Hotelier Mike Jackson is now the general manager of the five-star Fairmont Zimbali Hotel and other IFA-owned properties at the Zimbali Coastal Resort.
DURBAN - It was only a matter of time before someone offered legendary hotelier Mike Jackson a job that was too good to refuse.

The former Durban-based KZN director of operations for Tsogo Sun took early retirement from his top job last year.

At his farewell party after being with the hotel group for 38 years, he was described as the “epitome of customer service”.

Jackson has played a key role in the Durban and KZN hospitality industry for years, working tirelessly to bring tourists to the city. He was a board member of several tourism bodies and is still on the board of Tourism KZN.

He had wanted to step down on retirement, but recalled that Sihle Zikalala, the MEC for Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs, insisted that he stayed on.

Pressed at the time about what his next job would be, he said he might consider “something really cool” if it was offered to him.

Three months later, a call came in asking him if he would be “interested in a project”.

When he enquired further he was asked if he would like to be the general manager of the five-star Fairmont Zimbali and the other IFA-owned properties at the luxury Zimbali Coastal Resort near Ballito, on the North Coast, “and run the place”.

“When I saw the facilities and the outstanding location, it was easy to say ‘yes’ to the offer. It really is the most magnificent place,” said Jackson, who is already building up a team to help attract even more tourists to the various properties, which include the Zimbali Lodge, the Zimbali Vacation Club, and the Fairmont Heritage Place, an exclusive club of 18 private residences.

The destination has an 18-hole golf course, 10 treatment rooms at the beach spa and a conference centre which can host 700 delegates.

There will also be a 100-room hotel at the mixed-use node, The Boulevard, at the new Zimbali Lakes development, which is under construction and scheduled to be completed in up to three years’ time.

“I’m going to be very busy,” he said.

Jackson is on a drive to bring the resorts up to a par with top uMhlanga hotels like the five-star Beverly Hills and the Oyster Box.

“We will attract guests who would normally go to those hotels,” he said.