rest their weary souls, know­ing that their kids were go­ing to have a blast.

The re­sult: a no-brainer for your next fam­ily holiday. We would al­ready start nag­ging my mom in the car re­turn­ing to the air­port if we could go back to San Lameer. And when she agreed, we wanted to know when! How soon?

Re­sort ho­tels have an op­por­tu­nity in this coun­try to rein­vent them­selves: what a ter­rific sales tool that entertainment could be! I do un­der­stand the chal­lenge – the cost and or­gan­i­sa­tion of entertainment in times when the ho­tel is not busy. My re­tort? Just be­gin! Re­mem­ber, the Pied Piper gath­ered the chil­dren of Hamelin one by one.

About the author: Guy Stehlik is the CEO and founder of BON Ho­tels. With an in­nate en­thu­si­asm and ded­i­ca­tion to the ho­tel in­dus­try, Guy's in­no­va­tive and cre­ative ap­proach has en­sured a successful and im­pres­sive ca­reer span­ning many years as an hote­lier...

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