The story tells of a girl who lived in a room on the top floor of New York’s Plaza Hotel with her nanny, dog and turtle - it’s every little girl’s dream life.
Imagine finally meeting a modern-day Eloise?
Claire Mitchell has called some of the world’s most elegant hotels home. Having grown up with parents who worked in the hospitality business and grandparents who owned the Groot Marico Hotel in Zeerust in the North West, some of her earliest memories were of hotels.
“One of my fondest memories was definitely the energy. There were always people on the move: people coming into South Africa from Botswana to visit their families, South Africans travelling up to Botswana for hunting trips or holiday trips with their families. Being surrounded with that energy is infectious,” enthuses Mitchell.
She still draws from this energy today, and her passion for the hospitality industry has taken her far and wide - she now heads up sales and marketing for two leading hotels within the Rezidor Hotel Group.
But unlike a fictional character, following her dream took perseverance and hard work. Refusing to ride on her parents’ coattails, Mitchell started from the bottom.
After completing her travel and tourism studies, and a certificate in marketing and customer centricity, she started her career as a guest relationships manager at a hotel in London in 2004. She then continued to gain sales and marketing experience for several leading hospitality groups in SA before joining the Rezidor Group.
Working as a female in a male-dominated industry takes big kahunas, but Mitchell is coy in her approach: “I try not to view the industry as male- or female-dominated as I have many mentors and advisers from both genders. I always take the time to listen to their advice.”
It’s a fast-paced industry, and the competitive side is not lost on her.
“I do believe you need a strong backbone for this industry. You need to be working at full capacity 100% of the time. If you lose focus, you tend to miss opportunities.”
And working at full capacity is exactly what she does. There’s no rest for Mitchell: a quick visit to the gym after an early wake-up call will see her behind her desk at 7:30am where she’s already got her finger on the pulse.
“I’m working with a relatively new and dynamic team, where each person contributes their own value, and it’s so inspiring to see the positive impact we’re having on the strategy we set.”
Managing a team can be hard work, and it’s easy to get lost in the humdrum, but for Mitchell her career doesn’t make her one dimensional - she finds that family and friends grounds her.
“I keep my ‘special humans’ very close to my heart. I love exploring all the hidden treasures South Africa has to offer. My perfect weekend consists of anything that takes me outside, into the sunshine with great company, food and music.”
When pressed on what she likes to do during her downtime, it’s evident that her heart belongs to SA, naming Cape Town in summer, Kruger Park in winter and then her mom’s house who “always had an open-door policy when it came to family and friends. It’s a place we all feel welcome and rooted.”
Mitchell is loving life with her mantra being: “Absorbing the positive, letting the negative go.” She’s a boss lady with heart.