Death of Guy MatthewsFebruary 29th, 2012 by Andrew Moth | Categories: hotels, industry, tourism
Guy Richard Matthews, one of South Africa’s finest hoteliers, passed away peacefully this week (Monday, 27 February 2012). He was a former owner of The Coach House (shown above) and other hotels in the far north of South Africa.
There are plans for a memorial service for him in Johannesburg on Monday 12 March at 4:00pm, at St John’s College Chapel, Houghton, where he was educated. He was husband of Jane and father of Pippa, Richard and Alison, father-in-law of Nicolas and grandfather of Chloe and Alexandre.
Hotel & Restaurant editor Andrew Moth said Matthews was one of South Africa’s great hoteliers. “I was lucky enough to meet him from time to time and it was a privilege to know and enjoy the way in which he worked and thought for the benefit of the tourism industry in South Africa.
“Hotel & Restaurant joins the hotel and tourism industries in extending condolences to Guy’s widow Jane and his family and friends.”
Matthews opened The Coach House in Limpopo in 1983 and developed it into one of South Africa’s great country hotels, earning a string of awards and accolades along the way.
He sold it to Orion Hotels & Resorts in 2010 together with the Magoebaskloof Hotel which had been seriously damaged by fire a few years earlier.
The Coach House in New Agatha was built on the site of an old staging post and offered five-star accommodation and fine dining in 15ha of landscaped gardens.
Born in England in 1941, Matthews was educated at St John’s College in Johannesburg. He began his working life at Deloitte, Haskins & Sells in 1959 and then worked for Anglo Dutch Office Furniture.
Hotel & Restaurant editor Andrew Moth recalls a number of conversations with Matthews over the years about the right height for dining-room chairs and tables. “Guy was not a tall man and it was easy to understand his concern about this issue as he loved restaurants and wining and dining.
“He was a regular purchaser of fine wines at the Nederburg Auction – although he invariably grumbled about the prices. But he and Jane had a great sense of humour and a wide range of interests that ensured they were great company wherever they were.”
Matthews was also a farmer and in the 1990s was chairman of the South African Mango Growers Association. At that time he also owned and operated the Troutwaters Inn.
Susan Reynard, Gauteng editor of Hotel & Restaurant, made the trip to the Coach House in late-2004, for a feature that appeared in the magazine in February 2005. She says of meeting Guy Matthews: “As I pulled into the entrance of the hotel in late-December, hot and bothered in my little Fiat Uno Mia after a seven-hour drive through torrential rain, it was Guy Matthews who met me at the door. He was cool, calm and welcoming, thanking me for taking the time to come through to his hotel, when in fact the honour was entirely mine to visit one of the top establishments in the country. After insisting on lunch and an afternoon rest, Guy and his delightful wife Jane, together with GM Sam Nkuna and executive chef Lucas Ndlovu, showed me around the property. The interview unfolded like those conversations that start up naturally, and developed into a story of business, life, love of people, huge desire to ‘be a good neighbour’ to the local community, and a determination to help as many people as possible. Guests were the happy recipient of this synergy of land, labour and friendship.
“The Matthews started up various enterprises to employ even more members of the local communities, including the famous nougat production unit and a bottled water facility. Guy insisted the hotel was as labour-intensive as possible, making everything from scratch, to ensure that as many people as possible benefitted from the endeavour. Job-creation and community involvement were built into the property, long before there were accronyms and kudos to be gained from it.
“For example, the hotel contributed to the building of 50 classrooms in the local school, provided day-care and other educational facilities, and staff benefits included non-contributory provident fund and funeral scheme.
“I also loved his sense of humour. Always self-deprecating, he once said of attending Indaba: ‘Well if I don’t, rumours start spreading that I’ve died.’ Sadly this time the rumour is true. It was my great pleasure and privilege to meet the Matthews and listen to Guy’s amazing story of hospitality.”