How Virgin Limited Edition is letting local talent shine
Virgin exists to change business for the good and Virgin Limited Edition is no exception. Virgin Limited Edition is Richard Branson’s collection of stunning retreats, but each intimate and eclectic location has more to it than what meets the eye.
It’s no secret Virgin has always been all about its people. And who are the people you might be wondering? Well, that is precisely where we do things differently.
When it comes to exotic destinations it is common practice to source employees with certain skill sets from other regions. This is both efficient and cost effective –-- two descriptors any businessperson loves to hear. Virgin, however, challenges the status quo like it's our job (it is) and embraces being where your feet are.
Richard Branson bought Kasbah Tamadot in 1998, an escape in the foothills of Morocco's Atlas Mountains turned into a magical Moroccan retreat. But nobody likes an intruder. Prior to opening the hotel, Virgin Limited Edition set up free English classes for local people, unconcerned with any intentions to ultimately work at Kasbah Tamadot. From there Virgin Limited Edition hired those with a natural ability to smile and conducted training focused on soul and culture. Many had never previously been formally employed but investing in the local community and starting from scratch has led to 99% of staff at Kasbah Tamadot coming from the local Berber villages. A win for all.
At Virgin Limited Edition’s South African Private Safari Game Reserve, Ulusaba, all of the 90 employees are from South Africa and more than 70% are from the local Shangaan Tribe. This group has a highly-skilled team of rangers and trackers that are wildly passionate and equally fascinating. They spend their days in the African Bush on twice daily game drives tracking some of the world’s most exotic animals.
While the lodge had to temporarily close during the pandemic, rangers stayed, prioritising the welfare of the reserve wildlife. In May 2020 they began #SofaSafari to bring some of the magic of the African bush to people’s homes around the world. Sofa Safaris are live streams of their game drives every Monday to share with the rest of the world the unforgettable sights found among the reserve. Not only has Virgin Limited Edition allowed these local superstars to shine in their own region, but now across the globe, deservedly so.
And of course there is the majestic Necker Island, Richard Branson’s private island escape in the British Virgin Islands. Necker Island is not only home to unparalleled beauty and luxury but also an array of incredible animals, many endangered, who have specifically been brought to the island to ensure their survival. To care for them is a team of four conservationists, led by Vaman Ramlall, who live on the island and share constant TLC with the wildlife.
This fab four can do it all – from giving visitors informative tours to restoring the flamingo population afterthey disappeared from the BVI. The island now has close to 300 flamingos and the team has named each one and hand-fed many. Necker Island's ecosystem flourishes all thanks to the heart and skills of this special bunch.
The list of Virgin hometown heroes could go on and on. After years of hiring local and listening to its people, the brand has seemingly figured out the secret sauce. We champion our #VirginFamily and are better for it.
For more inspiring insight into the world of those who work across Virgin, take a peek into Virgin By Design, Virgin’s 50-year history of its truly restless spirit.