As a Camp Manager, I have been at the forefront of ensuring that the guest experience at Angama Mara is the very best it could be. I have seen our guests taken aback at their first view from the guest area, shedding tears when they enter the tent, speechless when they reach the crest of the Out of Africa kopje … but it has always been abstract to me. Until it happened to me.
I had the privilege of being the first staff member to be hosted in this unique program, where every single member of staff was invited to experience Angama Mara as a guest. I invited my wife and we were welcomed at the airstrip by our guide who drove us to South Camp. Seeing my colleagues lined up to greet us with waves, claps and smiles so big you could count their teeth, was indeed a sight to behold! Having my wife there actually gave me a fresh set of eyes, as she ooh’ed and aah’ed at every step of our stay: from the welcome, to the view from the deck, from arriving in our tent, to the views as we walked to the kopje, from the picnic atop the kopje, to the salad we had, indeed this was a treat. Needless to say, I now must save enough to bring her back!
About 50 members of staff (nearly half) have enjoyed this experience and it is a joy to watch them and their partners beaming at the end of their stay with some even booking an extra paid night (we get great rates!). One of the memorable moments for the staff was waking up in the middle of the night and seeing the sky so full of stars that is surreal. There were some of them who always believed vegetables should be cooked, but there they were wolfing down the Green Salad with Bocconcini. Our partners could not get their heads wrapped around the idea that the managers could actually attend to them, bringing in their orders, serving them cocktails, carrying their bags to the room. Some of the staff had to be constantly reminded, ”You are our Guest!”
The success of this programme could not be better captured than by the actions of one of our gardening staff. He actually took a salary advance to use as tips for all the staff that were on duty!
As the first phase of this programme comes to an end, I can confidently say we now better appreciate what our guests go through, and are much better equipped to enhance the guest experience through our service. The lodge is exceptional but what makes it stand out is the staff.
Suspended between heaven and earth? No … heaven ON earth!!
Thank you Angama family for an experience that will live long in our hearts!
Postscript: Mary Wanjiru, who manages our lovely Safari Shop, had this to say:
When you’re staff you take everything you do as normal. But come as a guest to Angama, you feel something else abnormal. No wonder Angama receives best comments from our guests. My son and I enjoyed it. Staff love is unconditional love, the tent and food all excellent. We will never forget the best reception we got from Azei, Bonface, Josephat, Daniel, Moses and Carol – ooh my God, the whole team. I almost cried because it was an overwhelming welcome. And our guide Benjamin who made sure we saw the Big Five. We thank you all even our Directors for letting us feel the good feeling of Angama Mara – you are going far. Thank you all even those not mentioned and the kitchen staff please note that we appreciate you all. We were happy.