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Working up the ranks from manager to guest house, lodge, hotel owner

Clifford Ngakane has gone from managing a hotel to owning five lodges. Picture: Supplied

Clifford Ngakane has gone from managing a hotel to owning five lodges. Picture: Supplied

Published Jan 18, 2022


Pretoria - Working up the ranks in any given profession is hard work, and it takes tremendous dedication and being loyal to your ideas and concepts.

This usually formulates one’s dreams and shows a high level of commitment, said Clifford Ngakane.

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He stands head and shoulders above his peers as the perfect example of hard work and determination, translating to success.

After 27 years, 15 of which he was general manager in the hospitality industry, his career has been about passion and not just any job.

Ngakane, who is originally from a village called Ledig next to Sun City in the North West, but has made Limpopo his home, owns five lodges in the middle of Burgersfort.

“After opening Clifford’s Lodge and Spa in Burgersfort, I built Eltasha Guest House, Butterflytree Guest House in another town, then Rufaro Luxury Lodge and Dineos Lodge and Spa, both in Burgersfort, and Sophia Guest house in Steelpoort.

“These businesses came about by analysing the market and needs and checking the number of clients who are rejected, and without rocket science, if you reject as many rooms as the current occupancy, it should tell you a story. So why act or partner up and open more rooms.”

With the tourism industry ailing because of the Covid-19 pandemic, Ngakane was not deterred.

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“Covid times have forced one to critically analyse the business and what works for the area that one is trading in, and look for opportunities, not just sit back and expect money to roll in. We went through some tough periods with the restrictions and people not travelling. After months when we did not have income, we had to negotiate hard with landlords, banks and our own staff on payments as we were not receiving much income.

“I actually remember days when I had to be up as a security guard because we had no income.

“That was not a nice period. But those days made one stronger, as they also gave me time to think about future risk management for the business.”

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He said some of the glaring challenges to owning lodges were electricity and water, which needed additional investments like boreholes and generators.

“Clients need creature comforts.

“Some big companies sometimes forget that they can hurt a small guest house if they do not pay on time.”

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Next on Ngakane’s plate is building a hotel, on which he has started and which he is aiming to launch by December this year.

“I’m aiming to have a 50-room hotel, mixed aparthotel and traditional facility as I believe that Sekhukhune and Tubatse, in particular, have great potential. I am going to invest in the area. This with the advent of the Special Economic Zone in the area and a lot of infrastructure development with mining being the backbone.

“It calls for having great relationships and being humble. It does not cost anything to be friendly and also having staff or team members who look after customers. Being able to support and cooperate with your competitors as well is very important.

“But the main key is to communicate and let your customers experience the best you can afford.”

Pretoria News