A haus away from home
There are probably many reasons why Andreas and Cynthia Munkelwitz have managed to fill the Deutsches Haus at Swakopmund since they bought it. One of them certainly is Andreas’s instantly recognisable radio voice.
“I believe in radio advertising. It works well,” He says in his trademark German accent. The two have achieved an occupancy rate of 86% since becoming owners of the accommodation establishment that was started by the family Hofmeister about 13 years ago.
Andreas’s relationship with Southern Africa goes back 25 years when he arrived in South Africa as a young chef to gain experience. He had planned to stay for two years, but the hotel industry wouldn’t let him go and he eventually found his way to Namibia. He arrived here as part of the opening team for the Swakopmund Hotel and Entertainment Centre, met his future wife, tied the knot and stayed. On the one hand his accent has stuck, on the other he’s never returned to Germany. “It seems like the two years is not over yet.”
And it seems like it won’t be over for a long time to come. Becoming owners of Deutsches Haus is a dream come true for Andreas and Cynthia, who made their name with the Bauernstube in Windhoek and later the Brauhaus. “We’ve always wanted to buy an establishment in Namibia.”
Running a 23-bedroom hotel with a restaurant that serves three meals a day is more than a full-time job; it is exhausting too. Especially for Andreas and Cynthia, who place a high value on personal service, even if it means keeping guests company until the early hours of the morning. Or going shopping for a business guest who works all day at the Rössing or Langer Heinrich mines and can’t go himself.
Since taking over the Deutsches Haus, the Munkelwitz couple has introduced many new and exciting features. Even though the hotel specialises in catering for business clients during the week, the new beer garden outside the front door sets the tone for the friendly and relaxed atmosphere found inside.
The Namib restaurant is not only for guests. Outsiders are welcome for breakfast, lunch and dinner, seven days a week. The restaurant has become extremely popular, and Andreas believes the daily special on the menu is the secret ingredient.
“It’s important to have something different every day, as guests would often stay for a whole month and wouldn’t enjoy having the same food every day.”
For Andreas, deciding on the daily special is as easy as finding what is fresh and local. “I use whatever I can get, whether it’s fresh asparagus or kabeljou. “People know there’s always something different here.”
Business guests know that their needs are looked after, from a wireless Internet connection and international news on TV to early breakfasts and a laundry service.
When Andreas realised the hotel was emptying over weekends after the business guests had left, he used his voice on radio to introduce a special. “It’s since become very popular and the place is full of Windhoekers over weekends.”
Cynthia believes that training on a continuous basis plays an important role in ensuring the smooth running of such a 24/7 establishment and makes time to look after the training needs of the 23 staff members. “Anyone showing interest in a specific field will get the opportunity to be trained further,” she says. The focus of her training is looking after the needs of the individual.
And that is probably the main reason why the two have managed to turn the Deutsches Haus into such a popular place.