Celebrating the Women of Morukuru – Meet Host Ilse Vermeulen

Happy Women’s month to all the amazing ladies who are part of our Morukuru Family.We see your beauty and power and say, keep shining on. Meet Ilse Vermeulen  from Morukuru Family Madikwe, who takes inspiration from both her grandmothers and channels that energy into creating exceptional guest experiences.

What does Women’s Day mean to you? If I am truly honest, I never celebrated women’s day while growing up, I was already born into an era where women were allowed to have a voice, and opinion, to be seen and heard. For me, women’s day is to celebrate all the women that had to live in the shadows for a very long period many years ago.

Morukuru Family is famous for its great service levels - what does it mean to you to be part of a winning team? For me, it means that we are all working towards the same goal to create the best holiday experience for all our guests and that we, as a team all together are creating a winning team.

Your job is to make holiday experiences the absolute best for guests. If you could be a guest for a day - which activity would you choose to do? That’s a no-brainer. I would sign up for the Hide sleep-out. Here you get to listen to the animals calling during the night, and if you are lucky, maybe some special visitors will pop past the waterhole in front of the hide. I would sit and enjoy a drink and look up to the sky and see thousands of stars and wake up the next morning to a beautiful sunrise.

Where there is a woman, there is magic. How do you “bring the magic”? Extra attention to detail. My husband Evan and I always say we don’t have difficult guests but rather all our guests have different needs, so once you have figured that  out, you know how to make your guests happy.

You work in an amazing nature reserve - which is well known as a birding paradise - what is your favourite bird? The Grey Go-away bird - also known as the grey loerie or kwêvoël. These are cheeky and bold and pretty common to spot.  

What’s the nicest thing a guest ever said to you? It was the time a group of guests told me how thankful they were for all the effort that we had put into making their stay at the lodge unforgettable. It is always nice to be acknowledged for doing an excellent job.

What’s the best advice another woman gave you? I am a Christian, so the best advice given to me was that God is always in charge, and although you don’t know what is waiting for you at the end of the road, you know that God will walk all the way with you!

Tell us about three women you admire and why? First up is my maternal grandmother, who we call we call Ouma Mimi. She dedicated her life to caring for her son,who was born with severe physical and mental disabilities. She never considered a special needs home for him. She took on full responsibility for looking after my uncle. Her sacrifice allowed my grandfather the opportunity to build a career. She is the strongest person  I know, and if I can cook one day like her, I think my husband will be very happy.

Secondly is my paternal grandmother, Mari. Sadly she passed away over ten years ago, but she was an amazing woman always making everyone feel part of the family. she had a very kind heart and could put a smile on anyone’s face. She was the naughty “Ouma”, always having fun with the grandkids and last but not least, she was very creative and enjoyed making porcelain dolls, jewellery, clothing and even painting.

The third would be me in ten years. I feel that we can learn something new every day and that there is always room for improvement. I did not have an easy life growing up, but I feel that so far, I have made great success out of it. I have many more goals to achieve, and hopefully, within the next ten years, I can be just like both of my grandmas.

Are you a listener or a talker? I am both a listener and a talker. I like to listen to people and understand why they are reacting the way that they are, but on the other hand, I am also very opinionated and like to speak my mind. I think it depends on the situation.

What is a skill you wish you had? To be able to write, I am a very imaginative person who always has multiple stories in my head, but I have no ideahow to put them in writing.