Dream Hotels & Resorts on mission to connect travellers with communities

The eco-conscious hospitality group says stimulating the industry's recovery will rely heavily on its ability to rise while lifting others

18 October 2022 - 11:32
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The four-bedroom villa at Stonehill River Lodge.
The four-bedroom villa at Stonehill River Lodge.
Image: Supplied/Dream Hotels & Resorts

Recovery will continue to be a steady climb for the hospitality sector this year. But as businesses regain their footing, one brand is paving the way for a brighter future — Dream Hotels & Resorts

With a portfolio of 22 properties dotted across the country, the mixed-use accommodation group is on a mission to create a healthier balance between its actions, communities, and the environment. 

“We operate in predominantly remote and eco-sensitive areas, and made a strategic decision to lead with greater accountability, compassion and intent,” says Dream Hotels & Resorts CEO Nick Dickson.

“Driven by our purpose of inspiring wanderlust and making local holidays more accessible, we're continuing to champion mindful decisions about how we do business today to ensure a better and brighter tomorrow — not just for guests and travellers, but our sector, and SA as a whole.”

Not perfect, but better

If you're looking for a brand working towards responsible practices, Dream Hotels & Resorts has long held the ambition of connecting travellers to local communities in a sustainable and relevant way. Since the company's inception in 1988, it has implemented energy management practices and evolved to reflect a greater desire to operate with a lighter footprint. 

“It has never been our intention to simply go green,” says Dickson. “Our intent has always been to make small, yet impactful changes in how we operate to preserve all the wonderful destinations in which our properties are located. We haven't always got it right, but what matters most is our consistency and willingness to learn.”

Little Switzerland Resort in the Northern Drakensberg sustains 250 vulnerable children at Langkloof Orphan’s Scheme.
Little Switzerland Resort in the Northern Drakensberg sustains 250 vulnerable children at Langkloof Orphan’s Scheme.
Image: Supplied/Dream Hotels & Resorts

Operating sustainably at Dream Hotels & Resorts is not just about the big decisions made in the boardroom, but rather through every individual in the company making a conscious choice to live out their shared vision, every day.

“Our teams down on the ground have become integral to the success of our entire sustainability process. If we look after our staff, they will look after our guests. And if our guests see us all working together to make positive changes, they will want to make positive changes, too.”

This ethos can be seen in action at properties such as Stonehill River Lodge in Swellendam. General managers Alet Fick and Debbie Nutter have pioneered a haven of sustainability where nothing goes to waste and the surrounding environment is treated with care.

“Our staff have also slowly adopted our values around preserving food and living with a lighter footprint,” says Fick. “We are conscious of setting an example for our staff who then share these teachings and practices within their own households and communities.”

Rise by lifting others

“Given SA's social challenges of unemployment reaching an all-time high of 63.9% this year, there has never been a more crucial time to stimulate skill development across all levels of the industry,” says Dickson. 

“Sustainability extends well beyond our environmental practices. Our overall success greatly depends on the economic, social and mental wellbeing of our people and the communities in which we operate. Skills in hospitality remain scarce, and stimulating our industry's recovery will rely on our ability to rise while lifting others.” 

Kayaking at Finfoot Lake Reserve.
Kayaking at Finfoot Lake Reserve.
Image: Supplied/Dream Hotels & Resorts

By launching an internal leadership programme in partnership with Stellenbosch Graduate Institute, the company is encouraging people to think ahead, take decisive action, and inspire those around them. This approach is evident with Sello Sithole, a talented chef who has developed his career as at Finfoot Lake Reserve in the North West province.

“I was eager to learn when I applied for a position in the Finfoot kitchen,” says Sithole. “I was encouraged to enrol in the leadership course, an opportunity I'm certain would not have been afforded to me elsewhere. When people show interest in building you up, it makes it easy to feel valued, and that you matter.”

The community upliftment work extends to properties such as Little Switzerland Resort in the Northern Drakensberg, which sustains Langkloof Orphan’s Scheme, a haven for 250 vulnerable children. “What's most important is to support our community and do what we can to make the world a little better,” says Gerhard van Zyl, Little Switzerland Resort general manager. 

“Aside from covering operational costs, providing staff wages and daily meals, we grow a range of hydroponic herbs and vegetables for the property.”

Looking ahead 

“As we work to revitalise our sector and ignite a culture of domestic travel, ensuring a future for us all depends on the choices made now and along the way. If we don't try to do and be better today, chances are, we won't have a tomorrow,” says Dickson.

For more information, visit the Dream Hotels & Resorts website, and follow on YouTube, Facebook and Twitter.

This article was paid for by Dream Hotels & Resorts.



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