South of Africa celebrates SOA Day with exciting news

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE, BELA BELA, 20 APRIL 2018.  The popular hotel chain South of Africa that boasts hotels, cottages and villas in some of South Africa’s most popular yet unexploited destinations, celebrates their second annual SOA Day with exciting news.  SOA (an abbreviation of South of Africa) is celebrated on 20 April, the birthday of the group’s founder, Mr Johan Jansen van Vuuren, who’s retirement in 2015 meant an injection of new blood into the group. Under leadership of Mr Stef Venter, the group, which consists of 3 properties in the Western Cape and 5 in the Limpopo Province, announced today that their entire portfolio is now officially graded by the Tourism Grading of South Africa.  The TGCSA, which has already awarded three of its establishments with 4 and 5 star gradings, welcomed not just another 5 of its properties as graded, but also their 2 popular conference centres located at the 4-star Shangri-La Country Hotel & Spa in Modimolle, and the now 3-star Elephant Springs Hotel in Bela Bela.

“This is a great day for us,” says Venter, who explains the real meaning of their SOA Day.  “Our industry looks after the comfort and enjoyment of the public, and our entire team strives to offer an unforgettable experience to our guests.  With everything that our founder did for the group, we thought outside of the box to honour Mr Jansen van Vuuren’s legacy.  SOA Day focusses inwards at the driving force of the group – the staff.  We have created a ritual of tying ribbons onto our fellow employees’ wrists, symbolizing the helping hand your fellow colleague can lend you.  As a company, we also identify individuals that we know require assistance in their private lives;  these people still show up to work with a smile and go the extra mile despite their own problems.  It is then our pleasure to lend that helping hand and give back to these members of our own family who also inspire us.”

According to Venter it is also fitting to announce the new star grading of each property on this day to show their guests the group’s commitment to further enhance the experiences promised.  With major renovations underway at both Shangri-La and Elephant Springs in the Waterberg, which includes a complete overhaul of the properties’ rooms, as well as additional upgrades to existing facilities, South of Africa is making great strides in keeping their promise.  “We have already opened 9 of our new hotel rooms to rave reviews,” says projects manager Mr Johan Esterhuizen of the Elephant Springs Hotel in Bela Bela.  The nearby Shangri-La Country Hotel & Spa has similarly opened 8 new rooms that follows through with the golden thread introduced at the 5-star Abalone House & Spa, and most recently continued at the 5-star Abalone Pool Villas, both in Paternoster.  Esterhuizen has played in major role in the new look of these properties.  The Karoo-based Bid Huisie, a cosy 3-star cottage in Prince Albert, was also upgraded in 2016 and have since been a popular destination for travellers on route to and from Cape Town.

There are still plans to continue with these projects beyond 2018, with many exciting ideas planned to further deliver on their promise, says Venter.  The 4-star Funky Stay Backpackers in Modimolle has slowly evolved into a unique destination for travellers who travel on the R101 between Polokwane and Pretoria, and with the potential to further add to this already beloved budget-friendly stay over, South of Africa’s future is bright.

For more information on the portfolio of properties, visit or call Central Reservations on 014 004 0131.

We celebrate our first “South of Africa Day”

20 April 2017 marks the celebration of the first “South of Africa Day”.  Brought about to strengthen the bonds of camaraderie and enhance the morale of the South of Africa employees, “South of Africa Day” landed the 20 April slot with a very good reason: it is the birthday of owner Johan Jansen van Vuuren.  Says Managing Director, Stef Venter, “The vision and mission of South of Africa clearly states that it is our goal to improve the way of life of the employees, who are also our extended family.  This special occasion is a very clear reminder of that statement where we undertook to look after our valued staff and lend a helping hand where needed.”

To commemorate this day, all employees will be seen wearing a grey ribbon tied to their left wrists.  To add to the excitement and spirit building, no staff member may tie his own ribbon as it is the duty of their fellow team mates to “lend the helping hand” in tying this ribbon for them.  The proverbial act of tying the knot with its bow will, according to HR Manager Khatija Mahomed, secure a stronger bond in a fun manner and boost mutual support for one another.  She adds “it’s difficult to try and tie a bow on your own wrist, but through asking for help it is a sign of trust and respect – very similar to our guests who visit us and ask for assistance in creating memorable experiences.”

Apart from the grey ribbons worn (grey being the corporate colour of South of Africa), this day will also mark South of Africa lending a special hand to someone within the group who desperately requires it.  Johannah Nthudisane, 47, is a housekeeper at the 4-star Shangri-La Country Hotel & Spa in Modimolle who had been diagnosed with breast cancer in 2014 on the right side. She was sadly rediagnosed with cancer on the left side after undergoing a biopsy in March 2017.  Having full empathy for this tragic time in her life, South of Africa will be treating her and her family on this special day to an all-expenses paid outing of fun and frivolity before starting with chemo on 24 April.  MD Stef Venter says “South of Africa knows full well the strain that this places on her and her family, and we wanted to spoil her with a day on the town where she didn’t have to worry about anything except creating memories with her loved ones.”  Nthudisane will be medically boarded for a year once she commences with chemo.

Venter adds that “the true meaning behind South of Africa Day is a simple task that we should all carry act out every day – being kind to our fellow man and living in harmony in the same spirit set out by Madiba for our rainbow nation.”