Having delighted travellers for over 40 years, creating and running some of the finest safari lodges across Africa and India for &Beyond, the lifelong dream of building Angama Mara drew renowned operators Steve & Nicky Fitzgerald out of retirement, saving their best for last.
These days, their Co-Founder Steve Mitchell carries the torch toilet brush as Angama’s CEO.
Nicky spent four decades developing numerous hotels, restaurants and over 50 luxury safari lodges across both sub-Saharan Africa and India. After qualifying from the University of Cape Town with an arts degree in English and History, she quickly discovered that her calling lay in taking care of guests. Together with Steve, she co-founded Halcyon Hotels in South Africa’s Cape and in 1994 joined &Beyond.
At &Beyond, Nicky spent her first eight years at the coal-face of lodge operations, one of her proudest achievements being the development of the Ngorongoro Crater Lodge in Tanzania. From 2002, Nicky took full responsibility for sales and marketing for the group and spent the next seven years on an aeroplane: telling the company’s remarkable story far and wide and directing a team that developed &Beyond into one of the world’s leading experiential travel brands. It is this network of long-standing relationships across the globe which Nicky prizes above all, and which has resulted in her being consistently recognized by her peers for her contribution to the industry: as a judge in various capacities, Relais & Chateaux Woman of the Year, and most recently, as a board member for the Adventure Travel Conservation Fund.
After Steve’s death in 2017, Nicky served as CEO until her retirement in June 2022. She continues to serve as an advisor to Mitch, as a shareholder and non-executive director on Angama’s board and is a respected thought leader and keynote speaker in the hospitality industry.
Born and educated in South Africa, Steve spent 37 years building two substantial hospitality businesses. First, he founded Halcyon Hotels in 1981, a group which included Cape Town’s Bay Hotel and Blues Restaurant, among others. Thereafter he joined &Beyond, then known as CC Africa, and from 1994 served as the Managing Director / CEO until his departure 15 years later in 2009.
At &Beyond, he was instrumental in growing the business from three safari lodges in South Africa to over 50 lodges across all of sub-Saharan Africa and India, as well as travel management and property development divisions. During his tenure, &Beyond became the first lodge company to acquire a tour operating business and realize the value in vertical integration up the supply chain. A couple of Steve’s most notable achievements at &Beyond include negotiating lease agreements with communities across Africa; expansion initiatives into India; and the conclusion of a groundbreaking land claim settlement in South Africa.
After his departure from &Beyond, Steve explored several opportunities in Central and South America. He credited his achievements to inspiring a common vision, never wavering from core values and the absolute empowerment of staff. The development of Angama Mara was the fulfilment of a long-held dream of his, to build a lodge on this beautiful piece of land.
Steve passed away in October 2017, following an unexpected complication after a successful heart transplant. Angama Mara stands proudly as his legacy, and together the team honour his memory up high on the edge of Africa’s Great Rift Valley.
Angama was co-founded by Steve Mitchell, a finance-trained professional attracted to the opportunity presented by this remarkable site, the adventure of a start-up and the role that business can play as a catalyst for change.
After graduating from the University of Cape Town with a Bachelor of Business Science in Finance, Mitch spent a few years at &Beyond as their in-house analyst — where he first worked with Steve & Nicky — and credits his time on assignment at Le Quartier Français, GetSmarter and pursuing opportunities in Latin America as core influences on his way of thinking.
Having previously served in a variety of roles, Mitch was appointed CEO in July 2022, ensuring the continuity of values on which the business was founded. Persistent to a fault and naturally curious, he brings an entrepreneurial approach to growing the business across East Africa, while ensuring Angama is a model citizen — in part through the work of the Angama Foundation — and continually developing Angama’s team of professionals in their daily pursuit to deliver high-touch guest experiences.