The founder and past chair of budget hotel brand City Lodge, Hans Rudolf Enderle, died on Saturday at the age of 77, after complications during surgery.

He was born in Switzerland and began working in hotels at the age of 15, first delivering bread for a bakery and soon training to be a chef. He began his training in hotel management at the world renowned Hotel School in Lausanne, Switzerland.

Later he worked as a waiter and after meeting a South African who spoke positively of SA, and in a bid to improve his English, he took up the post of receptionist at the Langham Hotel in Johannesburg in 1959. But he soon returned to Switzerland.

In 1970 he returned to SA to help launch the Holiday Inn chain of hotels, working as GM of the Holiday Inn at Jan Smuts Airport. He was appointed regional manager of Holiday Inn in 1977 and in 1983 was selected by the Charles Fiddian Green to be MD and chair.

When the Rennies group sold Holiday Inn to the Southern Sun group, Enderle bought a property together with the Mines Pension Fund and on August 1 1985, the auspicious Swiss National Day, the City Lodge Hotel Group was launched.

He helped formulate the concept for the group after a trip to the US, where he saw select services hotels.

Enderle said that previously, SA hotels tended to offer only luxury services and were designed to be opulent. His hotels would be designed to suit business travellers looking for sufficient offerings as well as families looking for affordable accommodation.

The City Lodge group said that Enderle “developed his idea for a practical, home-away-from-home style of accommodation offering in the group’s first hotel, the City Lodge Hotel Bryanston; then called City Lodge Randburg.

In 1990 the two-star Town Lodge brand was launched. The group listed on the JSE on November 18 1992. In 1995, the one-star Road Lodge was launched and the group also acquired the four-star Courtyard Hotels group.

Enderle stepped down as CEO of the City Lodge Hotel Group in 1994, and retired as a nonexecutive at age 67 on August 1 2010. He has remained a significant shareholder in the group.

“Hans revolutionised the hotel industry in SA during his career, garnering awards and accolades along the way. He is fondly remembered for starting many a meeting at Holiday Inn SA with his signature Swiss yodel and, later, for attending reunions of that iconic group,” City Lodge said.

City Lodge Hotel CEO Andrew Widegger said: “We are deeply saddened by the passing of our founder, leader, mentor and friend Hans Enderle. His passion for the hospitality industry and ability to revolutionise with new accommodation concepts in an ever-changing marketplace was extraordinary”. 

Enderle is survived by his wife Barbara Jean Enderle and children, Stephen and Julie, and three grandchildren: Jamie, Hannah and Myles Marshall.