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A Journey of Wonderful People

Steve Fitzgerald takes a walk down memory lane as he shares the story of his career, his management philosophy and highlights the wonderful people he has worked with along the way

People often ask me about the success factors of our long, sometimes tough but incredible journey in the hospitality industry – to be honest most weren’t planned as we stumbled from one exciting venture to the next.

In my formative commercial years there were some very influential mentors who moulded me. I sadly lost my father at an early age otherwise I might have ended up as a more conservative businessman – maybe even a proper practicing accountant?

I was fortunate enough to be articled to a very brilliant accountant, Steve Phelps. He died a few years ago and this has left a huge gap in my heart and life. He was so smart, had such a shrewd commercial head – he was also a total hooligan and led me astray with his love of horses, alcohol, cigars – I will leave it at that. But I was lucky to be exposed to a very alternate way of looking at things.

My second mentor was equally maverick, a farmer of sorts and committed entrepreneur, Storm Quinan. He could make and lose fortunes faster than anyone but it was his positivity and enthusiasm that got us into the hotel industry in Arniston way back in 1981. That was the first plan that wasn’t planned.

Obviously, my smartest move was identifying Nicky to be my partner when she was just 14. I saw her in the distance at a tennis tournament and turned to my friends and said, ‘I am going to marry that girl’. And so it came to pass. In fairness, I didn’t know then that she would become one of the finest operators and marketers in the luxury hospitality industry (well, in my book anyway). I think it fair to say we wouldn’t have gone this route without her extraordinary skill set. And she is a machine (and it is very tiring).

Then of course there are all the wonderful people we have worked with on this journey – way too many to name. For some strange reason, we seem to have been able to attract extraordinary talent and managed to keep out of their way sufficiently so that they could all truly shine.

When asked about how it feels to let go of operations we have started, it is always the people we miss – not the business itself. So from our most amateurish start in Arniston 34 years ago, we have worked with thousands (literally) of extraordinary people. And what a joy it has been to work with them all – if I were to rack my brains I can hardly think of more than a handful who have disappointed.

Perhaps it has had something to do with our philosophy that there is no such thing as bad staff – only bad management. This belief enabled a very open, trusting and devolved style of doing business, to which our staff in Africa responded to with great enthusiasm. I hope they are as positive about us as we are of them.

So now to Angama Mara – we have assembled a dream team of delightful and talented Kenyans, led by the wise Duncan Kiroro. I have no doubt this is another step down the familiar road of working with amazing staff. We so look forward to it.

Filed under: Inside Angama

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About , Angama Team , Team , The Angama Way

About: Steve Fitzgerald

Steve was fully and solely responsible for getting us all to the top of the Rift Valley as Angama Mara was a 15 year long-awaited dream for him. Sadly, he 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 will honour his memory.

Browse all articles by Steve Fitzgerald Meet the angama team

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Join the Conversation (11 comments)

Comments (11):

Patty Lloyd

17 June 2015

I know this venture will be as successful if not more so than the others you have run. May Angama Mara be a great success!

Andy Wassung

17 June 2015

Thanks for the read Steve, and LOVE the pics of the folks in the collages :) Congrats & all the best!

Sara de Maine Kearns

17 June 2015

just love the passion, met Nicki in Capetown and so hope to see Angama in October...good luck.

sarita hegde roy

16 June 2015

So inspiring, so much nostalgia. Remember the time we launched Taj Safaris and experiencing the CCA way for the first time. looking forward to anecdotes to re live all that Debra, Chris n Les have shared all the best on the newest at Mara


16 June 2015

indeed it was long route with many memories....keep up the good work and continue to dream big, all the best

Samantha Terblanche

16 June 2015

Steve, am so happy for you and Nicky both that the journey is yet again only just beginning. You have been two of the most beautiful and influential mentors in my life. Responsible in part for allowing me to visit some of the most "can only dream of" places that I would never had the opportunity to see, meeting some of the craziest, creative and loyal friends one can ever hope to make, taught me skills and standards that will serve me though life, showed me worlds that have allowed me to see the world through different eyes and from many perspectives. Your endurance and capacity to succeed and thirst for adventure inspire me more often than you can begin to imagine and I am sure that I am not alone in feeling this gratitude. You are truly special as individuals, but a tour de force as a couple! Wishing you every success with your new venture and hope that someday our paths may cross again. Lots of love to you both and full steam ahead. Your faithful PA "S-tir-blanche" xx

Will Taylor

16 June 2015

Steve - you inspire all around you - and more than that you are incredible fun to be with. Here's to Angama Mara and years of success, happiness and making dreams come true every day. This is important stuff and it is in good hands.

Byron Ross

16 June 2015

Great article Steve. There were many reasons we loved working with you guys, but one was definitely the loyalty you showed to the staff that worked for you. When the chips were down, we knew that you would send the plane no matter what and that made us all feel that you had our back in those situations. Also the feeling of empowerment and being valued that we had. Hope the opening went smooth and love to the team.

Willie & Teresita Carballo

16 June 2015

We wish all the very best in this new "adventure" and both deserve that dream..... I had the privilege to come to Sud Africa in 1971 and felt in love with that country & Africa in total. Many great remembers.....and lovely stories. In 2000 I had the 2nd privilege, started to cooperate with CCAfrica helping to promote the lodges in several LATAM markets. Met your both and several of your great teams.... the beginning of another great experience with Africa. You will never imagine how thankfull we will be for all the wonderfull experiences you and the CCA/&Beyond teams have placed in our souls for ever. For all that you have made us to produce the largest exposure in the press in LATAM that all lodges had in the first 10 years we worked together, becoming the fans of "luxury safaris" until today and spreading the word with all people we meet..."You can´t miss the safari experience, at least once in your life"....the best was : we have succed..!! You made it...great job. Thanks again, and best wishes from LATAM

Jane Behrend

16 June 2015

Lovely blog Steve! Sending happy thoughts and best wishes to you and Nicky on your new adventure!

Rene Abrahamse

16 June 2015

It sounds like a dream come true - one of the most beautiful places in the world which I dream of visiting one day ... best of luck!

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