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05.07.19 | ICHM Graduate Story

Life in Luxury

Graduate Callum Farnell has been at the helm of some of New Zealand’s top luxury lodges amidst some knock-your-socks-off scenery.  

Graduate Callum Farnell has recently taken up the mantle as General Manager for the Cape Kidnappers property.

Prior to this Callum was Director of Hospitality Annandale, in New Zealand, and Lake Kora, in the USA, and the properties quickly established themselves amongst the best internationally.

Both took our World Travel Awards for the past four consecutive years (2015–2018) - Annandale as World’s Leading Experiential Luxury Property and Lake Kora as World’s Leading Exclusive Retreat.       

As Director of Hospitality, Callum was heavily involved in strategic development, initially taking the properties to market and developing the individual businesses. Over his four-year tenure, he was involved in day-to-day operations, overseeing a staff of around 40 and numerous subcontractors.

And Callum - one of the first ICHM graduates to be appointed General Manager - at just 28 - is no stranger to awards.

He was General Manager (2007–2015) of Eagles Nest, overlooking the Bay of Islands, when it picked up the ‘Oscar’ of the travel industry in 2013 - World Travel Awards World Leading Boutique Villa Resort. Before that he was General Manager at Solitaire Lodge (1999–2007), which also picked up a World Travel Award in 2006. 

And for the past eight years Callum has taken everything he has learnt from life at the helm of these top luxury lodges to fulfill a broader purpose - as an Executive for Luxury Lodges of New Zealand, which lists 29 members throughout the country. 

Callum joined ICHM in 1994, as what he describes as ‘a naïve 17 year old with no experience and very little idea of what I really wanted to do’.  But he was on his way after his first job at Hyatt Regency Auckland, where he stayed for two years (1997–1999) as Front Office Supervisor and then as Night Auditor. He moved from there to Assistant Manager at Solitaire Lodge and was promoted to General Manager after the incumbent resigned.

In luxury lodges ever since, he says that adaptability and the ability to think outside the box are prerequisites to managing these properties.

‘It’s very hands on, and the labour intensiveness comes from the high level of personalised service, with everything being tailored to each individual guest.

‘A request for something different becomes a matter of not if we can get it, but how soon.’

From time to time Callum has employed ICHM students, and says they usually shine.

‘Normally we wouldn’t have students in properties such as ours, but ICHM students are in a league of their own; a calibre above the rest.

‘ICHM equips graduates with the knowledge, skills and business principles that can be adapted to any kind of hotel or business, both small and large.  

‘No other hospitality program comes close.’