I will have to call it a bumper season, it was that good! This weekend the river came down in flood. No damage to speak about …just water, glorious water! The report from today was ‘heavy rain, then it snowed!’ … I had to smile! (See the gallery or face-book page for pictures)
Both the lodge and camping were popular this year with camping still well occupied even now at the end of January.
The fencing team have progressed well and the farm should have its fences complete by end of February. A game fence with pedestrian gate separates the lodge from Speekhout and the fence at the main road has been replaced. Three new camps have been created with the fencing imperative to ensure recovery of the veld from the wandering boerbokke. The camp directly across from the main gate leads to a section of the old road and a beautiful glade of well established trees. It is a very plausible site for a sectional title lodge in the future. Picnic sites, swimming holes and areas of interest will be identified for guests in the new camps.
The devastating fire of the 2016/2017 season has resulted in a necessary overhaul of our fire fighting equipment and training. All structures have dedicated fire-fighting hoses feeding directly off the 50mm pipe and we have a trailer equipped with a 1000l tank on standby.
The lapa now has a piano, with thanks to Mr Denzel Klue, a friend and appreciative guest! This will, no doubt, add harmony (we hope) to the lodge experience!
The staff excelled over season and have become a very efficient team. Austin will be obtaining his drivers licence this year and the Colt bakkie is now permanently on site and being used to assist the fencing project. It is our intention to focus on closer interaction with our neighbors in acquiring fresh produce and using Willowmore rather than George for Gas and other supplies. This should significantly reduce cost and loss of productivity. The kitchen, under the capable management of Cynthia, has converted largely to frozen meals, also a significant improvement in efficacy. Cathy is an excellent housekeeper with a wonderful personality who adds a distinct homeliness to lodge. Gerard, our newest member of staff, has proven to be extremely versatile and stands in for Austin in management and for housekeeping. Joseph, after a long and unanticipated absence in Malawi, returned in time for the busy season and has slipped seamless back into the harness.
Our administration this year has been significantly enhanced by the secretary Chantelle Kretchmann, who works in Plett with business manager Manuela. The team has registered the lodge with several online groups including Booking.com and travelstart. Our TripAdvisor profile is excellent and Nightsbridge booking system, easy and efficient. The website is user friendly and regularly updated and client contact and feedback is good.
The legal process of completing the subdivision is progressing slowly. Agreement has been reached regarding the undivided shares and the legal and survey team is currently completing the application to the dept of agriculture.
Government departments are always a challenge and I am not expecting this process to be fast, cheap or easy. We can only keep going!
We have appointed a new auditor, Mr Schalk Badenhorst from Vantage Point in George. He should bring about an improvement in fiscal control and reporting over the next few months.
This big project this year is the upgrade of the solar system. The idea is to ensure the campsite can accommodate caravans with electrical utensils and to reduce our dependence on gas.
A full refurbishment of the rooms is also necessary, but will have to wait a little longer. I would also like to introduce Springbok, which may be tricky given the two Malamut Husky-Alsation crosses (Chewy and Striker) who are on duty!
We end the 2017 financial year on a high note and look forward to further growth and occupancy in 2018! Thank you all for your interest, support and enthusiasm over the years!