Tintswalo Lodges expands niche portfolio

Tintswalo Lodges will be opening two new properties in October 2018

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Tintswalo Lodges will be opening two new properties in October 2018, with the launch of Tintswalo at Lapalala Wilderness in the Waterberg (Limpopo province) and Tintswalo at Boulders Manor, a private villa overlooking Boulders beach in the Cape Peninsula.
Completing the current Tintswalo portfolio is flagship properties Tintswalo Atlantic in Cape Town, as well as Tintswalo Safari Lodge and Tintswalo Manor House in the Manyeleti Game Reserve.

Family owned and managed, properties within the Tintswalo portfolio are defined by their stunning locations close to nature, warm hospitality and attention to detail, as well as the unique experiences on offer to guests. Lisa Goosen, CEO of Tintswalo Lodges said, “After operating Tintswalo successfully for the past 15 years, preparation meets opportunity and we are thrilled to announce the expansion of the Tintswalo brand.”

Tintswalo at Lapalala Wilderness, a family-friendly camp of six luxury tents sleeping up to 12 adults and four children with private plunge pools, will be opening in October 2018. Lapalala Wilderness is situated in the malaria-free Waterberg region, three hours’ drive (or 30 minutes flying) from Johannesburg. Tintswalo at Lapalala is one of only two commercial lodges within 44 500 hectares of untouched wilderness.

“It’s currently a tented camp and we will expand it later. It’s 100% off the grid so it runs only on solar, which is a huge advantage; in fact the reserve has no overhead power lines. The reserve has an incredible story because it was established for a legacy type project and it has a sustainable wildlife breeding program. We are excited to use this opportunity to educate guests and learners on endangered species and their breeding. Then there’s the Lapalala Wilderness School which is all about educating the youth on the value of big game and the benefits that eco-tourism can bring,” says the charismatic Goosen.

The Lapalala Wilderness Reserve was founded in 1981 by conservation champions, Dale Parker and Clive Walker. One of the largest private reserves in South Africa, it includes 27 km of pristine river frontage. With several Research and Breeding programmes of endangered wildlife, as well as its famous Wilderness School, it offers an engaging safari experience and is a champion of sustainable wildlife conservation with the vision to leave a legacy for generations to come.

“If you have a child who is raised to think that money comes from killing animals then that’s what they’re going to do. If you have a child that’s raised to think money comes from protecting animals then you teach them the value of conservation and eco-tourism,” insists Goosen.

Family first

Goosen is the daughter of highly successful property developers, and members of the board at Tintswalo, Ernest and Gaye Corbett, who have always been an inspiration in their family owned business, which started in shopping mall developments and then moved into luxury lodges.

But nothing was gifted to the dynamic Goosen, who had to climb her way up the ladder like anyone else. She says, “I came straight out of school and joined the family business, I was receptionist for a while and then every post that I moved out of I was responsible to replace and control, so in that I learnt a lot because I had to help the person. I had to make sure they knew what they were doing and then move onto the next position. I spent about two years as my mother’s PA, which was a baptism by fire, because she is the epitome of fire and that’s where I learnt a lot about business really. And then from there I moved through all the divisions, and at that point we didn’t have tourism products, we only had shopping centres and retail developments.”

Working within a tight family structure has its pros and cons, but it has been highly successful for Goosen and her extended family, allowing them to spend more time together and grow the business simultaneously.

“My mom and I are two peas in a pod, we work extremely well together. Obviously my husband and I work well together, we work together every day which is a very special relationship because most couples can’t do that. But we’ve managed to balance it; I am quite a strong personality and he’s dealt with that for over 21 years of marriage. My dad very much sets a vision and a tone, not a pace but a tone, there’s a difference, and then my mom is very good at control so we’ve really been able to balance that quite well. More recently, in terms of Lapalala, my sister has joined us too, which is quite a nice dynamic for me because the two of us work really well together. Lapalala is a legacy project for us as a family so with her joining the team it creates a wonderful ethos for us as a family business.”

Skills development

Skills development and training is central to any sustainable business and is a high priority at Tintswalo. There is also a low turnover of staff, who are highly motivated and leaders in their own fields. Goosen, a hands-on CEO, is all about enhancing the customer experience.

“In this industry, 90% of the staff that come in are untrained but that’s the beauty about tourism, you don’t need any level of training you just need a good attitude, a willingness to learn and a nice big smile on your face. For us it’s very important to recruit people that have the correct attitude and to then train them to be the best they can be at what they do.”

“We have extensive of in-house training programmes and we have a lot of longstanding staff. When we burnt down here [Tintswalo Atlantic] we retained every single staff member over eight months of rebuilding and then they all came back and started working again. I believe our confidence in them builds their confidence in us and so we build the team up like that.”

Tintswalo at Boulders

In October, Tintswalo at Boulders Manor will also be opening in Cape Town, surrounded by fynbos and with unobstructed views across Boulders Beach and its internationally famous colony of endangered African penguins. With a total of nine suites as well as a children’s suite, Boulders Manor will operate on a bed and breakfast basis, or as a private villa. Boulders is located on route to Cape Point, and like sister property Tintswalo Atlantic, it forms part of the Table Mountain National Park.

Goosen explains some of the background behind the new venture, “Yes that’s very exciting. It was by pure chance that we stumbled across this magnificent property in Simons Town. It’s close to the ocean, in fact we’ve got a couple of penguins in the garden at the moment which are really cute!”

In the past Simon’s Town would have been considered too far away from Cape Town to be a trendy getaway, but times have changed. “Yes, people thought it was too far away but now the pull of the penguins has created a lot more tourism in that area.

“SANParks have staggering numbers of people who visit that colony and every single time we go the walkway is just full of people. There are just so many people that want to see the penguins because there are only three places in the world that you can see them in the wild so it’s a huge advantage for us to be so close to them.”

Finally, Goosen explains her company’s edge over the competition in a tight market.

“We are strategically positioned in a very niche market. A) Our locations are always extremely special and B) our service is exceptional. We do not have a corporate environment at all, we are a family business so our staff is family and they make the guests feel like family. You have visitors leaving here after a two night stay and they’re crying because they’ve had such an amazing time because we’ve touched their souls.

My dad always talks about something called “theta” which is a Greek word which means life force. That’s what we believe we imbue in the properties that we own and run and that’s what we create in other people, we stir it up so that by the time they’ve left they are imbued with life force.” 

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