Dock House Boutique Hotel offers exclusive and extremely private luxury accommodation in Cape Town. This hotel is rich in history and charm; one of the Newmark’s most prized properties in the V&A Waterfront. While much can be said about Dock House’s exquisite façade and facilities, it is truly the staff – both those who work tirelessly behind the scenes and those who interact with guests on a daily basis – who bring this property to life and make it the pleasant retreat it is. One such team member is Michelle Fourie – Dock House’s Resident Manager.
Michelle plays a pivotal role in keeping the various components of day-to-day operations moving along smoothly. Her core focus is on guests – communicating with them before they arrive, during their stay and at departure, organising tours, making restaurant reservations and assisting them with their itineraries. Beyond this, she is responsible for procurement – for example, ordering linen and operating equipment – the recruiting and training of staff, as well as general admin and reporting. Furthermore, Michelle oversees the lovely Sanctuary Signature Spa, located adjacent to Dock House.
A typical day involves starting work at 06H00 to ensure that the morning room is set up and perfect for breakfast, checking reports and then doing a property walkabout to ensure everything else is in mint condition. Following this, Michelle spends time liaising with guests at breakfast and then heads off to a morning management meeting with neighbouring Newmark properties’ resident managers. Thereafter, she returns to Dock House to meet and greet any other guests that may have sat down for breakfast in the interim, and then goes across to the Queen Victoria Hotel for a mini-meeting to run through operational matters.
It’s then time for Michelle to check her emails, but in between, she touches base with guests to ensure they’re all happy and comfortable. She then does another sweep through the hotel and a second property walkabout to check that everything is in line with five-star standards. If there is any ad hoc training to be done with staff, Michelle does so and then hands over to the duty manager. Before ending her day at about 18H00, she does any remaining admin and one last walkabout. A busy schedule to say the least!
“The highlight of my job is interacting with guests, especially ‘regulars’ – it brings me such joy to have guests return and remember me, even years later,” says Michelle. Like some guests who have frequented Dock House since its opening, Michelle has also walked a journey with the property from its very beginning, having been integral to the property’s establishment. “It’s fantastic to see how Dock House has evolved over the years and stood the test of time. I take great pride in this property and its growth,” she shares.
Michelle began her journey with Newmark in 2003, as the restaurant hostess at what was then the Waterfront Café (now Ginja Restaurant), located at the Victoria & Alfred Hotel. She progressed to the position of food and beverage controller at the hotel but longed for more interaction with guests. As such, she moved into events co-ordination, also at the Victoria & Alfred Hotel and was ultimately promoted to Banqueting Manager. In 2007, Michelle was asked whether she would be interested in opening the Dock House, under the guidance of a mentor – the General Manager of the Victoria & Alfred Hotel Manager at the time – to which she agreed.
In March 2008, the hotel was opened, and Michelle took on the role of Resident Manager at Dock House for four years. She then moved back to the Victoria & Alfred Hotel where she fulfilled two different roles – first as the Executive Housekeeper and then as Front Office Manager – over a period spanning three years and three months, but she missed the Dock House, so in December 2015, she made the move back and has been happily working at this establishment ever since. Her aim for the year ahead includes continuing to share her knowledge and love for Dock House with her colleagues and guests.
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