And if you can believe it, that was a campaign that started twenty years ago, 1994, the same year that South Africa had their first free and fair elections.
It seems almost rude to say that we all know the face of our then President, Nelson Mandela, as well as know the face of Vodacom, Michael de Pinna. But it’s true. Michael is well known and people often chase him down the street yelling ‘Yebo Gogo, Yebo Gogo’, begging for his autograph or for a glimpse of his leopard skin scants
Michael is still involved in show business, but today he also runs a very successful, and elegant, guesthouse. De Pinna’s Executive Guest House is in the exclusive suburb of Melrose Arch, and there is a fabulous theatrical influence that shines through, with lots of mirrors, elaborate curtains and glitzy chandeliers. It’s easy to see how much Michael loves decor and his Guest House is opulent but not over the top. It’s elegant and inspiring.
Michael grew up surrounded by art, creativity and beauty – his Mom, Nadia Dore was a successful British singer, his Grandfather was a violinist and his Dad, a successful hotelier. Michael spent the bulk of his childhood growing up in deluxe hotels – The Edward in Durban was one, Grosvenor House in London another. He went to school, like everyone else, but also had singing and dancing lessons, and showbiz was the norm. So while showbiz was in his blood, so was hospitality.
As I chatted to Michael he was getting ready to go to rehearsals for his new show ‘Two is Company, Three is a Show’ with the talented Annabel Linder and Keith Smith. The show will be on at The Foxwood Theatre in Houghton, weekends only, starting on Valentine’s Day, for a month.
Michael therefore still swings between theatre and hospitality, and is really good at both!!
De Pinna’s is divine, and Michael seems as comfortable in the kitchen as he is on stage. His toy French poodle, Didi, follows him everywhere he goes, and is indeed the perfect accessory. Michael chats to his guests in the same way he chatted to some of the very famous people he has met – Frank Sinatra, Sting and Diana Ross – with comfort and ease. He’s a gracious host in a gracious environment and some of his guests say for months.
His guests can include long stays or short. He has corporate visitors, tourists and theatre people. The Melrose North area is gorgeous and convenient, a good position with easy access to Melrose Arch, Sandton and Rosebank, and is safe with plenty of parking. The swimming pool is divine and I was really tempted to jump in – 35 degrees on the day I visited. There are lovely pool loungers and it is a gorgeous place to also just hang out and relax.
Michael left at the same time as I did. He waved goodbye to me theatrically, leaving his fabulous staff, Alice, Margaret and Jobe in charge. As I was leaving, I asked him what he has learned from all this years on the stage.
He smiled and I quote:-
‘I have learned a lot on the stage, but mostly what not to do. You learn by your mistakes.’
Tel: 011 – 447 3071
Tel: 082 990 2429 (It’s Vodacom, of course).