Find out more about the fun ladies behind the phone calls and emails
Studies show that first impressions are made within the first 17 seconds of meeting someone new and therefore selecting a team to handle reservations and guest enquiries is one of Garonga’s top priorities. They are the voice of the organisation which can make or break a booking.
Effective communication skills are the key to success in all areas of life and lack of this in a professional setting can lead to an error, misunderstanding, frustration and (in the case of a lodge), a dissatisfied potential guest that walks away and tells on average 9-15 other people about their experience.
But it’s not all serious. Yes, the reservations team must be extremely professional, informative, courteous and helpful but they also have to be fun people. They must be “people’s people” that form a friendly, informal connection with guests from the outset.
Garonga is blessed to have those qualities in the persons of Randee, Claire and Jen.
Randee has been consulting through her company ‘Pro-Active Reservations’ for over two years now. She has visited Garonga many times and knows the camp very well. She manages all enquiries from the agencies we work with.
Claire Long & Jennifer Harmse:
It is only recently that Bernie (owner of Garonga) has also chosen to have a separate department for direct bookings. This decision was made to ensure that more time can be spent dealing with each guest enquiry in a more personal manner, offering a far better user experience than if it was all dealt with by one department.
Claire is working with WildWeb which develops and manages the website and digital marketing. She comes from a tour operator background and so her knowledge and experience in this field is top notch.
For Jennifer, this is her first full-time job after studying Travel & Tourism for 1 year prior to it.
Garonga owner Bernie says, “I have tried managing reservations ‘in house’ before and although it is great to have all the information at your fingertips, it does create problems when staff members go on leave or depart. It is much more comforting to know that if a person moves on, is sick, or goes on holiday then the position is still covered by a professional at WildWeb.”
From feedback we have received we know that this set up is working and that Randee, Claire and Jen are doing a wonderful job. The system runs smoothly, and communication is efficient.
Thank you to the reservations team for helping to create and maintain that ideal first impression which has resulted in many a satisfied guest here at Garonga.
Meet the waiters at Garonga and hear about how they were ‘Under the Influence’ in the name of good service…
If you have ever had a wonderful meal and ambiance spoiled by an apathetic waiter then you will know what a difference a ‘service with a smile’ really makes to your dining experience. Waiters are a huge asset to any lodge and a vital ingredient in the customer service pie; they serve, they converse and they strike a relationship with the guests. But there is also a distinct difference between genuine or fake service which is easily noticed by diners. Here at Garonga the smile is real. We are very proud that our waiting staff simply seem to ooze courtesy, grace, interest and all round happiness.
The waiting role is varied and includes not only serving meals but also packing and unpacking of cooler boxes for safaris, constant cleaning and checking of items for meals as well as an in-depth knowledge of what is being served, pairing of wines, setting up of tables and stock taking.
Meet our happy chappy team:
Herfric has been here since before Garonga opened as he started assisting on the farm once Bernie (owner) purchased the land. He has a heart of gold and will do anything for you. He oversees the department, and is also Head Butler at Little Garonga. When the Manager (Robert) is away on leave then Herfric stands in as Manager.
Aldrin has been at Garonga just over 4 years. He is extremely competent and quietly dedicated to his work. However he also has a comical streak and every now and again will perform a dance for the Guests. Aldrin is in charge of the waiters at the Safari Camp.
Courage has been at Garonga just over three years. He started at Little Garonga in the security department, then he became a casual waiter at Little Garonga. When an opening became available he was then employed permanently at Safari Camp. Courage is from Zimbabwe, he is very friendly and helpful and very amusing. He won Garonga’s ‘waiter prize’ in 2017 for the ‘most special wines sold’.
Bongani has been employed at Garonga for just over two years. He is ‘the mischievous one’. He is extremely good with guests and has that knack of remembering names very easily.
Eric has been at Garonga for over a year. He started off in the security department at Little Garonga, and then an opening became available and he became a casual waiter at Little Garonga. Due to the occupancy success at Little Garonga, Eric now has a permanent position as a waiter there under Herfric. He has settled in very well and taken on the training extremely fast and competently.
Waiters ‘Under The Influence’
This programme was started in 2017 giving waiters the opportunity to excel in their sales skills. The prize was 5 days training with our main wine supplier in Cape Town called ‘Under the Influence’.
The competition endedon 28th February 2018 (just before our annual three week close down). Courage, as mentioned above, won the competition, however as a surprise Bernie (owner of Garonga) decided to send all of the waiters to do the training course. None of them had ever flown in a plane before, let alone been to the ‘Mother City’, Cape Town.
During the course they visited many wine farms, saw the whole process in action, had lectures and lessons, sat down for wine lunches (that was the toughest part of course!) and in the end completed a test which they all passed. They also saw a bit of Cape Town too. Not only was it meant to educate them even further on wines and therefore be able to sell them better on return, but was also meant to be a fun, engaging, motivating and bonding experience. Big thanks to ‘Under The Influence’ for providing this great week of wine education!
Our team of waiters wait eagerly (with their big genuine grins) to welcome and serve you.
Meet Garonga’s Security Team – the men who watch over the camp, because lions don’t sleep at night.
This month we invite you to meet our Security Team, another essential ingredient in the Garonga operational cooking pot and one, without which, we would be left tossing and turning in our four poster beds. The phrase ‘unwanted guest’ takes on a whole new meaning at a safari camp after all!
These 4 chaps only come out at night (much like many of the predators they protect Garonga guests and staff from) but play a key role in the overall hospitality experience at Garonga. Their tasks include escorting guests between the common areas and the tents in the dark, general upkeep of some of the grounds but of course most importantly keeping watch for any intruders. They have in the past encountered elephant, lion, hyena and leopard in the camp and, as you can imagine, have many a story to tell.
Introducing the team:
Jazman: Head of Security
Jazman has been employed at Garonga for almost 10 years – since 2009. He started off as a General Security Guard and is now Head of the whole department which is no mean feat at all. Very well spoken, highly intelligent, and not afraid to speak his mind, Jazman is the ideal person to have in charge.
Lloyd: Security Guard
Lloyd enjoys driving guests to and from the local airports. Additionally, he is involved in routine night security patrols ensuring the safety of guests. A very personable fellow with a profound sense of humour, he has been employed at Garonga since 2014.
Thomas: Security Guard
Thomas’ main responsibility is assisting with luggage when guests arrive, and day to day security tasks. He has been with Garonga since 2008. A very pleasant and intelligent person, Thomas uses his initiative and is always willing to go the extra mile for guests.
Anold’s main task is night security during the ‘Quiet Hours’ between 10pm and 6am. He has, on many occasions, taken the initiative and sorted out problems for guests without having to involve management. On other occasions he has of course reported to management when he feels necessary even if to inform them of what has happened and what he has done about it,. Anold has been with Garonga since 2013.
Garonga’s Uninvited Guests:
As amazing as our team are at keeping guests and staff safe, this is the African bush, and occasionally the beautiful creatures that we so long to spot on our game drives, come to us. It’s at times like these that the security team’s real experience and professionalism shines through. Anold (night security guard) recalls escorting guests back to their rooms after dinner one evening and being greeted by two mock-charging elephants! On another occasion, a whole lion pride with cubs were found toddling down the main pathway of the lodge just before the guests came back from safari in the evening. Other special appearances have been made by hyena and leopard.
Imagine bumping into these guys on your way back from the Bush Boma…
We can’t thank the security team enough for what they do for us and our guests. Well done Jazman and the team for always being alert and aware, and especially for always going the extra mile for staff and guests. Without you Garonga wouldn’t be the peaceful ‘safari for the soul’ that it is.
Feeding your soul at Garonga Safari Camp is in the artful hands of our passionate and skilful kitchen staff. And they take your tummy’s satisfaction very seriously.
Over the next few months we are going to take you on a journey behind the scenes at Garonga Safari Camp. You will have insight into the love, passion and history behind all aspects of the lodge’s services which, of course, stem from its beautiful people as a foundation.
A focus on Food
In January we start with a focus on our champion chefs and kitchen staff who not only guarantee that no one ever goes hungry at Garonga but also promise to bust your new year’s diet resolution in a flash. From the droewors (traditional South African dried meat) and spicy corn snacks served on your game drives paired with fabulous wines, to your high tea or potjie (South African stew) night in The Boma, everything is sprinkled with a generous dose of African spirit, energy and a smile. They are even kind enough to share with you their ‘not-so-secret’ recipe for their renowned Amarula Chocolate Cake (see below)…what a lovely bunch they are!
Reineth – Head Chef
Reineth, (our ever faithful!) started at Garonga when we first opened in 1997. Over the years she has performed magnificently, and quite rightly was given the position of Head Chef 10 years ago. During our Closedown in 2016 for 3 months, she spent 3 weeks in a top hotel in Cape Town learning more tricks of the trade.
Venecia – Assistant Head Chef
Venecia has been at Garonga a few years now coming across from Makalali. She is a very capable stand-In when Reineth is away and a valuable assistant to her day to day.
Sylvia, Caroline and Phumzile – Sous Chefs
Syvlvia and Caroline both previously worked in the scullery and over the years learnt cooking techniques by observing the other Chefs. Both are now very capable Sous Chefs. Phumzile started at Garonga about a year ago as a Breakfast Chef and she has progressed beautifully and is now more than capable of preparing dinners as well.
Paulinah – Scullery Manager
Paulinah (another ever faithful staff member) has been at Garonga almost 20 years and has overseen the scullery ever since she started. She also takes casual staff under her wing when they come in for short periods of time.
Lee-Ann – Trainer from the Culinary Guild
Lee-Ann started consulting in 2015. She comes up from Cape Town about 3 times per year for 10 days. She completely overhauled our food style and presentation when we reopened in June 2016 after our 3 months refurbishment. It has made a huge difference and the standard and quality of food and presentation has dramatically improved.
Each evening at Garonga takes on a theme, and we rotate between private and communal dining. We do also cater for all dietary requirements on request. You can see more about our daily offering in our previous blog ‘A Foodie Traveller’s Delight’.
The people behind the food, and of course the food itself, at Garonga is something we are exceptionally proud of. We would like to publicly thank our staff for the commitment and enthusiasm they show to not only delivering top quality food to our guests but also for their motivation to continually learn and develop themselves, meaning Garonga can also only grow bigger and better and, importantly, keep creating more delicious and unique cakes like this one…
Not-So-Secret Chocolate Amarula Cake
Ingredients for the Chocolate Cake: (Separate mixture into two tins when baking. Use spring form cake tins, they are more user friendly)
120ml good quality cocoa powder
250ml boiling water
6 whole eggs
440ml caster sugar
120ml vegetable oil
500ml cake flour
20ml baking powder
Ingredients for the Amarula Syrup & Topping:
800ml granulated sugar
300 ml Amarula liqueur
4 tins caramel condense milk
800ml fresh cream, whipped to stiff peak for topping
Method for the Chocolate Cake:
Preheat the oven to 180 C
Sift the cocoa powder
Pour the boiling water the cocoa, stir to dissolve into the water and leave to cool.
Beat the eggs, caster sugar and oil together until ribbon stage and sugar is dissolved
Add the cooled cocoa mixture to the egg mixture
Sift the rest of the dry ingredients together and fold into cocoa / egg mixture
Divide the mixture into two 22 cm x 30 cm pans and bake for approximately 20 minute or until a skewer comes out clean
Method for the Amarula Syrup
Heat the granulated sugar and water together for about 5 minutes, until the sugar dissolves and the liquid has reduced slightly.
Remove the sugar mixture from the stove and whisk in the Amarula slowly until well combined.
As soon as the cakes come out of the oven, while they are still hot, prick the cake with a skewer (all over – leave the cake in the tin)
Divide the syrup and pour an equal amount over both cakes while hot.
Place the cakes in the fridge to cool completely.
Method for the Topping:
Once cake has cooled completely in the tin, in the fridge, spread caramel on one of the cakes
Remove the other cake out of its tin and place the cake on top the caramel topped cake.
Spread whipped cream on top of the cake in the tin.
Place the cake back in the fridge to set for another 1 hour or until serving. (keep in the tin)
Just before serving sprinkle chocolate shavings on top and serve.