Four people with 50 years service and memories at Montecasino.
La dolce vita, the sweet life – that’s the essence of Montecasino with all the fabulous Italian flair, freshness, friendliness, fun, and family life that the phrase conjures up. And since it opened in 2000, Montecasino has focused its collective and considerable energy on delivering all that and more to the millions of visitors who come through the doors anticipating great experiences.
Mike Page, now GM of Montecasino, was with the property while it was still under construction, in the finance department. He recalls looking out over “the massive canyon” that would transform into the constantly changing and evolving world-class entertainment destination it is today. He, together with three other staff members who have together been with Montecasino for a total of just over 50 years, reflect on what makes Montecasino one of Gauteng’s favourite places to be.
Page had joined Tsogo Sun as Compliance Manager, working at the temporary casino in the Northgate Sundome while Montecasino was being built and has come full circle, having moved on to become Director of Operations & Complex GM of two other Tsogo Sun properties – Hemingways and Gold Reef City, before returning to Montecasino in 2017; Tshidi Moroane, Marketing Host Duty Manager, has been at Montecasino since it opened; Julia Pollecutt joined soon after it opened as part of the banqueting team at La Toscana and has grown with Montecasino to become Tenant Manager, overseeing the property’s tenants; and Lauren Small, Events Manager, who has been with Montecasino for close on 12 years and has worked in most of the marketing departments, including mind & mood, communications and events.
Q: What are your favourite early memories of Montecasino?
MP: It was so fresh and new, bursting at the seams and unique in its Italianness. The attention to detail was impeccable and it was exciting watching it all come alive.
TM: I was part of the staff who educated the public about Montecasino’s Italian theme. We had a mock-up building and we showed guests the experience and texture of a Tuscany Village. It was all very new for everyone. Later, in 2010, during the 2010 Soccer World Cup, Nelson Mandela came to SunSquare as a surprise to the public – I think that was one of the most memorable experiences of my life and it was here at Montecasino.
What do you believe makes Montecasino Gauteng’s premier entertainment destination?
MP: Fundamentally, it’s the might of Montecasino. It’s rare to get this amount of investment into one property. The scale is huge and covers all facts, with three hotels, theatres, 40 restaurants, 15 cinemas, and more. It’s the only place where you get this level of choice. It also has an excellent track record in constant evolution and reinvention since the initial build – it has stayed relevant to the target market, and there is always something new in the pipeline.
JP: Montecasino is a unique entertainment destination with unusual offerings that create talking points among visitors from all over South Africa as well as around the world. The property’s Italianesque theme combined with African spirit, as well as the exceptionally wide range of offerings for visitors of all ages keeps us entertaining and fresh, and keeps them coming back again and again.
LS: The continual buzz. Montecasino never sleeps. No matter the time of day or day of the week, there’s always something happening from world-class theatre productions and events to gaming, dining, movies and even retail therapy. It’s not just my opinion, but the public’s too when you consider all the amazing Best of Joburg awards that we have won year after year.
TM: Montecasino caters for everyone, from kids to adults; the safety and security of guests is a top priority; and we strive to create a magical experience for every guest.
What are your favourite things about Montecasino?
MP: Jasmine in early summer, an abundance of flowers, gardens with lemon trees at the Palazzo, the massive doors at the west entrance, the energy of the people – specifically the restaurant owners, engaging with their guests on a Friday night. I could go on and on.
JP: The Tuscan streets, the family vibe, the Montecasino Bird Gardens with its tranquil environment and beautiful walkways, and restaurant hopping.
LS: Taking a walk through the Bird Gardens; it’s like food for my soul.
What difference has Montecasino made to the local community?
MP: Montecasino is very committed to our community, and we’re involved in a number of initiatives that includes investment in the Diepsloot Safe-Hub, which provides local children with a safe environment for facilitated sports, arts, life skills lessons, and personal development; the Witkoppen School where we have planted food trees and donated a fence; a local park, and many others.
TM: Montecasino is involved in a lot of CSI activities that support the local community such as career guidance and mentoring for high school learners, sponsorships, Mandela Day activities, CANSA Shavathons, book collections, and more.
What are your major learnings in your career at Montecasino?
LS: I started at Montecasino in May 2008 as an Event Producer and I knew then that Montecasino was a place that I wanted to become a bigger part of. Working in the eventing industry for a business that operates 24/7 is not for the faint-hearted – it’s a way of life. To succeed, you need to learn to integrate your work life and your personal life, and at the end of the day, hard work and dedication pay off. I am still here, loving my job and I wouldn’t change a thing!