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Samantha Croft - Making a difference
Samantha Croft’s ongoing highlight of a long career in the hotel industry, has been in the appointment as general manager of the Southern Sun Elangeni & Maharani hotel. She is delighted to be entrusted with the running of the property, which is a landmark on the Durban beachfront.
Croft said that pleasing guests in a competitive environment can be challenging and complex. However, while other hotels may have similar amenities and services, they cannot copy the ethos of the hotel. Croft is justly proud of the upbeat vibe guests experience at the Elangeni & Maharani hotel. As you walk into the building you can feel the warm ambience, which is created by the attentive team of staff. Frequent guests are sure to be greeted by name and enjoy this personal touch.
The staff understand the necessity of going the extra mile, often rearranging their schedules without being asked and without complaint to suit the needs of guests. Croft said, “Each group of guests is different and has its own demands. You can imagine what it is like in December when we are full. We have over 700 rooms and in peak season, when we have families staying here, we can accommodate up to 1900 guests, which includes children and teenagers.
In return, Croft ensures that the staff are well recognised and rewarded for their efforts. Croft values her team highly and she is able to relax knowing that they will take responsibility for their field of expertise. Croft added, “I don’t need to micro manage and I don’t have to spend an 18 hour day at the hotel. I try to surround myself with the best people and lead rather than manage according to the needs of situation and the person involved.”
Croft is also passionate about making a difference in her staff lives through a variety of programmes. The annual Cape Legends Inter Hotel Challenge 2016 is a competition for which she has a particular interest. This competition acknowledges and rewards the talents of young chefs and wine stewards as well as recognising the role of mentorship in the industry. Candidate Wine Steward Nonkululeko Sishi and Candidate Chef Qhubokuhle Ntshangase are representing Southern Sun Elangeni & Maharani hotel. Both have shown much initiative in the competition. Sishi won the wine steward section although she had never tasted wine in her life and Ntshangase won the cooking title. Croft said, “He cooked the best duck I have ever tasted which is a tribute to his upbringing in the KZN midlands.” The overall winners of the competition will be announced in July. However, what has impressed Croft the most is the support that the two winners have received from their teams as well as the other hotel staff who are justly proud of their achievements.
In the next few years, Croft would like to see more domestic tourist visiting the hotel, especially when not in the peak December season. She said, “Visiting Durban at other times is cheaper, less hectic and attractions such as uShaka Marine World are less busy, which has many advantages for holiday makers.”
The growth of the Durban economy is also important in stimulating more business visitors who stay longer in the City. The Elangeni & Maharani hotel already benefits from conference delegates but would like to see this market grow.
Croft is set to continue to be kept busy over the next two and half years as the hotel will start a refurbishment programme later this year
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