Meet Auberge Hollandaise GM – Katina Sideris
The spotlight falls on Katina Sideris based in the city of banana where she manages Auberge Hollandaise. We all know that Durban is a major tourists attract especially on holidays its always busy with travellers enjoying the coastal city…let’s find out how she copies…
Briefly introduce yourself, your career background before your current position…
My name is Katina Sideris and am of Greek and English parentage though proudly South African. I am privileged to be the GM of the prestigious Three Cities Auberge Hollandaise Five Star Guest House since March 2008, which was opened by the previous owners in April 2007.
I have travelled extensively and gained the best experience living in China and Hong Kong in the 80’s, marrying into and learning the Chinese culture, Mauritius, Europe and holidaying worldwide, my most important achievement, being a mother.
My career had afforded me wonderful experience over the past 26 years in renowned and prestigious companies:
Local (Standard Bank Group) and offshore for a private company ( 5 years).
(Southern Sun and Inter Continental Group) 13 years
The Beverly Hills Hotel
My forte is Guest Services and I created the Guest Services role at the famous Beverly Hills and have a wealth of experience and memories from offering the highest of standards and service to leading figures local and internationally.
Shopping Centre Management:
La Lucia Mall (Growth Point Properties) as Marketing Manager which allowed me to work on the rebranding of La Lucia Mall when Gateway was opened and establishing La Lucia Mall’s foundation as a popular and award winning Community Centre (6 years)
Auberge Hollandaise (in my 7th year)
What attracted you to this hotel and how long have you been on the current position?
I was approached by the owners through a mutual broker who had asked if I would be interested in assisting the then owners, Cheryl and Frits Burger, with establishing and implementing five star standards based on my experience within the hotel and shopping centre environment.
The owners who had built Auberge Hollandaise required a strong personality to implement the standards, encourage and establish a sound foundation.
There was a general manager in place at the time and I took over from her when she resigned some months later.
What have been your proud achievements since taking over your current position?
The hospitality industry has had many ups and downs due to many reasons, however, through this I have established and maintained both loyal and dedicated staff with almost zero turnover as well as maintaining and enhancing our guest loyalty and standards throughout through ups and downs and not compromising service and quality standards.
Give us a breakdown of the offerings at Auberge Hollandaise?
We are a five star boutique style guest house comprising of 10 luxury suites, one upmarket Boardroom which may seat up to 30 delegates and a relaxing and beautiful open area pool, bar and dining area whilst ideally situated in the prestigious suburb of Durban North.
It is an easy drive both to Durban, beaches, popular spots for sports and recreation facilities. Ideal for both the local and international corporate and leisure traveller who is looking for a perfect home away from home. The Auberge team is always on hand to be of assistance whilst maintaining a
It is an easy drive both to Durban, beaches, popular spots for sports and recreation facilities. Ideal for both the local and international corporate and leisure traveller who is looking for a perfect home away from home. The Auberge team is always on hand to be of assistance whilst maintaining a non-intrusive but inviting environment where our aim is to meet expectations.
What daily challenges do you face with your position?
Balancing income with expenditure without compromising any standards. To source new business in line with favourable and profitable rates whilst taking into account the economic system and spend. To exceed expectations by adding value to the guest experience whilst not affecting profit. Competitive rates and also ensuring that owners, management and guests are more than satisfied.
What is the overall staff compliment under your supervision and what percentage of that is recruited from local community?
Delighted to advise that our team and Auberge family have been employed from 7 years down to 3 years service and ongoing. We are mostly multi-taskers and guests will find us serving in the dining room to sweeping leaves if necessary. We have 6 staff members and we are all local. We source our casual staff members from the local community when required.
Do you have an example to share where your hotel has groomed a staff member from entry position to climb the career ladder?
Samkelo Phewa who commenced for day one of the opening of Auberge Hollandaise and was employed as the security personnel was then promoted to maintenance and garden service, who then was trained as Chef assistant and has taken on roles in reservations and now evening duty management on quieter evenings. He would definitely like to study and move into front office in a larger hotel operation.
How does the hotel recruit new staff members?
We host ICH students and most of our students have remained or staying on on a temporary or permanent basis and then going on to positions in the USA or into different fields.
How do you ensure you turn once-off hotel guests into repeat clients?
We keep track on our guests daily and in a respectful manner. On check out we ask if they could give us some feedback and if they have had concerns we follow through immediately and communicate through to them. Most often their stay has been a positive one and we encourage feedback through Trip Advisor etc and always ask if our guest could comment in our Guest Comment Book.
It is always important to stay in touch with our guests and suppliers even if it is the occasional “ how are you “ mail. 90% of our guests are repeat guests I am delighted to report. They appreciate the personal yet respectful relationships.
What marketing strategies have proven profitable for your hotel and which one have been a waste of resources?
I would have to say our weekender rates or specials which we encourage as being ‘affordable luxury’. Guests are able to enjoy a completely relaxing break in five star surroundings at affordable rates more often.
In the past appointing too many representatives who operate in the same nodes who were not able to source new clients and which we paid fees to source.
I think all marketing and word of mouth promotion, good or bad, is advantageous, however, one does need to assess carefully with regards to spend and time hence feedback essential after each promotion.
What percentage of your budget is spent sourcing goods and services from within your locality?
Our company is committed to supporting local businesses and I would say a good 90% of our goods and services are local. Some specialised would have to be sourced through companies based nationally.
— Auberge Hollandaise (@ah_guesthouse) April 15, 2013
Is your hotel involved in any community upliftment projects…if so, please share details?
We are committed to playing an important role in the community and with the added advantage of being part of a renowned hotel group, Three Cities Group and with owners, Vejan and Jenny Pillay, who are deeply committed to giving back. We are siblings of The Three Cities Square Boutique Hotel and Aqua Spa as well as the Three Cities Urban Park and Aqua Spa hotels.
Individually we are generous with prizes and hosting of events for funds and together we are able to give back – as an example, we painted at a home for disadvantaged children of the community, as part of the Three Cities Group, we hosted events for Reach For a Dream, The Sunflower Fund, Animal Anti Cruelty and of course Three Cities sponsorship of the Amashova, and will continue to identify the needs of the community and where we can assist and support as we too grow.
How is your hotel impacting positively to the environment?
We are committed to protecting and saving the environment even in some small way. It all counts.
We have thermal blankets on our geysers, we have replaced bulbs throughout the property with led bulbs, we ensure that our garbage is disposed of correctly and what needs to be collected is divided up.
Water is not wasted and we have notices in each suite bathroom for guests to advise us if they would like to have their linen changed and with a brief explanation.
What inspires you to wake up each morning ready to positively contribute in your hotel?
We spend so many hours of our lives in the work environment. Therefore work is family and as the General Manager I am inspired each and every day to wake up with a positive attitude and disposition and set an positive start to the day despite whatever be affecting one perhaps personally.
A happy team affects the spirits of the guests and suppliers and overall ambience of the property which again is the starting block of each new day.
Negatives must be seen as challenges with solutions, positives must be communicated and any problems resolved daily. Communication is key and feedback constructive.
My inspiration is setting goals and looking forward to achieving a good day’s work with most importantly, satisfied guests and owners.
What legacy do you aim to leave in your current position?
That to never give up. There will always be challenges and by taking up the challenge in a positive way, communicating, not being afraid to ask questions even if they may be perceived as silly, one must persevere and grow, not give up and walk away.
To live with integrity and compassion yet when required, to be able to feedback negative situations to one’s team in a constructive manner.