The luxury Maslow hotel in Johannesburg was previously a six-floor concrete ziggurat, with outdoor balconies at the ends of each floor. It was then called Grayston Sun, and though the basic shell remains everything else is new. GM Johan Scheepers worked with designer Graeme Holtshausen to make the new-look magnetic to 28-60 year olds. As exactly predicted, 70 percent are male, 70 percent are South Africans, average stay two nights (but he was wrong on business-business, which is 90 percent rather than 70 percent). He knew the average guest would want to see not only into the kitchen but through the glass-walled wine cellar.
Why ‘The Maslow’? Johan Scheepers called it after American psychologist Abraham Maslow, 1908-1970, who favoured the hierarchy of needs, fulfilling innate human needs in priority to end in self-actualisation (focus on positive qualities of people rather than treating them as a bag of symptoms). There is an innate need in this particular human to see greenery, and I loved looking out from end suite 145, and over its balcony, at the garden below. Summer-long, this is a big attraction when it comes to choosing where to stay, and it balances so well the lifestyle interiors, grey and shiny black and lots of stainless steel.
The 287-room hotel has an internal bridge walkway at first-floor (or second-floor, US-style). Walking along it to the elevators, I could look down, and up, into the lobby lounge, which in turn flows into the main bar, and into Lacuna all-day restaurant. These areas all flow into each other, and they also flow into the grounds. Is this the opposite of Maslow’s self-actualisation or am I missing the plot somehow? As I look down into the lobby, I notice a young employee tidying up. Ah, ‘I’m entrusted to make sure things are right’, the eighth of the hotel’s Ten Daily Habits, devised by Johan Scheepers to help motivate his passionate young team.
I am waiting for the hotel’s courtesy shuttle to take me on to lunch and Mr S notices two of the hotel’s umbrellas – six teal and six black, in a stand-for-12 – are missing. Can we get them replaced, he asks? (Ten Daily Habits number three, look after little things that matter…). The shuttle arrives and at least half a dozen of the luxury hotel’s crew wave me off. Habit ten: offer a sincere and genuine farewell.