Meet Maropeng Boutique Hotel GM
My 13th instalment where hotel managers share their journey into the hospitality industry. Located in a World Heritage Site of Cradle of Humankind is Maropeng Boutique Hotel where Peter Mhanaza is the General Manager. I chat to him to learn more about his chosen career in tourism…enjoy the read:
Briefly introduce yourself, your career background before your current position…
Peter Mhanaza is the Hotel Manager at Maropeng Boutique Hotel. Mhanaza has worked for Maropeng for the last eight years moving up the ranks.
Mhanaza was born and raised in Magaliesberg and grew up with many of the staff members who work at the Hotel. He went to school at Maloney’s Eye, a primary school situated in the Cradle of Humankind that is supported by Maropeng’s CSI programme.
This dynamic 28 year old started working at Maropeng in late 2005 as a cashier in the Visitor Centre ticket office.
Clearly it is this enterprising spirit that took Mhanaza from Ticket Office Cashier to Receptionist in 2006, from Assistant Restaurant Manager to Operations Supervisor at Sterkfontein Caves in 2009, and from Assistant Food and Beverage Manager to his current position – Maropeng Hotel Manager.
What attracted you to this hotel and how long have you been on the current position?
There are considerable advantages to being a local in this business since hospitality is about people and places. I know the area well. Being able to share information confidently about the region and its tourist attractions is a huge benefit when it comes to making meaningful connections with guests. I have strong bonds with the people I work with because they know me, and I know them.
What have been your proud achievements since taking over your current position?
- When I started at the hotel, our guest surveys were at an average of a 67% rating, they are now sitting at 93%.
- Seeing my staff grow and develop over the time that I have been here.
- We remain as a four-star establishment and I have dreams to take this further.
- When guests return.
- Working in conjunction with Maropeng’s Head Chef to enhance the food experience that the guests have at the hotel.
It is a source of great pride to me that at my age, with no formal qualifications, I am running a hotel.
Give us a breakdown of the offerings of Maropeng Boutique Hotel?
24 rooms each with 4-star amenities.
A 50-seater restaurant offering a buffet breakfast, light meals for lunch and a three-course plated dinner.
- A swimming pool for our guests.
- A deck overlooking the beautiful Magalies and Witwatersberg mountains
- A lounge area for relaxation or functions
- A designated room for spa treatments
If corporates book 16 or more rooms they get sole use of the hotel.
What daily challenges do you face at Maropeng Boutique Hotel?
Never being complacent in our service offering, this is the challenge I give to my staff each day to always strive to be better than the day before.
What is the overall staff compliment under your supervision and what percentage of that is recruited from local community?
- 25 staff members
- 95% are from the local community.
Do you have an example to share where your hotel has groomed a staff member from entry position to climb the career ladder?
My current guest relations officer was initially hired as a waitress. She is steadily rising through the ranks and I foresee a good future for her.
Any staff member who shows the initiative and drive to succeed is given my full support.
How does Maropeng Boutique Hotel recruit new staff members?
Vacancies are listed at Maropeng and through agencies if required. Our aim is to always hire from within the local community, seeking those with the necessary skills and experience.
How do you ensure you turn once-off hotel guests into repeat clients?
By making sure we over deliver on our service consistently whilst they are here. We also work on post-visit communication by putting clients onto our database for the Maropeng monthly newsletter.
What marketing strategies have proven profitable for your hotel and which ones have been a waste of resources?
Our online booking portal Direct with Hotels is proving very successful. Word of mouth is extremely important. This is either direct or through Trip advisor.
What percentage of your budget is spent sourcing goods and services from within your locality?
70% of goods and services are sourced locally.
Is your hotel involved in any community upliftment projects…if so, please share details?
Over the last few years Maropeng has developed a special relationship with the Maloney’s Eye Rural Primary school and community donating funds for food and infrastructure.
Our aim has always been to find ways of making the school more sustainable and self-sufficient.
To ensure the children all receive at least one substantial meal during the day, Maropeng provides each of the learners with a cooked meal daily. We have provided the school with a vegetable garden to ensure the necessary added nutritional value is added to the learners’ meals and the learners have played an active role in both the planting and the maintenance of this garden.
Facilities have also been upgraded including the school’s ablution facilities, kitchen and playground equipment.
Maropeng also is involved in the much anticipated annual Christmas party with gifts and food hampers for all.
A number of our staff come from the Maloney’s community or even attended the school so it is a project which is very close to our hearts and our staff enthusiastically support the community whenever they can. As a former student of Maloneys Eye, this CSI project is especially close to my heart. I have had the opportunity to speak to the children and remind them that they can also have a future and to follow their dreams.
How is your hotel impacting positively on the environment?
Maropeng has invested in an innovative ozone wastewater purifications system. The system constructed at the world renowned Sterkfontein Caves, utilises ozone from the atmosphere to accelerate the breaking down of solids by bacteria and also to sterilise water. It was designed to replace Sterkfontein’s septic tanks and provide a far more eco-friendly solution to waste management in the area.
This project runs together with Maropeng’s “artificial” wetland system called a Subsurface Flow Constructed Wetland System (SSF CWS) which is specifically designed to naturally assist the filtering and cleansing of the site’s grey and black water. This has been in existence at Maropeng since it first opened.
Over the last seven months, Maropeng has embarked on an exciting new recycling process, the Bokashi process. Bokashi is a fermentation and composting process that diverts food waste from landfill and upcycles it into a high-value nutrient feed for gardening and agriculture. The process saves 435kg of CO2 emissions when compared to dumping into landfill.
Maropeng currently uses the recycled material to feed its gardens and is assisting Maloney’s Eye School with feed for its vegetable gardens. Maropeng plans to extend the project in the coming months to supply feed for vegetable farmers in the area who supply Maropeng with fresh produce.
What inspires you to wake up each morning ready to positively contribute in your hotel?
I love my job and I enjoy my interaction with my guests and meeting new people every day. I have a family to take care of and I want to be a good role model for my children. There is still so much that I want to achieve – I have barely started!
What legacy do you aim to leave in your current position?
If you work hard and are dedicated anything is possible.