Behind every successful hotel and holiday resort is Jenny Powell (pictured).
Okay, perhaps that’s not what you were expecting. But in Luxury Uncovered, which premieres on DStv’s Travel Channel tonight, the British television presenter and actress goes behind the scenes to uncover exactly what goes into making luxury.
She scours the globe and goes to places like Gleneagles in Scotland, Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates and London, England, for the five- and six-star hospitality and – here’s the fun part – puts herself in the shoes of chefs, butlers, wormery employees and game rangers.
The last job is what she is about to experience when I meet her and the crew at Oceana Beach and Wildlife Reserve in the Eastern Cape.
Luxury Uncovered works in three parts. First, Powell arrives at the luxurious spot and is given a hint as to what her task will be. The next day, she gets to explore the area with the various employees. Last, Powell has to explain everything she has learnt in a kind of show-and-tell manner. What adds to the already interesting twist in such a show is the effervescent Powell. She is always smiling and making faces that even the cameraman laughs at.
“It’s unexpected, innit?” Powell says, perking up even though she’s had a long day of shooting.
“People often think travel shows are all glossy and like flicking through a brochure. But we’re trying to make people realise that a top-end luxury resort has earned the rights to their accolades. People take for granted the attention to detail and it’s the person behind the scenes who makes a place what it is. Nothing is left to chance, which makes the people who try to teach me a hard act to follow.
“Plus, I do like travelling, it’s the best education you can get. I love people and different cultures and wherever I go, I find that everyone has a sense of humour.”
Powell, who reckons she might try her hand at stand-up comedy, thinks humour is something that runs in the family. Her parents, who are South African, moved to England when they were forceably removed from District Six.
“All my parents keep asking for is for me to bring them snoek when I come back,” she said, affecting an accent on the word “snoek.”
Powell says South Africa is “one of the most beautiful places in the world and it’s the place I most enjoyed coming to because it’s so personal to me”.
But that doesn’t mean the two locations that showcase South Africa on the series are shown any favouritism. On Luxury Uncovered, Powell gets to wear many hats.
• Luxury Uncovered, Travel Channel (DStv channel 179), tomorrow, at 8pm.