There’s something for everyone at Brahman Hills – chapels, eventing spaces, spa, team building, self-catering and hotel-style accommodation – and with the recent addition of Springholm Estate to the portfolio, there’s really no stopping this 8-year-old establishment! “Brahman Hills is a 4-star hotel with standard hotel rooms, 12 self-catering cottages, a luxury spa, restaurants and conference facilities, and we’re one of the best wedding venues in the Midlands. Now, with the addition of Springholm, our accommodation options are considerably enhanced. This is good news for weddings at neighbouring venues that can’t always accommodate all their guests”, says Sollie Bester, General Manager of Brahman Hills.
Development can sometimes be overwhelming for a property and its team. However, while the space continues to evolve and add elements that satisfy its three main markets (wedding, corporate business and leisure getaways), the Brahman Hills team continues to deliver excellent service across the board. Part of the reason for that surely must come down to the genuine interest in, and solid investment into, the wellbeing of its staff. “Passion for people and creating sustainable employment for the community is one of our key goals,” says Sollie. We chatted with General Manager Sollie Bester about how they’re focusing on the wellness of the Brahman Hills staff, the importance of sustainability and the development of Springholm.
How many people work at Brahman Hills? Brahman Hills has a very diverse workforce with give and take 100 permanent employees on the books as well as 50 casuals that work on the bigger functions.
Can you tell me a bit about how employees are sourced and trained? Is there anything in particular you do to ensure that the team remain motivated? We are very passionate about our people, their development and living conditions. We recruit and train in-house mostly, and make transformation and self-development priorities. In fact, most of our staff go to self-development courses at the cost of the company. We accommodate most staff on-site with clean drinking water, shower, bath and rest room facilities as well as proper kitchen facilities where they can cook. We also provide washing facilities where they can wash their clothes. There’s a sense of security as it is safe inside our fences, and no transport is needed as staff are all on-site.
Why was it decided to develop the Springholm side of Brahman and what will its features be when it’s completed? Springholm is on the border of Blue Crane nature reserve, and we decided to develop the space as we wanted to accommodate more guests on-site as bigger functions require more rooms. Springholm is also the perfect place if you are looking for an exclusive weekend getaway for a party of up to 42 people. It is now complete, and we like to call it “The Gem of The Midlands” It has 6 beautiful cottages with 2 rooms each, 1 honeymoon suite as well as 4 hotel rooms. It is abundant in bird life and game overlooking a beautiful lake that has trophy trout for the fishermen out there. The breakfast venue overlooks the dam and is walking distance from all rooms.
Are there any interesting things you’re doing to be sustainable in your operations? Firstly, we ensure that our staff complement is not living in poverty and can feed their families. We focus on the health of our employees and promote fitness with our Park Run every Saturday. We educate and assist in training and development as much as we can, and pay close attention to gender equality as well as equality across the board. We are working hard towards using energy that is clean and more affordable and have converted more than half our accommodation to solar energy. We also spend a lot of time on clean water systems and sanitation programmes, using environmentally friendly products, and on our recently-launched Bokashi Programme.
Tell us about the Bokashi Programme? In Bokashi composting, kitchen scraps of all kinds — including meat and dairy products banned from aerobic systems — are mixed with some of the inoculated bran, pressed into the Bokashi bucket, covered with another handful of bran, and tightly covered. When the bucket is full,it is sealed shut and set aside for 10-12 days. Every other day during that time, the leachate that is an inevitable by-product of anaerobic composting needs to be drawn off. That’s the only care required and it’s very easy with a commercial Bokashi bucket, which has a spigot for this purpose. When the bucket is opened, the contents, though recognisable, are thoroughly pickled. At this stage, the “pre-compost”, as one company brochure terms it, can be buried in a fallow spot in the garden. One caution, though – it is still so acidic that plant roots should not come in contact with it for two to four weeks.