Martin Cody, from Kilkenny city, is general manager of the Four Seasons Safari Lodge in the Serengeti National Park in Tanzania, where he has been working since mid-2014.
What was your route to becoming a hotel manager?
I joined Four Seasons as a receptionist at our property on Park Lane in London. I had just graduated from Shannon College of Hotel Management. I spent almost five years in London, where my last role was night manager.
I then spent two years in the Maldives, as front office manager, along with two years in Hawaii overseeing the rooms division.
In 2010, I returned to Asia, spending six months in Langkawi, before returning to the Maldives for four more years as director of rooms and resort manager. From there I moved to my current location. I will be with Four Seasons 16 years next month.
When did you first leave Ireland for work and where did you head to?
I left Ireland in 2001 for London where I spent almost five years. Prior to that I also spent a year living in Switzerland as part of my hotel management studies. I have worked in most continents: Europe, America, Asia and Africa over the last 16 years.
How does managing a safari lodge differ from managing a normal hotel?
Not only are you running a hotel, it is more like a village. We employ upwards of 250 people, all of whom live on site. We produce our own water and generate our own power therefore the job entails more than what a city hotel general manager typically has to deal with.
Combining that with being surrounded by wild animals in the middle of a National Park leads to a very interesting day-to-day role and some unique challenges that crop up from time to time. The most recent is an elephant who enjoys knocking our elevated wooden pathways around the property in order to get to his favourite trees for eating.
Are there any particular challenges that come with your job?
Having spent six years in the Maldives, the lifestyle and day-to-day work is quite similar. I have become use to working in such remote locations. There is a great deal of planning that goes into running a lodge, from the deliveries of supplies (the nearest large town is an eight-hour drive away), to ensuring our guests have a great safari experience.
Do you live at the safari lodge, and what is there to do when you’re not working?
Because of the location all our employees live at the property. We have great facilities including a gym , TV lounge, bar and games rooms, for employees to enjoy during their down time. We organise activities each week from card games to football tournaments, talent contests and bingo nights.
Do you stay there year-round?
I enjoy travelling. I climbed Mount Kilimanjaro with a group of friends twice; in both January 2016 and 2017. I enjoy seeing other parts of Africa and will head to Kenya and Mauritius next month. I am also planning to visit Vurunga National Park in the DRC later this year. It is a spectacular setting offering great safari viewing, trekking with gorillas and breathtaking scenery with active volcanoes. My immediate family are all based in Kilkenny, so I try and make it home at least once a year. I was most recently at home last May.
Are there any other Irish people working with you, and do you get many Irish guests?
Our human resources director Grace Moore is also Irish and hails from Co Meath. She also overseas HR at our property in the Seychelles so splits her time equally between the Seychelles and the Serengeti.
What are your plans for the short and long-term?
I am still enjoying my time in Tanzania very much. At some point I would like to work in a city again, having been out of them for more than 10 years now. I see myself working between Africa and Asia for the coming years.
Is there anything you miss about living and working in Ireland?
I miss being around my family and seeing my nephews and niece growing up, but getting to see them every year is great. I am also a big GAA fan so I miss getting to hurling matches, but last year discovered GAAGO. Most of my down time on Sundays during the summer months is spent watching live coverage of the games from back home.