There was huge jubilation at Liz at Lancaster after Thursday night. Zac and Liz attended the Lilizela Awards dinner on 22nd October at the Sandton Convention Centre and walked away with the national, yes …. NATIONAL, Lilizela award in the category 4 star guesthouse. What an honour and achievement! The Lilizela Awards are South Africa’s National travel and tourism awards run under the auspices of South African Tourism. For all of us at Liz at Lancaster, winning the Gauteng Provincial Award was exciting enough but then to come home with the National Gold trophy was the final goal realized. So many congratulations are due to all at Liz at Lancaster who have made this possible.
As Liz has said often – we don’t have sea views, mountain scenery, big five game drives or scenic wine routes ‘on tap’ (forgive the pun); we don’t have 5 star chic contemporary interiors, infinity pools, rolling lawns or plush white cane patio furniture; our guesthouse was not custom built but has grown ‘like Topsy’ in quite idionsyncratic ways; we are located in a suburban Jozi property – nothing spectacular … except that is, … for the team at Liz at Lancaster.
They really do go the extra mile. Apart from the fact that we entered the competition (if you want to win the Lotto, you have to buy a ticket), we think that the reason that we won the Award in our category is really down to the people at Liz at Lancaster, who all bring different skills and capacities to enhance the guest experience. Superb breakfasts to order are prepared by Zac who has also provided on-site transport and has overseen all small maintenance issues; Catherine along with Zac, manages guests needs with a quiet grace and competence; laundry and housekeeping is done under Thandie’s almost obsessive eye (backed up by Rose); the legendary garden is nurtured by Alick; and Liz answers all booking enquiries and gives insider information as to what to do and see in Joburg. So many guests comment on how every detail is seen to, every need answered and always with as much care and personal yet unobtrusive attention as possible. Amid this celebration, the sad news for us, and for all our guests, is that Zac is leaving us at the end of October to start a new phase in his life as an entrepreneur back home in Zimbabwe, with his family. But that is for another blog post – suffice to say – ‘Hamba Kahle Zac. You have no idea how much you have enriched our lives and how sorely you will be missed by colleagues and guests alike’. The good news for us is that Tagala Mlilazi will be stepping into Zac’s role as of the beginning of November … BEEG shoes to fill! But we know Tagala will bring different skills and talents and we welcome him on board.
With three staff all living on site – Liz, Catherine and Zac (soon to be replaced by Tagala), there is always somebody at the other end of the intercom to answer guests’ queries and needs – another service perk. And all the team have personal pride in, and commitment to, their work. We really do feel it is in this, that our success lies.
Minister of Tourism, Derek Hanekom who presented the Lilizela Awards, gave a wonderfully motivational speech about recognizing the role of the players in the tourist industry and how it is the interaction with local South Africans that makes tourists’ experience in South Africa generally exceed all their [the tourists’] expectations. We loved his slightly wicked tongue- in- cheek reference to the Minister of Sports’ blunder (about South African teams losing their games/matches), by commending tourism players at the Lilizela Awards on all being …. ‘winners’. And yes, we think that it is thanks to Liz at Lancaster’s winning team that we won this award. Congrats to you all.
The evening was fantastic. It was glamorous, glitzy with lots of energy, optimism and recognition – just what we in the industry needed after a really tough year. Thank you SA Tourism and all involved. Held at the Sandton Convention Centre, the organization was flawless – from notifications about parking options given the October-month eco-mobility restrictions; to the registration and table seating; to entertainment; to the entire flow and organization of the evening.
The entertainment was stunning with The Spoil (the amazing South African acappella soul and jazz band) being the highlight; the ambience and decor was excellent; the speeches, concise and to the point; and to cap it all – fabulous food and great company. Liz sat next to charismatic dynamo Cassilda Ntsane Government Sales Manager at Protea Hotels. What a breath of fresh air!
It was an evening that made us proud to be part of the South African Tourism industry. Thank you again to all who made this evening so special.
So all in all it was a great gathering of those from all over South Africa who are all committed to the local tourist industry.
We look forward to the 2017 Lilizela Awards.