‘Powey’ and the Chanters Girls!

We’ve been lucky enough to have John and Peggy Powell from Alabama staying with us for the past few days. John and Peggy travel the world bringing joy to others when John dresses as a clown called “Powey”. They’ve recently been in Malawi visiting schools, hospitals and orphanages making people smile.

Here’s a photo of John with three of the Chanters Girls – Aggy, Melinda and Junior, on the terrace on Saturday night!

We’d like to thank John and Peggy for choosing Chanters Lodge, being such wonderful Guests and making us smile!


White Weddings!

Here’s a nice story by Katie Dawson at BBC News it was sent me by my cousin Marion.

“It is the most important and expensive dress that most women will ever buy. But once the band has packed up and the confetti has blown away, most wedding dresses spend their years packed in a box in a dusty attic.

Now a Berkshire charity is offering a new lease of life for these beloved items – helping rural communities in the African country of Zambia. Abi Parker, 46, runs the Aids Support Awareness Project (ASAP) from her home in Windsor and is in need of wedding dresses to take to brides in Lusaka, the capital of Zambia.

Ms Parker plans to rent out the dresses for a small fee, which will help fund her Aids awareness project, along with a local training scheme which teaches former prostitutes skills to allow them to earn an alternative income. “It’s an African woman’s dream to get married in a white wedding dress,” said Ms Parker, who lived in Zimbabwe for 10 years. “It’s a sign of stature”.

“By doing this we are giving people, who could not usually afford it, the opportunity to get married in a white dress.” So far, more than 60 dresses, donated from across the UK, have been taken over there. Some are from brides desperate to get rid of their dresses following a marriage breakdown and others are from women keen to pass on an item of clothing that brought them so much joy.

Sue Lovell, who runs Savvy Cinderella, a bridal shop, near March, in Cambridgeshire, has been collecting dresses for Ms Parker. Everyone wants to feel like a princess whether you live in Zambia or Cambridgeshire the 44-year-old said: “Everyone wants to feel like a princess whether you live in Zambia or Cambridgeshire. “It’s just something that every bride needs and I think this is a perfect charity.” After putting an appeal on her website, Ms Lovell received dresses from women all over the UK, as well as Russia, Canada and Norway.

Some are modern dresses, while others date back to the 1950s and 1960s. The oldest dress donated was made in 1937, and came with its original pattern. Ms Lovell said the most expensive dress given cost £2,000 when bought new. “We have had such a huge range of donations,” she said. “We have had some absolutely gorgeous ones from ladies who have been married for 40 or 50 years.

Ms Parker flies to Zambia on Friday with another load of dresses. ASAP hopes to start hiring them out in the next couple of weeks, once their new shop is completed.”

Now there’s something exciting for the Chanters Girls!


New Rooms Are Open!

“Is that your first Guest?” someone on Facebook asked me, after I’d posted this picture of our newly completed Room 12 at Chanters Lodge in Livingstone! It’s not. It’s Susan Timwindila, currently Acting Assistant Manager while Annastasia Katele, holder of that post, is away in South Africa enjoying (we hope) her well earned annual leave. I was just using Susie as a model, but she’s a good one isn’t she?

We’re delighted to have finished our two roomed extension after some 4/5 months of hard work and a great deal more expenditure than we’d anticipated (as usual). The rooms have one double bed each, private bathrooms with seperate shower and overlook the swimming pool at Chanters Lodge, Livingstone. They have a small veranda – the comfortable veranda furniture is still being made. The bedroom and bathroom floors are finished with ceramic tiles and the rooms are cool and comfortable – they are air-conditioned and have fridges and televisions.

All rooms at Chanters Lodge have wi-fi access for Guests with their own laptops or internet inabled cell phones and there’s a laptop available for hire at the lodge for those who don’t. We give guests one hour free internet time and have internet coupons available for purchase in various units thereafter.

The new rooms will rent for US$95 per room per night, and this price includes full english breakfast, and free transfers from/to Livingstone Airport or the city centre on arrival/departure if required. We think this represents great value for money! Don’t you?


Chanters Lodge Garden

Just as very few Guests leave Chanters Lodge without commenting on the friendliness and helpfulness of our staff – The Chanters Girls – very few also leave without saying how pretty and peaceful is our garden.

At the moment we’re busy landscaping in front of, and at the side of, the new 2 roomed extension, and tomorrow I’ll post a photo of that, but for now here’s a picture of the garden taken from outside room 10, adjacent to the 2 new rooms.

I’m sure you’ll agree that it does look good!


Alcohol And The Hotel Industry

I’ve had my own battles with alcohol – and recently we had to let go a long serving assistant manager due to this problem, so I was interested in a recent article in HotelInteractive. Click the link for the whole article but I’ve extracted some salient points:

“There’s the pressure to take orders and sometimes handle special requests. There’s the mission to help everyone involved have a good time. And there’s the mandate to always to be at the top of one’s game. What can be said about entertainers and athletes – and the demands placed upon them at various times – is just as true for workers in the hospitality industry: Along with the anticipation of delivering a peak performance comes the overriding force of peak pressure. So it was no real revelation last year when research from the George Washington University Medical Center pinpointed hotel and restaurant sector workers as being the economy’s most at risk for alcohol problems, second only to those in mining and construction. Such problems, many observers noted, often prove costly at many levels.

“If you think about it, in the hospitality industry, you have many situations in which you have a culture of drinking, with alcohol being very available to employees either in the course of their work or immediately after work,” said researcher Eric Goplerud, director of Ensuring Solutions to Alcohol Problems, which conducted the study at George Washington University. “And there are other things that put the industry at particular risk. The younger the population, the greater the alcohol burden, and the hospitality industry tends to hire people who are younger.”

The issues are indeed out there and the price of doing nothing results not just in high costs to an employee for related worker illness, absence or poor performance, but also in good will – and perhaps repeat business – with guests. “The industry has often thrived on a ‘work hard, play hard’ mentality, which arguably could be the very things that create the circumstances for drug and alcohol abuse,” wrote Dennis Nickson, professor at the University of Strathclyde Business School in Scotland, in a recent e-mail. “This point would suggest that there is often a very difficult balancing act for the industry in terms of looking after the interests of their employees and offering to customers that a product that will often tacitly blur the lines of appropriate behaviour.”

“Hospitality organisations are becoming more proactive on the matter and the reasons are likely to be due to a mix of three factors,” Nickson wrote. “First, there is the legal dimension and the legal duties placed on employers to become more vigilant in identifying risks and hazards. If they are not taking a proactive approach they could find themselves on the wrong end of a costly lawsuit from an employee if they feel that employers have neglected their duty of care under health and safety legislation.” There is also the human factor – the hospitality business is, after all, about people caring about other people. As such, Nickson wrote, “there may also be a genuine sense of company paternalism resting on an ethical view of an organisation’s responsibility to look after its human resources and to make them aware of the dangers of alcohol and drug abuse.”

And ultimately, economics becomes the strongest motivator in business, he wrote. “By being proactive, organisations may be looking to save costs by reducing absence and improving the performance of employees in the workplace by addressing any problems or concerns that they might have with drug or alcohol abuse…Whether these interventions are paying off in terms of outcomes such as reduced absenteeism, improved timekeeping, increase productivity, less accidents and reduced theft and wastage is something that is worthy of further research.”

Many employers have a feeling that there are two kinds of alcohol treatment either go to AA, which is a self-help group and doesn’t cost anything, or go to a residential 28-day treatment program which is very expensive and which most HR folks say doesn’t work. These were the predominant models up into the 80s and since the 80s there has been development of medications, screenings and outpatient forms of counseling that are as effective, or more effective than treatments for other chronic illnesses.”

The developed world are lucky to have such options – where we are there is very little help and a strong drinking culture in the community as well. If you can’t sort it out for yourself, and unfortunately lots of people can’t, it won’t get sorted!


Staff Morale

I was interested in a piece from Caryn Eve Murray writing in HotelInteractive about staff morale, I’ve extracted just a small part of what she wrote:

“Inside every luxury property within the vast global luxury brand of Ritz Carlton, workers begin their daily shifts in a kind of competitive huddle, participating in what is known as a line-up. “The goal is for everyone to review everything at the start of their shift. It can be as short as 10 minutes or as long as 30 minutes,” said Rachel Hastert, sales and marketing coordinator for the Ritz-Carlton Marina del Rey in California. “A story is shared from any property around the world, on any practices that have worked for them. We gather round and review the companywide information and then we review our own information, with our local teams.”

Hastert said the daily gatherings add up to time well spent – and these days, that’s not just true because the tradition keeps everyone in the loop on the day-to-day details of doing business. “It definitely helps morale,” she said. “It keeps everyone informed and creates cohesiveness. We do small things every day, but with this you realize you are part of a large organization and it helps you learn and grow.” At a time when workplace morale can be challenged by a slowdown in business, industry layoffs and individuals’ added responsibilities, particularly in the luxury tier, this longstanding Ritz-Carlton practice is now providing workers with an emotional anchor.

Chanters Lodge is a very small operation in a different part of the world but staff morale is equally vital. What do we do to try and maintain staff morale? Here’s a few ideas:

– We share results. Staff receive 10% Service Charge so they share in good times. We try to cushion them through the bad months. We’re open about the income. We also share food cost results and bar surplus/deficit results as well.

– On our weekly Sunday night radio show we make a point of greeting each worker by name and often use this medium to thank them for their contribution. They love the show and are proud of the lodge for hosting it – never mind rocking to the music back at the lodge when I’m on air – or so I’m told!

– Scratch cards for mobile phones. Give a Chanters Girl a K10,000 note (About US$2) and she’ll say thanks. Give the same girl a scratch card for her phone worth the same K10,000 and her face will light up with a huge smile and you’ll get a big thanks too!

– We try to let the staff feel they’re learning and developing. As far we can, we give every worker experience in both the kitchen and restaurant before moving them forward, as and when there’s space, to reception, stores etc.

– Tips from Guests on top of the service charge are shared out equally at the month end and a breakdown of amounts given and by whom is attached. Guest reviews on TripAdvisor are shared with the staff – good and not so good.

– Nice uniforms, a good lunch and transport when needed are other things that help motivate the staff. We try to make sure they never miss their day off and that they have one month’s annual leave. We also help them through family illness and if necessary family bereavements.

– We try to teach staff the basic rules of hotel keeping and public relations and tell them when Guests have said ‘they’re great!’ We have our own way of telling them when things are not how we want them!

– Spring surprise rewards. An unexpected reward for something good has a magic effect on morale!

– Make sure the rules, such as they are, are understood and discipline, where necessary, fairly implemented with consideration.

– Last but not least, pay salaries and service charge on time, on the day – this doesn’t always happen in this part of the world! There’s nothing more down in the mouth and moody than a Chanters Girl feeling broke!

The picture – Chanters staff some time back



Is Drake the next sensation in hip-hop music? Some people certainly think so! Here’s about him from Wikipedia:

“Aubrey Drake Graham (born October 24, 1986) is a Canadian actor and recording artist. He originally became known for playing Jimmy Brooks, the basketball star that became physically disabled after he was shot by a classmate on Degrassi: The Next Generation.

As a rapper, he performs under the mononym Drake, and is often billed as the new version of The Fresh Prince. Drake continued to recognize a close affiliation with Lil Wayne’s Young Money Entertainment, before officially signing with the record label in June, 2009.

His first studio album, Thank Me Later is expected to be released later this year on Young Money Entertainment.”

I have a couple of tracks, ‘Take You Down’ and ‘A Night Off’. The latter we’ll play on Sunday’s Chanters Lodge Experience radio show on Zambezi Radio 107.5 fm and we’ll see what the Livingstone public in general and the Chanters Girls in particular think about Drake!

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