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Top hotel GM in the country is committed to industry collaboration

03 May 2024

Chris Godenir, the General Manager of Dream Hotels and Resorts’ Peninsula All-Suite Hotel in Cape Town, recently won the Hotel General Manager of the Year Award. This recognition was part of the inaugural FEDHASA Hospitality Awards. A total of 150 nominations were submitted for the award, among them some of the best and most forward-thinking general managers in the sector.

Chris came out on top because of his deep-seated commitment to the people he works with, the communities he engages with, and the broader industry of which he is a part.

“Winning the award was a huge honour,” says Chris. “But it is not just about me. It’s testament to my remarkable team on the ground, and to the freedom Dream Hotels has given me to implement a culture based on empowerment.”

So, what set Chris apart?:

A persistent focus on people development:
It’s his people who give the Peninsula its reputation. Their professional satisfaction and personal investment is critical. Internal training and upskilling is an abiding priority, and over the course of 20 years, the whole Peninsula leadership team has been recruited internally. “We do everything we can to empower our team and to ensure they feel like a fundamental part of the Peninsula’s DNA,” says Chris.

A tourism outlier during the pandemic:
During a notoriously difficult period for the hospitality and tourism sectors — Chris not only retained all of his staff on full pay, but also gave increases and paid bonuses. Chris wanted to ensure that the years he put into creating a cohesive team and culture didn’t go to waste, so he offered external cleaning and maintenance services and founded an NPO to feed and support those less fortunate. These were ultimately strong business decisions as, when Covid restrictions started to lift, the Peninsula team was immediately ready to operate as a hotel again.

“Chris’ fast-thinking and effective response to Covid is evident in his leadership approach more generally,” says Dream Hotels CEO Nick Dickson. “He believes that any challenge can be overcome by bringing people together, innovating and adapting, and moving forward productively. This mindset has influenced his more recent industry projects, too.”

Recognising that the tourism industry needs to work together:
Tourism and hospitality have tended to be siloed in the past, their enormous potential largely unrealised. Chris has spearheaded a Dream Hotels initiative called, the Art of Creation, which seeks to dismantle these barriers and create long-lasting change for everyone working in, and affected by, these sectors. It’s all about galvanising sector players in the tourism industry to address challenges by improving collaboration, supporting the local communities in which they work, and fuelling job creation.

The Art of Creation is complemented by Dream Hotels’ NPO Touching Dreams. Touching Dreams focuses on youth development and creating employment opportunities in the areas where Dream Hotels’ resorts are located. It works closely with Reach for a Dream, the Christel House School, SOS Children’s Village, the World Wildlife Foundation and Rave Rhino.

Through several initiatives, and bolstered by both company and sector-wide support, Chris is playing his role in contributing to South Africa’s socio-economic development now and into the future. “It is my life’s purpose to influence leadership change within the industry and make a meaningful difference,” he says.

“My hope is that this award inspires others in the industry to implement a leadership style that focuses on people, collaboration and sustainability,” concludes Chris.

Chris Godenir, together with a selected steering committee of hospitality professionals, will be spearheading a Think Tank on 12 July 2024 at the Maslow Hotel in Johannesburg. The Think Tank will bring industry leaders together for panel discussions focusing on global hospitality trends, industry challenges, the technological landscape, and more. For more information and official invitations please email

Strolla Restaurant

Strolla Restaurant

Sea Point, Western Cape Breakfast, Burgers, Cocktails, Continental, Grills, Light Meals, Pizza, Seafood, Sushi, Vegetarian

Located off Sea Point’s bustling promenade, alongside the Peninsula All-Suite Hotel, Strolla offers a fresh and funky local hangout for on-the-go coffee, simple yet sophisticated food and sus...