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  • Writer's pictureMandisa Magwaxaza

Misty Mountain Lodge, Tsitsikamma

A Case Study of How Great Guest Experiences are Good PR

Hospitality is a feeling. I say it’s a mix of love, satisfaction and surprise. What do you think?

Service is a Labour of love, and people who are respected, cared for and compensated well give more than a service; they host you. The team’s joy might seem odd to highlight about a hotel stay. However, I have stayed at a few places since the reopening of the industry, and one of the frequent complaints I have heard and experienced is about service. My recent trip to the Garden Route exposed me to two types of owner-managers and corresponding types of hospitality teams which produced different guest experiences. And when I say different, I mean chalk and cheese.

We spent our second night in the Garden Route at a hotel where the staff lacked in comparison and was not taken care of. The team did not have a proper uniform or name badges, so it was difficult to identify who was the staff to the extent that we could not complain about the young man who just walked passed us while we struggled with multiple pieces of luggage. We did not know if he was a staff member or a contractor. The young lady who served breakfast on a rainy morning was at work in a thread bear skirt and pumps that could send her skidding on the tiles at any second. She could have benefitted from having a uniform that included a warm jacket and suitable shoes with rubber soles. Shame, she tried to give us the best service she could. Her personality made up for the fact that she could not serve us cappuccinos because she could not work the coffee machine, but I couldn’t get passed that she was freezing and made up my mind to find out who the owner was and enlighten her.

I enquired about the owner when we checked out and was reminded of a lady who scolded and hissed at us when we arrived, and it all made sense. If she acted that way toward paying guests, I was not surprised that she did not regard the well-being of her team.

Misty Mountain Reserve was the first place we stayed on the Garden Route. The cheese in this comparison. Caring hosts run Misty Mountain Reserve, and as you read, you will understand how their management style influenced our experience as guests.

When we arrived at Misty Mountain Reserve, the staff looked sincerely happy to be there, which instantly made me comfortable. The lodge sits very pretty on an ideal spot on the coast of Tsitsikamma. Walking through the restaurant, bar and lounge, you step onto a veranda and into a vision of the perfect vacation. The reserve is hedged in by a forest clinging to a hall that dips down to the sea shore. The wide, wide sea fills the horizon from right to left. It’s breathtaking.

A medicinal plant enthusiast of Khoi descent tends to Misty’s rolling lawn and gardens. Greg, the owner of Misty Mountain Reserve, told me about him as he lamented the loss of indigenous knowledge as we shared ideas about how tourism can better help preserve indigenous intellectual property.

Each room is presented exactly as it’s shown on the Misty Mountain Reserve website; a promise made and kept. There are various room types for single travellers, couples, groups and families including self-catering chalets, two glass domes and a glass pyramid.

I stayed in an Ocean View Standard Lodge, a wood cabin with all the countryside vibes. The room features:

  • a porch with seating

  • a king bed with lovely quality linen

  • a seating area

  • bar fridge & coffee-making counter with everything you need

  • space to hang a few outfits and a counter to place stuff. (Something often overlooked in smaller, unconventional room types.)

  • en-suite bathroom with a double shower, other rooms have a bath.

  • a heater - the rooms are well-insulated though, I only used mine to warm my feet before getting into bed.

The room was well maintained. The wooden floor felt polished, the walls looked freshly painted, and everything was immaculately cleaned. Covid has left a lot of hotels and lodges on the tired side. We understand it’s been a tough two years, and the industry is still climbing out of the red, but there are some quick, cost-effective wins to freshen up tired spaces. Look out for our next blog in partnership with a Gqeberha-based furniture company and an East-London-based interior designer. Sign up, so you don’t miss it. (If you're South African - please fill in the survey on the pop-up, it’ll take 2 minutes).

Now back to the best part of our stay on the Garden Route, the people, food, and views of Misty Mountain Reserve. We were fortunate enough to have a group dinner with industry colleagues and the owners of Misty Mountain Reserve. As we all ideated various ways to improve South Africa and the tourism industry, the owners shared some of their stories, and in them, I caught the shimmer of ubuntu - the golden thread that ran through every encounter I had with their staff.

The following day I enjoyed the perfect eggs benedict. I will have you know that I am an eggs benedict connoisseur. It is my favourite breakfast, and if it is on a menu, you best believe that is what I will order. The eggs benedict at Misty Mountain is the best I have had in the Eastern Cape. The egg yolk's consistency was solid and runny enough, and the bread was thick and soft. I could taste that the chef mixed the hollandaise sauce at the right speed and temperature.

It was the perfect breakfast after the best quad biking experience - a memorable ending to an exquisite stay as we said goodbye to the Misty Mountain family. Book your stay.

The guests' experience is the first and last public relations exercise your brand gets to win at no extra cost to your business. It takes many ingredients to create fantastic guest experiences. Sometimes, it is difficult to spot what is missing when focused on running your business to keep the doors open and people employed. Molo Mhambi Relations offers a complete customer service assessment. We insist on it before we sign you up as a client. You could invest your hard-earned money into a PR and Marketing strategy to make your business look good and get booked, only to have your reputation destroyed by a 2-minute phone call between a potential guest and an untrained staff member. Use our 17 years of experience in the operations and marketing of luxury hospitality to help you create exceptional guest experiences. Book a free 30-minute call.

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