Order "You Can't Change History"
The book tells the story of how the Gooderson family translocated to Durban from the bleakness of post-war Britain in the 1950s, bringing with them a sturdy ethic of entrepreneurialism, hard work and family solidarity.
The Goodersons were instrumental in transforming the Durban beachfront from a buckets and spades seaside resort into the pulsating centre of sophisticated entertainment it became in the 1960s and 1970s. Places such as El Castillian, the Bull Ring, Cookie Look, the Cockney Pride, the Crazy Horse, Ruby Tuesday and the Millionaires' Club were a part of growing up for many thousands of people, and all of them were in the Gooderson stable.
Gooderson Leisure - run today by Alan Gooderson - is listed on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange and has a portfolio that runs from traditional Durban beachfront hotels to golf resorts in the Drakensberg, to a hot springs resort, to eco-tourism resorts in Zululand and to hotel/conference facilities beyond the borders of KwaZulu-Natal.
The book describes the development of this network - often in the teeth of economic adversity - in which Alan Gooderson eventually became the single driving force. Alan's faith in South Africa has never faltered, in spite of the negatives - largely political - that consistently confronted business over the years. That faith remains unshaken today.
But it requires more than faith in the future to sustain a group of the complexity of Gooderson Leisure. It also requires success on the ground, and the book gives an insight to the discipline and constant eye for detail that are required without fail for successful hotel-keeping.
But this is also a very human book: the closeness and loyalty of the Gooderson family; personal tragedy; the lighter moments of hotel-keeping; Alan's involvement in poker (though not a gambler), horseracing (again not a gambler), golf and karate. He once swapped hotels with a man he was playing poker with. He once bought a hotel in the Free State to keep the bar open after an inter-provincial karate tournament.
It is a story of business success and a human being who loves life. "You can't change history" is one of Alan's favourite sayings. His biography is written by Graham Linscott, who also writes the Idler's Column in The Mercury.
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