Tourism is not for the faint-hearted. A major contributor to South Africa’s economy, tourism accounts indirectly for 8.2% of the country’s real GDP, and to 9.2% of national employment figures. However, Covid measures, drought and civil unrest have damaged South Africa’s international image, reduced visitor numbers, and challenged many businesses that operate in the tourism sector. Enter Rick and Colette Taylor from “the Business Tourism Company” – two energetic globetrotters with a passion for Africa and all things tourism. The Taylors have been instrumental in shaping and keeping our eyes glued to a unique, long-term vision for the Bartholomeus Klip brand and experience, in line with continent-wide tourism trends in Africa. You can find more about them here.
Jana has been working at Bartholomeus Klip from the day we’ve opened our doors. But that does not reveal anything about her age, of course. Young at heart and with a never-fading twinkle in her eyes, Jana is always happy to greet a familiar face with a hug, a chat, and a laugh.
Jana has a real passion for hospitality and people (and netball, but that’s a story for another day), which shows in her many years of service in the hospitality industry. Born and raised on a local chicken farm in Hermon, it doesn’t get more local than Jana!
Unsurprisingly, when asked what she likes most about working at BK, Jana says “I love working with the guests, and talking to them …”
Hailing from the beautiful little town of Kuruman in the Northern Cape, Esmeralda discovered early on in life that what she wanted more than anything was working in nature, with animals. She started helping out at the local animal welfare while in grade ten, and loved it so much that she joined the SPCA in Kimberley after finishing high school, and continued her work at the SPCA during her studies.
But Esmeralda also knew that she wanted to do more than just helping out. She wanted to make a difference, and make a real contribution to nature conservation. For the next few years, she set out on formal trainings, completed the Field Guide training at the Goodhope Nature Reserve Academy in 2013, and certified as an official Field, Marine, Fynbos Biome, Game Lodge Management and Wildlife Guide with the Field Guides Association of Southern Africa (FGASA). She has worked at the Good Hope Nature Reserve from 2014 to 2017, and started working at BK in 2017 as a game ranger and field guide.
Miena was born at Elandsberg Farms, and trained and qualified as a professional chef. She loves what she does, and her passion for cooking mainly revolves around baking and cakes, while her other passion, dancing, usually takes place outside of the kitchen … unless a cake turns out exceptionally well!
Mike Gregor is the CEO of Rapula Farming, and has a deep interest in game breeding and conservation, including environmental education (eg. Lapalala Wilderness School)
He has an Honours degree in agriculture, and serves as a trustee on the board of the Cape Town Environmental Education Trust and is the Chairman of the Quagga Project.
This is of course no coincidence, but due to a resident chef that has made it her life’s mission to challenge, and find new ways to please the palette. Enter Louise Gillett, who together with twin sister Lesley, makes up the power team behind BK’s hospitality.
Louise insists on finding a balance between her South African and Italian roots, and the latest trends and culinary experiences she has picked up along her culinary travels and career – spanning South Africa, Botswana, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Turkey, Thailand and London. She has once, in an uncharacteristically self-indulgent moment of quiet contentment, described her creations as
But her absence from the BK public stage is in shrill contrast with the important roles she plays behind the scenes. Born in the UK but raised in Gauteng, Nicola was initially employed in 1999 as a nature conservationist at Elandsberg almost immediately after completing her studies. Since 2012 officially the administration and human resources manager for the farm, reserve and guesthouse, Nicola is the talkative and relentlessly helpful glue that keeps staff and various business interests together.
Nicola flutters between bookkeeping, payroll, and management meetings, helping out with events, assisting with nature conservation projects, managing sheep stud software, and planning Christmas parties for the farm children, to name just a few of her responsibilities. Occasionally she can be found chatting to our farmer while catching a lift on the combine harvester or tasting Louise’s latest creations – someone has to 😉
A brand and data protection manager during the day, and a philosophy student at dusk, Jeroen has been looking after BK’s brand image and online client relations for almost 10 years. It allows him to juggle his formal training in law and philosophy with his creative urges.
Jeroen looks after our website and social media accounts, writes our email newsletters, designs our menus, and manages our advertising campaigns and data protection compliance.
After growing up in the forests of Knysna, he attended Grey High School in Port Elizabeth, studied Nature Conservation at Saasveld College in George, and gained his first work experience in the United Arab Emirates, capturing and breeding wildlife at the Sharjah Desert Park. Back in South Africa, Bernard has specialised in black rhino and buffalo capture, relocation and release for National Parks in the Eastern Cape.
After having set up and managed the buffalo breeding programme (until all buffalo were relocated to Lapalala Wilderness in 2019), he is now the Elandsberg Nature Reserve Manager, as well as the Herd Manager and Studbook Keeper for the official Quagga Project and in charge of the Geometric Tortoise Headstart Project. He is also Chairman of the local nature and biodiversity focused Renosterveld Conservancy, where he coordinates alien plant removal and assists with the fighting of fires on and around the Lemietberg mountains which surround Bartholomeus Klip, and he manages the fresh water supply for the Farmhouse from the springs in the mountain, as well as recycling and snake and bee removal.
A certified and well-experienced tracker and guide, Mariske can be found guiding guests in the Elandsberg Nature Reserve, processing admin at the office, and serving drinks at the restaurant – all in a day’s work. You guessed it, that’s Mariske with an “M” for multitasking ;-)
Born in Worcester, Mariske matriculated at Swartland High School in 2011, and started her first job at Buffelsdrift in Oudtshoorn as part of her Nature Site Guide certification in 2013. After this hands-on introduction to safari tourism, Mariske went on to be a private guide and host at Inverdoorn in Ceres, during which time she was given the opportunity to spend a year at Fathala Wildlife Reserve in Senegal.
In 2019, Mariske decided to add Hospitality Management to her formal training, and after a brief position (as temporary relief manager) at Woodbridge Lodge, found her professional home at BK.
Paarl-born Rachel has been working in the hospitality industry for many years (mainly housekeeping), until she found her true passion for food at Bartholomeus Klip’s kitchen. Under the guidance of head chef Louise, Rachel is eager to learn all about food (and share the results with hungry patrons ;-)