The strength and courage of women in South Africa is celebrated on 9 August. At Sabi Sabi a strong female contingent across all departments forms the heart and soul of our business. Evident in each of our four unique lodges is the influence and special touch that only a woman could bring – be it the attention to detail or the warm, homely welcome that guests receive upon arrival.
Throughout Sabi Sabi’s 40-year history women have played an integral role in its success – working loyally as they ensure that we remain an award-winning, world-class destination. Our team live and flourish in this environment as both professionals in their career and – perhaps an even more challenging pursuit – as mothers, partners and wives in their personal households.
Women are the foundation of home and family life – the nurturers, caregivers and upholders of family values. Returning home at the end of a long workday as they shift their role from taking care of our guests to taking care of their families, requires the seemingly effortless balancing of responsibilities and meticulous time management. Each of our Sabi Sabi luxury lodges is captained by strong and wonderful women, who somehow find equilibrium between operating their families, their lodges and staff of the greater Sabi Sabi family.
“Who else can say they have seen a leopard in their garden?”, remarks warm and gracious Lauren Wyndham. “Nineteen years of living and working at Sabi Sabi has been the greatest pleasure for myself and my husband Rod, and witnessing our kids embrace this lifestyle is the ultimate reward.” Lauren has significantly contributed to the growth of our company, most notably as Lodge Manager of Bush Lodge. She admits to the challenges involved in managing a five-star lodge and a household with two young children, but that with the support of her team she manages it all, with apparent ease.
Ashleigh Heasman’s gentle manner sets guests arriving at Selati Camp at ease making them feel truly welcome. A decade at Sabi Sabi has taken Ash, as she is fondly called, from a therapist at Amani Spa, to managing both Amani Spas at Bush Lodge and Earth Lodge, to Bush Lodge reception and ultimately to co-managing Selati Camp. Ash and her team are extremely capable in the management of this intimate sanctuary. “There is limited time for oneself when working in hospitality, but our guests become like family after spending a couple of days with us, and the long hours pass by quickly when seeing how at home guests feel at Selati Camp.” She and her husband, Brett, have a young family and they maintain that knowing your children are happy, content, have friends and are enjoying school is very reassuring.
Kind and caring Alta du Toit has infused her flair and finesse into our flagship lodge, Earth Lodge, since taking over the reigns as Lodge Manager in 2018. Guests love her style and attention to detail. Ten years ago, when Alta joined our team, she co-managed Little Bush Camp with her husband Hugo and now successfully manages Earth Lodge. “Living in the bush makes you focus on what is really important in life. Time with our two children, love and friendships with our colleagues make up for being far from comforts and familiarities.”
The first job that Michelle Burton took was in Bush Lodge Reception, and it was here that she met her husband Dallas who was working as a Bush Lodge guide at the time. As managers of Little Bush Camp, it was with sad hearts that they left Sabi Sabi due to family responsibilities, but in 2018 they returned to their beloved place in the bush, to once again lead as Lodge Managers of Little Bush Camp, with a gorgeous addition to their family, their 3-year old daughter. “Returning to a place we have always considered ‘home’ was a natural step for us and we have been wholeheartedly welcomed back.” Michelle infuses Little Bush Camp with her sense of precision balanced with her tender manner in which one immediately feels that this camp is truly a “luxury home in the bush”.
All four lodge managers are mothers, raising their little ones in the bush. Home schooling allows for these mothers to be fully engaged in their roles at work while knowing that their children are close by, receiving education in a unique and stimulating environment.
We take our hats off to these matriarchs who choose to make a difference in the world of conservation while setting prime examples as balanced and fulfilled individuals.