Our Executive Team

Representing all facets of the hospitality industry, including hotel management, ownership, and asset management, our executive team brings a wealth of experience to THE NEST COLLECTION.

Riaan Kruger

Riaan has extensive experience in the travel industry from both a local and international perspective.

After his studies in Tourism and Travel Practice Management at the University of Tshwane, Riaan spent a year at Walt Disney World in Florida (USA) as part of a cultural exchange program. After this, he joined the African safari industry where he worked as a field guide in various safari lodges in the Sabi Sands and Madikwe game reserves. As a natural leader, he showed a keen interest in lodge operations and management during this time, with an eye for detail which time and again contributed to the enhancement of the overall guest experience.

Specialising in boutique hotel and luxury safari lodge operations and marketing, his career highlights include 5 years as General Manager (including 3 years as Marketing Director) of Royal Madikwe Luxury Safari Residence – one of South Africa’s first and foremost safari lodges and villa concepts; this was followed by 6 years as General Manager and Marketing Director of the luxury 5-star Robertson Small Hotel where he played an indelible part in the successful opening, marketing and daily operations of the hotel; and most recently, 5 years as General Manager and Executive Director of La Petite Ferme boutique hotel, restaurant and winery in Franschhoek, an iconic Cape Winelands destination.

Riaan was fundamental in the rebranding, renovations, and repositioning of La Petite Ferme, transforming the B&B into a boutique hotel. It is his affinity for organisation, structure and follow-through, coupled with honesty, dedication and a firm commitment to the task at hand, while being resistant to stress that makes Riaan an inspiring leader who takes genuine pleasure in organising people into effective teams.

Jolene Windt

A born hotelier, with a heart that beats for people, Jolene understands the finer workings of human emotion and social harmony that empower teams to flourish.

She studied Hospitality Management and her 17 years of wide tourism experience ranges from Operations, Reservations, and Revenue Management, to working with OTAs and extensively in Marketing and Sales. Jolene is sensitive to notice the fundamental little things, often otherwise overlooked, that enhance a product offering and ultimately drive revenue.

She is practical, observant and great at spotting opportunities. This, coupled with her strength in managing relationships, be it the travel industry, with clients, or across teams, makes Jolene a success-driven facilitator of each establishment’s narrative and reach within her marketing sphere.

Jolene has worked with leading brands such as Ellerman House, Classic Portfolio, and recently Virgin Limited Edition as their Regional Sales Manager, and has a trusted position on the advisory board for Franschhoek Tourism.

Being flexible means that Jolene is self-reliant and quick-thinking, easily adapting to whatever is thrown at her. While having the ability to focus on high-level precision, Jolene’s true superpower is to bring unity to any team.

Chantel Smalberger

Having grown up on an Eastern Cape farm, Chantel’s roots are aligned with the nurturing wholesomeness of personal hospitality and genuine care. Her pragmatic and down-to-earth nature and thorough, organised approach saw her obtaining an honours degree in Management Accounting from Stellenbosch University in 2013.

Chantel articled at an auditing and accounting firm in Somerset West for 3 years, dealing with clients from varied industries, including hospitality, before deciding to focus her attention to the tourism industry entirely.

She joined La Petite Ferme in 2017 and has since garnered the experience of working within different revenue streams, cost centres, and modules where the rules vary across the board.

With a love for structure, Chantel’s organised approach and confident decisiveness means that she is able to boost efficiency and increase accuracy by putting systems in place to identify shortfalls and pitfalls before they have the opportunity to derail things.

It is her attention to detail, combined with the ability to analyse the health of each department overall that proves priceless in any financial position.

Marilize Visagie

Growing up on a Stellenbosch wine farm has fostered Marilize’s lifelong interest in wine tourism and the endless pairing options of good wine and gourmet cuisine.

Her operations experience in both the restaurant and accommodation realms has served her well in understanding the extra lengths that a reservations team can go to, to enable remarkable guest service on property.

With attention to detail, a propensity for planning ahead, diligence, honesty and respect, her work is of an excellent quality, while Marilize is well-liked by guests, trade and colleagues alike.

Marilize has worked at Devon Valley, Lanzerac, Asara, Le Franschhoek, and most recently La Petite Ferme. She joins THE NEST COLLECTION with enthusiasm to engage with guests and seeing their enquiries grow into wonderful lifelong memories.

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