Legacy Hotels setting an example in Africa


Bart Dorrestein, chairman and CEO of Legacy Hotels and Resorts

It is common belief that staff simply don’t stay loyal to their companies, a trend that has human resources directors looking for unique ways to retain their human assets. This is not however a trend that is prevalent at the Legacy Hotels Group, which after an analysis of its employment data can report that not only do its staffers stay, but that the average number of years they stay exceeds eight.

Bucking the trend, the company’s internal audit has revealed that its some 2 105 employees have worked for the company a collective 17 065 years. This works out to a staggering average of 8.1 years per person. This shows a stark contrast to the South African average, where the most recent Labour Market Dynamics Report for 2009 to 2015, released by Statistics South Africa in 2016, highlighted that the average number of months an employee stayed at a company in 2015 was 44 or 3.6 years.

‘Ultimately a Legacy employee spends on average 4.5 years longer at the company, whereas the total number of years worked by a Legacy employee translates to an overwhelming 225 percent of the South African average,’ states Bart Dorrestein, chairman and CEO at Legacy Hotels and Resorts. ‘This is a figure that we are immensely proud of, and is testament to the work environment we create for our people, the family atmosphere we encourage, as well as our approach to innovation in the hospitality sector.

‘We take great care to ensure that our employees are well trained and motivated at every level of the business. That they practise and adhere to an uncompromising standard of service, as well as are informed of our values of integrity, respect, teamwork and innovation and take this to the guest experience at every step of the way.’

The history of the Legacy Hotel Group stems from its initial formation by its founding members in 1983 with the formation of the then Stocks Leisure and its first property Kwa Maritane, this then transformed a decade later in 1993 to Stocks Leisure and Hotels. The formation of the Legacy Hotels and Resorts, as it is known today, formally came to fruition in 1999 following a management buyout. While the name of the company may have changed in its formative years, the face of Legacy, its people, have remained steadfast and loyal to the business.

Notably two of the company’s longest standing staffers are from the Kwa Maritane Bush Lodge. Having joined the company in 1984 and 1985 respectively, both Mrs E Phalatse and Mrs R Phalatse are still with the company. A company that they feel is not just a place of work – but a family.

‘The Legacy recipe is a simple one. We don’t just sell hotel rooms and guest experiences. We sell experiences, and these experiences are created by the people in our employ. Time and again we hear returning guests asking after their favourite employee, a person who they have over the years established a real relationship with.

‘It is all too easy to become just another number in a large organisation. But at Legacy we place real emphasis on the fact that our people are our real assets and the numbers speak for themselves,’ states Dorrestein.

Another important point to consider is that a majority of the company’s management have spent more than 21 years with the company. Which according to the group shows consistency and longevity right from the top down. The company also attributes its success, in part, to the fact that it remains innovative and flexible in its approach to business. This can be evidenced in the scope of its new projects such as The Leonardo which is currently being constructed in Sandton, as well as the innovation of the DaVinci, one of the only true “green” hotels in South Africa.

Another important factor that adds to the success of its staff retention, is that the company acknowledges the differing skills of individuals in the business and provides its people with the opportunity to move within the group. This enables the business to not only share the collective experience and knowledge of its people, but enables the individuals in its employ to broaden their own horizons.

‘A legacy aim… We believe in the power of family – our guests and clients are members of our extended family,’ ends Dorrestein.

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