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We met up with Annemien Kotze, the owner of Bonne Esperance Guest House, and a proudly Stellenbosch resident- to answer some of our beaming questions about herself, the current state of tourism, and her favourite staycations here in Stellenbosch. What does it mean to support local? And why is it so important right now? Some of the best accommodation, food, and indulgences around Stellenbosch? You’ll uncover all of this and more below…

Who is Annemien Kotze?

I am tourism. I have been at the helm of Bonne Esperance Guest House since 2007 and have had the extraordinary opportunity of growing this guest house from a 3 star 15 to a 4 star 25 room guest house; with 5-star service. Its been a privilege to coach and mentor many of my valued staff, and managers (mostly women) over the years. One of my greatest joys is being an ambassador for Stellenbosch- helping guests experience our charming town to the fullest. I am also a wife, a mother to three precious children, and a friend to an inspiring circle of companions.

What is the journey that brought you to Bonne Esperance Guest House?

I have always had a passion for hospitality. As a teenager, my parents regularly invited guests over, which I would then entertain for a 3-course dinner with silver service—preparing everything from the welcome drinks to washing the dishes. My passion was shaped by food heroes and businesswomen like Ina Paarman, Elsa van der Nest, and Liz McGraw. I studied Consumer Science at the University of Stellenbosch and had always been an entrepreneur at heart. When the opportunity arose to acquire Bonne Esperance Guest House with a circle of friends, I jumped at the chance to run my own business and become an owner of a piece of the town that I grew to love as a student. Bonne Esperance has grown from strength to strength over the years. In 2014 we expanded the business to incorporate Bonne Esperance Studio Apartments as part of our portfolio. More recently we lovingly renovated the stately Victorian Villa on the corner of Neethling and Van Riebeeck Street in 2019. The vision was to respect the heritage value of the property while harmonizing it with the modern and contemporary; it was a roaring success.

What is so special about the tourism sector?

The tourism sector is a celebration of the diversity which our country holds- diversity in culture and diversity in landscape. Through tourism, we are able to showcase our marvelous rainbow nation and provide a showroom to express the warm, kindhearted, and generous hospitality that is characteristic of our people. I believe tourism offers one of the keys to restoring hope to our nation.

What does it mean to support local, and why is it important now?

The Covid-19 pandemic has forced us to pause and rethink our way of living. There is a global movement of appreciating what our local community has to offer and supporting what the local artisans bring to the table. People are also more conscious of how their choices affect their environment, and there is a realization that there are more forms of capital to consider and nurture other than financial capital. This is the environmental, social and human capital. By supporting local, you have the opportunity to invest in all of the above within your local community.

What makes you excited about the future?

The hospitality industry is resilient and will bounce back quickly once international tourism is allowed. However, we will all need to adapt and embrace new opportunities that come our way. People are drawn to unique and genuine experiences, and our country has a lot of these to offer. We will have to awaken the slumbering warm and kindhearted hospitality of our people, and it will be the key to restoring hope in our tourism industry. We will also need strategic thinkers to stimulate the tourism economy and make sure that we attract enough international flights.

What advice do you have for someone considering a career in hospitality?

The hospitality industry is an exciting and fulfilling industry to work in – Be eager to grow and learn new skills as technology develops and the industry changes.