Building a high-end accommodation venue (a €23.27m development), with the aim of growing the network across the country, is no easy feat – especially for an entrepreneur. The Regency hotel in Menlyn, Pretoria, in the exclusive Menlyn Node, was a massive project that took the combined expertise of a diverse team to grow from concept to completion.
It is a new South African brand, and 100% black-owned business, and I would like to share some insights into the launch experience as well as the local hospitality scene.
What challenges did you encounter?
The red tape that came with dealing with government and municipal departments was a massive challenge. Our country is big on transformation in theory, but practically I have found that this is not the case. Certain doors are not readily open to young entrepreneurs starting in business unless they come under the leadership of large corporate companies. This was ironic in light of the fact that our country has been on a drive to create employment and to empower South Africans to become entrepreneurs. We have quite a way to go. That said, I now have the requirements in place and would find it easier to execute the next time we launch a new hotel.
What pleasant surprises did you have?
My current management team came from well-established hotel groups. The fact that they left these groups was a massive compliment, as this meant they believed in my vision and trusted me with their careers. Being well received in the marketplace, our hotel is doing extremely well for a new kid on the block. The question I am being asked constantly is ‘when and where can we expect another one?’. I can only say: please watch this space.
Was this a full 360-degree revolution of your dreams as an entrepreneur coming true?
It was – much bigger than I thought possible. I started out as a trainee graduate in hospitality, and worked my way up to this point. It hasn’t always been easy, but it has always been fun and very fulfilling. Sometimes I think I might be dreaming and about to wake up. I really have created my own reality. Hospitality is an absolute passion that I love delivering on in terms of excellent service and guest experiences. I feel like I have taken all of my learnings and put this knowledge to use daily.
What is next for the Regency brand?
We are launching our 400-capacity conference centre in November. There are a few other short-term plans that are extremely exciting for us that will be revealed soon. We are looking into the viable areas for the next Regency apartment-style hotels – a very interesting process examining areas of growth and business movement in South Africa. It’s a wonderful time of opportunity and possibility for South Africa, and seeing more guests supporting local brands is really satisfying.