April marked Birchwood Hotel and OR Tambo Conference Centre’s 20-year anniversary of being in hospitality and truthfully, it could not be more perfectly timed. The property and its facilities have never presented better aesthetics, service levels or overall offering. It feels as though the last 20 years have been building towards this very special time for the hospitality giant.
From humble beginnings and relatively small-scale structures, Birchwood now has a variety of features and facilities that is simply unrivalled – and comprehensively versatile. Options at the hotel’s more than 60 venues are available for the smallest group of two delegates, all the way up to large-scale conferences or events of 3,000 people, and almost any capacity in between. Adding to this, and within the hospitality hub, are 665 accommodation rooms which have been sub-divided in to three unique and distinctive brands – all appealing to different target markets.
In 2015, Birchwood upgraded and revamped 235 of its guest rooms to create a tailor-made product for the modern, discerning business traveller – Silverbirch @ Birchwood.
“International guests, and the modern corporate group, expect more from their hotels. We’ve listened and designed a ‘hotel within a hotel’ concept with unwavering quality and secluded within the manicured gardens and far from bustling events at the Birchwood, ensuring a peaceful night’s rest,” says Kevin Clarence – owner and founder of Birchwood.
Silverbirch was incredibly well-received and garnered a wealth of positive feedback, and impressively a Certificate of Excellence from TripAdvisor within its first three years of operation.
Understanding that the market is incredibly diverse, 96 accommodation rooms near the main reception were completely overhauled to create ValuStay @ Birchwood in 2017. This new offering has the budget-conscious traveller or group in mind. It is built to exceed expectations, not budget. The only discernible difference between ValuStay rooms and other Birchwood accommodation is the size of the room.
Despite being the newest accommodation offering within
Birchwood, ValuStay’s incredible ratio of rate to value has attracted a host of groups and looks to be a fantastic new addition to the Birchwood stable. The remaining accommodation rooms form part of the conference or event offering based closer to the many venues on offer, ensuring an easy move from venue to room.
“Creating a memorable stay for guests on a multi-day conference was always a priority of ours, which is evident in our brand new boma area,” says Clarence.
This new outdoor dining area comprises scenic decking areas, a flowing fountain and a semi-outdoor boma which is unmatched in Johannesburg, or even greater Gauteng.
“You will be completely absorbed by the beauty, menu and service at The New Boma and forget that you are only seven kilometres from O.R. Tambo International Airport,” says Clarence. “It was always about creating not just a comfortable stay, but a memorable experience.”
This spectacular new dining area adds to the already popular upmarket steakhouse, The Grill at OneTwenty as well as the more casual and quick BC Café – home to some of the finest coffee this side of Gauteng.
That awkward time-period between the end of your conference day and dinner is always taken care of. Birchwood’s Hotspot Bar is ideal for unwinding, catching up on social media and enjoying an ice-cold drink while doing so! This is not to mention Hotspot’s semi-private booth areas complete with their very own LCD screen. If heading to the bar is not your thing, why not indulge in a relaxing spa treatment at the renowned Mangwanani Boutique Spa nestled in Birchwood’s garden area or even grab a quick work-out in the fitness room, followed by a revitalizing swim in Birchwood’s pool.
“We’ve built our product up
with the intention of giving guests and conference delegates something different on each day of their stay with us. We want to remove the paradigm of repetitive dining every night and relatively limited extras on offer for leisure,” says Clarence.
A one-stop-shop concept is what Birchwood has become over the last 20 years and it continues to evolve as the years go by.
What is even more impressive is that the improvements being built are not only due to demand, but based on feedback from valued clients.
It is these innovations that led to Birchwood becoming the proud recipient of a provincial and national Lilizela Tourism Award in 2017, as well as the Readers’ Choice for Best Conference Venue and Best Function Venue in the annual Best of Ekurhuleni Awards in 2017, by Caxton Media.
Clarence and his team are showing no signs of stopping, despite becoming the powerhouse in hospitality that they currently are. When you’re next in Joburg, why not catch the complimentary shuttle from ORTIA after enjoying a free drink at the Airport Waiting Lounge and be greeted by award-winning hospitality.