Lindiwe Sangweni-Siddo studied in Switzerland at the acclaimed Ecole Les Roches as well as in the US at Penn State University before beginning her hospitality career at the Grand Hyatt Washington DC. She currently holds the position of Chief Operating Officer at the City Lodge Hotel Group, she sits on the board of South African Tourism and she chairs the Tourism B-BBEE Charter Council. In her spare time, Lindiwe surrounds herself in the company of her husband, Salifou, and her family.
How did you fall in love with travelling?
When I look back at what made me fall in love with travelling, it has got to be a result of my transient parents who, shortly after getting married in 1965, left South Africa and moved to settle down in Swaziland.
Following my birth and that of my brother, my parents moved all over the world from the Netherlands back to Swaziland, to Zambia and eventually Kenya. I studied hotel management in Switzerland and later on in the United States of America, whilst being exposed to various cities around the world.
What kind of traveller are you?
I love travelling with my husband as a travel partner, so that adds to the fun and discovery of places. I love discovering new places, and trying out the food, learning about the history of a region, and getting to understand the culture of the people through the art, the food the music and fashion of a country.
What’s your travel philosophy?
You must be open-minded, and prepared to try new things. I grew up with a mother who told my brother and I that there should be nothing in life that you say you do not eat, (there are some exceptions though LOL! I don’t eat snails, or crickets!)
What are your top travel essentials?
- When I travel I must have at least two outfits per day, which means I always over pack!
- I must have all my skin care products in miniature so I can keep up my facial cleansing routine.
- Always carry some spare cash, over and above your budgeted funds for accommodation, food and transport. You must always have some secret stash to dip into for emergencies.
- I am diabetic, so I must have my insulin pump and glucometer handy at times.
- Wi-F is very important, so you can stay on top of stories, news, and social media!
Where was your most memorable trip?
In South Africa, it has got to be our trip to Singita in the Kruger National Park. That was exquisite from the accommodation to the most perfect game viewing at sunrise or sunset, and the cuisine was just to die for. The staff were amazing!
This is hard for me, because each trip is memorable in its unique manner.
I loved the trip my husband and I took to Italy, the people, the food, the fashion and the historical architecture were all amazing!
On the African continent, I loved my visit to the sand dunes in my husband’s home village of Fetechide, Niger (West Africa). We traversed this on foot, and it was such an unexpected and unusual experience, walking in dessert-like conditions.
How has travelling changed your life?
Travelling has exposed me to so much. I have learned the importance of valuing people’s cultural differences through language, food, art and music. I have also learned that, whilst we are all so different, we are also the same and we all are driven by the goodness of people, and the hospitality of the people in a place.
The most important aspect you always take away from a place, above everything, is how the people made you feel. This is a universal feeling.
What’s your next travel destination?
I am keen to travel regionally because I do not think we promote regional travel enough. I would love to go to the Okavango Delta. I have never been there and would love to stay in a five star lodge with all the spoils while enjoying nature and the wildlife.
Best travel advice you can share?
Always learn about the places you would like to visit in advance. Ask people who have been there before to share their experiences. Read up on platforms such as TripAdvisor about the experiences of others for accommodation, restaurants and sites to visit. Read any travel advisories and, where you need to take medical precautions, make sure you do so, in particular with yellow fever vaccinations and malaria medication. We are probably all going to stay focused on how to keep safe from COVID-19, until we all can take a vaccine before we travel.
Most of all, be open minded, be ready to explore and be prepared to discover the unknown.