Meet Cynthia Nene, the resort marketing manager at Wild Coast Sun

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Cynthia Nene
Cynthia Nene

Cynthia Nene is the marketing and communications creative behind one of Mzansi’s most beautiful gems on the east coast – the Wild Coast Sun. 

The hotel is a quintessential reminder of the South African traveller’s myriad of interests – sun, sea, beach, dunes, river, parks golf and easy, fuss-free lounging. 

At first glance, the resort might remind you of its Sun International sister hotel, Sun City. Still, it is significantly more distinct, starting with how beautifully it’s created a seamless extension of the ocean’s diversity into your room, balanced by the serenity of the enchanting Mtamvuna River.

Cynthia chats to us about her career, role at the Sun International Group and more.

You’re an experienced hospitality marketer with extensive experience in tourism and have been with the Sun International Group since 2006. What made you go into the industry?

As a people person, I have always liked building relationships and meeting different people and learning other cultures. You get to meet a lot of people in the tourism industry, and I love it.

What does a day in the life of your work look like? 

No two days look the same. There are days you have everything planned out, with meetings and action lists but then there are other days where the plan is put aside to accommodate unexpected situations – and that is the nature of hospitality. For example, last-minute photoshoots on site that need to be prepared for.

Ultimately, I am responsible for executing the sales strategy of the resort and to maximise programmes and opportunities for guests to enjoy their stay and/or experience. I have a great team that assists because the resort is big and there would not be enough hours in a day to accomplish it all alone.

Then above this, I am a working mom and I also juggle a work-home life balance, even making time for myself and my well-being by hitting the gym during the week.

What has been your most challenging and beneficial role in your career history so far?

When I joined the Sun International Group in 2006, the management training programme I was on required me to work at different departments to gain knowledge and understanding of what they entail and how they link together.

This was challenging as I was fresh out of university and had no previous work experience. However, with great challenges comes great rewards. This is the best thing Sun International could have challenged me with because I gained a lot of knowledge and experience during this time, some of which still helps me today. I am grateful because not everyone has been privileged to get that opportunity.

Marketing continually evolves because of the innovation it requires. How have you used your marketing experience in the Sun International Group and at Wild Coast Sun to set the popular Eastern Cape resort apart from the rest?

As you have said it yourself, marketing is constantly evolving. I do my best to keep abreast with the trends. 

At Wild Coast Sun, we use a combination of different platforms to market our unique selling points to our desired target audiences – such as radio, social media and consumer magazines. It helps that my job entails marketing, in my opinion, one of the best resorts in the country. We are known for our friendliness and hospitality, and it makes such a difference.

We recently launched the Wild Coast Sun Academy that focuses on providing world-class training and skills development across the hospitality, gaming and food services sectors. It is a first for the region and will help our local community because up to now, local residents hoping to study towards a career in the hospitality industry had to travel and stay in Durban at huge expense.

What makes Wild Coast Sun such a special resort and why should readers visit? 

Wild Coast Sun is Sun International’s only beachfront resort, which means our guests step out of the hotel and directly onto the beach. The South Coast is known for its breathtakingly beautiful and unspoilt beaches, and this makes us special.

For more than 40 years, Wild Coast Sun has been the perfect family destination. We have a multitude of things for guests to see and do – there is no reason anyone should be bored when they step foot onto the resort.

Guests can head down to the Riverside Aqua Sports Beach Bar and sign up for a fantastic selection of water sports and river activities along the Mtamvuna River – including kayaking, speed boats, paddle boats, tube rides, water skiing or a lazy boat cruise. Alternatively, they can head down to the beach and take the Petrified Forest guided tour, witnessing 80-million-year-old volcanic remains or jump on the back of a horse to ride along the shore. Golfers can try their hand on the 18-hole championship golf course or guests can hop onto a Segway that takes you around the course (or you can opt for the botanic forest tour instead). 

For those that want to explore the magnificent wilderness we are situated in, we have quad bike tours. Whether you have children, or a child by heart, the Wild Waved Water Park is full of fun for the adventurous with six rides, plus the Lazy River ride that snakes through the playground and a Kid’s Zone for small children. We also have the Aloha Village, an entertainment hub for adults and children to come and play. Then there’s the Magic Company arcade and fun fair-style games, such as ten-pin bowling and escape rooms. To unwind at the end of the day, lay down for a Mangwanani spa treatment.

What can we look forward to Wild Coast Sun this spring? 

We refer to the Wild Coast Sun as the endless summer resort because we have consistent weather year-round. Over and above the activities mentioned above, guests can High Tea on Saturdays or sit down to a hearty Sunday lunch. Super-charge your soul with gospel superstar Lebo Sekgobela who is coming to Wild Coast Sun on 24 September. Tickets are available via Ticketpro.

What advice do you have for those who wish to have a career in the tourism and hospitality sector and in marketing?

Passion is one of the attributes in hospitality, be passionate about your job and thrive to always exceed guest expectations. Don’t hold yourself back from becoming a better version of yourself.

What does the future hold for you and where can we follow more of the work you’re doing?

The future is very bright, bigger things are still to come. I recently started a support group for women in leadership at Wild Coast Sun. The purpose of the group is for women to come together and support each other so we can grow in our roles – professionally as businesswomen and personally as mothers, sisters, and wives. We want to be the women who fixes another’s crown, mentoring women starting out and motivating each other to be the best versions of ourselves.

I am an ambitious person, and my goal is to become a General Manager in one of the Sun International units in future. 

You can follow Wild Coast Sun to see all the things we are doing (which of course, I have my hand in).

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