KZN shines at national tourism awards

20 November 2019 | Web Article Number: ME201917231

Commerce & Trade

KWAZULU-Natal hospitality establishments proved their mettle at the seventh annual Lilizela Tourism Awards held at the Sun Square Arena in Pretoria recently.

The Lilizela National Awards is the biggest and only countrywide celebration of tourism excellence in South Africa.

Tour operators, lodge owners, tour guides, game rangers, hotel chains, transport companies, excursion organisers and the like who epitomise product and service excellence were judged among 32 categories of awards.

Mahai Caravan Park Royal Natal in Drakensberg was declared a winner in the Caravan & Camping category. “Not many people are aware of this category and to be acknowledged for a job well done is quite an honour,” said Welile Mtshali, Hospitality Standard Manager, Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife under which Mahai falls.

“In our quest to deliver an exceptional visitor experience, we are hard at work to upgrade our facilities to meet the South African Grading Council requirements for a 3-star rating.”

She said the establishment was popular because of its value for money and ability to accommodate large families and that its busiest months were during summer season from October to February.

Pleasant Places Country Guest House, centrally located in the Midlands Meander, won in the Country House category. Philippa Dreyer who co-owns the guesthouse with her husband Phillip Dreyer said she was delighted to be recognised for their effort in ensuring guests enjoyed a world-class experience.

“The establishment, set on 16 hectares of property, was completely revamped in 2017 to deliver the 4-star rated service to which it aspires. All rooms and public spaces were redesigned and updated by an award-winning interior decorator.

“It is indeed an honour to represent KZN and receive an award of the calibre of Lilizela which is a great celebration of tourism and SA.”

The Gorge Private Game Lodge & Spa in Port Shepstone secured the winning spot in the Lodge category for the second time. Mike Cross, Marketing Manager at The Gorge which was established in December 2009, said the award was very much valued and the team would continue to ensure that service levels were among the best in the world.

“We are humbled by the achievement of being awarded a 5-star rating only four months into operation. As this is our primary business which is owner run, we are very hands-on and demand only the best for our guests.

“Winning an award of the calibre of Lilizela which is judged so stringently makes us more appealing to travellers and sets us apart from other establishments.

“We strive towards developing world-class spa facilities to complement our best of the best treatments. We are also looking to build a new room concept offering a 7-star presidential suite experience with a private splash pool, boma and spectacular views.”

Wayne Coetzer, General Manager at The Oyster Box Hotel in Umhlanga, said: “It’s a great honour to have received both the KZN and national Lilizela Tourism Awards in the 5-star hotel category.

“A special tribute to our staff at Oyster Box who work tirelessly, day in and day out, to deliver an exceptional level of service and excellence.

“The high expectations of KwaZulu-Natal, and of South Africa, are carried on our shoulders when we enter these type of awards as we want to do our best for the people of our province and of our country.”

Coetzer said tourism played an important role in the economy of the country and the team was proud to showcase their roles towards this effort.

Other category winners include the 3-star Bayala Game Lodge in Hluhluwe; 3-star Olive Convention Centre in Durban and 4-star Ekhaya Boutique Hotel in Westville.

Acting CEO for Tourism KwaZulu-Natal, Phindile Makwakwa, said: “Emerging a winner in the national awards is a matter of prestige. One must not be complacent in their achievements – rather an award must be seen as an incentive to strive towards bigger and better prospects.”

The winner of each category received the sought-after SA Lilizela Awards trophy and all finalists received a certificate of excellence.

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