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Issue 9
Africa Travel> Issue 9
UPDATED: November 5, 2014
A Chat with Johann Strydom
By Jo Kromberg

Johann Strydom, Managing Director of World Leisure Holidays (COURTESY OF JOHANN STRYDOM)

Well-known for their exquisite vacation products, service excellence and friendly people, World Leisure Holidays has built a flawless reputation as one of the top South African tour operators. The company was originally the brainchild of hospitality king Sol Kerzner and is now wholly owned by the Mauritius-based Sun Resorts Limited.

World Leisure Holidays is headed by Managing Director Johann Strydom, a veteran of tourism, travel and management. Their operational philosophy and all-round strategic approach sets them apart as a foremost South African tour operator under Johann's leadership. "The basis of our company as travel tour operators is a solid business model built on strong foundations which enjoys real organic growth as part of our drive for service excellence," says Johann.

"It is unsurprising that as the definitive travel tour operator, our resorts are unequalled when it comes to holidays of indulgence, escapism and excitement. As South African tour operators we offer a wide range of holiday accommodation here in South Africa and around the world, which includes: the affordable luxury Sun Resorts hotels for couples and families in Mauritius and the Maldives, the iconic One&Only Resorts and the ultimate mega-resorts like Atlantis Paradise Island in the Bahamas, and Atlantis The Palm in Dubai." These resorts, especially the Mauritius resorts, are also quickly becoming favourite holiday destinations among discerning Chinese tourists.

So what makes WLH unique in his opinion? "We are unique in the sense that we are owned by Sun Resorts so we sell our own properties. We have arguably the best 5 properties in Mauritius – on the East Coast, Le Touessrok, which is one of the Leading Hotels of the World. Le Touessrok is one of the most magnificent hotels in the world, even if I say so myself! In terms of food alone, we offer guests the choice of cuisine of nine countries. The property also owns two islands and of course we have a world famous golf course, designed by Bernard Langer."

"Then there is also Long Beach. The resort (also in Mauritius) is different in the sense that it has an eco-friendly pool system, which makes it quite unique. And instead of the buffet option we have five restaurants here, all designed with a traditional Italian village in mind around the central piazza. Ambre Resort, on the other hand, provides an all-inclusive option and is a more relaxed, traditional beach resort. On the west coast we own Sugar Beach Resort and La Pirogue.

World Leisure Holidays is more than a holiday, he says. "Its is almost like a concierge service. Because we own all the properties we can help you with almost anything and we are not limited in ways that a travel agent or hotel management company would be."

He says that because consumers now have such wide access to the Internet, travel trends have changed. "They will Google all the properties they may have heard about and they will look at and compare prices. They are much better informed than ever before." He does say, however, that people still prefer to sit with a travel agent face to face when planning a holiday. "We all like the human touch and the sense that there is a real person looking after your interests who knows who you are and what you want."

He says that guests are also now more focussed on family travel. "We definitely see the family trend developing at our properties. Children definitely travel more with their parents on holiday. Our kids clubs are certainly popular. The parents can either have their children with them or out being entertained somewhere by our staff, Either way, the parents know their kids are safe and having a good time so that they too can relax and have a good time."

Tourism to Mauritius is extremely important to the country's economy. Johann tells me that Mauritius gets almost one million tourists to the island from all over the world and that tourism is the second biggest employer of all industries in Mauritius. "Mauritian people are generally studious and proud. The road infrastructure is also good and the high work ethic ensures excellent quality of service to their guests."

He says that the secret to a perfect holiday is planning. "Understand what it is that you are purchasing. Don't be afraid to ask your travel agent as many questions as you want. In other words, be in charge. This approach will save you a lot of worry, troubles and money."

After all, isn't a holiday supposed to contain some of the best memories of your life?

Go to http://www.wlh.co.za/about-us/ for information and reservations at World Leisure Holidays.

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