Arriving at Ellerman House as General Manager felt a little like taking over a national cricket team that had remained undefeated for two decades. Please excuse the analogy if you are unfamiliar with the sport. I’d be happy to tell you all about it over a glass of wine on your next visit to Ellerman House. I was taking the rein from a phenomenal captain, Ella Cuyler and her brilliant predecessors. Of course, the team management and selectors – namely the Harris family – remained intact, but I was nervous at the prospect of being clean bowled at the Bantry Bay end in the first over.
I soon realised that the reason this team has remained so successful is precisely because it is such a remarkable team in every respect of the word. I have never encountered such a passionate and capable group of people before. Their energy is infectious. From the Harris Family at the very top, right on through to every member of staff. This is a team intent upon offering the best service in the world and anything less will never be accepted.
Every day, we aim to fulfil our purpose: ‘We love what we do. We believe in changing people’s lives and find our own value in their experience.’
By building a property which plays home to a wonderful South African art collection, phenomenal selection of wines, beautiful indigenous gardens and more, we realise that our next frontier is to perfect the guest experience. Your fondest memories are often not a place, but rather an encounter, human interaction or adventure – evoking feelings that can’t be described in any hospitality manual. Apart from endeavoring to create magical encounters daily, it has also become a common quest for us to look for different, creative, out-of-the-box, bucket-list experiences. This year has thus seen the launch of our Signature Tours and Ellerman Exceptional Experiences: from hand-picked tour guides and wine estates to diving for your own diamond or travelling to Antarctica for the day! Watch this space as our in-house Experience Engineers continue to create ‘knock-out’ experiences.
These experiences along with other developments at Ellerman House, have garnered incredible attention from the media. We are fortunate enough to have received coverage throughout the world from Condé Nast Traveler, Forbes, Robb Report and even a glowing review from Tom Cahalan of The Good, The Bad and The Luxurious notoriety. We are extremely proud to still be capturing attention after 25 years of being in the business. This can only be attributed to Ellerman House constantly evolving its offering and striving to deliver the best experiences and service.
2017 was a year of celebrations for us. Our most notable was our 25 year birthday party. Along with the Harris family, we welcomed close trade partners and friends in the industry to celebrate the achievements of Ellerman House over the past two and a half decades. With local acts Paige Mac and Sketchy Bongo, festivities carried well into the next morning, proving that we still know how to party like 25 year olds.
The launch of Paul Harris and Margaret Gradwell’s Art Book showcasing the Ellerman House Art Collection by referencing the history of our nation, has been an absolute treat. The publication has thus far received great acclaim. All proceeds from the book are being donated to the Click Foundation.
On the subject of The Click Foundation, ArtAngels has become a much loved and eagerly anticipated event. ArtAngels was established in 2011 as a charity auction to raise funds for The Click Foundation. The event includes limited auction lots of fine art pieces kindly donated by some of South Africa’s best artists, the sale of raffle tickets for incredible prizes and fantastic food, wine and entertainment. The Click Foundation uses the proceeds generated from this event to purchase computers and expand the reach of the Reading Eggs programme in the environments in which they operate. This year, young talents Richard Brokensha and Lara Gear, as well as pianist Benjamin Fisher opened and closed for world renowned Vusi Mahlasela.
We continue to strive towards sharing the very best South African experiences. Our art collection, wine collection, beautiful location and South African hospitality will soon be complemented by our goal of embracing local cuisine and music. Chef Grant has been and will be working alongside incredible chefs from all over the world in an effort to revolutionise our cuisine offering, all the while maintaining our strong South African roots. I have been involved in a non-profit music academy for some time now and I have built up wonderful relationships with most of the country’s top musicians – many of whom you will see performing in the future at Ellerman House for special occasions or at our weekly sundowner session. New Year’s Eve will see the celebrated Majozi perform for our guests in a private show.
Many of you have asked about the water crisis in Cape Town. We are acutely aware and concerned about the severe drought that the Western Cape is currently experiencing. We recognise that everybody needs to play their part in protecting the fragile environment as best we can and as such, have taken several measures to reduce our water consumption as every drop counts. We are also continuing to craft new ways to creatively save water. I’d like to thank our guests for the phenomenal way in which they have responded to the request to save water. I have not yet received a single complaint from our in-house guests regarding the water-saving measures and it seems that nobody’s stay has been adversely affected.
Saying all this, where would we be without our guests? The reason we can create a home environment is because of the relationships we foster with our guests. It is truly like having our family with us and we are constantly shaped by our daily interactions. My own days are now starting at 5am thanks to a guest who happened to be an international motivational speaker and leadership guru and who advised us to meditate, exercise and write in a journal every morning. The only way that we can stay relevant and loved by our guests is for you to provide us with feedback. I welcome all your thoughts and opinions. You can contact me directly on email@example.com.
So, getting back to me joining this cricket team – we have had some tough matches, but when one has such a brilliant and supportive group of owners, managers, staff and guests, it makes things go so much easier. One can keep focusing on winning and spend less time worrying about being caught in the gulley.
As the year comes to an end, I’d like to thank all our families across the world. Thanks to the Harris Family for their ongoing and phenomenal vision and support. Thanks to the dynamic, brilliant, happy and supportive team that I work with. Thanks to our loyal trade partners and guests who are the reason why we are still here after 25 years.
Have a peaceful, loving and happy festive season as well as a spectacular 2018!
Paul Bruce-Brand and the Ellerman House Family
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+27 21 430 3200
+27 21 430 3215
180 Kloof Road,
Bantry Bay, 8005
Cape Town, South Africa