By Mick Jensen
Zimbabwean-born Stuart Geddes brings plenty of international hotel management and hospitality experience into his role as the new general manager of the Ashburton Club and MSA.
Well-travelled and with working stints in South Africa, the UK and United States behind him, he has seen and done a lot, but he rates the redevelopment of the MSA and the challenges and opportunities ahead as an exciting new chapter in his professional career.
Mr Geddes said one of the reasons he went for the MSA role was because of the club’s ambitions and the fact that it wanted to be part of the ongoing revitilisation of the Ashburton CDB.
He “liked the fit” and with the MSA located right in the middle of things, it was exciting times ahead.
Mr Geddes said his first impressions of Ashburton had been good and in many of ways it had reminded him of “how it used to be in Zimbabwe”.
He said his role was supported by an active and enthusiastic board, as well as a loyal and capable staff of 20.
He said there were similarities between the club’s operation and that of hotels in general.
Both were involved in the hospitality industry, and both worked with food and beverages.
“The gaming, TAB and bottle store are new elements for me and each has unique requirements, but I’m getting my head around them.”
Mr Geddes said the MSA was making a “substantial investment” in the redevelopment of the restaurant and other areas, and that investment was “not just about bricks and mortar, but also members and the wider community”.
It was important to ensure the continuity and flow of the building with the redevelopment.
With around 4000 members, the club was very healthy, he said.
A select committee of seven, including Mr Geddes, has just been set up to oversee the project at a high level.
Meetings with architects, designers and others over the coming months will lead to scores of decisions being made on the look and final fit-out details of the restaurant and other areas.
Mr Geddes said demolition had been completed before Christmas and now the foundations were in for the rebuild and next phase.
When ready, the building would meet the future needs of the MSA and its members, and would be a proud extension of the club in a revitalised Ashburton CBD.