The Little Nell Visits South Africa – Recruits Over 20 Employees

Written by Simon Chen, Managing Director, The Little Nell 

This summer, The Little Nell team spent eight days recruiting new employees in South Africa. We have partnered with Awesome Travel based in Johannesburg to bring South African Hospitality students to Aspen for a one-year internship at Aspen Skiing Company – which owns The Little Nell hotel. The trip was so successful, there are now over 20 employees who will be coming to work here in Aspen this winter – both for The Little Nell and our on-mountain restaurants.


 Above: Not a new employee, but a cute friend from South Africa. 

During our trip, we had the pleasure of interviewing students from Johannesburg, Durban and Capetown. We also got to experience the inbound volunteer program that Awesome Travel runs at two very special places described below.

The Masibambisane center for Orphaned and Vulnerable Children

Joined by Efren Vargas our HR director and our partners at Awesome Travel, we volunteered for a day at The Masibambisane center in Soweto. The center is a place where children of all ages gather after school and it is where the majority of these children receive their only meal of the day. The ladies, who oversee the kitchen at the center, do an amazing job looking after these children and providing a safe and stable environment for them.  The day of our visit we were invited to cook lunch for 250 children.

1250 - Group photo

 Chefs for the Day: Simon Chen standing at left and Efren Vargas on the right.

We were honored to have been given this truly amazing and humbling experience and have already agreed to cook again for the center upon our return to South Africa next spring.

About the Masibambisane Center

It is situated in Eldorado Park, near Soweto. The center was opened in 2003 by Sir Elton John and provides psycho-social support, material assistance, homework supervision, life skills training as well as bereavement and general counseling to children and young adults between three and 21.


Our first day on the ground in Johannesburg, Glen took us to Ukutula game preserve, as Awesome Travel brings foreign students there to volunteer where they get to work in close contact with the lions. Glen wanted us to experience all that his great program has to offer. The volunteers get to care for the baby lions and to assist Ukutula’s trained staff in the care of the older lions. While at Ukutula we had the once in a lifetime opportunity to walk with the guides and a pride of five, one-year-old lions through the bushveldt. Ukutula is a conservation farm that works with organizations such as National Geographic, University of the Western Cape and The University of Pretoria to conserve the wild animals through research and education.

 1183 - Efren Vargas

 Efren Vargas, our Director of HR, caring for the lions.

Please join me in welcoming our new employees to The Little Nell!