The Royal Livingstone Hotel will join the ranks of the prestigious Leading Hotels of the World within 18 months believes Chris van Dam, general manager of the five-star hotel just opened at the Victoria Falls in Zambia.
The goal that Chris has set for himself and his staff is not unrealistic as the 173-room Royal Livingstone has all the ingredients for global success. It stretches in a line of stately colonial-style and African-influenced buildings along the Zambezi River bank, with a short walk to the edge of the famous Victoria Falls.
"We wanted to make the hotel intimate and luxurious," says Van Dam, "and I think we've succeeded in that. The intimacy and seclusion comes from the way it blends naturally into the heart of this World Heritage Site, deep in the African bush, and the luxury from the palatial accommodation.
"But we can't rely on position or structure to draw and retain clientele. That will be backed by impeccable service, world-class cuisine and our special brand of warmth of welcome. All of this will ensure that the Royal Livingstone will take its place among the world's very best hotels."
Formerly manager of the Cabanas Hotel and the Sun City Hotel, Chris has since worked in Madeira for the Savoy Group as group rooms division manager for three hotels.
A talented linguist, he is able to converse in Portuguese, French and Spanish and, at 32, he is well up the ladder of success in the international hospitality industry. Inspired by his work, he thinks he is fortunate to have been under the mentorship of Sun International's regional director of resorts, Philip Georgas.
"This is a prestigious position and one I am proud to hold," he says. "The challenge is to make it a total success, measurable through recognition by one's global peers."
The Sun International leisure complex is the first major hospitality investment in Zambia in 45 years. "The first challenge is to get travellers to visit the Royal Living-stone," says Van Dam. "The second is to get them to come back. Our job starts before the guests arrive. We want them to know they will be comfortable and safe and, most of all, that they will enjoy an experience unique to Africa."
The 'wow' factor
Victoria Falls represents the 'wow factor', says Van Dam and it's "a huge asset to have this natural wonder of the world literally on our doorstep. Our job is to ensure that everything else matches up".
Van Dam and his team take the 'Royal' in Royal Livingstone both...