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In our ‘Meet the hostel owner/ manager’ blog we chat with Toni Shina of The Backpack & Africa Travel Centre, Cape Town. She tells us all about their hostel, Cape Town, and a guest who had an unusual plan for where to have lunch.
Name: Toni Shina (manager along with Lee Harris)
Hostel: The Backpack & Africa Travel Centre
Location: 74 New Church Street, Cape Town
When did your hostel first open?
What can guests expect from a stay there?
A truly South African experience. We are a Fair Trade hostel – the first of its kind in the world to adhere to Fair Trade principles, without compromising on style, comfort and service. We are an award-winning hostel and a pioneer in social responsibility in the tourism industry in South Africa. Making a difference is more than just an initiative of our hostel. It is the way we are, the way we work and the way we live. Choosing to stay with us you will be making a difference to the lives of more than 500 children.
Describe your role as hostel owner/manager to us.
Lee and I are actively involved in the running of our business and community project every day. We are constantly looking for innovative, socially-responsible products to offer our guests. We are proud of our staff and team who have helped make us an award-winning hostel for many years.
How did you end up in this line of work? Had you backpacked/ travelled before?
Both Lee and I are travellers, having covered all the continents except the Antarctic!
What do you think is the key to running a success hostel?
Attention to our customers needs and reviews. We are continuously upgrading our facilities and services. We take pride in the training of our staff. We have a 3 guests to 1 staff member ratio. There is a young group of staff members who love to interact with our guests and of course we have the added bonus of showing off Cape Town and South Africa. A city that is hip and happening and our staff are just that too!
What’s the strangest/funniest thing that you’ve encountered with one of your guests?
A Korean who wanted to go to Namibia for lunch!
What’s your favourite bar in your city?
Asoka in Kloof Street.
What’s your favourite restaurant in your city?
Eastern Bazaar, where you will meet all types of South Africans. A meal can cost you anything from $2 to $10 and it is delicious.
What’s your ‘top insider tip’ for your city?
Amaddodas – the coolest bar in Cape Town with the best African Kwaito music. It’s got the friendliest people and the most delicious food (and super cheap).
What’s the favourite part of your job?
After 21 years I just love my job. Cape Town gets better and better. It’s filled with beauty and excitement – the music, the craft, the people, the landscape, the tours and it is a city filled with hope and love. We get to show people what Cape Town has to offer, besides all the usual highlights, we take you to all the secret places.
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