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From security guard to employer

written byCathy Grosvener
The story of Elliot Marobela is one of hard work and the determination to succeed at all costs.

Elliot Marobela, owner of Graskop Holiday Resort, has big plans for the establishment.Marobela is putting down roots near his place of birth, thanks to a public-private partnership (PPP) with Thaba Chweu Municipality.

Born in Matibidi, 50km away from Graskop, he is the operator of the Graskop Holiday Resort, which employs 26 people. His is a tale of hard work and perseverance that saw him achieving notable success despite a rural background and few education opportunities.

His first job was as a security guard at Overvaal Oorde. With time, the position allowed him to assist with simple night receptionist duties. For five years he worked and studied, doing courses through Damelin and obtaining an Office Administration Diploma while working as a part-time receptionist when off duty as a security guard. Soon he was a full-time receptionist and not long after, was made housekeeping executive at Warmbaths.

Under his guidance, the housekeeping staff achieved two bonuses that year, said Marobela.

In keeping with a changing South Africa, Overvaal Oorde repositioned itself as Aventura (today Forever Resorts) and Marobela benefitted from a learnership with the Hospitality Industry Training Board that saw him being rotated throughout the group’s resorts.

He worked his way up within the group and managed to get a hotel management qualification. In 2008, he took over the management of a small and trouble-plagued resort in White River and was charged with managing its turnaround.

After 22 years in the hospitality industry, Marobela decided to leave the Forever group. He did consulting work for other lodges and took over a guesthouse and restaurant in Sabie.

Then, in 2013, he learnt that Thaba Chweu Municipality was looking for a local person with the relevant experience to enter into a PPP to revitalise the once thriving Graskop Holiday Resort, which had been run-down for some time.

Marobela’s Sre and Jre Investments and Trading (Pty) Ltd was chosen as the preferred bidder on 24 October, 2013. The signing of the 15-year contract took place a year later, in 2014.

Whilst Marobela has been unable to secure government funding, he is in negotiations with the Industrial Development Corporation.

The resort, which re-opened its doors in April 2015, has 26 newly-renovated self-catering units, and another 12 rondavels are under way. It also has a caravan site which is 90 percent complete.

The resort – on the edge of an escarpment, within walking distance of town and a short drive from major Mpumalanga tourist attractions – will soon be graded and Marobela is hoping to be awarded three stars.