Carene Daniel is highly respected for her knowledge, professionalism and integrity in the industry. Over the years, she’s provided her extensive client base with personalized and professional services and continues to do so, now based back home in the magnificent Garden Route, where she grew up.
After graduating with a BCom Tourism Management Degree, she moved to Cape Town where she spent several years as a Specialist Vacation Consultant at a well established safari company and later, a luxury villas company. During the course of her career, she stayed at a broad spectrum of accommodations: Everything from five-star luxury villas in Cape Town and on remote islands in Mozambique, to family-friendly resorts in Europe and Asia, as well as rustic Backpackers in the likes of Romania and Egypt. Therefore, she is familiar with every level of accommodation offered. This nurtured her eye for detail when carefully selecting hand-picked properties for HelloGardenRoute’s portfolio.
Where is the Garden Route and what makes it special?
The Garden Route is a sought-after leisure destination along South Africa’s southeastern coast stretching from Mossel Bay in the Western Cape to Storms River in the Eastern Cape, and inland to Oudtshoorn, the Ostrich Capital of the World. Other coastal locations include Herold’s Bay, George, Victoria Bay, Kaaimans, Wilderness, Knysna, Plettenberg Bay and Tsitsikamma.
The Garden Route is a vast and diverse region rich in fauna & flora, exotic birdlife, pristine blue-flag status beaches, various lake districts, dramatic cliffs, dense indigenous forests, malaria-free Big 5 safari, majestic mountain ranges and so much more.
Top activities and attractions include world-renown golf estates (to name but a few: Fancourt, Simola, Goose Valley, Pezula and Oubaai), Bloukrantz Bridge which is the world’s highest commercial bungee jump, Birds of Eden, Monkeyland, various Safari Game Reserves (Botlierskop, Plettenberg Bay Game Reserve, Garden Route Game Lodge & Buffelsdrift), whale and dolphin watching, Wilderness Paragliding, Otter Trail, Robberg and other hikes, not forgetting the famous Cango Caves, a Natural Wonder of the World.
Boasting the mildest climate in all of South Africa and the second mildest in the world (according to Guiness World Book of Records) makes the Garden Route an all-year-around holiday destination, offering something for everyone!
How do the experiences you offer at HelloGardenRoute give guests a unique perspective on the history, people or culture of South Africa’s southeastern coast?
HelloGardenRoute specializes in tailor-made holiday packages. We offer guests unique experiences and insights, encouraging them to visit places they may never have heard of via other channels.
Sticking to our policy ‘We visit every property before listing it’, partaking in most activities and constantly visiting various attractions makes us a one-stop-travel-shop expert in ‘Where to go, what to see, where to stay and what to do!’. We do love exploring off-the-beaten track, discovering new gems all the time (which we obviously share with our valued travellers).
How have the accommodations and activities that you offer changed since the inception of your company?
Our portfolio of distinctive properties is constantly growing. Again, as per company policy, the Director & Sales Manager (Carene – me) gets on the road and personally views every property before listing it which guarantees quality establishments when booking with us, whether it’s an entry level or 5* rated establishment. It’s quite simple: If we wouldn’t’ want to spend our holiday there, we won’t want you to either!
Furthermore, because we specialize in tailor-made packages, knowing the property first-hand allows us to truly be experts when recommending options to our clients. We have everything from guest houses/bed&breakfast to self-catering holiday houses, exclusive villas and apartments, houseboats, forest retreats, hotels, golf estate accommodation etc.
As for activities, there is so much to see and do in the Garden Route. A perk of this job is that the activity provider encourages we visit to experience what it is we’re promoting to our clients, meaning we have already done and continue to partake in every activity available and listed: hellogardenroute.co.za/garden-route-activities
We’ve even written a blog specifically for families: hellogardenroute.co.za/garden-route-for-families
What is one detail of an experience you provide that may go unnoticed by guests, but which you feel is important?
Why book with HelloGardenRoute? Besides personal service (because holidays are personal!):
We visit every property before listing it on our portfolio and recommending it, ensuring our valued travellers enjoy the best of the best, from backpackers to Guest Houses, Hotels, Self-Catering establishments and everything in between. We go the extra mile to make sure you enjoy a wonderful, seamless holiday from start to end. Best of all, we don’t charge service fees i.e you pay the same if you book direct or with us.
Your travels are always in safe, expert hands with HelloGardenRoute!
What do you wish every guest knew as they consider visiting the Garden Route?
- It’s an all-year-around travel destination thanks to our mild climate;
- We offer Big 5 malaria free safaris;
- We are the Golf Mecca of South Africa with premium courses and estates;
- We offer a ‘world-in-one’ experience hosting everything and more you could think of, activity and attraction wise – the Garden Route has it all;
- Getting to us is very easy: From Cape Town, either a 4 to 5 hour scenic drive along a very good National road or 40 minute direct flights // From Johannesburg, a direct 2-hour flight // Daily direct flights from Durban as well.
What is one piece of clothing or equipment guests should have to maximize the enjoyment of their time along the Garden Router?
Sunscreen is always important especially during our summer season (December to March). Also, binoculars and cameras to enjoy & capture the diverse scenery. Winter sees cold mornings and chilly evenings. No malaria or other precautionary medication is needed.
What is one travel trend that really excites you?
People travelling for a more ‘experience based’ encounter vs just sight-seeing, ticking off ‘hot spot’ destination on a list. The Garden Route is such a rich experiential destination with the variety of things to do and see, also offering some major icons. It’s the best of both!
What sets Hello Garden Route apart from other, similar, organizations?
We are a travel agency but more so, specialist vacation consultants. We visit every property before listing it, are constantly enjoying activities and outings, educational stay overs, new restaurants, live entertainment, exploring off the beaten track to bring our travelers more insight and experiences etc. Our blogs, which come out weekly, are current, informative and exciting to read, as are our newsletters. Subscribe now not to miss out!
The level of service and commitment we offer, from the second you inquire with us to when you arrive back from your trip, is unsurpassed. This is proven by the number of repeat and referral clients we have, which is constantly growing! We’re with you every step of the way and truly stand by our slogan: Your friendly experts in Garden Route Getaways.
p.s We also provide property management services which allows us the opportunity to personally welcome some clients!
What is one insiders tip to getting the most out of an experiential travel vacation?
Just do it!
What is one strategy that has helped your business to grow?
There are 2:
Forming personal relationships with our clients and suppliers which builds trust.
Delivering friendly and professional service. We pride ourselves on the level of service that we offer clients and our success in doing so is reflected by the number of repeat and referral clients that we have. We even have some VIPs, South African celebrities referred to us by past clients (i.e. Graeme Smith just booked his family’s stay over the annual Knysna Oyster Festival with us!).
What is one personal habit that has helped you to be successful?
Being organized – in this business, dealing with so many individual clients on a daily basis, with all their own needs and special requests, including all the suppliers from accommodations to tour & transfer companies, car rental agencies and activity operators, being organized (and focused) is critically important.
Please share one instance where a guest had a moving or emotional reaction to the experience you provided to them.
I helped a lady from Johannesburg plan a surprise anniversary trip to the Garden Route for her and her husband. He didn’t have a clue of where he was going! His wife and I were in communications for weeks, planning every single detail (they did a self-drive) from various accommodations enroute to activities, dinner dates and more. Upon return home, he emailed me absolutely overwhelmed saying this is a holiday he’ll never forget, that it added so much value and joy to his life.
Another client contacted me, desperately looking for accommodation for her and her family in Plettenberg Bay over the December school holidays. She has a daughter with special needs and no-one could (or was willing to) help her. It took long hours to find the right house, negotiate discounted rates with the owners (they stayed for a month) and seal-the-deal but at the end of the day, when they arrived at their holiday house, she immediately called to say that it was absolutely perfect and that her daughter loved it too! So impressed by the dedication and level of service that I offered them, they invited me over for lunch where I could meet everyone. It was priceless! To this day, they remain clients and more so, friends of mine, contacting me every time they plan a visit.
We had a group of 12 Indians who visited over May, VIP businessmen and their families. They booked two exclusive Keurbooms beachfront villas nearby Plettenberg Bay. Again, forming a relationship with them via phone and emails over the course of a few weeks, they called me upon arrival at George Airport to meet for lunch before making their way to their villas. Upon checking in, they phoned to say the villas were everything and more that they wanted and they were so impressed by my recommendation that they wanted to thank me in person by preparing a traditional Indian feast at the villas. And oh, did we feast! It was by far one of the most memorable meals I’ve ever enjoyed, and the company was great too! They too have become good friends and loyal repeat & referral clients.
Carene’s e-mail: email@example.com
Carene on LinkedIn: za.linkedin.com/pub/carene-daniel/17/636/743
HelloGardenRoute on Facebook: facebook.com/HelloGardenRoute
HelloGardenRoute on Twitter: twitter.com/HelloGRoute