Renowned in the industry for creating some of the world’s finest safari lodges, husband and wife Steve & Nicky Fitzgerald saved their best for last. After delighting travellers for over 30 years – building and operating over 50 luxury lodges across Africa and India for &Beyond – the beauty of Angama Mara’s location – a lifelong dream drew them out of retirement.
Nicky has spent the past 35 years 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 aboard airplanes: 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, an international Relais & Chateaux Woman of the Year, and most recently, as a board member for the Adventure Travel Conservation Fund.
Since being appointed as CEO, Nicky takes full responsibility for the business and inspiring the team to rise to the challenge of ensuring Steve’s legacy lives on. She is completely hands-on with planning how guests will spend their days, training staff, and of course, telling the story.
Born and educated in South Africa, Steve spent 35 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 total 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.
Sadly, 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 Mara 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 which the business could play as a catalyst for change, helping to protect the Maasai Mara for generations to come.
After graduating from the University of Cape Town with a Bachelor of Business Science in Finance, Steve spent a few years at &Beyond as their in-house analyst, and credits his time on assignment at Le Quartier Francais, GetSmarter and pursuing opportunities in Latin America as influencing his way of thinking, prior to founding Angama.
Since being appointed as CFO, Steve is responsible for the financial and commercial vitality of the business, as well as general strategy and stewardship of the Angama Foundation.