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Eat, drink and be merry - not only an appropriate pre-Christmas motto, but a perfect summary of a typical guest experience at Mont Rochelle! In the lead-up to the festive season, we found some time to speak to our Food and Beverage Manager, Gys van Staden, who has given the low-down as to what Christmas really looks and tastes like at Mont Rochelle.
Please can you introduce yourself, telling us a little bit about who you are and what you do?
My career in food and beverage started when I was 16 years old. It was initially not my career of choice but has developed into a true passion of mine. A few months ago, I relocated from Johannesburg to take up the position of Food and Beverage Manager of Mont Rochelle. On joining the team, I spent time recruiting and building up the expertise across the team which has enabled us to get the right team structure and support in place. Outside of work, I enjoy visiting wine farms and restaurants in the area with my wife, Carla.
How long have you worked at Mont Rochelle?
I started at Mont Rochelle on the 1st August 2016.
What in your opinion makes Mont Rochelle stand out compared to other hotels in the region?
Mont Rochelle is your vacation home; it's not just another hotel. It's a place where you walk in and you are greeted by your name. Guests soon find themselves greeting the staff by their first name too! Mont Rochelle is a journey of the senses from the beautifully designed rooms, the wine tasting, stunning views and the variety of dining opportunities.
How do you ensure you and your team deliver the high standards of customer service expected during their time with you?
The kind of team members we select to work with us are people with the real Virgin DNA and be a part of the experience we want our guests to have. This along with constant training and skills development gives us the edge over our competitors.
Dining at Mont Rochelle is one of the most celebrated aspects of a stay. Do you have a favourite dish or naughty treat?
Dining is most certainly the highlight of a stay at Mont Rochelle and is not something to be missed, especially with so many different options. With so much choice it is difficult to choose a favourite dish, but a classic and very popular treat is Eddies Malva Pudding, a traditional South African dessert.
What food does a traditional Christmas meal consist of in South Africa?
We have so many different cultures in South Africa so it's hard to say but in my opinion it is all about abundance! Some of the more popular and traditional menu items could include butterflied leg of lamb on the braai (barbeque), turkey on the braai with cashew nut stuffing, crayfish and beef fillet, Panettone pudding, towers of ice cream with berries and meringue and Christmas mince pies, just to mention a few!
With Christmas fast approaching, how does the guest experience change at the hotel in the lead up to Christmas? Are there any special touches?
Christmas is about family, lots of good food and of course, wine! We like to focus on these aspects and make sure that all our guests enjoy the festive season with their family and friends with exceptional food and wine. A tradition at Mont Rochelle is for our farm worker's children to sing some beautiful carols to our guests on Christmas Eve. This is something not to be missed.
What advice would you give to guests staying at Mont Rochelle for the first time? Any top tips!
Two nights is not enough! There is just so much to do and experience on the property and surrounding areas.
Is anything special planned at Mont Rochelle over New Year?
Once again food is at the centre of the experience. We are doing South African New Year's with a bit of a French twist. There will be various food stations spread out around the terrace and lawn of the Miko restaurant. Some of these stations include an oyster and bubbly bar and the Miko grill room. Apart from the food there will some traditional South African entertainment. You'll have to join us to experience it all!
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