At 43 years of age, Andre Erasmus has worked in the hospitality industry almost all of his life, but he’s come a long way since starting out as a busboy and waiter at a local restaurant during his school years… Originally from Pretoria, Andre is now living and working in Chengdu, China, after being appointed General Manager of Six Senses Hotel Resorts Spas first property in China – the Six Senses Qing Cheng Mountain.
Andre never had any formal hospitality qualifications, but rose up through the ranks to become a General Manager (GM) for the Three Cities Group. He felt he lacked the official education necessary and embarked on his studies through The International Hotel School, achieving a Hotel Management Diploma via distance learning.
We chatted to Andre about his achievements and adventures…
Where have you worked in terms of hospitality establishments and destinations?
Over the past 10 years, for Kempinski at: Zamani Zanzibar Kempinski (now Melia Zanzibar), Kilimanjaro Hotel Kempinski (Dar es Salaam, Tanzania), and Kempinski Hotel Ishtar (Dead Sea, Jordan) – these were all pre-opening projects, and heading up the initial African project, based in Dubai.
For Anantara: Desert Islands Resort and Spa (just off the coast of Abu Dhabi), Development Manager for Vietnam (based in Haiphong and Bangkok), and then GM for the group’s first project in China, Xishuangbanna Resort and Spa (in Yunnan Province).”
What job would you say really helped you progress in your hospitality career?
Every posting contributed in its own unique way. But my first job at Kempinski really stands out, as I was really fortunate enough to have a fantastic mentor and friend, Mr. Marcus van der Wal. I still seek his advice on important decisions to this very day.”
What aspect of each destination or position really captured your heart? Do you love what you do?
Without doubt, the people. Passion transcends cultures and borders. It still amazes me to meet passionate people wherever I go. This inspires me.
And yes, I love what I do. I hate routine and comfort zones. Working on such demanding projects seldom leaves you feeling bored. Also, I just love meeting new people and experiencing different cultures.”
What do you think it takes to be successful in your industry?
You must have passion and drive. This industry is not very kind to laziness and clock watching. I’m currently finishing my MBA from Glion in Switzerland, and I’ve completed quite a few of the online courses offered through my company at Cornell University in the US.
I enjoy studying. It really broadens my horizons. I have jumped at every opportunity to do additional courses and modules. I would highly recommend continuous studies to anyone in the industry. Age should most certainly not be an obstacle.”
Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
I see myself being the head of a company, preferably my own.”
Advice for young people interested in hospitality?
It’s not a 9-5 routine job, it really is an adventure! I would only recommend it those young people with a passion to achieve something special and who yearn to embark on an amazing adventure!”
What do you do for fun in your free time?
I love travelling. I invest most of my free time and money in travelling. I’m also an avid (albeit poor) golfer and love scuba diving.”
Your motto for life?
If it’s not worth getting passionate about, it’s not worth doing.”