Outlook Lodges – 10,000 Bookings and counting
Over the years Outlook Lodge has had many guests and with most we share very happy memories. This week Outlook Lodge has officially received its 10 000th booking.
It is in times like these that one tends to quiet down for a second and recall a history of hard work, some hard times and unforgettable memories.
Outlook Lodge is known in the industry as a place where guests are treated like close friends. A lot contributes to this; the setting of the Lodge in a quiet and secure neighbourhood, the house itself and mostly the people who have been welcoming our guests for the last 12 years. I think the biggest contributor to the fact that our guests feel so at home with us is that Outlook is like a family.
When Francois told me we were close to 10 000 bookings I got curious as to where it all began, so naturally I immediately asked our founders Robert and Leonard: “Tell me all about it? What’s the story?” Shortly afterwards Leonard sent me the story of Outlook Lodge’s beginning: “The Outlook Lodge was bought in 2004 (we think).
I remember Robert and myself, as young, inexperienced business owners approaching the estate agent, who had a habit of driving around the neighbourhood in his Rolls Royce. He promptly disregarded our attempts at purchasing and pretty much wrote us off. How surprised he was when, after a short negotiation, we handed him a cheque, in cash, for the full amount the existing owners wanted. The Lodge was bought thanks to an investor, who at that stage saw the potential in us and the property.
So now we had a building! And that’s when the hard work and patience really started. About a year and a half later we opened. In that time between purchasing and opening, Robert and I moved the Safaris office from Kempton Park to the Lodge and worked in the small foyer between Francois’ room and room 5. The house was empty, no furniture and very dusty. I particularly remember the stupid alarm, once activated every evening it would go off for the smallest disturbance such as a door not connecting properly with the sensors. I would get called about 10 times a night on average by our security company, saying the alarm has gone off and they are sending out someone to investigate. It must have driven our poor neighbours nuts! But life back then was bliss! Outlook consisted of myself, Robert, Willem and Fossie.
During tea, mid morning, lunch, coffee and afternoon breaks, Rob and I would, whilst waiting for the phone to ring, embark on sporting adventures that included Frisbee, golf, table tennis and we even tried our luck at target shooting with a pellet gun (that sounded like a rifle shot) in the front garden. We decided to stop the target shooting when police, the Security Company and long black cars started circling the property.
Slowly but surely, piece by piece, room by room and after a couple of close fist encounters with building contractors, the lodge took shape. Our very first Outlook Lodge manager was Robert. Along with my dog, Sebastian, they managed the lodge really well. We had, let’s say, relaxed occupancies of around 2 rooms per week. Some weeks were busier than others but in general it was initially quiet.
Then Francois arrived in August 2009, and then he left (to enjoy some adventures in the USA), and then he came back, and now he is thankfully still the lodge manager! Nkosi and Pamela joined soon after and the base of the lodge was established. From there the lodge and business as a whole has grown slowly and very organically to where we are today.”
Our first guest book dates back until 17 January 2006. Paging through the book is an almost magical experience, reading our guests comments and seeing were they were from.
The first entry reads:” What a perfect, tranquil setting before going on safari! Beautiful house and fantastic room, wish I could stay longer.” –Celia Mascall form the U.K
As a team we look forward to meet our future guests and we can’t wait to make many more great memories at Outlook Lodge…