We went to the same high school and both matriculated the same year, although we were not friends & did not know how soon our paths would meet in an unexpected place. Ulrich qualified as a game ranger at Allenby campus in Centurion where he did his diploma in Game Farm Management and Conservation and soon started his career in the hospitality industry in 2004 as a junior game ranger guiding in the Waterberg, working under then Lodge Manager Louis Strauss (now the GM at Jock Safari Lodge). Arline studied Health & Skincare at Success International Health & Skincare Academy on the Westrand and started her career in the hospitality industry as a spa therapist at the very same lodge that Ulrich was working. We married in 2007 and continued on to work various lodges over the past years. We gained experience in many aspects of lodge management.
How did you come to be the Lodge Managers of the property?
In 2009 we set off for what was going to be a 3 year contract in lodge management in Botswana. Very quickly we realised that work permits were going to be a very big problem and were sent back to South Africa. We ended up on a 2 month contract for Nkomazi Game Reserve. The GM at the time, Fred Stow, now the GM of Sanbona Game Reserve, joked with us saying that we should stay at Nkomazi and have babies. Our work permits for Botswana eventually came through and we were very surprised that we were granted 3 year permits! Very excited about the permits, we returned to Botswana, but God had other plans for our lives. On our first stint of time-off we found out that we were expecting! Our future was unsure now, as our contract in Botswana clearly stated that we were not allowed to have children on the reserve. A random phone call from Louis Strauss, the then GM of Nkomazi, came with an offer of employment, as he had just resigned to move to our other property Jock Safari Lodge. We started as Lodge managers of Nkomazi Game Reserve on 10 November 2009. There was truth in the jest about us staying & having babies! We welcomed our 2nd child in 2012.
How would you describe your management style?
It’s quite informal as we are people’s persons and like to interact closely with our team. We both still enjoy guiding & spa therapy. Our department managers and their individual teams are the real stars of the Nkomazi show and we like to manage from the bottom up. They all have their areas of expertise and responsibility and are given maximum scope and recognition to achieve their goals, within clearly defined standards of performance. We love surrounding ourselves with strong, creative and innovative people and guests have often commented on the feeling of mutual respect and good humour during their stay. At the end of the day we are all in it for one reason only, our guests!
What motivates you? How do you motivate others?
The constant human energy of passionate committed people around us is a big motivator and of course we also live on a stunning reserve with constantly changing moods, daily and throughout the year. At Nkomazi we also love an exciting challenge and having to constantly think on our feet. We are particularly blessed with a staff compliment who are no strangers to interesting challenges, know how to rise to them, and get a big kick out of solving them. In short, they don’t need much motivating, they’re real self starters! Never before in any lodge environment have we come across such honest, warm hearted and professional staff. This is a happy family!
What is your favourite creature feature of the property?
Those magnificent Makhojwa Mountains in the background, they change all the time, depending on the time of day and season, and the incredible granite rock formations that often jut out of nowhere. Anyone who has ever travelled into the Mawelawela Valley and experienced those immense aloe-filled cliffs, thick forests and crystal clear streams, can’t help waxing lyrical!
What are the Unique Selling Points of your property?
We hope we will still have many good seasons here at Nkomazi!
We look forward to have you as our guest in the camp!