• Rob Arnold

Cultivating a world class Lodge Experience


The lodge experience for a first-time guest or familiar bush traveller is an immensely special departure from everyday routine and reality. For many travellers, it is also a rather daunting prospect if one considers the degree of unknowns and unfamiliarity that comes with a trip of this nature. From the lodge operator's perspective, creating a consistent world-class guest experience in such a rural environment is incredibly challenging.

One of the greatest challenges to overcome as an operator are the differences between the local cultures contrasted against the western practices often adopted by the management couples and other senior positions within the ranks. What is fantastic to see is the number of lodge companies that are now spending significant resources to develop the local people into the next managers of the lodges themselves. Be that as it may, there still commonly exists somewhat of a disconnect between the locals and the management team is certain lodges. The managers that overcome this challenge take it upon themselves to learn the local culture, language and practices of the people within it. They also endeavour to train the local people on the types of guests which the lodge frequently welcomes. The degree of difference in perspective and exposure is essentially what makes this process one which requires patience and resilience from both sides.


While hospitality hours are demanding at the best of times, the dedication in terms of time in the lodge environment sets a new standard. It is common practice to work 6 weeks straight before enjoying any form of reprieve. A weekday and weekend in the lodge space are often difficult to distinguish because guests needs come before anything else. You will often find some of the most resourceful people having worked in the bush because it taught them how to make a plan with the bare minimum.

The calibre of guests that frequent the top-end lodge destinations have been exposed to the finest urban hotel environments and often, therefore, expect the same degree of attention to detail and flexibility in the overall experience. To exceed this degree of expectation takes a lot of more than impressive crockery or linen, it starts and ends with the quality of the personalities and characters that represent these lodge experiences. When these guests depart the lodge, they will soon forget the stemware they drank the Cabernet Sauvignon in but will never forget the ease and authenticity with which the staff engaged them during the meal. There are no assumptions made when it comes to guests. The learning process is never fast-tracked but is executed with incredible subtlety. Before a guest knows it, their nuanced preferences become the order of the day, regardless of what it may entail. This information and understanding travel seamlessly from the front of house to the kitchen to the guides, or visa-versa.

The greatest lodge experiences in the world are the ones where, even though the staff are welcoming the umpteenth guest for the month, the authentic intent and attention to detail provide the guest with the sense that this must still be a novelty for these staff.

RCA curates and facilitates bespoke on-site training programmes that focus on building a guest-centric culture within the lodge team. For more information on our process and scope, get in touch by emailing us info@rcaconsult.com.

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