Roy Davies started his career as an intern at the Mount Nelson Hotel and has served as general manager of two luxury hotels in the city. Now he’s taking a break.
After 15 years at the helm of the Vineyard Hotel – during which he led his team through a drought and a global pandemic, Mr Davies is retiring.
His career in hotel management started with an internship at the Mount Nelson in 1984. Mr Davies later joined the Bay Hotel as assistant general manager in 1989 before being promoted to general manager in 1994. During this time he completed the Professional Development Program (PDP) in Strategic General Management at Cornell University in America.
He co-founded a software development company in Cape Town and left South Africa in 1999 to open the UK office, but seven years later he was enticed back to take up the reins as general manager of the Vineyard Hotel.
At the time of his appointment, the Vineyard had 173 rooms. Today there are 211 rooms, and nine apartments on the extensive property in Newlands.
“Roy has been an active member in our expansion both in terms of accommodation and revenues. And we will always be grateful for his commitment and loyalty,” says George Petousis, CEO of the Petousis Holding Group.
“Roy has hosted dignitaries and royalty, many of whom return year after year, and has forged alliances around the world that have raised the Vineyard’s profile. He has treated all our guests with the same generosity of spirit, and those that have stayed here have been touched by his passion for this place,” said Mr Petousis.
As a team, the Vineyard has over the past four years weathered the 2017/8 drought, where the hotel led the South African hospitality industry with innovative water-saving measures, and more recently the global pandemic that has decimated the tourism industry and continues to hamper business operations daily, Mr Petousis added.
But there have been highlights too, said Mr Davies, as he talked about the hotel’s efforts to bring wine-making back to Newlands. “Only a few hundred metres from where our vineyard is, Jan van Riebeeck planted South Africa’s first vines along the Liesbeek River in 1658. There were almost 22 000 vines on this property when Lady Anne Barnard moved into her newly built home and named it the Vineyard.”
In October 2008, about 350 years after the first vineyards were planted in this area, five renowned wine producers were invited by the hotel to become involved in reigniting the history of wine in the Newlands area by establishing a private vineyard in the gardens of the hotel.
Klein Constantia, Meerlust, Simonsig, Warwick and Waterford became the Vineyard’s five official wine partners. Each takes a turn to craft the wines produced from the sauvignon blanc and semillon grapes grown at the Vineyard. Every year, friends of the hotel are invited to prune the vines, attend the harvest dinner and watch the bottling of the wine.
Other highlights are the many “green” awards with Mr Davies having driven sustainability efforts at the hotel.
“His determination to bring grapes back to the banks of the Liesbeek and to bottle our small-batch wines; the annual Tennessee Williams Hotel Plays season and wine-paired tastes dinners that lure Capetonians out in winter. There’ve been Cap Classique challenges, Tri-Nations dinners hosted by Michelin-star chef Roger Jones, pinot noir and bubbly festivals… As Roy would probably say himself, it’s been a lot of hard work but it’s been great fun too,” said Mr Petousis.