“I am from a place called Aschaffenburg, near Frankfurt, and worked for Kempinski in Berlin. I have worked in hotels all my life. I started training as a chef in a hotel and completed my apprenticeship in north-west Germany. Then from there, I went to Berlin to hotel management school for two years and as a school, we attended a tourism trade fair for hospitality. There I met a New Zealand company who then offered me a job. I was young and happy to travel the world. I went to New Zealand as a chef for quite a few years and then decided to move into hotel management. I met my wife in Mt Cook; I employed her, over the phone as you did in those days, and we moved to Australia in 1996. We spent 12 months at Ayers Rock and then moved to Alice Springs for six years. As our two boys were ready to start their high-school years, we moved to Kingscliff in Northern NSW. We love the coast. I opened a new hotel there with 240 rooms, a brand-new development. After that, I managed all the hotels from Brisbane down to northern Sydney for a company called Mantra group, a job I loved and which involved a lot of travelling.
We’ve always been fortunate to be in the right place at the right time. Really, we had a good life, everybody is healthy, the children have their own careers and we have been blessed to live in some beautiful places, meet some amazing people and developed beautiful friendships all over the world.
When our children left home, we decided to leave home too. We packed up house, put everything in storage and travelled. The plan was to travel for 12 months, take time out and just go. We did not want to look back one day and say ‘If only …’ We spend a lot of time in Asia, visiting friends, exploring, spent a fair bit of time in Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam, spent Christmas and New Years in Europe, back to Malaysia and then ended up working in Cambodia for two years. I managed a big property there with 600 rooms, a massive operation with 1500 staff. From there, out of the blue, one day I was offered an opportunity in Tanzania which was a small boutique lodge in East Africa, with 21 rooms, organic, on an old farm. We had 30 acres of organic coffee plantation, ten acres of organic vegetable gardens, livestock, 21 rooms, small, but really high-end. So, we said, why not and off we went, never been to Africa. We spend six years there and really loved it, great property, great people. Mid-2019 we thought it was time to come home to Australia and we arrived back here in early 2020. As it turned out, what great timing, just before the world closed up. When we decided we would leave Africa, there was no talk about Covid, it was not even thought of.
This opportunity at the Ozone came up and even though I had never been to Kangaroo Island, it was time to do something and I love a challenge.
I came over in late November to start working but we still had things to settle in Kingscliff. As soon as the borders re-opened, I flew home and collected my wife Lee-Anne and our two Rhodesian Ridgeback dogs.
This is a totally different operation here, different location, I can’t compare apples with apples but it’s been great so far. I have been busy with Christmas and New Year visitors and haven’t been out and around much but hope to meet more locals. I enjoy photography and would like to get back into it more. I like running and cycling and enrolled for the KI Marathon, only the 10k but I might yet do the longer one. I love cooking and have a passion for food, nice wine and gin. I guess I have been around the block long enough and often enough, in different places, different countries, continents and different situations and you just take it as it comes and deal with it. Loving life on the island.”