New hotel manager just loves people

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Halyards renovation, innovation planned

MAN OF THE MOMENT: Freddie du Preez took over the reins of the Halyards Hotel as general manager on Monday June 20, and is looking forward to his new life in Port Alfred. Picture: ROB KNOWLES
MAN OF THE MOMENT: Freddie du Preez took over the reins of the Halyards Hotel as general manager on Monday June 20, and is looking forward to his new life in Port Alfred. Picture: ROB KNOWLES

WHEN you first meet Freddie du Preez, the new manager of the Halyards Hotel, it is immediately obvious he is a people person.

Born in the Free State, but raised in Tsitsikamma, Du Preez and his family moved to Port Elizabeth and, after matriculating, he joined SAA, spent the next 23 years there and attained the position of ground-crew team leader. “SAA offered me a managerial job in Johannesburg, but I felt it was the right time to change careers,” he said. “Strangely, there are a lot of similarities between leading a ground crew and hospitality management. “You need to look after customers and make sure they are comfortable and satisfied. “But as ground crew you only see the customers for a few hours at most. “Hospitality management offers the chance to really get to know the customer, and even become friends,” he said.

In 2006, Du Preez joined the Mantis Collection and was trained in both London and Johannesburg and finally Port Elizabeth.

Du Preez also spent five years in Gambia, with two years in Sedgewick and a stint at the Oceana Private Reserve. “I love working with people,” he said, adding that hotel management allowed him to break away from the strict procedures and protocols of the airline and introduce new innovations. “Also, with hospitality, you see the results immediately.”

When he was younger, Du Preez confessed, he didn’t think he would ever live in a small town. After what he thought of as the “bright lights” of Port Elizabeth he said he couldn’t imagine living anywhere where everything wasn’t immediately available. “But I’ve changed my mind since then,” he said. “We lived in Sedgewick for a few years and I came to appreciate the easy pace of a small town and the friendliness of the people.”

Du Preez said renovations at the hotel, as well as some innovations he was introducing, would hopefully maintain and even improve the standard of the Halyards. “I’m looking forward to bringing my family to live here in Port Alfred [they currently reside at his Port Elizabeth home]. “I am also looking forward to the challenges of taking the Halyards Hotel into the future, and look forward to becoming a member of this great community.”

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