Another year has flown by and again although it is already 2015, it’s hopefully not too late to wish you all the very best for the year ahead. As always we’d like to thank you for your ongoing loyal support over this last year: returning guests; first-time visitors; those who booked in clients, colleagues or friends; those who simply made an enquiry; suppliers providing us with ongoing excellent service; friends and family. We have had season’s greetings from many guests around the world and are grateful for the privilege of being able to develop these long relationships over the many years we have been in business. In May 2015 it will be 20 years since our first guest came to stay. I look back to the times when we started with only one room, with just Ellen Khumalo and myself, when we had no laundry and no breakfast patio, when keeping noise levels down with teenage boys living at home was a major challenge and when I had no separate office (if I say the office was in my bedroom it might give the wrong impression!).
When we first started, emails were not in common use and so I did not predict the confusion that would arise between the ‘at’ in our name Liz at Lancaster and the computer @ sign!. However 20 years on, we’ve established our branding; have 7 rooms; have a wonderful breakfast patio opening on to the garden; employ 3 full time staff and 2 part time staff; have won multiple awards; and for 4 years now have been ranked number 1 on TripAdvisor amongst 259 B&Bs/Inns (current count) in Johannesburg. This ranking is thanks to your feedback as guests and we are truly grateful for your reviews. If you haven’t yet reviewed us and would like to, you can go to http://www.tripadvisor.com/Hotel_Review-g312578-d574068-Reviews-Liz_at_Lancaster_Guesthouse-Johannesburg_Johannesburg_Gauteng.html.There is a ‘write a review’ button at the top right corner. It is always useful to get feedback on what it is that our guests value.
On the service front, Zac continues to do airport transfers and transport people around Johannesburg with his amazing knowledge of the city and its traffic patterns. He was very chuffed in February to be able to buy a second vehicle – a Mercedes sedan 250 Elegance. It is much more economical on petrol than his Microbus and is in excellent condition.
And guests have been particularly impressed with our internet speed – currently at around 9 MBS which for South Africa is very fast. And the even better news is that Craighall Park is currently installing fibre optic cabling which will give access to 100meg speed.
2014 has been a difficult year for South Africa. There have been corruption scandals in the corporate world and government, the most infamous involving the presidential home at Nkandla; in May the electorate returned a largely incompetent and ineffectual ANC Government to power; there are major on-going problems with parastatals such as the Post Office, South African Airways and Eskom (our electricity provider); we have been in the news headlines with parliamentary brawls, service delivery strikes and two high profile trials for the murders of two young women – the Oscar Pistorius trial of course and that of Shrien Dewani. So it is not a year we can look back at in pride. In fact, to quote another more famous Elizabeth, 2014 has indeed been an annus horribilis for South Africa.
On the positive side Joburg continues to develop in an exciting way. In February this year the 1st Johannesburg In Your Pocket appeared. In Your Pocket is the largest publisher of locally produced city guides in Europe and this Jozi guide is the first city guide to be produced outside Europe. Appearing quarterly, it is published and edited by Laurice Taitz who has for years blogged on Joburg. We were delighted when Liz at Lancaster was included as one of 4 recommended guesthouses- another great honour for us. Guests can pick up a copy of Johannesburg In Your Pocket when they stay at Liz at Lancaster or you can go on-line http://www.inyourpocket.com/southafrica/johannesburg
According to the 2014 Good City Index, http://magazine.good.is/guides/good-cities-index-2014 Jozi is the second-most inspiring city in the world – after Hong Kong. I love Good City’s way of evaluating:
At Good, we believe that a city’s heartbeat is best measured in “possibility”—the pervading sense that though a place may be far from perfect, its citizens are taking a bold stake in its future through a mixture of creativity, hustle, and civic engagement.
Early in December a travel writer for Lonely Planet came to see me and he endorsed Good City’s view saying that compared to the 1990s, he found Joburg to be a totally different city – vibrant, buzzing, extraordinary inner city developments and alive with possibility. And further endorsement comes from Rough Guides who have chosen Johannesburg as no 1 of their top 10 cities to visit in 2015. http://www.roughguides.com/best-places/2015/top-10-cities/
If you are visiting Johannesburg, it’s useful to know what is available to see and do. So, as always, I continue to keep abreast of what is on and happening in Joburg and have added a window on the home page of our website www.lizatlancaster.co.za where you can see our Tweets or follow us on Twitter. I also post on Facebook www.faceboook.com/lizatlancaster so if you are a Facebook user, please follow us if you have not already done so. Longer posts are uploaded onto our blog. Should you wish you can subscribe to our blogs and so get notification when there are new posts.
This comes with all the very best wishes for a good 2015 for you all,
From us all at Liz at Lancaster