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LEAD: An exceptional experience

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The tranquil setting and exceptional guest services are characteristics that define the Velmoré experience, writes Yuven Gounden

The minute you enter the portals of the Velmoré Hotel Estate you cannot miss the tranquillity that greets you. Conveniently located a mere 30 minutes from Pretoria and equally close to Johannesburg, Velmoré is only a short drive from Zwartkops Raceway and just 25 kilometres from Montecasino.

As I explored the establishment over two days I discovered the Velmoré secret: great teamwork and staff commitment. This is echoed by general manager Hennie Nasveld, who thrives on the adrenaline experience that goes with this multi-faceted establishment.

‘I have been in the hotel industry for 33 years and Velmoré is the best so far. The five-star Grande Hotel was used to house the German soccer team during the 2010 World Cup. It has 49 capacious rooms. The four-star hotel has 50 rooms. The Grande Hotel hosted eight presidents and one king during the funeral of former President Nelson Mandela. During President Jacob Zuma’s inauguration, Velmoré hosted six presidents,’ said Nasveld.

He continuous: ‘This is a ten-hectare estate with various facilities and I have to oversee all of these operations: the cellar, Bakwena Spa, chapel, gardens, soccer field, restaurant, banqueting and wedding event planning. We have to ensure that we are able to handle any request. My biggest challenge thus far has been the construction of the access road and I hope that this will be attended to as promised by City of Tshwane Municipality. Our clients comprise 50% corporates and 50% government. We offer good and flexible service and ensure that our clients are satisfied. The wedding business can be an emotional affair and we tailor our services to suit individual tastes and requirements. This is not a boring job and each day has new challenges. But I have a great team and team commitment is so important.’

The room I occupied had a balcony and was huge and complemented by a king-size bed that gave me a great night’s rest.

I opted for the half-day spa, which did a lot to replenish my proverbial batteries that a hectic Gauteng demands from me. The spa began with a foot massage involving a scrub made from white sugar followed by a rose gel rise and a vanilla and lavender cream rub. The head-and-shoulder massage took me back to my childhood and saw me snoozing as I was bombarded by orange burst balms and a gentle massage that forced me to nod off several times. The hot stone full body massage did the final trick and I felt years younger and refreshed.

The food was of a high standard and very tasty indeed. I chatted to Jacques Cronjé, the head chef, and discovered that everything was prepared in-house. Pastries and bread rolls are baked on the premises and standards are high. Jacques has been at Velmoré for seven months and has been a chef for six years. This youngster is testimony that the Velmoré tent of growing and developing staff members are rated as high priority and ensures that there is a deliberate and successful succession plan firmly in place at the establishment. There is also a strong sense of family and belonging. All staff members are committed to good service and the entire Velmoré experience can best be described as authentic.

‘Velmoré offers me a great work environment and an exceptional group of people who work on adrenalin,’ quips Cronjé. ‘I enjoy preparing beef fillet with red chocolate-infused red wine sauce and glazed baby carrots. I believe in using good-quality fresh ingredients and planning meal preparation with the finest of detail in mind. I believe in quality and variety in the buffet and breakfast stations. We adhere to high standards and we cater for any religion. We also have a halaal-certified kitchen with a halaal chef. We also cater for vegans, vegetarians and kosher clients.’

I visited the gym at the Grande and found it to be well equipped and trendy. It had new treadmills, cycles, exercise machines and weights. I enjoyed a good morning workout before indulging in a generous breakfast to end my glorious stay.

Service was efficient and quick. When I requested an iron and ironing board, I had barely put down the phone when I heard a knock on the door announcing the arrival of the promised equipment.

Of course, the peace and tranquillity add to the rejuvenating and exhilarating experience at Velmoré. I left Velmoré with the thought of a date when I would return!

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