Above: Phillip and Philippa Dreyer of Pleasant Places receive their award from deputy minister of Tourism Fish Mahlalela and minister of tourism, Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane.
A local venue is among those to win an award at the seventh annual Lilizela Tourism Awards held at the Sun Square Arena in Pretoria at the weekend.
The event is the biggest and only countrywide celebration of tourism excellence in South Africa.
Tour operators, lodge owners, tour guides, game rangers, hotel chains, transport companies, excursion organisers and the like were judged in 32 categories.
Tourism minister Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane said this year’s awards were about celebrating 25 years of excellence since democratic freedom. “Thank you to the men and women who, in their area of work, go the extra mile to ensure that tourists who travel to our country enjoy a memorable experience. Providing real authentic experiences to tourists is what will sustain and grow our tourism sector.”
And doing just that for the Midlands was Pleasant Places Country Guest House in Lidgetton, which won the Country House category.
Philippa Dreyer, who owns the guesthouse with her husband, Phillip, said she was delighted to be recognised for their effort in ensuring guests enjoyed a world-class experience.
“The establishment, set on 16 hectares of property, was completely revamped in 2017 to deliver the four-star rated service to which it aspires. All rooms and public spaces were redesigned and updated by an award-winning interior decorator.
“It is indeed an honour to represent KZN and receive an award of the calibre of Lilizela, which is a great celebration of tourism and SA,” she said.
A little further afield, Mahai Caravan Park at Royal Natal in the Drakensberg won the Caravan & Camping category.
“Not many people are aware of this category and to be acknowledged for a job well done is quite an honour,” said Welile Mtshali, hospitality standard manager for Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife, under which Mahai falls.
“In our quest to deliver an exceptional visitor experience, we are hard at work to upgrade our facilities to meet the South Africa Grading Council requirements for a three-star rating.”
Other KZN winners were the Gorge Private Game Lodge & Spa in Port Shepstone, the Oyster Box hotel in Umhlanga, Bayala Game Lodge in Hluhluwe, the Olive Convention Centre in Durban and Ekhaya Boutique Hotel in Westville.
Congrats to all the winners.