In an era of accelerating tech entrepreneurship, it's easy to forget the tenacity of founders in other sectors. It was only after booking in at The Peech Hotel in Johannesburg that I discovered the story behind one of South Africa's most sought after eco-chic boutiques.
After five years pursuing a career in advertising in London, James Peech took off, traveling throughout Asia in search of something new. During the trip, he was inspired by the boutique hotels of Bali, and came to the decision that he would leave London and set up his own.
The first move was to Cape Town in 2001 where he worked in hotels before searching for his own property. Finding nothing in Cape Town, James turned his attention to Johannesburg in 2003, settling for an undeveloped plot in the Northern suburb of Melrose after just one week in the City. In November 2004, nearly two years after making the purchase, James opened The Peech Hotel with six guest rooms and four staff members.
Since 2004, the hotel has grown to 16 guest rooms with 34 staff, a 40-seat restaurant, a boardroom and adjacent champagne bar. The Hotel has received recognition from leading travel publications and has been nominated in the World Luxury Hotel Awards for the last four years as South Africa's Leading Boutique Hotel.
More recently, the Hotel has benefited from the completion of Melrose Arch, a retail and restaurant complex two minutes from the hotel. Further, the opening of the high-speed rail network Gautrain, has helped cut transit times between the airport and the Hotel from an hour-long struggle in rush hour to a neat 15 minute commute.
Catching up with James the day of his return from a holiday in the South of France, he explains his aims to grow by developing The Peech brand in other parts of Southern Africa. Given his progress so far and ambitions going forwards, it seems this entrepreneurial success story has only just started.