INTO THE LIGHT

There is a beautiful tranquil nature reserve in an exclusive Wilderness Lodge tightly nestled in Mount Savannah

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This serenely exquisite place has transformed the life of General Manager, Karin le Roux and the guests who have had the pleasure of spending time there. Le Roux, hails from Jan Harmsgat Country House, Swellendam, in the Western Province, where she worked for five years.

In July 2018 she was transferred to Sibani Lodge from Swellendam. The move to Johannesburg with its natural challenges, such as, a different climate, some dry lips and location change was rather daunting in the beginning. However, the fact that hospitality was in her blood made it all possible. Le Roux shared more about her journey and the paradise spot she is currently managing.

Sibani Lodge is an exclusive Wilderness Lodge nestled in the idyllic nature reserve of Mount Savannah. Can you tell us about your background prior to being the General Manager of the lodge?

I am originally from Cape Town and I started out at Jan Harmsgat Country House in Swellendam in the Western Cape. I worked there for five years and was then transferred to be the General Manager here at Sibani Lodge, in July 2018. Although moving to Johannesburg has been a major adjustment for me; I have been in hospitality my entire life. The blood in my veins is hospitality, which makes being the General Manager of such a breathtaking lodge amazing.

As General Manager of the lodge, what is a day in your life like?

Anyone who finds themselves in my position, where we take care of guests and ensure that they are satisfied, would agree with me in saying the guests are my number one priority. My entire day revolves around ensuring that they are happy and enjoying their experience at the lodge. My goal is to ensure that they have the best safari experience ever. Although my guests are my main priority, a day in my life also includes a lot of administration, mainly to ensure that our standards are upheld and consistent. I am also involved in the general up keeping of the lodge and take care of the staff and planning of the food menus.

Is the accommodation at the Sibani Lodge specifically categorised?

Yes, we have Sibani Lodge, which has five rooms at the lodge itself. Sibani Hills, a 5-bedroom villa which is mainly allocated for large groups of people, although these rooms can be booked out separately. We also have the Sibani luxury tents, which are three kilometres from the lodge. There are four tents at this accommodation site, which includes a beautiful Boma—where all the food is served from breakfast to dinnertime. It’s one of our most luxurious accommodation sites as everything guests may need is right there for them. Every room has its own bathroom with bedroom that perfectly compliment it, along with an array of animals on your doorstep and breathtaking views.

Our most recent accommodation site, which we’ve added to Sibani Lodge, is Sibani Urban Safari tent camp. It is the perfect getaway for a family who would like to experience what the bush has to offer, but do not have their own gear. Everything guests would need for a camping trip is at their disposal, making this camping experience unique.

What sets Sibani Lodge apart from its competitors?

We pride ourselves in offering our guests a home away from home experience. We’ve included family style cooking into our kitchen, where we offer each member of our kitchen staff the opportunity to share a family traditional meal into our menu. We also have the Boma, where we specifically host braai evenings—where our staff show the guests how to make traditional pap and the chakalaka that goes along with it. All these elements allow our guests to sit back, relax and have a real family-like breakaway. We’ve also introduced interactive cooking sessions, where guests are able to help with the preparation of their own meals. This adds to making guests getaway experience far different from any other.

Being a female in a male-dominated world of business, what has been your greatest challenge while being the General Manager of Sibani Lodge and how have you overcome it?

Although it’s tough in this industry, I feel as if females these days no longer feel the need to step back in order for a male to take charge. Yes, it may be tough and it is at times, but my drive, motivation and passion makes any challenge I face in this industry worth it in the end.

Physically there are things I do not have the strength to do on my own, such as changing a flat tyre and taking guests on game drives.

But I never feel the need to remove myself from the situation completely, because I am a female.

Please share with us some details regarding the Amplify African Summit, which was recently held at Sibani Lodge?

I’ve had the privilege of catching up on a few of the beautiful stories from powerhouse women that were shared that day. The event was held at the Boma area, right in the middle of the Savannah with amazing speakers, such as Amy Kleinhans (owner of Sibani Lodge and former Miss South Africa), who shared her journey. It was emotional yet powerful. I left the event feeling so inspired by the number of women who were present sharing their stories of determination in making their chosen career paths a success. We catered for 60 women and we hope in future to have a lot more women present, as there is so much to take away from the Amplify African Summit event.

What is Sibani Lodge doing to ensure that it successfully integrates technology?

We are very focused on our guests having the most amazing experience, but before they arrive we try to find out as much information about them as possible in order to meet their needs. I’ve implemented a WhatsApp group where I add all the guests checked in, in order for us to have a clear line of communication. Mainly because some accommodation sites are quite far apart, this helps me help guests with any queries, concerns and requests. We are thinking of creating an App for guests to be apart of Sibani, however they will only be active once they have checked in. But, whenever anyone would like to see what’s happening at the lodge they are able to log in as a member on the App and stay informed.

We feel this is the best way to connect with guests who have previously visited the lodge in order for them to remain up to date and informed with what is happening on the ground at Sibani Lodge.

What can we look forward to seeing from Sibani Lodge in the near future?

We are constantly growing and learning here at Sibani. We will in the future develop more low-footprint accommodation units. This is very important to us at Sibani—to care for the environment.

Sibani is in the Cradle of Humankind listed as a World Heritage Site. Sibani means “into the light” so in future, we hope that Sibani Lodge’s beauty can shed some light on Johannesburg. 

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