Wayne Hill brings wealth of experience as new Hospitality GM

September 1, 2022

Wayne Hill believes he was destined for a life in hospitality, coming from a large family and growing up immersed in life in the home kitchen. He was born in Durban and came to Johannesburg at an early age. At 16 he started his first job as an apprentice baker having seen first-hand how happy kitchens made people feel. After what he calls “one of the best years of my life working in kitchens”, he realised a career as a chef was not for him, so he redirected his attention and experience to hotel management.

What followed is a successful and diverse career spanning three decades, during which Wayne worked his way up to the top of hotel and resort management. It is this invaluable experience and deep understanding of the hospitality industry that he brings to his new role as general manager at Pple Hospitality. Wayne is tasked with cementing and improving the current service offering at Pple Hospitality, while finding new revenue streams and growing the business nationally. Included in this strategy is getting back to basics with the training and service offering.

He explains, “I’ve been on all sides of the customer experience and will use this knowledge to help Pple Hospitality create value in each step. As a people person, I love developing careers with passion and purpose. I still stay in contact with colleagues I met 30 years ago and hope to help newcomers aspire to finding a job in an industry they will love forever, while learning that patience, humility, integrity, accountability and respect helps us get ahead.”

Wayne aims to reinforce the idea that being a waiter or a demi chef is not a route to another job, but rather a noble career that if nurtured can support many households and dreams, and that treating employees the way one expects them to treat customers is essential.

Two of many highlights in his career showcase how diverse a life in hospitality can be: socialising with The Rolling Stones in a private bar at the Carlton Hotel after their concert in 1995, and helping to build the Peermont Hotel School, designed to alleviate poverty, develop skills and create jobs for disadvantaged residents of Ekurhuleni.

Wayne says he’s seen the industry go through significant changes over his 30 years of experience. “When I started out, we didn’t use computers or have access to the internet. Today, customers are online experts and competition is greater than ever. We live in an age where potential guests and customers trust peer reviews more than company websites. They purchase their holidays and experiences via online platforms, influenced by online photos and watching travel and cooking shows on television. It’s all incredibly exciting, and for someone who loves and embraces change, I can’t wait to participate in what comes next.”

While many people have inspired Wayne over the years, he singles out a few who made a significant impact:

  • “Luis Pinheiro was my first real boss. He taught me what it takes to be a service professional, which I still hold dear today. He now runs The Silo Hotel in Cape Town.
  • Marco Pierre White and Josef Eder are my favourite chefs.
  • Jegie Padmanathan (previously with the Peermont Group) is still the most astute hospitality mind I’ve ever worked with, and I owe him a lot. He constantly shifted me out of my comfort zone, stretching my thoughts, and executing at a greater pace than I thought I could.
  • Lastly, while I never had the privilege of meeting Sol Kerzner, he remains that mythical hospitality hero.”

When he isn’t working, Wayne enjoys reading, cooking and playing golf.