Durban - THE words “hope”, “love” and a giant heart lit up Durban’s Southern Sun Elangeni and Maharani hotel on Thursday in a picture that quickly went viral.
“It was a message of hope to our staff and all in the hospitality industry,” said general manager Wayne Smith.
He came up with the idea after seeing other hotels had done similar things in the past.
“I come to work to keep the building ticking over and was just trying to keep everyone inspired and motivated. I thought, ‘How can I keep everyone going?'", he said.
As to the planning, it was quite an operation. “I took a picture of the complex the day before and worked on it at home with the family. We managed to work out how to write on the two towers and then had to identify the room numbers and plotted it all on a spreadsheet.
“The hotel is limiting power in the building so we switched on all the DB boards. It took three of us about four hours walking the passages and going to the rooms to switch the lights on and open the curtains. There were 153 rooms,” he said.
Smith took the picture before starting the process of switching everything off again.
He said his staff were “blown away”.
“I had messages coming through at 2am and 3am. We’re a family, and a lot of people have worked at the hotel so long, so it struck a chord. I didn’t think it would.”
He said his staff were still receiving messages from guests and suppliers. “They’re telling us that they’re missing us. Well, we are missing everyone as much as they miss us,” he said.
Smith said he hoped the signs were positive going forward, not just for the hospitality industry, but South Africa as a whole.
“We have obeyed the rules of lockdown but we’re ready and waiting to open when we can.”