Sun International stalwart Nico Myburgh is set on catapulting the iconic The Palace into a new stratosphere of success.
Freshly installed general manager Nico Myburgh has earmarked ushering The Palace into a new era as his primary business target. Myburgh is no stranger to Sun International’s premier property, having been part of the team for 12 years. He returns as general manager with a clear brief: to reposition The Palace as a deluxe six-star hotel.
Mr Myburgh’s mission will be made somewhat simpler as the icon of African luxury is in excellent health after extensive refurbishments. The addition of the world-class Royal Spa and Salon, with its six individual treatment rooms and three palatial suites, a comprehensive refresh of its 326 rooms and suites, and a new gym, equipped with free weights, resistance machines, treadmills, and stationary cycles, has already resulted in higher occupancy rates.
Before this assignment, he was part of the team, as hotel manager, leading The Table Bay hotel through the pandemic during great uncertainty. Mr Myburgh believes he has the right combination of passion and a strong work ethic to succeed in the role.
‘Passionate about the property’
“Given my history with The Palace, I’m passionate about the property and its people. I love dealing with customers. I always say I may not be able to travel 365 days a year, but I’m living vicariously through the people who come through our doors and share their experiences,” Mr Myburgh said.
The Palace was an easy sell for him, owing to the resort’s rich history that has put it on the bucket lists of guests from all over the globe. Sun City Resort has played host to the biggest events in the world, from international musical performances and Hollywood movie productions to the glittering Miss World pageant, as well as spectacular conferences.
The iconic hotel, with its trademark minarets, appeals to guests across different age groups, he explains. There is something for everyone, from small children and young couples to grandparents, to see and do at The Palace, he says. His team’s job is to ensure they live up to and go beyond the expectations of every traveller who makes the trip to Sun City and stays at its most luxurious of hotels.
“The Palace is an iconic hotel. It’s always been a flagship, not only for Sun International, but for the country as well. It is known worldwide as a spectacular hotel. I have a soft spot for the property. When people walk into the lobby, they are amazed as they look up at the beautiful architecture and hand-painted ceilings. It is a stunning property in an even more amazing location, and I am happy to be back.”
His leadership comes at a time when the business is working hard to recover from the pandemic. When borders closed, South African leisure and business travellers went back to the resort in droves, making it the local travel destination of choice.
Despite the difficulties, Sun International is convinced that it is on an upward trajectory. International leisure travel and conferencing are also picking up nicely.
Unique guest experience
To ensure a unique experience for each guest, Mr Myburgh’s team works around the clock. It does not matter whether you are a former Miss SA, a billionaire, an Oscar-winning actor or an average Joe – you’re in for a treat at The Palace, he explains. In a hotel that receives thousands of guests each month, this is a huge undertaking. It’s paramount to plan thoroughly and ensure that you are executing against this fool proof plan each day, he explained.
Renowned guests have walked through The Palace doors and experienced its marvel, including Michael Jackson, Elton John, Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore, Denzel Washington, Kings of Chaos, Morgan Freeman and Queen – but the list goes on and on.
“A typical day starts with a meeting with the team. We meet seven days a week, 365 days a year. We look at the daily business arrivals and events and how our in-house guests are enjoying their stay. The team then focuses on daily operational excellence in each department.”
As he charts the path to success, there’s one thing Mr Myburgh is sure of: he can’t do it alone. He has duly empowered his 540-strong team to communicate openly and precisely to ensure faster service and avoid the need for troubleshooting.
To clear his mind and prepare himself for the job at hand, Mr Myburgh exercises on Sun City’s award-winning golf courses, stays on trend by dining in various restaurants, goes on game drives in the Pilanesberg National Park, and treats himself to some retail therapy.
 Previous stints at The Palace include Rooms Division Manager between 2011 and 2014, Hotel Manager between 2015 and 2017 and again in 2021.