Avanti guesthouse to shut its doors

MATTHEW HIRSCH

The owner of Avanti Guest House in Bantry Bay said she would be “looking away” as they hand over the keys and close their doors for the last time.

Owners Johann and Maria Smuts said they had no idea when they bought a house in the heart of Bantry Bay, with the intention of turning it into a guest house in 1997, that it would be such a big part of their lives.

The Guest House closed officially on April 30, but Maria told the Atlantic Sun that its memories would live on forever.

Ms, Smuts, who originally got in the hospitality business after returning from three years in France, said the most important thing was to have a love of people.

She met her second husband Johann and when the couple opened their first guesthouse, the Albatross, in 1988 they were one of the first in the area. Since then, the area has seen an economic upturn and tourism has also benefited from this.

“Soon everyone wanted a guest house and they were popping up everywhere,” she said.

They bought the house in January of 1997 and opened in November that year to 10 guests from Germany.

One of the major keys to success, in the hospitality industry, according to Ms Smuts, is to be a people person.

“You’ve got to be on call 24/7 and be willing to help people and give them guidance. We have met some wonderful people from all over the world.”

One of the encounters she remembers fondly is when a Russian guest returned to Cape Town, two years after her original stay with them.

“She was staying with her husband in one of the hotels in the CBD. But she walked all the way to find the place and give us a gift to say ‘thank you’.”

Ms Smuts said they would miss their neighbours as well as Audrey Goslett and Elizabeth Barnes, who had been working with them for nine and 12 years, respectively. She said it wasn’t an easy decision to retire from the business, but that it was the right time.

“We are in the process of moving out and will be officially handing over the keys on Tuesday May 3. We told our guests we were looking forward to them making us breakfast and sleeping late,” she joked.

They plan to stay in the area but first want to do some travelling, visiting their four children and five grandchildren.

“We retire with happy hearts and fond memories. We will continue to see and meet our regular guests when they visit Cape Town. We have a huge photo album, two visitor books full of messages and now it will be our turn to travel,” the couple said.

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