Service Excellence

The UmhlangaJanuary 30, 2024

Seeing the fruit of your labour is a point of pride for any business owner. Recent winner of the Durban Tourism Award for Service Excellence, Burnham House B&B sets the standard for an exceptional accommodation experience.


Just off Ridge Road on Burnham Drive stands Burnham House B&B, overlooking the beautiful Indian Ocean. It’s a tranquil escape featuring an exquisite rose garden and koi pond in the front and an outdoor dining area and pool deck in the back, providing an uninterrupted view of the ocean.


Jeannie Sarno, the current owner, purchased the B&B back in 2009 and has seen it through many challenges and triumphs. She has a small, dedicated team of people working with her from all over the world and different cultures for years. “When the opportunity first arose to purchase the B&B, I had just given birth to my third son,” she shares, “Unknown to us, he was born with oesophageal atresia. Imagine the situation: a new business, two toddlers and a sick baby that needed to travel to Italy for treatments!” As difficult as it was, she believes that these experiences made them resilient and able to face any adversity.


Burnham House is rated four-star, with six en-suite bedrooms, five of which face the sea, as well as a stunning honeymoon/luxury suite with a private balcony. You can catch glimpses of storks, herons, whales and dolphins from the windows. All rooms are air-conditioned, offer access to Wi-Fi, and are catered with tea and coffee. One of the rooms is actually pet-friendly, opening up onto the garden next to the pool area. This space is perfect for children and pets to roam freely and stay occupied.


Another highlight is that the accommodation is completely off the grid, with solar panels and a borehole to offer their guests an uninterrupted supply of resources. Other features you can expect include a wholesome breakfast, excellent service and even freshly baked cookies! There is also an entertainment area with board games, a television and reading material.


“We sure have come a long way and it’s through experiences like COVID, riots and floods that you realise the strength of your team and staff,” Jeannie expresses. The tourism sector, particularly, suffered during that time, but this team persevered and got through it all while giving their guests the best service possible and helping out those in the area. It was appropriate that their efforts were recognised by Durban Tourism this year.


“When we had first been nominated, I thought it was most likely a scam!” she exclaims. “I wondered how my little six-bedroom bed and breakfast could have been nominated for such a prestigious award.” Even the judging process hadn’t gone smoothly for them with the judges arriving late and only one room being available to show them! Despite everything, they recognised the excellence Jeannie and her team had to offer.


“When our names were called out at the awards ceremony, I was gobsmacked!” she recalls. “We had been appointed as the winners for Service of Excellence. Antonietta, the B&B’s manager, attended the awards with me, and she kept telling me that we won because I couldn’t believe it.” After 14 years, their hard work was finally acknowledged, and this meant the world to Jeannie and her team.


The work doesn’t stop here. Jeannie still has plans to expand her offering to more people in the accommodation sector in the near future. She’s always looking for ways to make her guests’ experience better every time they visit and be as inclusive as possible.


Words: Cristina Govender