Home' Travel News : October-November 2015 Contents 48 travel news october november 2015
october november 2015 travel news 49
I managed to graduate amongst the top ten students with distinction, and in 1998 Nadege
and I moved to South Florida to work in a management development programme at
the Boca Raton Resort and Club. This was a 1,000 room resort with a 300-room beach
club, five golf courses, and a state of the art conference centre able to cater for 7,000
guests at any given time with 2,500 employees taking care of this enormous facility.
We did very well at this hotel, and we were both given work permits and hired after
our 18-month stint ended. Nadege eventually became Director of Food and Beverage
Purchasing while my path took me through various positions in operations and financial
analysis ending up as Financial Controller Operations. After five years at Boca Raton
I was poached by a company called Kerzner International. Founded by Sol Kerzner
who developed Sun City in South Africa and many other hotel developments around
the world. Kerzner International today is known for its two flagship properties Atlantis
Bahamas and Atlantis The Palm Dubai, as well as a luxury hotel chain called the One
You worked for Sol Kerzner at Sun International in the Bahamas. This must
have been a fascinating experience. What roles did you play there?
Sol Kerzner developed the Atlantis Resort on Paradise Island in the late 90s after
he left South Africa in the early 90s. When I worked there, the resort had 2,317 hotel
rooms, a 800-room time share development, a mega luxury yacht marina, a Vegas
style casino, and at that time the largest aquarium in the world with more than 50,000
aquatic animals representing 250-species, with 5,000 employees. Today it has doubled
In my new role as Senior Financial Analyst working for the Financial Planning and
Analysis team I focused on new development projects as well as improving the existing
operating structures at the Atlantis Bahamas.
This was a very intense and stressful job and required me to travel from Fort Lauderdale
each week to the Bahamas; a normal work week would be between 80-100 hours. It
might sound great to travel to Paradise Island all the time but after a while it gets
tedious, to live in hotel rooms and eat in hotel restaurants 80% of the time and only go
home over the weekend.
The work however, was fascinating; our team was directly involved with future
development projects in Morocco, Mexico, and Dubai. I spent a lot of my time on
the feasibility and development plans for Atlantis The Palm in Dubai as well as the
preliminary feasibility studies of the 700-room Magazan Resort in Casablanca.
During my time at Kerzner International, Nadege stayed at the Boca Raton Resort and
Club and in early 2007 I was offered a very attractive job to be part of the opening team
at Atlantis the Palm in Dubai. We both decided that it was the way to go but I asked
for 6-months off between Fort Lauderdale and Dubai as we had hardly had any leave
during the nine years we lived in the US since leaving hotel school.
When and why did you come back to Kenya?
We decided to go to Kenya to get married and Jane suggested that the wedding
reception be held at the Tamarind Mombasa and the party on the Tamarind Dhow
afterwards. Both Nadege and I love Kenya so we thought this was a great idea and we
started making the arrangements right away.
Needless to say that the Tamarind did a fabulous job throughout the entire event that
lasted for four days at the Tamarind Mombasa with different venues each day while all
our guests stayed at the Tamarind Village. After the wedding we went on honeymoon
to the Mara (together with all our guests). I think I need to mention that.
During the time running up to the wedding Martin Dunford and Jane Seex asked me if I
could to do some consulting work for the Tamarind Group. This consulting work consisted
mostly of operational analysis and the result was a report with some suggestions on
how the group could improve its structure with some ideas for the future. They then
proceeded to suggest that I join the group with the aim of developing a succession plan
for the company as well as spreading some of our brands to other countries.
To make a long story short, I accepted the offer and notified Kerzner that I would not join
the Dubai team. My first goal was to develop the Carnivore brand outside of Kenya; we
were introduced to an Egyptian partner, which ended up in the opening of a Carnivore
and a Tamarind on a boat in Giza. However this ended following the Arab Spring, our
Egyptian friend calls me once in a while asking if we would like to start again but the
reality is that we are too busy here in Kenya developing our new products.
Atlantis Paradise Island, The Bahamas
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