Polana Serena Hotel appoints Miguel Afonso dos Santos as new GM

Polana Serena Hotel is revered as a timeless gem in the African hospitality landscape; a reputation that Executive Director Karim Merali has upheld for the last five years with unparalleled dedication and passion for the hospitality industry and the Serena Hotels brand.

Having paved the way for the hotel’s future, overseeing massive renovations in 2010 and seeing the hotel through to its 90th anniversary this year, Merali now hands over his sceptre to the newly appointed General Manager, Miguel Afonso dos Santos.

Afonso dos Santos, who has officially taken office on the 01 August 2012, hails from the capital of Portugal, Lisbon where he has for the past eight years helped build the reputable Real Hotels Group to where it is today.  In 2002, Real Hotels operated two 4-star hotels; today the group has grown to nine distinguished hotels and has two more in the pipeline.

“I was given the chance to help create a winning team within a company that is respected in Portugal by its standard of service and high quality of all the units.  Part of this was the development and continued management of the group’s flagship Grande Real Villa Itália Hotel & Spa, a Leading Hotel of the World,” reveals Afonso dos Santos.

“It is a great honour for me to be associated with the esteemed Serena Group.  Branching out into Africa is an exciting step in my career and I look forward to growing with the Polana team as we take this extraordinary hotel with such rich history into a new era of hospitality and service.  The Polana’s classic image speaks volumes and I am eager to continue its legacy,” adds Afonso dos Santos.

Within his 20-year career, Afonso dos Santos has been involved in the management of many of Portugal’s top hotels including the Four Seasons’ Ritz Lisbon; Lapa Palace Orient Express Hotels, Trains & Cruises; Real Palacio Hotel, Real Parque Hotel, and Real Residencia Suite Hotel as well as Grande Real Villa Itália Hotel & Spa.

In his spare time, Afonso dos Santos is an avid sports fan enjoying football, tennis, golf and water sports.  He has an insatiable appetite for art and music and is also an active member in his community.  Afonso dos Santos is fluent in Portuguese, English, Spanish and French.

The “Grand Dame of Maputo” has earned this title by perfectly pairing Afro-Portuguese fusion with colonial stately style and superb service.  Merali has worked with his own winning team that he now proudly hands over to Afonso dos Santos.  “I have no doubt that Miguel Afonso dos Santos will take the Polana Serena Hotel and its experienced and devoted team to new heights, maintaining the outstanding reputation that the hotel has garnered over the decades,” says Merali.

Karim Merali will embark on a new career opportunity with the Aga Khan Development Network.  TPS Serena Hotels is an affiliate company of the Aga Khan Fund for Economic Development (AKFED) which promotes tourism by building, rehabilitating and managing hotels and lodges that contribute to economic growth in an environmentally and culturally sensitive manner.

Author: Muzi Mohale

Hi there, am your host and I blog about the tourism industry in South Africa. You're also welcome to contribute your expert content on matters affecting the industry. You can reach me on muzi[at]tourismedition.com

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