Meet the Manager: Darryl Grisdale, Estate Manager

Post by: Eastlands Estate, 27 Apr 2020

American author James Lane Allen famously said, “Crisis does not build character in leaders, it reveals it.” With the Coronavirus pandemic still in full swing, and South Africa still in lockdown, we’re all looking to our leaders – be they of our country, our company or, in the case of Eastlands, our Estate – for strong, decisive but compassionate leadership in this time of crisis. Fortunately for the residents and staff of Eastlands Mature Lifestyle Estate, this is exactly what they have in Estate Manager, Darryl Grisdale.

Darryl only came to Eastlands last year, but the level of experience he brings with him means he hit the ground running from Day One. Darryl has 20 years’ experience in the hotel and hospitality industry, and has run major South African resorts such as Pinnacle Point and Sun City. He made the move to Eastlands as he was looking for the opportunity to be more hands-on. But what else appealed to him about the Estate?

“Eastlands is very different from a normal sectional title scheme,” he says. “It’s not like an apartment block with all the accompanying challenges of noise and disturbance. I’m really enjoying both my work and the lifestyle here.”

At the moment, a large part of Darryl’s day is ensuring residents at Eastlands are as protected as possible from the Coronavirus and the effects of the nationwide lockdown. We asked him how the Estate prepared for the crisis:

“We were already expecting something to happen about two or three weeks prior to lockdown,” he says. “This is when we slowly started implementing measures designed to limit risk and protect residents and staff on the Estate. We wanted to take a balanced approach and not be autocratic in our decisions, so we had meetings with all the different departments and stakeholders to decide how we were going to do things.”

Initially, Eastlands allowed service providers, domestic workers and gardeners to come onto the Estate after going through a daily temperature scan. Anyone found to have an elevated temperature was immediately referred to Healthcare for assistance. After the lockdown was announced, however, the decision was made to stop all movement in and out of the Estate.

“This is when we brought all of our service providers in house, on a skeleton staff basis,” says Darryl. “We focused on key suppliers, such as healthcare, restaurant staff and garden crews (we didn’t want green pools and unplayable bowling greens after lockdown!) We currently have 35 staff living on site.”

Darryl and his management team are immensely grateful for the support they received from everyone involved in the roll out of these measures.

“We had full buy in from service providers and the developer,” he says, “as well as by the Board of Trustees.”

Managing such a large group of staff on site presented its own challenges, not least of which was devising a roster system to enable staff to have time off and see their families.

“After the lockdown was extended, we realised staff couldn’t stay separated from their families for long periods of time,” says Darryl. “We decided the best approach would be to follow a Game Lodge-type scenario, meaning staff do three weeks on, one week off. Obviously, the situation is evolving all the time, so we are trying to be as flexible as we can.”

Darryl has been particularly touched by the donations of food, clothing and money that have been dropped off for all the on-site staff as tokens of appreciation from residents for the work they’re doing.

“Speaking of our residents, I have to thank them all for their compliance during this challenging time,” says Darryl. “We decided it was best to go for a balanced approach, taking the physical and mental health of the residents into account. The long-term picture is obviously very important, and we need to think about the situation after lockdown is lifted. We want everyone to stay physically and mentally active, so we have introduced various activities such as online Pilates via our Facebook page, and are looking at bringing out a Games Book, which will include crosswords, Sudoku and other brain teasers. Our residents have been very supportive of all the lockdown restrictions, and that makes our job a lot easier.”

Darryl also encourages residents to use this time to learn more about how the Estate works by taking the time to read all the communications sent out. This, he believes, is one way of resolving the historical problems of people feeling “left out of the loop.”

“It takes a joint effort to make an Estate like this work,” says Darryl, “and we want our residents to enjoy living here.”

Communication is one of Eastland’s great strengths and residents are kept regularly informed about what’s happening on the Estate.

“Our communication is two-fold,” says Darryl. “We have formal communication from the Trustees, which is sent out via email after a meeting. I take care of the more informal stuff, such as ideas, projects and suggestions. A recent example was a mail we sent out detailing how to build a bird feeder. I’m also an avid Clivia breeder, so I might send out videos and information on how to breed them.”

In addition, the Chairman, Nico Martins, uses the Estate’s WhatsApp forum to send out information to residents when needed.

Darryl describes Eastlands as being “well built, with excellent facilities.” He encourages all residents to enjoy the Estate and live their lives to the fullest – even during lockdown!

If you’d like to enjoy a post-lockdown tour of Eastlands and all its wonderful facilities, why not call one of our Lifestyle Consultants and make an appointment today (010 035 0451 | 084 418 2320) You can also stay up to date with all the latest news and developments on the Estate’s Facebook page.


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