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Guest house | Meet Hilary Clarke

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By The Training Team

We have asked one of our past students a few questions...Hilary Clarke

Hilary Clarke, co-owner with my husband, of Anchor’s Rest, Hermanus.  

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

My husband and I have been in the industry for 15 years, starting with 1 small self catering room in Knysna where we were then living. It started more as a hobby than anything – it was never our intention to become a full time accommodation establishment. Somehow it just grew.  But Knysna was just too far away from children and grandchildren! So we returned to Hermanus after a 15 year absence and together with my husband Guy we established Anchor’s Rest as a guest house at the end of 2006. We now own a 4 bedroomed guest house (with self catering ) and basically we were self taught.

What was your motivation for enrolling in the Guest House Management Course?
It always bothered me slightly that I had had no formal training in the hospitality business or in business of any kind.  Since we first started in a small way all those years ago, the hospitality industry has developed into a huge industry and I felt it advisable to become more knowledgeable and professional.   As we grew, so we needed to become more efficient. I hoped to learn more about management and efficient daily running of the guest house. The fact that the course was run in conjunction with UCT was a draw card for me as UCT is my Alma Mater!   

What did you enjoy about the course?

I have done distance learning before (prior to the advent of Internet – Ok that gives my age away) and really was not particularly inspired so I was slightly unsure in enrolling. The fact that there is a link to a university was reassuring though, and I really was impressed with the highly professional and efficient presentation throughout.   This concept of distance learning with contact with the course convener, administration staff and fellow students via the Internet is great. One could almost imagine one was in a very big lecture hall but one could go to the lecture any time one liked!  I looked forward to the new module each week. Sometimes when I was feeling under pressure with an assignment to do (I did choose the busiest time of the year to do the course) I wished that it was over 20 weeks!  But I always got it done in time and I think that kept us on our toes and stimulated.
How has this course helped you?
I was impressed by the content in each module and although a lot I knew from previous experience there was always something new and valuable to learn.  It was also reassuring, here and there, that what I had taught myself was on track.  So the course has helped me to see where there could be improvements, especially in management and marketing of which I had very limited knowledge before the course. I intend to implement them this year. One of the assignments was on our marketing strategy for the year ahead and I will probably follow that to a T!

Any additional comments
Just to say thank you to all concerned. Corine went to amazing lengths to help (including real life personal stories as way of explaining) and sharing her wealth of knowledge in the Discussion groups, and the feed backs that must have taken ages to compile. Thanks also to Jill who was always so sweet and helpful. It was a great course.

Click here for more information on the University of Cape Town Guest House Management Course.

Back to SmartyPants Newsletter - February 2010 Edition

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