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PROFILE / BY LYNETTE DICEY













 Thriving Thornybush






 The Thornybush Collection continues to

 provide an excellent bushveld experience

 through an innovative approach to service

 delivery and wildlife sustainability.




 The announcement earlier this year that Thornybush   game reserves – already a costly business to run –
 Private Game Reserve would be removing its eastern   have become even more capital intensive. However,
 boundary fence with Timbavati,  in the  process   despite pushing its prices up in the past few years,
 opening the reserve up to the Greater Kruger Park,   Thornybush  Collection  has  seen  no  drop  off  in
 means that guests to the reserve, home to eleven of   demand  for  accommodation  from visitors  eager
 the Thornybush Collection’s exclusive four and five-  to experience the African bushveld in style. In fact,
 star luxury game lodges, are set for an even richer   occupancy  for  2017  is  around  70%,  significantly
 game experience.  above the average hotel occupancy.
 The  14  000  hectare  Thornybush  Private  Nature   Thornybush  Collection  CEO,  Nic  Griffin,  attributes
 Reserve  has  long  had  a  sterling  reputation  for   this to the changes  made within  the Collection in
 offering  a  unique  wildlife  experience,  sharing  the   the past  few years  to  placing a greater  premium
 Kruger  National  Park’s  huge  diversity  of  animal   on people. As he explains it, in this industry, luxury
 and bird species.  Opening the  reserve  up to  the   accommodation, a quality dining experience and a
 Greater Kruger, however, promises to ensure more   memorable game experience are ‘hygiene factors’.
 significant numbers given that animals are now able   Game lodges that wish to differentiate themselves
 to traverse over a greater footprint.  It also allows for   need to go further.
 new bloodlines to be created which means healthier
 wildlife and increased availability of food and water   “In line with industry trends we used to experience
 resources.   relatively  high  turnover in  lodge  management
 personnel,”  he  reveals.  This  negatively  impacted
 Poaching continues to be a significant threat faced   guest satisfaction levels. In an effort to address this   Photos by Desmond Scholtz
 by all  game reserves  with  the result  that security   Thornybush Collection revised its staff remuneration,
 costs for private game reserves  in  particular have   performance and incentive reward programme. The
 escalated  significantly  as  every  effort  is  made  to   result  was the Collection began to  attract  slightly
 better protect wildlife.   older  and  more experienced  lodge  managers. At
 the same time as overhauling its human resources
 Thornybush  Private  Nature  Reserve  has  been  no   practices  it relooked  at  certain company policies
 exception to these escalating costs and even prior   such as for the first time allowing lodge managers to
 to dropping  the fence  with  Timbavati,  the reserve   have pets and children on site.
 had implemented  a number of additional security
 measures including screening all employees in the   Over the past few years this has resulted in reduced   TOP: The deck
 reserve. Any employee who fails the screening test   lodge  management  turnover and  more committed   view at Thornybush
 twice is barred from entering the reserve. Guests to   teams managing each  lodge  which  has  had  a   Game Lodge.
 the reserve  are  requested  not to  use their  mobile   significant  impact  on  improved  guest  satisfaction   Bottom from left:
 phones while  on  game drives in  order  to reduce   levels.
 the risk of their location details being transmitted.                                      elephants in the
 Rangers  and  trackers  are  similarly  not  allowed  to   Within  the hospitality  industry unsolicited  guest   reserve; a suite at
 use their mobile phones while on game drives.   feedback reviews are  one of the most  valuable   Thornybush Game
 marketing tools.  Guest reviews on  lodges  in  the                                        Lodge; bath time at
 Not  surprisingly,  the  increased  costs  around   Thornybush Collection on sites such as TripAdvisor,   Chapungu Luxury
 security have meant that game lodges and private   currently the most visited travel website globally, tell   Tent Camp.


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