The People at Maison Noir
‘While you’re in the incredible city of Cape Town, at Maison Noir you feel as though you’ve escaped to a remote mountain retreat: it is very special,’ says general manager Joe Dawson. After spending his youth farming organic vegetables, setting up an award-winning game reserve in the wilds of KwaZulu-Natal and making TV shows about some of the epic horseback journeys that shaped South African history, Joe has settled down at Maison Noir to concentrate on making your stay here just perfect.
‘It’s impossible to impart through pictures just ho w beautiful it is here – when guests arrive and experience it first-hand they are immediately happy, which makes my job really very easy! People are always just blown away when they arrive at Maison Noir.’
‘There is always sunshine somewhere,’ says Emelio, the wise young man who is Maison Noir’s grounds manager. He was born in Blantyre, Malawi, and came to Cape Town in 2009 with his wife, Angela, and their then infant daughter, Lalette. The family welcomed a second daughter in January 2016.
Woodwork is Emelio’s passion. When a man-made blue-gum forest was cleared to make way for the construction of the villa, Emelio reclaimed the wood to use in the beautiful, functional pieces of furniture that our guests now enjoy. One of his proudest projects at Maison Noir was the creation of the poolside furniture, as well as some of the show-stopping tables that grace the property’s outdoor and interior spaces. Some of his smaller pieces are for sale at the villa. His green fingers and those of his teammates are living proof of his real talents – which include his philosophy that nothing is impossible to solve. His words: ‘I fight with ideas and not with arguments.’
‘I love to clean – it is my way of making things beautiful,’ beams Julize, who is in charge of the housekeeping at Maison Noir. A very family-oriented person, Julize gets a real kick out of pampering the guests at Maison Noir. Julize grew up with her grandparents in Keimoes, Northern Cape, and it was her beloved late ‘Ouma’ who taught her all her life skills and instilled in Julize her deep respect for other people. Influenced by local TV programs such as ‘Pasella’, she has since childhood wanted to create a comfortable and pretty home for her loved ones.
Today, Julize lives in Hout Bay with her Malawian husband and two children. As well as studying again, she recently achieved her first big goal in life – buying a car; her focus now is on buying her own house.
‘I would have loved to have been a singer,’ says Zuzeka. Instead, this talented woman had to start working at a very young age to assist her mother in providing for the family. She grew up in Nqamakwe in the Eastern Cape and migrated to the Western Cape in 2007. Zuzeka has a son and two daughters, and they all live happily in Hout Bay.
Helping her best friend and ‘sister’ Julize in the daily cleaning and pampering routines at Maison Noir, Zuzeka is an integral part of a sincerely hospitable team. While she has branded herself as shy, we know her as a bubbly free spirit – especially when Miriam Makeba’s ‘Pata Pata’ or ‘Click Song’ start up and she, with perfect pitch, hits all the notes and ‘clicks’ native to her Xhosa tongue.
‘My passion in life is relationships and friendship,’ says George, with his wide, friendly smile. George hails from Malawi, the third of six children to two English teachers. While he originally dreamt of being an architect, he became a poet, composer and an agricultural teacher in Malawi. These days, George’s happy place is beside Emelio in the extensive gardens at Maison Noir.
He loves being in the hospitality industry and working with people. His drive to improve himself is one of his most noble assets, and his clipped English combined with his love of nature, stemming from his agricultural background, make him the perfect companion for a guided walk up the mountain to visit the waterfall behind the villa. Oh, and while you are up there, ask him to sing you one of the 60 songs he has written!