Ilse Vermeulen- Lodge Host, Morukuru Family Madikwe
25 April 2019
You are a Lodge Host. Tell us what that means?
My job is to make sure that all guest requirements and expectations are met. This means I coordinate with each department and relay information so that guests experience their dream holiday.
You live and work at Morukuru. Does this wonderful environment inspire you to tackle your job with greater enthusiasm than if you were working from an office park?
Yes it does! I love the solitude and the fresh air of the bush. When working or visiting in the city I feel there is constant noise.
Your husband, Evan is a ranger at Morukuru and you guys work as a team. Do you have any tips for juggling home and work life?
Working with your partner has its challenges but we try to stick to three rules: Give each other space; make time for each and schedule in quality time. Working with your partner isn’t necessarily quality time.
Do you schedule in down time - and what are your favourite things to do to counterbalance life at the lodge?
It is important to schedule in down time. I like to exercise and keep a healthy mind. I catch up on some TV and I hang out with my husband.
How important is communication and what systems work best for you?
Communication is of the utmost importance in the workplace. We do not always have time to have staff meetings so we have to communicate constantly with each other to make sure that all necessary departments have all the information. The best system for me is to speak up and listen.
We know how important teamwork is - how do you build strong relationships with your colleagues and tell us how important cooperation is at Morukuru? How do colleagues support each other to get the job done?
We build strong relationships by being honest with each other and trusting that everyone will do their duty in the different departments. This all comes together to create a wonderful stay for our guests. Cooperation is very important because when one person is not pulling their weight then the whole operation can come to a standstill.
Morukuru is a special place. When guests leave what do you hope they take away in terms of experience?
Each group of guests that we have might have different expectations for their trip. It can be someone’s 3rd or 4th time in the bush or it can be their first time. I hope that they leave having experienced a memorable holiday.For some guests - visiting Morukuru is their first bush experience - what do you think is the most thrilling aspect of a safari holiday?
Driving in an open vehicle and being able to experience the animals up close. Not all Game Reserves allows Rangers to go off road to track animals. But here in Madikwe Game Reserve guests can be in very close proximity to the animals.
Do you and your team approach each group differently - and how do you add individual touches to take the experience to the next level.
We treat all our guests the same. Our philosophy is based on brilliant hospitality. If a guest is celebrating a special occasion we like to acknowledge that by making a birthday card, baking a cake and creating a special, romantic dinner.
If you could give out advice to your guests before they arrive - what would you tell them?
I would suggest guests to be open minded so that they can experience the bush in full. Morukuru Family has a lot of experiences to enjoy besides the standard safari. For example guests can fully immerse themselves with a sleepout at our luxury hide or a guided bush walk. Being a little adventurous and trying new things is a great way to maximise a safari holiday.
Living and working in the bush makes you a bona fide bushbaby - but where do you like to visitwhen you get some vacation time?
When going on holiday I head for the any place close to the ocean. I love the sand on my feet, the sea-breeze in my hair and the calming sound of waves in the background.
Morukuru is all about family and community - tell us how the lodge makes a difference in daily lives in Madikwe?
Morukuru founded the Goodwill Foundation. This helps with the upliftment of the local community and nearby settlements like the Molatedi village. The Morukuru Goodwill Foundation has partnered with the Molatedi school and is involved in a number of projects such as establishing a vegetable garden and making a recycling cage for the school. The Morukuru Goodwill Foundation also assists with conservation in Madikwe Game Reserve. One of the projects is Rhino notching which identifies individual animals and facilitates the study of their behavior and territory.
Tell us about your most memorable bush experience
In 2017 one of our guests asked me to join them on the morning safari and on the safari I was able to see a leopard for the first time.
You have a fabulous food and beverage team at Morukuru - is food a passion of yours? And what type of cuisine is your favourite? How involved do you get with sharing ideas and recipes with your team?
I love eating food but not so much the preparation. My favorite dish at Morukuru is Tomato Gazpacho. The Chefs at Morukuru are very talented and creative with their food, and I like to take pictures of the food so that we can use it for social media.
After a long day on duty - what is your favourite drink to enjoy while watching a perfect Morukuru sunset?
A Glass of Rosé wine or a cup of coffee.