Gavin Ferreira recently took on the role of General Manager at the De Hoek Country Hotel in Magaliesburg, just outside of Johannesburg. He moves upcountry from the Twelve Apostles Hotel & Spa, taking over the reins from Michael Holenstein who recently sold his shares to Isaac and Khumo Shongwe as he was appointed to the position of Executive Mayor of Mogale City. We chatted to Gavin about the move, his plans for De Hoek and his discoveries in the area.

HM: Why did you decide to join the team at De Hoek?

This is the perfect opportunity to find my feet and grow in my first General Manager position in the industry. De Hoek is a well-established and respected property in the area and, with the new leadership from PMR Hospitality, can reach new heights and accolades.

HM: Have there been any surprising discoveries about the area since you’ve moved upcountry?

I have really enjoyed being in the country and the natural beauty of the area – the possibility for local tourism is brilliant!

HM: What are some of your plans for De Hoek?

We are looking at all aspects of the business, from the small touches to upgrading the rooms, introducing a green policy, collaborating with service providers in the area and improving the already great service at the hotel. These aren’t easy challenges, but the team believes it will happen.

HM: Are there any challenges being based an hour outside of Johannesburg?

I see it as a unique opportunity – we are far enough out of the city for a lovely break away, but we are close enough to Johannesburg for a quick retreat. The other great advantage is that we have found so many little suppliers and local boutique farmers that supply us with the most beautiful produce. You won’t find them unless you are out here.

HM: What do you think the secret to a cohesive hotel team is?

The generic answer is team work and leading from the front and, although that is crucial, I think the real answer is to not blanket manage the team. Each individual has his or her own strengths, weaknesses and opinions, so it is vital to create a culture in which they can flourish in their role, career and private life. We work long and hard hours so making the individual employee count makes our guests feel like individuals too! As for being a good leader, I will not ask any team member to do something that I am not willing to do – from welcoming guests to cleaning rooms on departure.

HM: As someone with a keen interest in wine, how do you select wines for the De Hoek wine list? Are there any particular areas you’re interested in and wine estates that are impressing you at the moment?

The entire food and beverage offering at De Hoek has been a real draw card for the property. My love for wine and food started when I was still washing pots in my early 20s in the UK. During my breaks, I would attend waiter training with the sommelier and that is when my mind was blown with the complex but fascinating product. Having lived in Cape Town for 9 years, I have been lucky to have co-created a wine list or two.  I have also been privileged to attend some amazing tastings and met a lot of South African and international wine makers.

What I look for in for our wine list is value for money and supporting small, lesser known wineries. Of course, you need your big wine names, but I love the hand sell wine that are not as common. These wines allow you to build the trust of the guest and expose them to new and exciting wines. Each area has something great to offer and the wine I am currently drinking at home is the Spier collection. Great wine at great prices.

About Gavin Ferreira

Upon completion of his National Senior Certificate at York High School in George in 2000, he dove head first into his first hospitality job, starting as Commis Chef at Fairy Knowe Hotel and Resort in Wilderness where he was promoted to Chef de Partie four months later.

In 2001 he seized an opportunity to relocate to the UK, obtaining a job as Commis Chef at the famous Wentworth Golf Club in Surrey. From there he quickly worked his way up the kitchen ranks to Demi Chef de Partie and Chef de Partie. Following a stint as part of the opening team at the Crowne Plaza Hotel, Marlow in Buckinghamshire from January to September 2003, Gavin returned to South Africa to take up a position as Private Chef to the Chambers Family at Fancourt Private Residence on the Garden Route.

He registered with Warwick’s Chef School in Hermanus, graduating in 2005 before deciding to return to the UK again. It was at this point, in March 2006, that he joined The Red Carnation Hotel Collection. He was offered a place on the company’s Hotel Management Training Programme, based at Summer Lodge in Dorset, where he was mentored by the legendary South African General Manager, Charles Lotter.

Gavin was transferred back to Cape Town two years later where he joined The Twelve Apostles Hotel and Spa as Banqueting Floor Manager, before being swiftly promoted to Banqueting Manager, overseeing a busy events department, and hosting many high profile Conferences and Banquets. In April 2010 he was promoted again, to Food & Beverage Manager, which saw the hotels highly regarded restaurants and wedding department flourishing under his management. In 2014, he deservedly took over as Deputy General Manager, taking on many additional management responsibilities. At the Twelve Apostles, he worked for 4 years under the guidance of General Manager Horst Frehse, a leading luxury Hotelier of the last twenty years within South Africa. At the beginning of 2017, he moved up to the North West Province to join the De Hoek Country Hotel as their new General Manager.