Have you had a hankering to manage a game lodge? Does being in a uniform, in the bush appeal to you? Share the experiences of the Mabula Game Lodge resident manager, Kim Allen, and perhaps it will help you decide to make that career change…or not.

Kim Allen has been the Resident Manager at Mabula Game Lodge since May 2017. Many of our guests have no concept of what it is that she does, as they see her on rare occasions when she can extricate herself from her laptop and telephone. Her philosophy about the hospitality industry? “It can be both a blessing and a curse. Good days can be spectacular as can the bad ones. Being out in the bush, away from a quick drive to a supermarket or hardware store comes with its own set of challenges”.

But, when Kim is delayed in getting to work as a result of a family of a cheetah or an exciting sighting like a nocturnal aardvark out in daylight hours, almost every other problem fades into insignificance.

Kim started out in the industry on what was meant to be a gap year more than 3 decades ago, and she still loves the work. Mabula is not her first Lodge, but it certainly is her favourite.

2020 has been challenging with the various levels of lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The last time that we saw the majority of our lodge staff was on March 25th and Kim and her team miss their smiling faces. There has been a skeleton staff both at the lodge and certain of the Field Guides have remained on-site as there has been ongoing work to take care of. Keeping the staff informed has been a priority for Kim, as proper communication is important. Level 2 was announced of the 18th August, meaning that inter-provincial travel would be allowed again, you could hear her ‘whoop’ of joy across the entire lodge.

Now that we are allowed to welcome guests back, there are comprehensive COVID-19 safety protocols and standard operating procedures that have to be in place and signed off on before we can open our doors once again. All the required PPE has been purchased, training schedules have been completed and there is a company on standby to ensure that the lodge is 100% compliant with all the relevant standards.

Kim has also created a free app that will act as a ‘concierge-in-you-pocket’, where you can view services and menus and book daily activities, thus minimizing interaction with staff while at the lodge. Called Mabula Game Lodge, it is available for both Android and Apple.

Kim gets very animated and excited when she talks about the extensive refurbishment that the lodge has undergone during the lockdown. The contractors were on site and had commenced the work when the lockdown was declared, and they had to remain on-site to get the work completed as they were not allowed to leave. Those who are currently on-site and have seen the changes are excited and Kim cannot wait to see the reaction of the rest of the staff when they return.

Kim is often asked if there is such a thing as a typical working day for her at Mabula Game Lodge and her answer is an emphatic “NO”. Every day is different and therefore boredom is not an option! Working with guests and trying to exceed their expectations is what keeps Kim and her staff on their toes.  In a way the only constant that Kim has daily is the management team meeting at the beginning of each morning, also known as “coffee and communication”, this meeting is vital to the ongoing smooth operation of the various independent departments, which together form the cohesive whole that keeps the Lodge going.

Kim’s advice to returning visitors? If you have just come out of an extended lockdown, then take full advantage of both the current weather and the variety of activities that Mabula Game Lodge has to offer. From game drives to horseback safaris and from quad biking to balloon rides, you owe it to yourself to enjoy the great outdoors that Mabula offers. And there is the new children’s play area to keep the young ones happy and entertained. To end off your visit, take a walk on the wild side, with a guided walking trail before heading back to your part of the urban jungle. Use your visit to Mabula Game Lodge as an opportunity to cleanse mind, body, and spirit so that you head back to the city invigorated and refreshed.