In conversation with Nick Dickson, CEO, Dream Hotels & Resorts and the ‘Touching Dreams’ Squad…

What difference can I make today? It’s a question that has become a fundamental part of the Dream Hotels & Resorts value system centering on our shared vision and mission of creating a brighter future.

“Many of us float through life, drifting from one thing to the next without ever stopping to determine what we truly value and how our actions and choices mesh or conflict with our core values,” says Dream Hotels & Resorts CEO, Nick Dickson.

“Over the last few years, we have grown to understand that what we really want as an organisation, and as individuals, is to do what we can in this limited time we have on Earth to bring about meaningful change. We decided to no longer be just about hospitality but an impactful force operating with accountability and compassion. We want to use our time and resources to inspire and uplift others while instilling a sense of hope.”

This desire to create positive change led to the inception of the Touching Dreams Foundation in 2023. As Dream Hotels & Resorts’ collective registered NPO, it encompasses new and ongoing projects that uplift South Africa’s youth.

“The vision that has been crafted here is one where we help provide a stable foundation upon which every child can use to get ahead. We are changing lives. But more so, teaching them that dreams really can come true and everyone is deserving of a better life.”

“Our Foundation reflects our internal values on social responsibility,” says Anthea Faulds, Touching Dreams Lead Project Manager. “Its vision is crafted from sincere purpose and absolute intent in fostering a brighter future through collaboration with communities and stakeholders within our industry sphere.”

Within the Touching Dreams portfolio, the company supports several community-based initiatives supporting the development of South Africa’s future leaders. These include Christel House, Langkloof Orphanage, and St Martins Diocesan Home for Children.

“Each of our properties has further pledged to nominate a charity within their own community associated with early childhood development or youth development,” she adds.

Wayne Neath, Resort Sales and Tribal Chief at Dream Hotels & Resorts, further highlights their partnership with Reach for A Dream, South Africa’s premier charity for children with life-threatening illnesses.

“Collaboration is important to us, and aligning ourselves with such a cohesive and well-established organisation is allowing us to drive real change,” he explains.

As part of this collaboration, Dream Hotels & Resorts assists in providing accommodation around the country for Dreamers and their families.

“We help remove the stress of travel planning to ensure each child is guaranteed a truly special experience,” he adds.

“Many of these trips are likely to be some of the last moments they ever have with loved ones. So, being in a place where they’re cared for and can have wonderful, uplifting experiences makes all the difference.”

The inception of Touching Dreams culminated in an informative industry Think Tank held at the Maslow Hotel in Johannesburg in July 2023. This included a dedicated Dream the Impossible Dream gala dinner, where R235,000 was raised to help cover additional travel costs that come with making dreams come true.

“With the birth of Touching Dreams, we also loved the idea of creating a soft, comforting toy that little Dreamers in the Reach for a Dream programme could take home with them as a keepsake,” says Gemma Linforth, Zululand Operations Lead at Dream Hotels & Resorts.

“We decided to bring Kamo the Chameleon to life – our mascot for Dream Xplorers, a kids club operating across our portfolio hotels and resorts. I sourced a Pietermaritzburg-based SME called Wild Fig, run by Natalie Botha and her team of local ladies who currently handmake all of our Kamo toys. These little mascots are also sold at each of our properties to guests, with proceeds injected back into Wild Fig and the Touching Dreams Foundation.”

As for the project’s future, Gemma explains that there are plans to expand the Kamo concept, including a children’s book series chronicling his travels across South Africa. “We hope his journey continues to inspire, with all proceeds boosting many more impactful initiatives we hope to run. As a mom, I want to ensure that my kids have a bright future to look forward to.

“Being part of Touching Dreams allows me to be part of something bigger where I can help other children whom they will grow up with, become friends with and work alongside one day.  With everything we are doing, we could easily be inspiring our future leaders and even the next president.”

Although Touching Dreams focuses on empowering South Africa’s youth, the foundation also branches into wildlife conservation and environmental protection.

“Touching Dreams is our chance to define a new era in tourism and pioneer the foundation needed to drive long- term change across the country, the continent and even the world,”

Nick adds. “I believe that it will evolve into a far greater institution as we continue upon the journey of ubuntu, sustainable awareness and a fundamental understanding of what is required to create a brighter future for all.”

While all businesses need a CSIP (Continuous Sustainable Improvement Plan), Anthea further highlights how the goal is not simply to tick a few social responsibility boxes but to create a legacy of valuable consequence.

“Touching Dreams is quickly becoming the backbone of everything we do here at Dream Hotels & Resorts. It takes an immense amount of time and effort, but the results are rewarding, and the intent is true. I’m looking forward to establishing many more collaborations with fellow dreamers who will help us to change even more lives and turn dreams into reality,” she concludes.

Want to help us make a difference? Whether you can donate a little or a lot, every contribution to Touching Dreams NPC Reg No.: 2021/875826/08 helps us to make a positive impact.

Together, we can make a brighter future for South Africa.

Contact us to get involved:

email: touchingdreams@dreamresorts.