Rock around the crocFebruary 28th, 2012 by Andrew Moth | Categories: environmental, hotels, industry, people, tourism, training
Duncan and Ros McEwan, who own and operate Komati River Chalets near Komatipoort, have a simple message for people who want to live out their dreams of success in the hospitality industry: “Don’t give up.”
They opened their bed and breakfast lodge with thatched self-catering chalets 12 years ago and have never looked back.
Just 12km from the Kruger National Park, Komati River Chalets now has a total of 26 rooms, a bar/restaurant, pool and lapa. Occupancy runs between 60% and 80% all year round and many of the guests are regulars, returning year after year.
McEwan came to South Africa from Zimbabwe in the 1980s and he and his wife kept alive their dream of owning a B&B “somewhere in the bush”.
They found a piece of undeveloped land which had belonged to a farmer and raised capital by selling their house in Farrarmere, Benoni. Then, as is still the case so often these days, banks viewed the hospitality industry as too much of a risk.
The land had to be cleared. With a Ford Bantam bakkie, McEwan took away 700 loads of household rubbish which had been dumped on the site over the years. Snakes, including mambas, cobras and puff adders, were another problem for the McEwans, but they persevered and opened for business with two chalets in April 2000.
McEwan says the business has grown in leaps and bounds since then. “For those who would like to enter the hospitality and tourism domain: Go for it but never give up.”
He and Ros operate Komati River Chalets with a focus on “friendliness and cleanliness” and published guest comments on various websites where Komati River Chalets is listed suggest they have hit the spot with tourists.
McEwan also said the floods this year had been nothing in comparison with those that devastated the area in November 1999. Nevertheless, guests and staff had to beware of a non-paying guest (above) who took a rest in the gardens of Komati River Chalets.