When Our Staff Came to Stay

When Our Staff Came to Stay

7 June 2016 | Inside Angama |

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!

Azei and Alice at the lodge

Azei Lago (Senior Camp Manager) and his wife: “I work here, I live here and yet I didn’t know how much I didn’t see until I stayed here as a guest.”

 

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!”

Angama Staff lunching on the deck

RIGHT: Irene (picnic chef) and her husband, “It felt weird not being in the kitchen to prepare the lunch but I loved it! I truly appreciate my colleagues!”

 

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.

Staff enjoying the view

LEFT: John Mathu (Guide) and his fiance on the deck of their tent, “This is where I sat from 5am to watch the sunrise. I felt spoiled.”

 

Suspended between heaven and earth? No … heaven ON earth!!

Thank you Angama family for an experience that will live long in our hearts!

Thank you note from askari Kiken Ole Kerua

Thank you note attached from Kiken Ole Kerua (an Askari, and one of our first employees)

 

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.

AUTHOR: Azei Lago

Azei is a much loved and respected member of the Angama family best known for his prowess during installation of somehow getting every single item from the onsite makeshift warehouse through the mud and pouring rain into just the right place. He was a fiend on the radio rapping out instructions and unmuddling the muddles. He is also known as The Voice of Angama Mara – you will understand when you come and stay.

COMMENTS (2)
Charlotte
June 7, 2016

What a fabulous and special idea, to host your wonderful staff as guests! Well done to Angama Mara

REPLY
Hugh
June 7, 2016

I think the idea of having your staff experience the property as guests was an inspired idea, many, many more owners of service businesses should try it – eye opening in lots of ways..

REPLY
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