Hotel groups in Africa

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Considered to be an emerging market with a lot of potential, Africa has seen major brands arrive on its shores. Business Traveller takes a
closer look at what some of the major hotel groups are up to on the continent.

Southern Sun

Hotels in Africa: 65

Footprint: Southern Sun has hotels in Gauteng, Western Cape, Eastern Cape, Northern Cape, Free State, KwaZulu-Natal, Mpumalanga, Limpopo and North West Province in South Africa. It also has properties located in Kenya, Mozambique, Nigeria, Tanzania, Zambia and Seychelles.

New properties: Garden Court Blackrock Newcastle opened in October last year. The hotel comprises 40 air-conditioned bedrooms which have en suite bathrooms, televisions with selected DStv channels, tea/coffee facilities, direct dial telephones, work desks, safes and hairdryers. It offers a conference room accommodating 250 people, a boardroom catering for 15 and an executive lounge accommodating 10 people. A restaurant, spa and swimming pool can also be found on the property.

Tried & Tested

Riverside Lifestyle Resort

Vanderbijlpark

BACKGROUND: Previously known as the Riverside Hotel & Conference Centre, the property recently joined the Southern Sun Lifestyle brand which prompted the name change. The hotel caters for conference and corporate guests during the week, and leisure and family guests on weekends and public holidays.

WHAT’S IT LIKE? Just a short drive outside of Johannesburg, the Riverside Lifestyle Resort offers a space to unwind and enjoy the beautiful surroundings. It is located on the banks of the Vaal River which, unfortunately, was flooding during my visit. The hotel caters to all one’s basic needs. It is not the most appealing from the outside, but is satisfactory in terms of amenities and facilities.

ROOM FACILITIES: I was booked into a standard room with two double beds. It was spacious enough for the two beds although I did think it was a strange configuration, even for a family with two children. The TV offers selected DStv channels and there are tea and coffee facilities. The bathroom is a shower/bath combo and the basin is separate from the bathroom and toilet area. Although the room was air-conditioned it didn’t seem to be very effective as the room was uncomfortably warm at night. Luckily, the windows can open and do so onto al.magnificent view of the Vaal.

RESTAURANTS AND BARS: Dinner and breakfast buffet meals are served at the on-site restaurant, while a smaller limited menu is available at The Boathouse near to the pool area. There is also a bar near the hotel’s lobby.  

BUSINESS AND MEETING FACILITIES: An extensive range of conference venues are available, accommodating from 10 to 500 delegates. The professional banqueting team is available to assist with all the arrangements.

VERDICT: Definitely not an upmarket business hotel, but that is not its target market. The hotel suits the needs of its regular guests perfectly. While certain parts of the hotel could do with a lick of paint, it offers a comfortable and pleasant stay.

Hilton

Hotels in Africa: 25

Footprint: The Hilton Hotel group has hotels in Johannesburg and Durban. It also has properties in Egypt, Algeria, Nigeria, Ethiopia, Kenya, Cameroon and Tanzania.

New hotels: Hilton Worldwide recently signed a management agreement for a newly built Hilton Makadi Resort in Hurghada, Egypt, which is expected to open in Q2 2012. Hilton Worldwide also plans to open new properties in the following African countries: Namibia, Tunisia, Nigeria, Cape Verde, Uganda and Equatorial Guinea in 2011 and 2012.

Tried & Tested

The Hilton

Sandton

BACKGROUND: The Hilton Sandton is definitely no new kid on the block and needs no introduction as it is one of the most wellknown business hotels in Johannesburg. The hotel has, however, refurbished its rooms on the second and third floors and now offers corporate travellers new, deluxe suites, king and twin rooms.

WHAT’S IT LIKE? The hotel is perfectly suited to the businessperson who needs a room to sleep comfortably in while doing business in Sandton, or in other parts of Johannesburg. The room is well-lit and spacious enough to provide a comfortable work environment. It is divided into three different ‘zones’ – for work, relaxation and sleep. While the hotel is marketed as catering for both leisure and corporate travellers, I think it tends to favour the corporate with its simplistic, sophisticated room. The hotel itself is not perfect, but is still impressive. I found it odd that no one offered to help me with my luggage, and instead watched me juggle my laptop, suitcase, camera, coat and documents. I definitely think the staff could do with a refresher training course.

ROOM FACILITIES: The hotel offers a total of 329 rooms including the Royal Suite, Terrace Suites, King Suites, king beds and twin beds. The new rooms are 32m2 and are equipped with high definition LG-LCD televisions featuring selected DStv channels, iron and ironing board facilities, automatic lights in the wardrobe, individual reading lights above the bed, security safe, and tea- and coffee-making facilities. The work desk in the room also has a cable available for high speed Internet access, which is not free of charge. The bathrooms offer separate shower and bath facilities. Dark curtains, and the kingsized beds with crisp white linen, ensure a good night’s sleep.

RESTAURANTS AND BARS: The hotel’s Faces bar is clearly a popular meeting spot in Sandton. The Tradewinds Restaurant is open from 06h00 until 23h00 every night and offers a multicultural culinary experience, including African, Mediterranean and Japanese cuisine. For me, the best feature of the hotel is the Sushi and Teppanyaki Bar. The food is delicious and the chef manages to hold the attention of every guest as he creatively prepares the meals.

BUSINESS AND MEETING FACILITIES: The Hilton’s meeting and conference facilities can cater for any occasion. They range from a ballroom to the boardroom and are well-equipped. There are nine meeting rooms in total, all air-conditioned. There is also a business centre on site where guests can gain access to a computer and the Internet which, again, is not free of charge.

VERDICT: The hotel serves its purpose. It offers a comfortable place to stay overnight and all the necessary facilities required. I think there is a bit of work to be done in order to provide an unbeatable and memorable experience, especially in terms of training staff but, nevertheless, it is a hotel that is perfectly suited to the business traveller.

Sun International

Hotels in Africa: 17

Footprint: They are located in South Africa and Nigeria. There are four hotels at the Sun City resort, of which Sun International is most well known.

New hotels: The Federal Palace in Nigeria.

Rezidor

Hotels in Africa: 35 hotels open and under development.

Footprint: In South Africa, the Rezidor group has properties located in Johannesburg, Cape Town and Port Elizabeth. It also has properties in Djerba, Tunisia; Tripol, Libya; Alexandria, Cairo; El Quseir, Sharm El Sheikh and Taba in Egypt, and Bamako, Mali and Dakar in Senegal.

New hotels: Rezidor has plans to open a number of new hotels under the Radisson Blu and Park Inn brands. These include Radisson Blu Hotel Cape Town, Blaauwberg, Radisson Blu Hotel Maputo, Radisson Blu Hotel Lusaka, Radisson Blu Hotel Lagos, Radisson Blu Hotel Kruger Park and Park Inn Foreshore.

Protea Hotels

Hotels in Africa: 122

Footprint: Protea and African Pride hotels can be found throughout South Africa and in various other countries in Africa. There is an African Pride hotel in Namibia and one in Kenya. The Protea Hotels group is represented in Namibia, Malawi, Tanzania, Kenya, Nigeria, Zambia and Uganda.

New hotels: Protea Hotels has launched two new properties in the past three months, both in Zambia. The Protea Hotel Southern Belle is the new queen of Lake Kariba. The steam-boat style vessel has 22 en suite cabins, a conference room for up to 40 people, a shop, restaurant, bar and top deck with bar and swimming pool. The Protea Hotel Chipata is located on the outskirts of Chipata town, along the Umodzi Highway. The hotel offers 40 bedrooms, a modern restaurant, swimming pool, sports bar and conference facilities for up to 80 delegates. Free wireless Internet access is available throughout the hotel.

Legacy

Hotels in Africa: 23 existing and under construction in Africa and the Indian Ocean.

Footprint: Located in major commercial and tourism centres of South Africa, Namibia, Ghana and Nigeria.

New hotels: Legacy’s new property, the Da Vinci, recently opened on Nelson Mandela Square in Johannesburg, with 170 en suite rooms, 60 luxury suites and fully-equipped kitchens.

City Lodge

Hotels in Africa: 52 in South Africa

Footprint: Six four-star Courtyards, 15 three-star City Lodges, 10 two-star Town Lodges, and 21 one-star Road Lodges. The City Lodge hotels can be found scattered around Johannesburg, Pretoria, Centurion, Midrand, Polokwane, Nelspruit, Rustenburg, Potchefstroom, Kimberley, Bloemfontein, Durban, Port Elizabeth, East London, George and Cape Town.

New hotels: City Lodge has recently expanded with a 203-room Town Lodge in Port Elizabeth and 187-room City Lodge in Hatfield. These hotels opened in October and November 2010.