From earning R850 from his first job to becoming a hotel manager at 25, Siyanda Dlamini’s steady career rise to the higher echelons of hospitality is nothing short of phenomenal.
Siyanda Dlamini recently launched the 220 suite The Regency Apartment Hotel in Menlyn, Pretoria. With its enviable setting and premium facilities, the urban hotel is a lifestyle destination offering both luxury and convenience to leisure and business travelers in the busy Menlyn node. The Regency Menlyn is the first of several hotels planned by the Regency Hotel Group, of which Dlamini is the MD, shareholder and whose hotel management company runs the hotels. As a sparkling new South African brand and 100% black owned business, his story has been getting a lot of traction around SA and he has become known as the face of transformation in hospitality.
MEET THE BOSS
Q. It’s been now almost three months since the opening of The Regency Hotel, how has the reception been so far?
A. The first three months have been an incredible success. The hotel has been full and we have already created a loyal customer base with returning patrons. Our reception into the market space was gradual though. We hosted a lot of educational events with clients who have businesses in the Menlyn area. These educational events made the reception process a lot easier as the hotel. The service, the quality of the food, and the fantastic location of the hotel are a few elements that sold themselves to our clients.
Q. Take us through the early start of your career as a hotelier.
A: The foundation for my interest in the hospitality started when I went to Alexandra High School in Pietermaritzburg, where I joined the school’s catering club that held regular supper theatre evenings. Later on, I went on to study hotel management through the Protea Hotels Institute of Professional Development and Cape Town hotel schools. Throughout my 15 years in the hotel business, it pained me that there wasn’t enough transformation in our industry. So my dream has been to create career opportunities for the youth, which led me to create the first black-owned and-run hotel group in South Africa. Things started falling into place a few years ago when I was offered the opportunity to buy into a hotel franchise. I was able to secure funding after I was introduced to the right people in my network and I haven’t looked back ever since.
Q. Starting a business can be a daunting task as much as it can be exciting, what’s the one thing you’ve learned in your journey of becoming an entrepreneur?
A. One of the biggest lessons that I learned as an entrepreneur is that is that my dream is transferable. In order for me to secure funds to make my dream a reality, I have to transfer my dream to my investors so that they could buy into it and help me make it a reality. The same dream had to be transferred to my team who have contributed hugely to the success of our operation thus far. The same dream has been and is still being transferred to our clients, who are buying into it whilst transferring it to their clients. It’s actually a formula and very satisfying once you have nailed it.
Q. The hospitality and tourism in SA are on the rise, which bodes well for the future, how important is it to support the local economy and businesses to make this a reality?
A. Supporting the local economy and business directly translates into job creation which is critical our county. Job creation within our industry is considerably easier in light of the fact that some of the opportunities that lie in the industry do not always require a high set of skills. With a great attitude and a desire to learn, the skill can be taught with ease. We pride ourselves in creating careers at the Regency Group. I like to give people jobs, up skill and train them and instill my passion for hospitality and then that creates a career.
Q. What exactly sets The Regency Hotel apart from its competitors?
A. A number of factors set The Regency Apartment Hotel Menlyn aside from its competitors. This for me included the quality of the finishes from the reception area, into the rooms and the public areas which include the restaurant and the bar. From the tile to the upholstery and curtain fabrics, we took our time in the selection process to really demonstrate high quality, sophistication, practicality, and timelessness in every aspect. The team is extremely friendly, efficient, high in energy, eager to please. The location of the hotel is extra special, given the lush surroundings and the spirit that runs along the back of the hotel really gives our guests the feeling that they are far out of the city when in fact, they are in Menlyn. The level 1 BEE status is something that we pride ourselves as in, it is an accomplishment that our competitors don’t have and it is something that has made us trailblazers within the industry and the space we trade within.
Q. For both local and international travelers looking to visit The Regency Hotel, what do you have in store for them?
A. The property offers a home away from home feel, allowing our guests to fell feel at home with the ability to make meals in the apartments should they wish. The Menlyn node with its full offering is within minutes from the hotel, Pretoria central is also mere 15 minutes’ drive from the hotel making it extremely easy to explore heritage sites that the city has to offer. We also offer ease of access to all the embassies and the best medical specialists and educational institutions which drive a lot of demand into Pretoria. Some of the extra special additional offerings include day tours to Dinukeng game reserve, trips to Cullinan where our guests can do diamond mine tours and visit some of the heritage sites that Cullinan has to offer.