31 Aug

September 2018 Newsletter


August came and went, (as it usually does) and proved to be one of our busiest months, save of course the Easter/Christmas recesses. Never a dull moment. It would be reasonably safe to say that despite the negative forces at play out there, The Nest continues on a path of growth.

This to my mind begs a question. What constitutes a great hotel? This of course is the ultimate subjective question. Obviously it depends on your point of view coupled with your expectations.To appreciate this question fully, one might find it helpful to delve briefly into the history of the ‘hotel’ or perhaps, the ‘Inn’. Personally, I believe the birth of the real Inn occurred in the United Kingdom and Europe. In fact, history tells us that the Romans built mansions to accommodate travellers and the Greeks built Thermal Baths that included accommodation for those looking for a little rest and recuperation, and a spot of high jinx too, I’ll be bound. The Christian Bible tells us that Mary and Joseph were turned away from an Inn as a result of it being fully booked, (Perhaps the Pharisees were holding a convention that night.). Pharisees spent an inordinate amount of time on that sort of thing!

During the Middle Ages, Monasteries and Abbeys provided accommodation for the traveller, and in fact, in Basle Switzerland, an Inn, L’Auberge Les Trois Rois, exists that dates back to that ancient time.

I still maintain that despite all that, the true concept of hotels began in England’s Land. Weary travellers would ask a friendly farmer for a place to sleep, and would generally be given the hay loft in the barn directly above their horse as a place to rest. One doesn’t have to go too far to see how things will have progressed. The hay loft would have given way to a room in the house, strategically placed far from the farmer’s comely daughters and his bosomy wife. It didn’t take long for said farmer to realize that more money could be had by offering a bowl of stew and a cup of Mead. It was the duty of the Inn Keeper to offer not only board and victuals, but safety as well as those were treacherous times (not much has changed). He would patrol his property armed with the English version of a Knob Kerrie also known in Ireland as a Shillelagh with which to despatch the unwanted non- paying visitor. Needless to say, bilking wasn’t big in those days!

Great hotels are as I said, a matter of personal opinion. For me it is all about the overall experience as opposed to only being about bling. The Waldorf- Astoria in Park Avenue, Manhattan (New York) is I suppose commonly believed to be the finest hotel in the world. With over 1400 rooms, and having been around since 1931, this is a hotel that has certainly stood the test of time. It is currently closed for a three year renovation and refurbishment. Other greats occur across the globe, such as The Pininsula in Hong Kong, Raffles in Singapore, The Dorchester in London and of course The Conrad Hilton in Chicago. South Africa has her fair share such as The Silo at Cape Town’s Waterfront, The Oyster Box in Umhlanga Rocks and Singita Lodge in Mpumalanga as just some examples.

But hotels are, I have always believed, to be living breathing organisms – (I had one of those once!). It matters not whether the place has room service, speciality bars and restaurants or a dodgy concierge that can get you ‘anything’. A hotel is a place where comfort, recognition, friendliness, service and, like the ‘jingle’ of the TV series ‘Cheers’, suggests. ‘Where everybody knows your name’, even metaphorically speaking.

The Nest Hotel is undoubtedly unpretentious. As an ‘Old Lady’, perhaps her knickers are but bloomers and their might be the odd wrinkle here and there, but as a place of comfort, peace, tranquility, hospitality and great cuisine all wrapped in a ‘hug’ of the most beautiful mountains in the country, wouldn’t you agree that this could just be by its own definition, ‘A Great Hotel’?

My own entry into this most fascinating profession was spurred by the very fact that there is simply no business on Earth that has so much scope for the expression of an unlimited amount of imagination. Tourism is the fastest growing industry in the world. Statistics show that ten tourists create a job here in South Africa. The greatest pity of it all is that it would seem that the only people who do not recognize this fact are the politicians and the unemployed.

Despite the challenges of daily life, it would be true to say that The Nest, now in its 85th year continues in an upward spiral while maintaining its olde worlde charm. Long may that last.

So whether your need is a conference, a nuptial, an amicable divorce or simply just a break from the rigors of life, The Nest does it best.