The unexpected garden oasis of The Maslow has been welcoming guests to Sandton’s financial district for the past decade, and while small details might have changed, it is still focused on doing hospitality simply, but exceptionally.
The 281-room property opened its doors in December 2012 after a R250-million refurbishment, and has had three general managers at the helm – starting with Johan Scheepers, Ashwin Jose and the current incumbent, Herman Swart.
Before transforming into The Maslow, it was the Southern Sun Grayston Hotel, and a Holiday Inn in the 1980’s. The Maslow became Sun International’s first business-centric hotel in their portfolio – a personalised four-star experience which balances work and play.
According to Booking.com, The Maslow has more repeat guests than most other properties. “I loved everything about the hotel, the impeccable service from the staff, the cleanliness of the rooms. It is an amazing place, worth every cent paid,” reads one review on the website, from a South African called Nokwanda.
“It is these types of reviews that we strive for – which motivate our staff to do even better,” said Swart. “We are proud to be tracking above the average occupancy in the Sandton area which has ample rooms available.”
Over the years, prominent guests have included the likes of Nelson Mandela, The Waterboys, The Cure, Bonang, Baby Face, Brian McKnight and various Miss South Africa’s contestants who have stayed during the competition over the years as well as leading soccer and rugby players.
The hotel has hosted events including 702’s Walk the Talk and had 947 broadcasting from the lawn. A 2013 New Year’s Eve party saw close to 1 000 people attending, with DJ Mo G on the decks until 4am.
The hotel’s customer value proposition ensured that each room was designed to meet the needs of travellers, with the best sleep and shower in town.
Swart believes the quality of the Maslow’s guests influence his staff performance. “We have a three-year contract with an airline and our staff love serving them. They have become loyal regulars who bring their favourite waiter or front of house staff member birthday gifts, a motivating factor for the team who love their energy as they hang around the swimming pool or dining areas.”
Swart attributes the many repeat guests to his staff’s interaction with guests, the quality of service as well as the Maslow’s stunning garden environment. “I recently saw one member of staff take R20 out of his own pocket to help a guest pay for their room, and this is just fantastic – to have staff who are so loyal to their product that they will help a customer pay to experience it.”
Swart said guests enjoy taking off their shoes and walking on the lawn under a canopy of big trees, to escape the city’s hustle and bustle for a few moments in a green lung of Sandton.
The pandemic changed travel patterns, with many locals choosing to check-in over the weekends for a staycation. “International travel has returned slowly but is not quite at pre-pandemic levels, and Sun International is working at Group level to grow this.” Conferencing, which Swart expected to be slow to return, instead bounced back fast as businesspeople find value in face-to-face interaction. “As a result, our conferencing venues are sold out weeks in advance.”
“In what is a new trend, we are seeing businessmen staying for periods of up to 30 days. For these guests, who may tire of our menu, we have ‘chef on call.’ They tell our Executive Chef Omar Menhouk what they feel like eating, and it is prepared to their taste.”
Swart chuckled as he recalled another long stay client, who refused to come out of his room for 60 days. “He asked for his fresh linen, laundry and food to be dropped off in front of his room.” Other strange requests (which had to be politely declined) include having a pet dog to stay, and a photo shoot with a cheetah in the gardens.
The Maslow’s Lacuna Bar and Bistro challenges the conventional thinking that hotels are not known for exceptional food. “Our menus are in line with what the Maslow is all about – simple, but quality food.” Chef Menhouk has refreshed the hotel’s dining options, bringing a lighter, fresher fare with on-trend ingredients to the fore.
The Africology Spa at The Maslow is popular with Johannesburg locals and regular guests, who are savvy enough to know to book in advance. One of the most popular treatments is the 90-minute ‘The Maslow Journey’, a bespoke massage and facial which is exclusively available at the hotel. Besides the usual manicures, pedicures, massages and facials, the spa has its own hydrotherapy area, with a Rasul Chamber, steam room, ice walkway and heated pool.
In Swart’s many years with Sun International, The Maslow is the smallest property he has managed, but, he says, the most rewarding to be involved in. “I see myself as the conductor of the team. We have turned things around since the pandemic to become profitable and my team is motivated and happy. It is an honour to represent the Sun International brand in such a competitive environment as Sandton, and for our next decade, we aim to grow occupancy levels to 75% using our excellent customer satisfaction rates as a base.”