The turnout at the Twelve Apostles Hotel & Spa this afternoon, for the farewell tribute to its Executive Director Horst Frehse, was testament to his popularity and the respect in which he is held, it was clear to see by all who attended. He is one of two iconic hoteliers to retire this year.
‘Mr Frehse‘, as he has always been respectfully addressed by his staff, had no idea that his retirement farewell was to be held this afternoon, when he left the hotel earlier in the afternoon. His wife Barbara had to think of an excuse to get him back to the hotel, in time for the farewell function, held in the hotel’s events venue. Horst’s son Nicholas attended too, visiting from Germany for his father’s 65th birthday two days ago, and for this special event. Horst leaves the hotel on Friday.
Horst’s career has included many hospitality establishments in Hamburg, Munich, Geneva, Windhoek/Namibia, Cape Town, Johannesburg and Paarl. He held managerial positions at the five-star Grande Roche Hotel, Singita in the Kruger National Park and Singita Grumeti Reserves in the Serengeti (Tanzania), and Asara Wine Estate & Hotel, before joining the Red Carnation Hotel Collection in 2010, first as General Manager and then as Executive Director of the Twelve Apostles Hotel and Spa. The Hotel & Spa won numerous Awards in the past five years, and he in turn was honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Red Carnation Group. Red Carnation Hotels Managing Director Jonathan Raggett paid tribute to and thanked Horst for his contribution to the success of the Red Carnation Collection in South Africa: ‘Horst Frehse has been instrumental in The Twelve Apostles Hotel and Spa’s success, thanks to his phenomenal industry connections, his devotion, vivacious nature, and the compassionate heart that he generously shares with his staff, clients and guests from around the world – all of whom will miss him dearly. We have great appreciation for the contribution he has made to our company and wish him and his wife Barbara much happiness and success as he embarks on this new phase‘.
We were welcomed with sparkling wine, and beautiful canapés did the rounds, including pork bitterballen, quiches, liver pâté, oysters, crudités, bobotie bites, goat’s cheese tarts, seared tuna with ginger remoulade, and cured salmon roll with curried oats and red wine gel. It was the first time that I have seen a host add little cards on each platter to describe what is in each canapé, to perfect the staff’s knowledge about each.
Twelve Apostles GM Michael Nel welcomed all the guests, saying that they had to curtail the guest list, restricted to family, friends, and the trade. Had they invited everyone whom Horst had touched in his long 45 year career in the hospitality industry, they would not have fitted them into the Cape Town Stadium! Michael said it was intimidating to meet ‘Mr Hospitality‘ Horst when he first joined the hotel five years ago, being a Revenue Manager at the time, given Horst’s reputation. He offered to create any reports which Horst may need to settle into his job at the hotel, but shared with us that Horst never asked him for any reports, it being all about people for Horst, namely his staff and his guests. He has learnt from Horst that the hospitality business is about people and not the bottom line. Horst showed his management team how to be a hotelier, and Michael said he is grateful for the mentoring he received from Horst. He invited Horst to come back and visit the hotel at any time, and to share his travels with the staff. We learnt that Horst is a Harley-Davidson rider, a 50th birthday present from his wife Barbara.
Horst seemed really touched by the words spoken to him by Michael, and by all the industry colleagues who attended to greet him personally. He said that he never had a boring day in his career. He loves telling guests what to see and where to go, and thanked the Tollman family for the five years he spent at their Twelve Apostles Hotel, sharing with them from the outset the approach of how to look after guests. He was also grateful to them for allowing purchases when they were required to make things better for their guests.
Horst told us that he had made lovely friends with all travel partners, all working towards the same goal of having happy clients. There is mutual respect between the hotel and tour operators, and many of the hotel guests have become friends. His happy team had created happy guests at the hotel. Horst has been a good listener to his staff, who shared their personal challenges with him. He is sure that Michael will continue in this fashion. He wished Michael and his Deputy GM (and Food and Beverage Manager) Gavin Ferreira happiness and success.
Michael said that the ‘Exco‘ wanted to share its good wishes too, and a video was shown, which turned out to be greetings and well-wishes to Horst from many others in the hospitality and tourism industry, many of them in Germany, where he appears to have made a huge impact in the marketing of our country for SA Tourism. He was described as a ‘role model‘, a ‘passionate inspiration‘, a ‘benchmark in the hospitality industry‘, ‘always honorable and humble‘, and a role model to others to ‘be the best one can be‘.
Minister of Economic Opportunities Alan Winde attended the event as well, and shared that he and Premier Helen Zille had returned from a successful trip to China. He sounded very upbeat for Cape Town, with a new Cape Town – Gatwick flight, an American direct flight to Cape Town being on the cards, and even a possibility of Etihad considering Cape Town as an African hub in the place of Johannesburg.
We wish Horst the very best for his new future. None of us can see him sitting back and putting up his feet, and we predict that he will soon be snapped up, given his knowledge of and expertise in the hospitality industry. Auf Wiedersehen Horst!
Chris von Ulmenstein, WhaleTales Blog: www.whalecottage.com/blog Tel 082 55 11 323 Twitter:@WhaleCottage Facebook: click here