Founder and past chairperson of City Lodge Hotel Group, Hans Rudolf Enderle, passed away at the age of 77 on November 9, after surgery complications.
According to a City Lodge statement, Enderle was born in Switzerland and his career started at age 15, first delivering bread for a bakery and soon training to be a chef. He began his training in hotel management at the Hotel School in Lausanne, Switzerland. “Later he worked as a waiter and after meeting a South African and hearing how great the country was, and in a bid to improve his English, he took up the post of receptionist at the Langham Hotel in Johannesburg in 1959, earning a princely R100 per month. He wasn’t immediately taken with the place and soon returned to Switzerland.
“Some years later in 1970 he returned at the launch of the Holiday Inn chain of hotels, working as general manager of the Holiday Inn at then-named Jan Smuts Airport. Enderle was appointed regional manager of Holiday Inn in 1977 and in 1983 was selected by the late Charles Fiddian Green to be MD and chairperson. In 1985, when Rennies sold Holiday Inn to the Southern Sun Group, he bought a property together with the Mines Pension Fund and on 1 August 1985, the auspicious Swiss National Day, the City Lodge Hotel Group was launched.
“It was during a trip to the US in the 1980s, when he came across select services hotels, that Enderle had the idea of developing this concept in South Africa. Previously local hotels were all about opulence and luxury, not making it accessible to those who needed to travel for business, or wanted to take the family somewhere affordable.
“He developed his idea for a practical, home-away-from-home style of accommodation offering in the group’s first hotel, the City Lodge Hotel Bryanston (then called City Lodge Randburg)…. City Lodge Hotel remains the group’s three-star brand today.
“In 1990 the two-star Town Lodge brand was launched. The group listed on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange on 18 November 1992. In 1995 came the launch of the one-star Road Lodge and acquisition of four-star Courtyard Hotels.”
Enderle stepped down as CEO of the City Lodge Hotel Group in 1994, relocating to Somerset West, Cape Town, and retired as a non-executive at age 67 in 2010. He has remained a significant shareholder in the group.
In an interview in 2004, Enderle described his philosophy on life as: “Keep on dreaming. Believe in yourself and persevere. Look forward and not backward. Be honest and fair. Enjoy and have fun in your work, or quit. Life and work must be fun. In work, pick the right people and delegate generously. The most important feeling, both in life and at work, is ‘the feeling of belonging’.”
City Lodge Hotel Group CEO Andrew Widegger says, “We are deeply saddened by the passing of our founder, leader, mentor and friend Hans Enderle. His passion for the hospitality industry and ability to revolutionise with new accommodation concepts in an ever-changing marketplace was extraordinary. He embraced the challenges and marked the celebrations with his signature cheerful, can-do attitude. We have all benefited enormously from his guidance and wisdom over the years, and he will be sorely missed….”
According to the group, he considered his close-knit family his best personal achievement, and is survived by his wife Barbara Jean Enderle and children, Stephen (married to Amanda) and Julie (married to Oliver Marshall) and three grandchildren: Jamie, Hannah and Myles Marshall.