The Head Office has alcohol sanitizers mounted on almost every wall including one just after the lift on the second floor; a reminder of the current reality which has shaken our world to the core; the tourism sector even more so. I could hear him share pleasantries just outside Cresta Marakanelo Limited (CML) boardroom where I await him for our interview. This head office is the battle ground of sustainability of one of Botswana’s enduring brands. The hotel chain’s footprint is impressive and its standards have never been compromised in the height of the nation and indeed the globe’s worst economic crisis in recent memory. There is a lot to ask him, so much to explore given the cruel twist of fate Covid-19 blows have had on the local economy, global travel and reality the way we knew it.
“In a crisis of this magnitude you are reminded of the basics. We exist to serve our people in our stakeholder universe in different forms. The first challenge was making sure we are here today but doors will still open tomorrow.” says Mokwena Morulane, CML Managing Director.
“Our crisis and standard operating protocols were revised and brought up to date. We moved swiftly to provide some of our facilities such as Cresta Lodge and Cresta Marang to Government for quarantine purposes. Our stakeholders are wide and diverse and our own hardships could not hinder us from being a fabric of consciousness and rendering a helping hand in what was clearly a threat to our lives and socio-economic viability,” Morulane notes.
He believes that making a difference despite hardships is a matter of principle and the brand aspiration of the CML strategy map. “The Government called for help and we offered ourselves… That is how we forge ahead as a people. That is what Cresta is about.”
The hotel, tourism and hospitality chain has assisted less fortunate families by donating over 3,000 masks to Matlapana Primary School in Maun, Mahube Primary School in Francistown and Chobe Community Junior Secondary School in Kasane. Since the beginning of the outbreak, health experts have highlighted the significance of masks as barriers for preventing the spread of the COVID-19 virus. Cresta took this message to heart and has not hesitated to give back to the community. The Group is currently running a radio campaign where members of the community can nominate a school of their choice to receive masks every week. Beneficiary schools of this mask drive include Morwalela Primary School in Palapye, Lenchwe CJSS in Mochudi and Ramotswa School for the deaf.
The conversation shifted to business, sustainability and viable strategies in consolidating the future in hard times. Asked about the recent acquisition of a property in Cape Town by sister company Cresta Hotels, Morulane highlights the importance of looking ahead.
“With the rollout of vaccinations and roll back of lockdowns in some advanced economies like the US and the UK we are hopeful of an ease of travel in the short to medium term. Having strategic assets like the Cresta Grande Cape Town, in the peak of SA’s prime tourist destination, is premised on long-term aspirations.,” the Managing Director says.
“At our flagship property, Cresta Mowana Safari Resort & Spa, we revamped the executive suites including the Presidential suite, premised on the same principle. We believe in tourism, Botswana’s unique offering and that international tourism will come back, he emphasizes. Morulane believes that the future is promising and that the beloved hospitality industry will roar back to life.
“The pandemic made us self-reflect. We have organic gardens at each of our hotels which supply our kitchens with rich natural food from our fertile soils. We planted over 500 trees in 2020 alone and hope to plant thousands more in years to come. Our environment is our future. How we take care of our land and our people echoes beyond the balance sheet. We have a green certified hotel in Cresta Maun, which is one with nature. As the crisis continues, we will be thinking of other value frontiers that will urge us to forge ahead to protect shareholder value,” Morulane concludes.
Morulane made it clear that in the short to medium term the hotel chain will have more news to share with its customers and its diverse stakeholder universe.