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Africa

Singita Kwitonda Lodge and Kataza House opens in Rwanda

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
Singita Kwitonda Lodge and Kataza House opens in Rwanda

The new hotel in Rwanda, designed by GAPP Architects in collaboration with the interior design teams Cécile & Boyd and Hesse Kleinloog (HK) Studio, opens to uniquely provide sanctuary for 320 endangered mountain gorillas on 178 acres of land… 

Multi-award winning conservation brand Singita has officially opened its doors to Singita Kwitonda Lodge and Kataza House in Rwanda.

Set on 178 acres of lush land on the edge of Volcanoes National Park, Singita Kwitonda Lodge is home to eight luxurious suites and resides alongside Kataza House – an exclusive use four-bedroom villa.

For the past 26 years, Singita has operated iconic ecotourism lodges and camps across three regions in Africa. The brand’s expansion into Rwanda supports the company’s 100-year purpose to preserve and protect large areas of African wilderness for future generations. To this end, Singita has committed to extensive reforestation initiatives in Rwanda, helping to increase the range and numbers of endangered mountain gorillas in Volcanoes National Park. The presence of Singita Kwitonda Lodge on the park border will help to create a natural space between agricultural plots and the habitat of the estimated 320 mountain gorillas that find sanctuary here. The property itself has been named after named after a legendary silverback gorilla known for his humility and gentle nature – Kwitonda.

Singita has been inspired by the warm and welcoming spirit of the people of Rwanda which embodies a sense of goodwill and encapsulates their remarkable recovery from a painful past – this energy has driven them forward in their country’s rebirth. For this reason, Singita feels enormously privileged to open just ten minutes from Singita Volcanoes National Park and will contribute significantly to conservation, community partnerships and ecotourism. The lodge’s on-site nursery, Akarabo has to date provided approximately 250,000 indigenous forest shrubs, bamboo shoots and trees for an extensive reforestation initiative.

The design of Singita Kwitonda Lodge was conceptualised by GAPP Architects in collaboration with the interior design teams Cécile & Boyd and Hesse Kleinloog (HK) Studio. The design takes its cue from Rwanda’s cultural heritage and the enormous responsibility of protecting the strong, yet vulnerable gorillas. Bold, striking interiors, which are simultaneously nurturing, reflect the duality of the gorillas’ nature; and this is also seen in the interplay of surprisingly strong art and furniture with pared-back modernity.

“It’s an absolute dream to expand our conservation footprint in Rwanda – a beautiful country with a remarkable conservation success story,” said Singita Founder and Executive Chairman, Luke Bailes. “Contributing to the Government’s enormous efforts to protect the country’s wildlife is both a privilege and a serious responsibility. We’re thrilled with the elegant, exceptionally sustainable lodges we’ve created here. They allow guests to connect deeply with nature in the heart of Africa, after a humbling encounter with the gorillas.

Image credit: Singita

Guest suites are made up of cosy living spaces, indoor and outdoor fireplaces and heated plunge pools, with breath-taking views of the Sabyinyo, Gahinga and Muhabura volcanoes. Travellers are encouraged to enjoy soothing massages on return from their adventurous excursions. Natural elements like earth, mist, rain and lava are cleverly integrated into furniture pieces and linear artwork. Meanwhile the vivid colour palette of lava black, khaki green, ‘greige’ and fiery orange echo the surrounding landscape which flows in through large windows throughout the lodge. It’s an inherently African sophistication that is long-lasting, polished and earthy.

The property itself is made up of a collection of small buildings laid which follow the natural contours of the ground. Each element of the design and construction of the lodge and villa follow Singita’s which informed every detail from site design and materials used to energy and water systems as well as overall interior design. The team worked closely with the local community to locally source most building materials from the immediate Musanze district – a majority of the elements that make up the property have been made in Africa and handpicked by the interior designers.

More than 500 local artisans and builders were involved in the project crafting volcanic walls, impressive woven ceilings and hand-fired terracotta brickwork, ensuring an authentic translation of local culture into key elements, adding a significant boost to local employment and businesses.  The overall effect is strong and captivating, yet soothing, enhancing the serious, soul-centering experience of encountering gorilla families in their natural habitat.

The food and beverage offering at the lodge takes a farm-to-table-approach featuring largely vegetable-based dishes and local Rwandan favourites, the on-site herb and fruit garden supplies the lodge kitchens with an array of fresh ingredients. Other highlights of the food journey include tailor-made trekking lunchboxes, flexible mealtimes and a signature “bar-deli” which offers fresh fruit and small snacks, enabling guests to help themselves throughout the day.

Main image credit: Singita

How one boutique hotel is attracting modern travellers to Africa

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
How one boutique hotel is attracting modern travellers to Africa

Urbano Hotel is the modern design inspired boutique hotel located in the heart of Osu, Accra’s most vibrant neighbourhood designed by architect Hussein Fakhry…

With its landmark I LOVE ACCRA sign at the entrance, focus on design, attention to customer care, healthy food options and coveted location surrounded by international quality grocery stores, casinos, sports bars, African craft market, and thriving nightlife, Urbano is making waves on the African hotel design scene.

The hotel is part of the new hospitality trend in Ghana focused on affordable luxury and improved customer service that led the country to be named one of the top tourist destinations in the world.

“When we designed Urbano Hotel, we wanted to bring the concept of “New Africa” to life, an experience that fuses traditional African design and art with a cosmopolitan aesthetic and amenities that our guests are accustomed to when they travel to NY, London, or Paris or other top markets in the world. Urbano Hotel feels youthful and fresh yet a business traveller or family can still find comfort,” shares Fakhry, the Managing Director of Urbano’s parent company, Roots International and co-founder of Key Architectural Group who has more than 22 years experience on prestigious and diversified designs and construction projects throughout the Middle East and West Africa.

Team outside the sign 'I LOVE ACCRA' at hotel

Image credit: Urbano Hotel

It was the love and conception of urban neighbourhoods which promoted Fakhry’s team to revive and refurbish what was formerly the Penta Hotel into Urbano, a modern aesthetic piece, both internally and externally to enhance the facets of Oxford Street. Urbano Hotel features 43 rooms ranging from standard to the luxury bi-level suite and mini-apartment, a multi-functional hall with a capacity for 60, The Arabian, an indoor open courtyard, state of the art gym, The Terrace Bar, and Zaytoun Artisan Cafe featuring Middle Eastern specialities.

“Our utmost vision was to make Urbano Hotel a compelling, “must visit” destination within Accra and we complemented this objective with the mounting of the colourful “I LOVE ACCRA” installation which stretches across one side of the building to welcome every visitor to this culturally charming and vibrant neighbourhood. The millennial traveller is constantly documenting their travel experience on social media and Urbano’s facade lends itself to capturing iconic images of a visit to Ghana,” adds Fakhry.

Fakhry is passionate about the growth and development of Ghana’s tourism and hospitality industry and the possibility of the country emerging as a center of sustainable design in Africa.

“This year there has been a noted spike in travellers to Ghana due in part to Ghana Tourism Authority’s Year of Return initiative and several international conferences, music festivals and celebrity-driven tours scheduled to take place in the country. We are thrilled that discerning millennial travellers from around the world are travelling to Accra for both business and pleasure and finding Urbano’s eclectic style in alignment with their own sense of design, function and adventure and Osu serving as starting point to better understand the culture, dynamics and people of Ghana!”

Main image credit: Urbano Hotel

Autograph Collection Hotels debuts in Kenya

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
Autograph Collection Hotels debuts in Kenya

Autograph Collection Hotels debuts in Kenya welcoming Sankara Nairobi to its dynamic portfolio of Passionately Independent Hotels…

Autograph Collection HotelsMarriott International’s distinctive collection of passionately independent hotels, today welcomed Sankara Nairobi to its diverse and distinguished portfolio around the world, marking the debut for the brand in Kenya.

Set in the heart of Westlands, Sankara Nairobi lies in the epicentre of the city’s commercial, retail, and entertainment quarter and boasts quintessential Kenyan charm and hospitality, contemporary interiors and carefully curated modern African art throughout the hotel.

“We are thrilled to welcome Sankara Nairobi, a distinctive hotel which evokes the spirit and heritage of this vibrant city, to our portfolio,” said Alex Kyriakidis President and Managing Director, Middle East and Africa, Marriott International. “As the first Autograph Collection Hotel in Kenya, Sankara Nairobi is a significant addition to our rapidly growing portfolio in the region and a testament to our conversion friendly strategy. The hotel perfectly embodies the brand’s unique perspective on design, craft, hospitality and its Exactly Like Nothing Else philosophy. This rebranding is in lockstep with the growing demand from consumers and their desire for differentiated experiences wherever they travel.”

Just a short drive away from the city centre and the United Nations Headquarters, and within easy access from the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport and the Wilson Airport, the hotel is situated at the heart of the city’s vibrant social and business life.  It comprises 168 thoughtfully designed rooms, a tempting choice of authentic and award-winning restaurants, destination bars, social and meeting spaces, and fitness facilities. The newly refurbished guest rooms including a brand-new Presidential Suite captures the hotel’s personality with signature elements showcasing a unique character and a defining sense of place.

“We are excited to join the brand’s global portfolio of iconic hotels around the world and deliver a thoughtfully curated and authentic experience,” said Krishna Unni, Group General Manager of Sankara Hotel Group. “Socially and culturally immersive, Sankara Nairobi creates a vibrant and warm character that is deeply ingrained in the art, culture and lifestyle of Nairobi. We are confident that Sankara Nairobi will soon emerge as a preferred choice for travellers to Nairobi welcoming both Marriott International’s loyal members as well as new guests”.

Autograph Collection Hotels advocates for the original, championing the individuality of each of its over 171 independent hotels located in the most desirable destinations across more than 30 countries and territories.

More than USD 500m raised for new hospitality fund dedicated to Sub-Saharan Africa

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
More than USD 500m raised for new hospitality fund dedicated to Sub-Saharan Africa

In a region that offers robust growth opportunities, the fund raised by Kasada Capital Management will target both greenfield and brownfield projects in Sub-Saharan Africa… 

Sub-Saharan hospitality investment platform Kasada Capital Management has reached a first close on its maiden fund Kasada Hospitality Fund LP with equity commitments of more than USD 500 million.

This is in line with a first announcement disclosed in July 2018 by Katara Hospitality and Accor who are respectively contributing USD 350 million and USD 150 million.

“This is the best structure to address the needs of the region” – CEO, Olivier Granet

The hospitality market is currently one of the most promising and yet underserviced sectors in Sub-Saharan Africa where growing economies and emerging middle class are creating high-growth markets that are left largely untapped. “There is an incredible opportunity ahead to try out an innovative hospitality investment platform in the region,” said CEO Olivier Granet.”While in other parts of the world such initiatives are already thriving, they do not exist with critical size and integrated structure in Sub-Saharan Africa. The time is now for bold strategies to be implemented. Thanks to Accor and Katara’s support we benefit from a unique competitive advantage supported by a strong portfolio of brands enhancing our ability to raise debt efficiently from local banks and international financial institutions. This is the best structure to address the needs of the region, develop attractive products and reach critical mass quickly to take a leadership position. I believe that our team of professionals combining experts from project financing to hotel management all with a solid local knowledge is exceptionally well placed to succeed.”

The first platform of its kind in Sub-Saharan Africa, Kasada Capital Management intends to bridge the gap between the local hospitality market players and international investors. The team is co-led by Granet and David Damiba, CIO and Managing Partner who collectively have more than 50 year’ experience in the hospitality industry. They will put in place a unique team of professionals combining world class experience from the hospitality industry, private equity and financing sectors underpinned by track record in the African market.

Kasada believes its positive social impact is key to becoming the number one sustainable hospitality fund dedicated to Africa. Co-investments with local partners will support local job creation and further local business opportunities throughout the hospitality value chain, from investors to constructors and equipment suppliers.

Main image credit: Max Pixel

Hilton expands its presence in Morocco

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
Hilton expands its presence in Morocco

Hilton expands its presence in Morocco with opening of Hilton Tangier Al Houara Resort & Spa…

Set on a pristine beach, Hilton Tangier Al Houara Resort & Spa has opened, marking the group’s third property in Morocco. With its upscale accommodations, beachfront location and extensive range of leisure facilities, the resort is an oasis for relaxation and rejuvenation. The 304-key Hilton Tangier Al Houara Resort & Spa is located within a protected national park, offering direct access to five kilometers of idyllic white sandy beach.

Tangier, a cosmopolitan port-city on the Strait of Gibraltar is the embodiment of culture with its UNESCO sights and nearby attractions, such as The Kasbah. Famous for its year-round pleasant weather and beautiful beaches, the city is seeing increasing numbers of visitors every year.

“Morocco is a flourishing tourism destination which welcomed more than 12 million visitors last year,” said Rudi Jagersbacher, President, Middle East, Africa, and Turkey, Hilton. “We are delighted to be expanding our footprint in the country and hope this will continue to support the Moroccan government’s tourism ambition to make Morocco one of the top 20 tourist destinations in the world by 2020.”

Spread across an impressive 850m², the hotel’s eforea spa is equipped with state of the art treatment rooms, a beauty salon, hairdresser, jacuzzi, sauna, steam room and a 24/7 gym. For those looking to perfect their swing during their stay, the hotel offers two spectacular golf courses alongside a Golf Academy.

In addition, The hotel boasts 4,500m² of flexible event space with capacity for up to 1,400 guests. The hotel offers 15 flexible meeting rooms as well as two pillarless ballrooms. With an expansive foyer that leads to an outdoor terrace, the space is ideal for hosting coffee breaks, cocktail receptions and buffets.

Meanwhile, the culinary experience is said to be at the heart of the hotel with the hotel boasting a total of five restaurants and bars.

Boasting 304 exquisite guestrooms and suites, including 50 apartments, all guestrooms feature a blend of Moroccan and international design touches with private balconies overlooking either the Atlantic Ocean or 11 hectares of garden.

“We are excited to introduce Hilton Tangier Al Houara Resort & Spa to our growing brand portfolio,” said Vera Manoukian, senior vice president and global head, Hilton Hotels & Resorts. “The opening of this property highlights our commitment to expanding in key destinations across the world, in the world’s most sought-after destinations for guests who know that where they stay matters.”

With more than 585 hotels across six continents, Hilton Hotels & Resorts properties are located in the world’s most sought-after destinations for guests who know that where they stay matters. This particular opening marks a significant growth in North Africa.

Main image credit: HILTON TANGIER AL HOUARA RESORT & SPA

Hyatt Regency opens its first hotel in Ethiopia

Hamish Kilburn

 

Hyatt Regency Addis Ababa opens in Ethiopia following the brand’s aim to strengthen its presence in Africa… 

Following Hilton Hotels’ announcement to double its footprint of hotels in Africa within the next five year, Hyatt Hotels Corporation has announced the opening the brand’s first Hyatt-branded hotel in Ethiopia and its seventh in Africa.

The 188-key Hyatt Regency Addis Ababa, which is centrally located on the famous Meskel Square, features carefully designed areas throughout and is complete with a total of six dining outlets.

“We are excited to celebrate the opening of Hyatt Regency Addis Ababa and to introduce the brand to Ethiopia,” said Heddo Siebs, general manager, Hyatt Regency Addis Ababa. “We are confident that our loyal World of Hyatt members and global travelers will feel welcomed the moment they arrive and we look forward to serving them delicious blends of local flavors, while also offering an array of live entertainment.”

The 188 spacious guestrooms include 12 luxury Regency suites, two Executive suites, one Presidential suite and one Royal Presidential suite with four bedrooms. Regency Club room and suite guests can enjoy complimentary use of the boardroom and exclusive access to the Regency Club lounge.

wooden ceilings shelter a luxury dining area compltee with art on walls and soft, comfortable seating

Image credit: Hyatt Hotels

With six restaurants and bars to choose from, the hotel offers something for every taste. Guests can enjoy delicious Levantine signature meals in the hotel’s The Kitchen or a wide array of coffees and cocktails in Cascara Coffee & Cocktails, while taking in the stunning courtyard views. For business meetings, The Lobby Lounge allows guests to indulge in fresh fruit and delicious pastries from The Market. The hotel also features a Pool Bar and Lounge overlooking the inner courtyard. The Oriental serves western style barbeque and fine Asian cuisine in a casual yet contemporary setting. In addition, The Metro Bar, located in the basement, offers live music.

Guests wishing to relax and revitalise can visit the outdoor pool or enjoy a massage at the spa. The 2,530 square foot (235 square meter) fitness center will provide the perfect workout with state-of-the-art equipment.

The 18,300 square feet (1,700 square meters) of flexible meeting space overlooking the legendary Meskel Square leads to the open air inner courtyard of the hotel. The magnificent Regency Ballroom adjoining the courtyard offers the best setting for memorable occasions. Further, the hotel features multi-functional meeting spaces equipped with high-tech audiovisual and lighting equipment, making Hyatt Regency Addis Ababa, according to the brand, the best place for any occasion.

Africa’s hotel pipeline

In June 2018, it was reported that the total number African hotels in the pipeline was 281 projects/45,555 rooms, which was up 21 per cent by projects YOY. In Africa, there are 127 projects/21,233 rooms under construction, up one per cent by projects YOY. Those scheduled to start construction in the next 12 months were at 79 projects/11,954 rooms, up a whopping 65 per cent, while projects that were in early planning stood at 75 projects/12,368 rooms are up 29 per cent.

Checking in to Matetsi Victoria Falls – Zimbabwe’s answer to luxury

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
Checking in to Matetsi Victoria Falls – Zimbabwe’s answer to luxury

Travelling 7,500 miles to Zimbabwe, editor of Hotel Designs Hamish Kilburn learns more about the design direction of one of the country’s most luxurious hotel offerings, the award-winning Matetsi Victoria Falls

Beyond the baobab trees – which are said to be sacred among the locals because of the natural healing powers they lock within their roots.

The dehydrated shrubs on the African soil, elephants, hyenas, zebras, warthogs, leapards and lions sits an award-winning luxury riverside hotel that is indubitably one of the most luxurious offerings in Zimbabwe.

After 15 minutes 4x4ing the dirt road into the heart of the 123,000-acre (55,000 hectres) reserve, we arrive at Matetsi Victoria Falls, a place that promises luxury, comfort and unmatched style. “I have the largest back yard in Africa,” jokes the owner John Gardiner who greets me on arrival. And with nothing between us and the natural safari, my experience in the African bush begins.

The entrance of the hotel is framed by three traditional Mokoro (dug-out) canoes, which hang from wooden beams and sway in harmony with the soft Zambezi breeze. With no need for a traditional lobby, guests are immediately welcomed into the indoor-outdoor public areas complete with a copper bar and durable outdoor sofas and chairs scattered in a home-from-home setting that has been designed around nature, and not the other way round. “We didn’t take out a single tree when designing these camps, because we wanted these areas to remain as close to nature as we could,” said interior designer Kerry van Leenhoff , a previous graduate from Cape Town University of Technology who was hand-selected by Gardiner and totally supported in all her decisions. Using the striking vista of the Zambezi River, which flows towards the tremendous Victoria Falls, dining tables are placed in such a way to make every meal one to remember. “The lobby areas have been designed in order to encourage guests to connect with people and nature,” adds van Leenhoff.

As we approach suite 17 – AKA, my home for the next four nights – I am reminded just how ‘in the sticks’ we are, catching a glimpse of an elephant and a giraffe just metres from each other as my key enters the lock. I open the heavy, black teak front door, which was recycled and polished from the previous lodge, and the room is immediately filled with light. Interestingly enough, though, this was not the case when the hotel first opened, as van Leenhoff explains: “When the hotel first opened and the guests gave us their feedback, we realised that we needed to revisit the lighting, especially in the public areas,” she says. “So we added some more outdoor feature lighting around the trees and columns in order to really pronounce what we felt were the important and dramatic areas of the hotel.” However, my immediate attention is not on the lighting. Instead, my imagination is taken over by the striking panoramic view of the Zambezi River, which I later find out is home to legend; the locals believe that a famous God is said to protect the flowing waters, and his name is Nyami Nyami. As legend goes, the spirit which is often depicted as half snake half fish, protects life in and around the river.

The River Lodge Suite is everything you would expect of a luxury lodge in the bush, and so much more. The skin of matepi latte creates an organic ceiling and roof – and this material does more than just give a nod to the location. This decision was made in order to keep the lodge blending into its location and celebrate Zimbabwean culture. “It was really important for us to work with skilled craftsmen and women from our culture,” explains van Leenhoff. “We have such a diverse culture with about 16 different tribes and languages. We mainly focused around the Tonga tribes as we were by the river.” The result is that from the far side of the river, you can’t actually see where the hotel starts and ends, which suggests even further that the whole property has been created with nature in mind.

Van Leenhoff decided to take Matetsi’s love for nature and the environment and inject it into the fabrics and the walls. The result is a naturally calming, peaceful abode, which empowers an everlasting feeling of total luxury and relaxation. Modern high-quality furniture and hand-scultpted trunks of trees used as tables create the perfect blend of modern, luxury and timeless décor.

All 18 suites have been thoughtfully curated and the hotel is a credit to the talent of van Leenhoff. The art, for example is by Helen Teede who spent much time on site at Matetsi in order to find the inspiration of a unique collection of 18 paintings entitled ‘Mapping Matetsi’. Having done extensive walks and drives in the area, Teede divided the cartographic map of Matetsi unit seven into 18 parts and drew it to scale on each canvas, adding her own impressions of the river, the landscape and the pathways walked in the area, both man and animal-made. These 18 paintings hang separately in each suite. However, put together and these pieces of art actually form the aerial map of the reserve.

With the privilege of space, the hotel shelters two camps: East Camp, West Camp and one large villa, River House, which sits in between the two camps. Interestingly, the whole team – chefs, butlers, housekeeping, back-of-house staff – alternate between both East and West camp every couple of weeks in order to maintain the property and keep service personable at all times.

Gardiner, who I first met in London just a few weeks before my trip, is the real visionary behind the property surrounding the reserve. A local Zimbabwean hotelier, Gardiner has transformed the reserve since acquiring it in 2014 and aims to “give back to Zimbabwe”. With the help of his team, who all share Gardiner’s love for nature, he has restored and conserved the natural wildlife within the reserve by building various watering holes, 15 in total with a further 10 in the pipeline, I am told.

Before I check out, I have an opportunity to exclusively discuss the future of Matetsi with the team and how it plans to expand its luxury arm. “We are working on a few things at the moment, which are really exciting projects,” adds van Leenhoff. “The design direction and our aim is to strike the balance between feeling isolated and feeling safe.” The new plans will further challenge conventional luxury lodges in Africa with a real focus on opening up the guests to undisturbed nature.

The future sounds exciting and it’s clear that the design team and the hotel are totally in sync with ideas, vision and what luxury in Africa should look like. I leave Matetsi and Zimbabwe having cemented my respect in African design and culture. I am grateful that the reserve’s calming atmosphere allowed me to relax and escape from the lively London scene, if not only for a few days.

Key suppliers

Guest Suites-
Tables/ Headboards/ Beds- Adam Seager Furniture (ZIM)
Upholstery – Fiona Edmunds (ZIM)
Desks/ Luggage racks/ Wardrobes/ Lounge chairs – Nigel Joselyn (ZIM)
Pottery Pendants and Chandeliers- Chart Pottery (ZIM)
Beaded Ottomans- CHIPO women’s group (ZIM)
Spring stone Basins- Tonderayi Mahachi (ZIM)
Bamboo Lights- STEP Trust (ZIM)
Floor lamps- Collaboration between Bruce Elliot & Tonderayi Mahachi (ZIM)
Porcupine wastepaper baskets- Lupane Women’s Centre (ZIM)
Basin Tops- Zambezi Roots (ZIM)
Bath- Euro trends (SA)
Sanitary ware- Antique baths (SA)
Nguni Cowhides- Holly Hudson (ZIM)
Ceramics- Marjorie Wallace: Mutapo (ZIM)
Mirrors- Brigette Lotter (ZIM)

Main areas-
Dining tables- Adam Seager Furniture (ZIM)
Woven Screens- Collaboration between Jane Taylor & Judith Ncube of Matabeleland Weavers (ZIM)
Curated Tables- Helen Teede (ZIM)
Bar and Interactive kitchen- Collaboration between Adam Seager & Copperwares (ZIM)
Woven Poufs – Lupane Women’s Centre (ZIM)
Wrought Iron lights- Misty Edwards (ZIM)
Pottery Pendants and Chandeliers- Chart Pottery (ZIM)
Reed mats- Newlands Craft Market (ZIM)
Shop – Nigel Joselyn (ZIM)
Sofas- Fiona Edmunds (ZIM)
Coco chairs- Coricraft (SA)
Chairs/ Bar stools- Weylandts (SA)
Boardroom table- Collaboration between Zambezi Roots & Complete Steel (ZIM)
Ceramics- Marjorie Wallace: Mutapo (ZIM)
Wine cellar Chandeliers- Basil & Lindy Rowlands (ZIM)
Wine cellar- Ruwa Furniture (ZIM)

The new Serra Cafema opens in Namibia

Hamish Kilburn
The newly reopened hotel in Namibia takes specific design inspiration from the surrounding, remote landscape…

After an environmentally-sensitive and inspiring rebuild, Wilderness Safaris’ Serra Cafema Camp, in Namibia’s extreme north-west, has reopened. Located in one of the most remote regions in southern Africa, on the banks of the Kunene River in the Hartmann’s Valley, Serra Cafema takes design hotels to new unexplored regions and offers life-changing journeys to this extraordinary desert location, ensuring the ongoing biodiversity protection of this pristine area and positively impacting the local community members of the Marienfluss Conservancy.

As part of a joint venture between Wilderness Safaris and the 300 000-hectare Marienfluss Conservancy –  owned primarily by the Himba people who are amongst the last semi-nomadic peoples on the planet – Serra Cafema is strongly rooted in a core Purpose or reason for being.

“It’s not just about luxurious accommodation and superlative local hospitality – that’s a given; it’s about exploring and conserving the vast, wild space of the Kunene area, gaining insight into the ancient, yet evolving culture of the Himba people, and looking inward, where guests are given the chance to reconnect with the earth and themselves. These elements define the luxury of space and the value of unique experiences”, said Alexandra Margull, Wilderness Safaris Namibia Managing Director.

“It is also 100 per cent solar powered, in line with Wilderness Safaris’ commitment to operating with as light an eco-footprint as possible.”

Each incarnation of Serra Cafema has explored and enhanced its relationship with the spectacular natural world around it. The new Serra Cafema takes this to the next level, where the concept for the camp is done with reverence and respect for the Himba community. The camp is comfortable, updated and modern, incorporating fresh elements, while retaining the heart and soul of Serra Cafema. It is also 100 per cent solar powered, in line with Wilderness Safaris’ commitment to operating with as light an eco-footprint as possible.

Natural materials that reflect the surrounding landscape have been used throughout the camp, with stone sourced from the adjacent valley used for feature walls and prominent defining structures. Each of the eight luxuriously-spacious guest rooms overlook the Kunene River and mountains of Angola beyond, and include a sunken seating area, an extra-large bed with a canopy and netting, indoor and outdoor showers, and a large private deck for private dining, and from which guests can enjoy the surreal sight of a river in the midst of a desert.

The main central area also overlooks the river and has a lower-level oval seated area that is ideal for night-time star gazing. Further celebrating local culture, the conceptual organisation of the main area emulates the structure of a Himba village. The buildings are arranged to connect to each other via different outdoor spaces, ensuring pockets of privacy within a larger cohesive whole. This arrangement allowed for the existing ana trees to be preserved and utilised as necessary shade.

The details within the camp are also uniquely Namibian. The servers and tables for the dining area were built by young craftsmen and women at TABLED, a social enterprise that gives orphans a future by involving them in crafting design furniture. In keeping with the Himba tradition of wearing and using leather, Wilderness commissioned Myeisha, a Windhoek-based company that provides training and employment for previously-unskilled local labourers, to produce rich, ochre-coloured leather menu, wine and room folders. Another local company, Mbiri, has, in partnership with a group of Himba women, developed a range of products based on the tradition of sustainably harvesting the resin from the Omumbiri tree (Commiphora wildii) and using it as perfume. From their harvester-owned processing facility in north-western Namibia, Mbiri has developed its first bathroom range which will be launched and used exclusively at Serra Cafema.

“These are just a few examples of our commitment to growing local talent and changing lives by providing support and encouragement to local suppliers, local artists and local culture”, Margull added. On the camp’s completion, all unused building materials were donated to the Marienfluss Conservancy to build a shelter at the local school.

Four Seasons Tunis

Four Seasons Hotel Tunis now open

850 477 Daniel Fountain

Just a short drive from the ancient Roman ruins of Carthage and the traditional village of Sidi Bou Said, a sanctuary of modern luxury and style has opened its doors on the Mediterranean shore of the capital: welcome to the all-new Four Seasons Hotel Tunis.

“We are delighted to greet our first guests at Four Seasons Hotel Tunis,” says General Manager Ahmed Khalaf. “Already there has been great interest among our Gammarth neighbours and inquiries from around the world, and now I join my team in their excitement to show off our new Hotel, and invite guests to explore the ancient wonders of Tunisia, and the wonderful seaside lifestyle of the city.”

Contemporary Arabesque architecture and design details including mashrabiya latticework screens reflect both the Hotel”s proximity to several UNESCO World Heritage Sites, and its easy access to the city.

Spilling down toward the sea is a palatial complex of white buildings connected via arched walkways and surrounded by pools, fountains and gardens beneath swaying palms before giving way to a sandy beach edging the Mediterranean beneath a bright blue sky. Public areas are designed in an open concept to capture gentle sea breezes, while guest rooms and suites open to either garden or sea views.

www.fourseasons.com/tunis

Mombo, Botswana

Introducing first look of the new Mombo, Botswana

1000 562 Daniel Fountain

The rebuild of Wilderness Safaris’ flagship camps in the heart of the Okavango Delta, Mombo and Little Mombo, continues apace, with both camps set to open for guests at the end of January 2018. Whilst comprising the most appropriate and sustainable luxury required of such a leading destination, the new camps will remain rooted in an authentic bush-camp offering to ensure that the original Mombo experience is retained.

Wilderness Safaris has been privileged to witness three generations of Mombo Camp, undoubtedly one of Africa’s foremost wildlife and ecotourism destinations. The brief to the architectural and design teams, Nick Plewman Architects and Associates and Caline Williams-Wynn from Artichoke, was therefore to rebuild the camps in such a way as to maintain the Mombo traditions and history stretching back nearly 30 years, yet rebuilding to the highest and most innovative standards.

“In short, the new Mombo is a show stopper,” commented lead interior designer, Caline Williams-Wynn. “As the Rolls Royce of the Delta, we have combined traditional and vintage elements with a modern elegance that truly embraces the real essence of Mombo. We have used deconstructed furniture in classic styles, antique brass finishings, vintage leathers, copper lighting and copper-cladded fire places combined with marble and natural oak floors.”

A tonal colour palette has been used throughout to reiterate the longevity of the interior design. A mix of mismatched – yet complementary – wooden furniture all works together to feature a collection of pieces sourced over the years, resulting in a personalised feel. Other interior features include headboards and bed bases made of crackled leather with hand stitching on the seams, wooden and brass chandeliers and custom-made, hand-painted embroidered cushions.

“Space was also a key factor in creating the new design,” she added, “with each tented suite now comprising an expansive entrance, a sitting room with a bar unit, a separate bedroom and bathroom with a dressing area, indoor and outdoor showers and a bathtub that creates a sense of indulgence.” The view out in front of the floodplain is uninterrupted thanks to the use of wood sliding louvre shutters that can be open or shut completely as the guest would like and a sliding gauze second layer to allow for maximum air flow. Spacious decks are perfect for in-villa dining and private plunge pools and swing beds offer the perfect base for midday relaxation and siestas.

“Our emphasis in terms of luxury and service excellence has always been on sharing and honouring the amazing natural environment in which we operate,” said Wilderness Safaris Botswana MD, Kim Nixon. “Each tented suite has been built on exactly the same place as the previous one – with a slight increase in size out towards the floodplain to facilitate a pool deck. By remaining the same width, this has allowed all the vegetation – particularly the large trees that are in between the units – to remain, ensuring minimal impact to the environment. We even hosted a tree expert in camp to ensure that the trees were properly cared for and professionally pruned in a few areas that needed it and we did not cut a single root greater than 50 mm.”

“We have also taken the lessons we’ve learnt over the years and used innovative ideas to allow for natural temperature regulation; extended verandas are shaded with pergolas in front of the rooms, while the multi-layered, insulated roof design consists of a fabric layer that deals well with heat and UV rays and a cavity roof with insulation that allows air flow through and drops the temperature,” Nixon added. Walls and floors all have three layers each and of course, being raised off the ground aids in the flow of air, as well as allows for free animal movement beneath. There is also a good through flow from the front to the back of the suites, taking advantage of the gentle breeze off the floodplain.

World-renowned as “the Place of Plenty”, Mombo’s location on Chief’s Island within the Moremi Game Reserve attracts an enormous number and variety of animals, which makes it a hugely sought-after destination. Mombo is also deeply committed to the plight of the rhino and, since the turn of the century, has played the key primary role in rhino relocation through its Botswana Rhino Reintroduction Project.

“We are proud of the progress we have made to date and look forward to sharing the magic of Mombo with our guests in 2018 – we have no doubt that Mombo will continue to exceed our guests’ expectations and remain a place of harmony: a balance between the camps, the environment and the people who stay here,” Nixon concluded.

The new Mombo and Little Mombo camps will open end January 2018. Please see additional notes below for further architectural and interior design details.

www.wilderness-safaris.com

Qorokwe Camp, Botswana

Project Spotlight: Wilderness Safaris’ Qorokwe Camp, Botswana

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Wilderness Safaris is delighted to announce the opening of its new Classic Camp, Qorokwe, situated in the private, wildlife-rich 26 180-hectare (64 692-acre) Qorokwe Concession, bordering Moremi Game Reserve in the Okavango Delta, Botswana.

Meaning “the place where the buffalo broke through the bush into the water”, Qorokwe comprises nine elegant tented suites, one of which is a spacious family unit with its own splash pool, as well as a dining area, lounge, library, bar and infinity swimming pool, all situated along the banks of a beautiful lagoon. An example of authentic, responsible luxury, the camp was built using innovative techniques and operates on 100% solar power, thus keeping as light an eco-footprint as possible in one of the Delta’s untouched wilderness areas – one that has been unutilised for the past four years.

“In our continuous quest for operating camps – and making a difference – in the best wildlife areas in Africa, the exclusive Qorokwe Concession has earned a well-deserved place in our ranks”, commented Kim Nixon, Wilderness Safaris Botswana MD. “We are proud to have welcomed our first guests to Qorokwe, in partnership with Cobus Calitz and Jil Gérard-Calitz, and are looking forward to revealing this contemporary, land-based camp and highly-productive wilderness concession to the world”.

Architect, Joy Brasler on Qorokwe:

  • The concept for Qorokwe grew out of a response to the landscape – the site lies next to a lagoon and the tented suites are raised off the ground to see over the vegetation growing at the lagoon’s edge, as well as providing a sense of safety in the wilderness.
  • The suites and main camp area were laid out by the team in response to the trees and views available on site. There are a number of large canopy trees which inspired the idea of a fairly cannellated ceiling to the unit which mimics the bark of the trees and canopy overhead. The rest of the unit is predominantly clad in canvas to the rear, and mosquito netting on the view side, with interior blinds/shutters that act as both curtains and environmental control.
  • In our practice, we had been pursuing the idea of a mechano m/s steel unit which would limit the construction time on site and the variations that typically arise out of building in the bush. Materials were therefore chosen for rapid construction with a steel frame with infill panels of either mesh or canvas, timber decks and the detailed timber ceilings perforated with light.Project Spotlight: Wilderness Safaris’ Qorokwe Camp, Botswana
  • The tented suites are spacious and include a large deck. Given that the temperatures are fairly benign and that the thrill of being out in this wild landscape is paramount, much of the main camp features are open and cascading towards the watercourse. The rear of the camp enhances the experience of traversing the various vegetation typologies as you move towards the water – open landscape, vegetated edge, and open view – the entrance sequence is treated as a series of “walls” in the landscape, ascent and view. The ceiling travels over these diverse features and is gently graduated with light.
  • Views are framed and isolated to elevate the visual experience of this photographic environment, water is used to bring the Delta into the camp, both to connect the experience of being in the landscape and to deal with the practical issues of keeping guests away from the edges.
  • References are made to the cycle of decay at the edge of the Okavango Delta through the use of “rusted” finishes in conjunction with lightweight tented construction infill methodology. Colours and imagery from both the landscape above ground and beneath the water are brought into the interiors.
  • The language of the infrastructure is seen as an elemental and contemporary response to an insertion in this landscape – the interiors are a response to the colours and activities of Africa, with the emotive use of materials, colour and form.

Owing to its location on the border of Moremi Game Reserve and its diverse habitat types – from scattered acacia and mopane woodlands, open seasonal and permanent floodplains fringed on either side by the picturesque channels and islands along the Gomoti and Santantadibe Channels – Qorokwe offers an abundance of wildlife. Game drives, walks, boating and mokoro present life-changing opportunities of viewing and photographing the variety of life here, including lion, spotted hyaena, leopard, wild dog, cheetah, elephant and buffalo, to name a few, as well as the myriad birds that are attracted to such pristine surrounds.

Interior designer, Michelle Throssell on Qorokwe:  

  • Sharing a similar design philosophy to Joy Brasler Architects, Michelle Throssell was thrilled to be introduced to the Qorokwe team by Joy Brasler in order to propose an interior design solution for the camp. According to Michelle, “Working off Joy’s canvas is always a pleasure and so our interior design concept grew very much from her inspiration. The selection of interior architecture finishes, various timbers, ceiling details, lighting, shopfitting and fixtures was a collaborative effort and we tried to involve the Qorokwe team in every decision to give them something that reflected their vision for the camp and also their passion for the bush. The palette of colours and materials was inspired by the Botswana landscape as well as by Joy’s strong architectural concept, resulting in a rich mix of bleached timbers, darker stains and accents of rust and burnt orange. By introducing a combination of organic shapes and textural diversity from live-edged timber to steel and canvas, we have created a warm, enveloping space providing comfort and luxury in an understated way”.

According to lead architect, Joy Brasler, and interior designer, Michelle Throssell, the design inspiration for Qorokwe came from the natural setting of the Botswana landscape, resulting in a rich mix of bleached timbers, darker stains and accents of rust and burnt orange.

Project Spotlight: Wilderness Safaris’ Qorokwe Camp, BotswanaThe materials chosen to build the camp include steel frames with infill panels to insulate against heat and cold, canvas and timber decks. Detailed timber ceilings are perforated with light to mimic the experience of being beneath the trees at the side of the lagoon, so that the entire camp experience blends in with its beautiful natural surroundings.

www.wilderness-safaris.com/camps/qorokwe-camp

CITYMax Aswan Egypt

Citymax Hotel Aswan celebrates soft opening

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Citymax Hotels made its debut in the historic city of Aswan in Egypt with the soft opening of Citymax Hotel Aswan last week.

Owned by Egypt Holland for Touristic Investments, this 4-star hotel is superbly located in Kornish Al Nile in close proximity to Aswan’s key tourist attractions.

The hotel features 79 rooms equipped with all modern comforts and amenities.

The hotel boasts outstanding leisure facilities including an outdoor swimming pool and cafe, sauna, jacuzzi and an all-day-dining restaurant.

Decorated in contemporary style, some rooms offer beautiful Nile river views while others overlook the city landscape.

Hilton Cape Verde Sal Resort

Ultimate luxury in Cape Verde with Hilton’s Sal Resort

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Hilton has announced the opening of Hilton Cabo Verde Sal Resort, marking its debut in the country and further growing the brand’s portfolio of world class resorts.

Hilton Cabo Verde Sal Resort is set against the backdrop of Sal’s famous Santa Maria beach. The hotel boasts a stunning natural stone pool set within a lush tropical garden. Guests can enjoy a 24-hour fitness centre, a kids club with a children’s pool and a nautical centre for diving and sailing. The hotel also features a casino, a beauty salon and Hilton’s signature eforea Spa concept with a wet area and eight treatment rooms.

Hilton Cabo Verde Sal Resort is also the only hotel in the area to offer 24-hour room service and a minibar.

With over 1,000 square meters of flexible meeting and events space, including a 300 square-meter ballroom with high ceilings, Hilton Cabo Verde Sal Resort is ideal for business groups, small meetings and social events. The hotel also offers wedding packages which allow couples to celebrate their special day on the scenic beach overlooking the Atlantic Ocean.

“Hilton Cabo Verde Sal Resort is a world-class destination resort that caters to the increasing demand for next level hospitality in Cabo Verde,” said Alejandro Casamor, general manager. “With a beach club, flexible meeting space and a host of other facilities, Hilton Cabo Verde Sal Resort is poised to become the preferred choice for travelers visiting the country.”

Each of the hotel’s 241 spacious guest rooms features a 50-inch LED television, Wi-Fi and a balcony or terrace. All rooms span at least 39 square meters, while suites offer at least 75 square meters of space. In addition, guests staying in Oceanfront Suites or in the Presidential Suite will be able to enjoy breathtaking ocean views.

AVANI Gaborone Resort & Casino Reopens Following Renovation

AVANI Gaborone Resort & Casino reopens following renovation

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AVANI Gaborone Resort & Casino is celebrating the completion of an extensive renovation, representing an investment of $7.5 million (£5.6 million) by Minor Hotels, the parent company.

All 156 guest rooms and public spaces including the main entrance and porte cochere have been renovated with the aim of introducing AVANI’s signature design hallmarks. The new contemporary design and technological enhancements make for a modern, functional and relaxing experience.

The open plan, design for living lobby blends reception, lounge, eateries and chill out spaces. The interior is spacious and natural light has been used to great effect, allowing for a communal space where guests can relax, meet and eat. The Pantry offers fresh, quick bites for life on the move, comfort food, fresh fruit juices, barista coffees and more.

The Conservatory, located in the centre of the lobby, provides an informal, communal eatery. Design elements include a leafy graphic design wall, ceiling punkah fans, wicker seating and parquet flooring. The menu features sandwiches, hamburgers, salads and pasta dishes and delivers on AVANI’s promise of honest food, using freshly sourced local ingredients as well as naturally raised poultry and sustainable meat and seafood.

The layout of the guest bedrooms and bathrooms has been redesigned to ensure the best use of space. The design is functional, modern and comfortable.

AVANI - Tunisia

AVANI to debut in north Africa with double Tunisian opening

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AVANI Hotels & Resorts will debut in North Africa with two new properties in Tunisia, in partnership with Groupe Chaabane. Scheduled to open in the coming months, AVANI Les Berges Du Lac Tunis Suites will be located in Les Berges du Lac II, a prime commercial, residential and diplomatic area in the Tunisian Capital.

The 41-key property will offer exclusive serviced apartment accommodation options ranging from studios to three-bedroom apartments and lofts, catering to corporate and extended-stay demand. There will also be an all-day dining restaurant and a health club with a gym, two spa treatment rooms, sauna and steam rooms, and an indoor swimming pool.

In addition and currently in its design phase, AVANI Gammarth Tunis Resort & Spa is expected to open in 2021 and will offer 250 keys in a prime beachfront location. The new upscale hotel will offer 232 rooms and 18 private beach villas, five food & beverage outlets including a destination beach club, meeting space including a 1,000-square-metre ballroom, a health club and AVANI Spa, in addition to two swimming pools and a kid’s club.

Launched by Minor Hotels in 2011, AVANI Hotels & Resorts is an upscale, contemporary brand appealing to millennial minded travellers who appreciate quality and value. AVANI currently has 18 properties in operation in Thailand, Sri Lanka, Vietnam, Malaysia, the Seychelles, Mozambique, Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia, Zambia and the UAE, with the brand most recently launching in Europe in the Portuguese capital of Lisbon.

Four Seasons Resort Seychelles at Desroches Island

Sneak Peek: Four Seasons Resort Seychelles – Desroches Island

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Seychelles, Desroches Island – with its grand opening just months away, Four Seasons Resort Seychelles at Desroches Island is now accepting reservations for arrivals beginning March 1, 2018.

It’s also offering a special Island Debut package to welcome its first guests. Take a sneak peak below…

Four Seasons Resort Seychelles at Desroches Island

Four Seasons Resort Seychelles at Desroches Island

Four Seasons Resort Seychelles at Desroches Island

Wilderness Safaris’ Qorokwe Camp – Luxury Eco-Chic in the Heart of the Delta

Wilderness Safaris’ Qorokwe Camp to open in December

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Qorokwe Camp, a new Wilderness Safaris Classic Camp due to open in the private, wildlife-rich 26,180-hectare (64,692-acre) Qorokwe Concession in Botswana in December 2017, will offer the perfect blend of luxury eco-chic within a beautiful Okavango Delta setting.

Designed by lead architect, Joy Brasler and interior designer, Michelle Throssell, Qorokwe Camp is situated along the banks of a beautiful kidney-shaped lagoon. The nine elegant tented suites, one of which is a spacious family suite with its own splash pool, and the main area, which comprises a dining area, lounge, library, bar and infinity swimming pool, are built on raised decked platforms (about two metres/six feet off the ground). This not only provides spectacular views of the lagoon and surrounding bushveld, but also enables the vegetation to thrive underneath the suites – a unique environmental advantage as most rooms create ‘dead’ space beneath.

According to Joy Brasler, materials chosen to build the camp include steel frames with infill panels to insulate against heat and cold, canvas and timber decks. Detailed timber ceilings are perforated with light to mimic the experience of being beneath the trees at the side of the lagoon so that the entire camp experience blends in with its beautiful natural surroundings. “The language of the infrastructure is seen as an elemental and contemporary response to an insertion in this landscape – the interiors are a response to the colours and activities of Africa, with the emotive use of materials, colour and form,” she said.

Michelle Throssel reiterated that their combined inspiration came from the natural setting, stating that the palette of colours and materials was motivated by the Botswana landscape, resulting in a rich mix of bleached timbers, darker stains and accents of rust and burnt orange. “By introducing a combination of organic shapes and textural diversity from live-edged timber to steel and canvas, we have created a warm, enveloping space providing comfort and luxury in an understated way,” Michelle added.

In line with Wilderness Safaris’ commitment to operating with as light an eco-footprint as possible, Qorokwe will be 100% solar-powered and all water will be heated by means of thermodynamic solar geysers, further helping to mitigate the camp’s carbon emissions. “We are also excited to have used a new building technique for the Delta, one that comprises an entirely steel sub-structure,“ said Qorokwe GM, Daniel Crous. “Although this is more expensive than building with wood, we believe that it is a more environmentally and economically sound method in the long run – requiring less ‘reconstructions’, as well as being easier to remove, thus leaving less of an environmental footprint. In addition, using steel removes the threat of termites and therefore there is no need to put chemically treated wood into the ground where it may affect the immediate environment.”

Owned by the Maun-based Calitz family, the Qorokwe (meaning “the place where the buffalo broke through the bush into the water”) Concession is a spectacular and highly productive mix of fertile Okavango habitats. Qorokwe’s diverse landscape includes scattered acacia and mopane woodlands, open seasonal and permanent floodplains and is fringed on either side by the picturesque channels and islands along the Gomoti and Santantadibe Channels. Guests can explore the exclusive concession on day and night game drives and nature walks led by highly-skilled guides, as well as enjoy mokoro and boating activities, depending on the water levels.

“We are thrilled to be partnering with the Calitz family to reveal this exclusive new land-based camp and private concession – a highly-productive game-viewing area that has been unutilised for the past four years. The beauty of the landscape and our experiences in the Qorokwe Concession to date are such that we know our guests can look forward to exceptional wildlife experiences, in addition to a world-class and original camp offering,” said Kim Nixon, Wilderness Safaris Botswana MD.

Areen Design - Sheraton Madagascar - Lobby (002)

Project Spotlight: Areen Design – Sheraton Madagascar

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Located in Madagascar’s capital city Antananarivo, the 25-storey Sheraton hotel is being transformed with all guest rooms and public spaces undergoing major refurbishment, with interiors by Areen Design’s award-winning hospitality team.

The 224-bed hotel is the latest project where Areen Design has been commissioned to offer a full design and procurement package, providing interior design services alongside a multi-million pound contract supplying the furniture, fixtures and equipment (FF&E) and operating supplies & equipment (OS&E).

As Andrew Linwood, Head of Hospitality Design, explains: “Clients benefit from a deeply engrained design ‘know-how’ combined with procurement services based on quality and product durability. Design specifications are written with localisation, budget and suitability in mind, thanks to close collaboration between our departments. All this translates into better quality specifications, early and accurate budgeting, transparency, greater efficiencies, and ultimately cost savings while delivering a high quality service.”

Areen Design - Sheraton Madagascar - Spa
Andrew continues: “Alongside these benefits, our design team were also inspired by the project’s location. I believe our interior spaces now incorporate a strong flavour of the locality and the Malagasy heritage; from striking patterns and colours, to structures and metalwork. The standards international travellers expect from Sheraton have still been provided but with more than a firm nod towards local influence.”

With completion and handover expected to be in Q1 of 2018, the new interiors will welcome guests to spaces which reflect Marriott’s quality and international standards, alongside the values held by the Sheraton brand in the hospitality sector.

Beachcomber

First ‘swim-up’ rooms to launch at Mauritius’ Victoria Beachcomber Resort & Spa

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From January 2018, Beachcomber Hotels & Resorts, the luxury hotel group with eight properties in Mauritius, is set to open a new accommodation concept, Victoria for Two, at the award-winning Victoria Beachcomber Resort & Spa.

Designed exclusively for couples, this new adults-only wing will consist of 40 two-person terraced rooms, each opening onto a private beach and the marine park. Couples can choose between one of two luxurious room categories: 17 Swim-Up Rooms, each with direct access to an 800m2 swimming pool, the first room category of this kind available in Mauritius; or 23 Ocean-View Rooms, each with a magnificent vista over the lagoon.

The new Victoria for Two concept has been designed to meet the needs of a different clientele: guests travelling child-free, wanting accommodation that affords space, peace and quiet, and above all comfort, whilst still offering access to all facilities of the hotel itself.

All 40 rooms in the new adults-only wing will be 50m2 in size, sea-facing and with access onto a superb section of beach. Each air-conditioned room will include a Queen-size bed, private bathroom with bathtub, shower and separate toilets, hair-dryer, security box, telephone, satellite TV, complimentary Wi-Fi access, mini-bar and complimentary tea and coffee.

Bisate Lodge, Rwanda

Wilderness Safaris opens Bisate Lodge, Rwanda

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Wilderness Safaris is proud to announce the opening of Bisate Lodge, situated next to the renowned Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda. Comprising just six spacious forest villas, Bisate offers a luxurious base from which to enjoy an extraordinary gorilla conservation experience and life-changing journey to this beautiful region.

Situated within the amphitheatre of an eroded volcanic cone, the 42-hectare Bisate site is incomparable in terms of its natural splendour, with sweeping views towards the Karisimbi, Bisoke and Mikeno volcanoes. It is close enough to Kinigi (the Volcanoes National Park Headquarters) to be convenient for guests’ morning gorilla treks, but far enough away so as to feel remote and even – as a result of the pioneering onsite indigenous reforestation project – part of the spectacular Park.

“With only six luxurious forest villas, the real generosity of Bisate in the Rwandan context is the amount of private and exclusive space that surrounds the Lodge, sheltering it in a rare natural landscape brimming with Albertine Rift biodiversity and beauty”, said Wilderness Safaris COO, Grant Woodrow. Each spacious forest villa comprises a generous yet intimate combination of bedroom, reception area and bathroom, all warmed by a central fireplace and with breathtaking views out across a private deck towards Mount Bisoke.

Bisate Lodge, RwandaBisate’s sophisticated architectural and interior design is rooted in Rwandan building tradition as exemplified in the design of the Royal Palace of the traditional monarch. This spherical, thatched structure echoes the thousands of hills that dot the Rwandan landscape, while the richly-detailed interiors exhibit surfaces and screens made from a variety of woven materials with strong resonance in Rwandan culture. Various interior design elements are drawn from aspects of the Rwandan lifestyle, particularly the colourful textiles and use of texture, such as the emerald-green colour in the textiles and chandeliers that is reminiscent of the verdant greens of the rainforests, as well as the vibrant markets that dot the villages throughout the country. Many of the furnishings are decorated using “imigongo”, an art form unique to Rwanda.

As a Wilderness Safaris Premier camp, the overall design concept for Bisate is based on the principle that ‘purpose is the new luxury’, with the vision being to create a world-class venture that will make a dramatic and far-reaching positive impact on more than ‘just’ the mountain gorilla. The whole Bisate experience is based around Wilderness Safaris 4Cs sustainability ethos of Commerce, Community, Culture and Conservation. Its pioneering reforestation project, which has already seen nearly 15 000 indigenous trees planted to date, community engagement, cultural appropriateness and exposure, eco-friendly operational systems and more will take guests beyond the ‘gorilla express’ and enrich their experience in this inspiring country.

“Since 2009 we have contemplated how our ecotourism model could contribute to the conservation of the Virunga Massif ecosystem and an iconic endangered species like the mountain gorilla. When we made the decision to invest in Rwanda, the last thing we intended to do was just to build a boutique lodge and sell gorilla treks”, Woodrow added. “We wanted to ensure that our brand of responsible ecotourism made a real difference to both rural Rwandan people and biodiversity conservation. As such, we hope that Bisate will exceed our guests’ expectations, and that together we will be able to make a dramatic and far-reaching impact on not just a Critically Endangered species like the mountain gorilla, but also the entire ecosystem of the Virunga Massif and the rural people living adjacent to it”.

Areen

Project Preview: Areen Design – twin win in Nairobi

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Areen Design’s award-winning hospitality division has been working on two new hotels in Nairobi, both under Marriott’s Four Points by Sheraton brand.

At Nairobi’s international airport, the new 172 room hotel is scheduled to open later in the year and is expected to set a benchmark of contemporary design, with all the quality and functionality expected by international travellers and residents alike.

Areen Design is responsible for the concept design of all the public areas, including a reception with a double height feature wall, the Lobby Café with a display that changes from day to night and the rooftop pool with views out towards Nairobi National Park.

The second project, located within the bustling hub of Hurlingham in Nairobi has just opened, and represented a different challenge. Formerly a Best Western Premier, this hotel was converted to a Four Points by Sheraton property requiring an interior design approach which preserved successful elements, but brought the design in-line with Marriott’s expectations, ensuring it now operates as a leading business hotel. Guests are already enjoying the same high level of finishes as planned for the airport hotel including a full redesign of the reception, with a new Lobby Café.

Areen DesignVivek Mathur, General Manager, Four Points by Sheraton Nairobi Hurlingham comments:. “Areen Design’s concepts have dramatically improved the hotel space with a dynamic new addition to our Food and Beverage offering. The new lobby feels so much more spacious with sit down check-in facility for our SPG guests. An upgrade of the all-day dining restaurant Pablo’s is also currently underway.” He continues: “Whilst the delivery programme was undoubtedly demanding, by working closely with the Areen Design team, our deadlines were all met. This close working relationship is essential and has also led to the team now working with us on our airport project. That says it all.”

Andrew Linwood, Head of Hospitality Design, Areen Design, comments: “With innovation being a key part of the Four Points by Sheraton offer, we want guests in both hotel projects in Nairobi to appreciate the quality and creativity of our interiors, whilst also respecting the culture and heritage of the locality. This has become a familiar challenge for us and we look forward to many more.”

Steigenberger Alcazar-Sharm El Sheikh opened its doors

Steigenberger Alcazar-Sharm El Sheikh opened its doors

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The Steigenberger Alcazar-Sharm El Sheikh in Egypt, a new built five-star resort located in the Nabq Bay directly on the Red Sea coast, opened for business this week.

Each of the 610 luxurious rooms is at least 46 square metres in size, 99 of them are swim up rooms with direct access to the pool. Twelve Junior Suites and two villas equipped with private pools offer even more generously proportioned accommodation.

Expansive gardens provide plenty of green spaces as well as containing three public pools and two for kids. Guests will also enjoy exclusive use of a 3000 square metre private beach to soak up the sun and the sea. The diverse underwater world surrounding the Sinai Peninsula is an ideal place to go diving and snorkelling.

The hotel offers numerous additional sporting facilities, both water and land based, as well as housing a spa and a gym. Five à la carte restaurants offer Asian, Lebanese and Italian specialities as well as grill- and seafood and several bars cater to all the guests’ culinary needs: An Ultra all-inclusive package is also available. A modern conferencing area is able to stage meetings and events of every kind.

One particularly attractive feature of the resort is its close proximity to Sharm El Sheikh Airport, which can, for example, be accessed in only ten minutes via the hotel’s dedicated shuttle bus service. The Steigenberger Alcazar-Sharm el Sheikh Resort is already the eleventh hotel which Deutsche Hospitality has launched in Egypt, and CEO Puneet Chhatwal is delighted with this new addition to the company’s portfolio: “The Steigenberger Alcazar-Sharm El Sheikh is a beautifully appointed and highly modern resort in an extremely desirable holiday region. Sharm El Sheikh represents a considerable enrichment of our hotel portfolio and is a facility which is bound to fire the enthusiasm of our guests.”

Treetop Hotels - Keemala – Phuket, Thailand

Guest Blog: Why treetop hotels are growing in popularity…

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Travellers can now live the luxury treetop dream with a little help from the Hotels.com. Loved by guests awards and the millions of genuine guest reviews they’re based on, ten amazing hotels have been crowned winners in the brand new Best for Treehouse category, and they’ll be climbing straight to the top of your wish list.

Today’s travellers are aiming high and dreaming of a vacation in the sky, as the travel experts at Hotels.com saw almost a 30% increase in demand for treehouse hotels last year. With treetop luxury (33%) proving more popular than sleeping in a spaceship (28%), checking into a hotel made of gold (24%) or bedding down in an ice hotel (23%), Hotels.com reveals the best-of-the-best Loved by Guests award winners…

Arkansas Adventure
Eureka Springs Treehouses—Eureka Springs, Arkansas
Review Rating: 4.8 out of 5 on Hotels.comIf you’re looking for a secluded romantic getaway, this is the place to be. This resort is a hidden gem with quirky features and fun at every turn. The treehouses are held on cedar logs, surrounded by beautiful greenery and destination themed, so guests can stay in Venice, New York, Santa Fe and Paris. If treetop life isn’t for you then fear not, as Eureka Springs also offers stays in fairytale castles, with hidden passages and Jacuzzi towers, and guests can even check in to enchanting hobbit caves that are like magical cocoons. Rate Available upon request.


Beachside Bungalows Among the Trees

Azulik – Adults Eco-Resort & Maya Spa – Tulum, Mexico
Bring out your inner child and swing above the turquoise sea of Tulum, all from the privacy of your own villa at this luxurious beach hideaway. Azulik is a celeb spotting hotspot, but its biggest draw is the stunning villas. These wooden-crafted abodes feature spectacular water views, outdoor mosaic bathtubs and a deck with a swing and hanging Balinese bed. Guests can enjoy fine dining and entertainment with a 12 course tasting menu at the Kin Toh restaurant that’s built 12 meters above the Mayan jungle, all while watching artistic performances.

Treetop hotelsFloat Among the Clouds
Keemala – Phuket, Thailand (main picture)
Fancy taking a dip on the edge of a cliff in your own 30-meter infinity pool? You can do just that at these gorgeous Bird’s Nest treehouses on stilts, located just 40 minutes from Phuket. Keemala is an enchanting evergreen wonderland, and these unique villas feature giant monsoon showers and freestanding bathtubs that have amazing views over the rainforest. Beach luxury, spa treatments, sunset cocktails and champagne picnics are also all on the menu at Keemala.

Style in the Sky
Tree Hotel – Harads, Sweden
The Tree Hotel has upped the style stakes with its quirky, custom designed eco-treehouses. Imagine sleeping amongst the tall pine trees in a Mirror Cube, a Bird’s Nest or a UFO! Treehouses come complete with their own private giant hammock, so you can stargaze and seek out the Northern Lights. Guests can relax in the tree sauna, enjoy some authentic homemade Swedish food or zip line over Swedish Lapland and the Lule River for some exclusive and spectacular views.

Treetop hotels

Breath-Taking African views
Tsala Treetop Lodge – Plettenberg Bay, South Africa
High in the treetops, this hotel hideaway is set in the wilds of South Africa, in the heart of the Garden Route. With breath-taking views and a mystical charm, the treetop suites are pure luxury. They come complete with their own private spa bathrooms, fireplaces and even infinity pools. The hotel also offers a unique dining experience from a special dining deck suspended above the forest floor, where you can enjoy a sumptuous breakfast or a lazy lunch.

Treetop hotelsTreetop Tranquillity
Silky Oaks Lodge – Mossman, Australia
Imagine a rejuvenating spa experience in one of the world’s most ancient rainforests. Located along the Mossman River, Daintree Rainforest and Great Barrier Reef – there are rainforest walks, crystal waterholes and a billabong beach, all at your disposal at this hotel. The luxury treehouses have large verandas and hammocks, perfect for unwinding in the heart of the rainforest canopy. Guests can also enjoy dinner in their open-sided treehouse restaurant.

Treetop hotels

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Soori Bali

LHW introduces eight new members to its ‘curated collection’

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The Leading Hotels of the World is pleased to announce the addition of eight new members to its curated collection of over 375 luxury hotels. From the blue water and pristine white sand of Bali’s south-western coast, to the snow-capped peaks of the French Alps, each new member is as authentic and vibrant as the location in which it is found.

“For over 80 years The Leading Hotels of the World has been committed to providing unforgettable and authentic travel experiences,” said Deniz Omurgonulsen, Vice President, Membership, The Leading Hotels of the World. “We are pleased to welcome these eight distinguished new members that will offer our guests an array of unique travel experiences and enhance our portfolio’s global offerings.”

Sun Gardens Dubrovnik, Croatia
With its enviable seafront location and extraordinary Mediterranean gardens, Sun Gardens Dubrovnik, a modern beachfront luxury resort on the Dalmatian Coast, offers understated elegance and supreme comfort. Located in Orašac, seven miles from the UNESCO World Heritage City of Dubrovnik Old Town, Sun Gardens Dubrovnik features 177 hotel guestrooms, all of which boast amazing views from a private terrace or balcony, and 231 one, two or three-bedroom fully appointed suites and residences. Resort facilities include a private beach, three freshwater pools, a world-class spa, sports center, retail shopping area, conference facilities and a broad range of gastronomic offerings in 16 restaurants and bars.

Sun Gardens Dubrovnik Joins The Leading Hotels of the WorldAn uncommon experience not to miss: Guests can make the most of the “al fresco” way of life by renting bicycles from the resort’s sports center and discovering Dubrovnik’s Old Town, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, or cruising the stunning Elaphite Archipelago. If guests prefer a guided bike tour, Sun Gardens Dubrovnik can arrange specialty sightseeing excursions with a private guide.

Le K2 Altitude, Courchevel, France
Situated in an intimate village at the base of the French Alps, the exclusive Le K2 Altitude is made up of a series of eight luxurious, interconnected chalets. Each of the 14 rooms and 18 suites is unique in its own right, appointed with handcrafted furnishings from Italy, Portugal and Spain. With direct access to the Pralong slope, guests can conquer Les Trois Vallées, the kingdom of skiing with 370 miles of marked runs. In addition, the hotels plays host to incredible gourmet and Mediterranean dining options, including a two-Michelin star restaurant, a renowned spa and a kid’s club for both children and teens.

Courchevel Le Altitude K2An uncommon experience not to miss: With the hotel’s incredible location directly on Les Trois Vallées, the largest ski area in the world, guests can enjoy the best of the slopes with guidance from Le K2 Altitude’s experienced concierge team. Ready to make winter wonderland dreams a reality, they will help guests suit up in their on-site ski shop and arrange private ski lessons, heli-skiing, snowmobiling excursions and much more.

Hotel Camiral at PGA Catalunya Resort, Catalunya, Spain
Set in the beautiful Catalonian countryside, Hotel Camiral is less than an hour from Barcelona, and within easy reach of the beaches of the Costa Brava, and the historic town of Girona. The hotel is the ideal location for sports enthusiasts, culture lovers, foodies and their families. Panoramic views over two award-winning championship golf courses, make Hotel Camiral a golf lover’s dream vacation. For adventure seekers, Hotel Camiral can arrange everything from sky diving over Empordá to snorkeling in Costa Brava. Designed by the internationally renowned talents Lázaro Rosa-Violán, Hotel Camiral provides the perfect combination of contemporary architecture, striking urban-chic interiors, generous space, comfort and luxury. A range of dining options includes a mix of Mediterranean and international cuisine with a focus on Catalán specialties, created from locally sourced produce, and accompanied by regional wines.

PGA Catalunya - Hotel CamiraAn uncommon experience not to miss: Play golf like a Tour Pro on one of Europe’s most famous courses, PGA Catalunya Resort’s Stadium Course. Guests can learn how to best approach each hole with resident expert Enric, who will guide them through the course, providing the knowledge and tools to make it the perfect round.

Soori Bali, Kerambitan, Indonesia
Located on Bali’s south-western coast, Soori Bali sits within the picturesque Tabanan Regency, where volcanic mountains perch above lush rice fields and remarkable black sand beaches. Designed, owned and operated by renowned architect Soo K. Chan, the resort features 37 mountain, beach and ocean villas, each with its own private infinity pool and sweeping vistas. Also, included within the resort’s offerings are three dining options, all of which use fresh produce from nearby farms and spices from the resort’s own garden, as well as a full-service Soori Spa, infinity pool, bar, 24-hour gym and library.

Soori BaliAn uncommon experience not to miss: Guests can take advantage of ‘Journeys by Soori,’ a series of customized experiences exclusively offered at the resort. Travelers can choose between half or full day bespoke experiences which focuses on spa and wellness, Balinese culture, arts and crafts or environmentally conscious excursions.

Thanda Island, Shungimbili Island, District of Mafia Island, Tanzania
Thanda Island, considered one of the most exclusive tropical getaways in the world, is located between the mainland of Tanzania and Mafia Island. Surrounded by its own coral reefs, which protect it from heavy storms, the Island features only one private villa with five suites and two rustic Tanzanian Bandas. With ample sunshine, the Island is powered by sustainable energy with no negative environmental footprint, and is a sanctuary to enjoy in complete seclusion with family and friends. On the Island, guests can rejuvenate and enjoy a variety of water sports or island activities as they explore this remarkable destination, where shades of turquoise infuse the days, and tropical spices the nights.

tHANDIAn uncommon experience not to miss: Located in Tanzania’s Shungimbili Island Marine Reserve, marine conservation is at the core of the Island’s offering. Through ongoing partnerships with the Tanzanian Marine Parks and the leading NGO, Sea Sense, guests are encouraged to get involved in a range of educational projects, such as marine wildlife monitoring or awareness workshops with villagers on neighboring Mafia Island.

Alvear Icon Hotel & Residences, Buenos Aires, Argentina
Located on the banks of the Río de la Plata River, the Alvear Icon Hotel & Residences is a striking, futuristic building that is a focal point of the dynamic Puerto Madero neighborhood. The hotel features 159 luxurious rooms and suites decorated in a sleek, modern style, and state-of-the-art technology. With an eye towards design, a line of contemporary furniture was developed exclusively for the hotel and the rooms are appointed with arabescato marble walls and warm-toned French and Italian fabrics. The property’s eight dining venues are a culinary enthusiast’s playground, from Sunny Yard, perfect for a relaxing breakfast set in the hotel’s garden Courtyard, to Mike & Co., a kosher dairy bar where guests can enjoy childhood- inspired treats. The property also boasts two pools, a spectacular spa & fitness center, 8 meeting rooms and two ballrooms that can accommodate up to 1,200 attendees.

An uncommon experience not to miss: It’s all about dining with a view at the Alvear Icon Hotel & Residences. Start the evening with bold drinks and good music at the Crystal Bar, located on the 32nd floor of the hotel. Follow drinks with dinner at The Grand View restaurant on the 31st floor, an open-kitchen concept design with magnificent city skyline and river views from its sprawling windows.

UNICO 20°87°, Riviera Maya, Mexico
For an unmatched adults-only Mexico vacation, look no further than UNICO 20°87° Hotel Riviera Maya. Set on the stunning white beaches of the Riviera Maya, it offers guests the opportunity to immerse themselves in the culture of the region through dining, décor and activities. Five unique dining options range from elevated fine cuisine, to a casual café setting, each offering a menu inspired by ingredients sourced from nearby producers. An extensive, expertly curated selection of spirits can be found at each bar and restaurant, accented by a mixologist-driven cocktail program. Travelers can relax in modern Mexico luxury, in UNICO 20°87°’s 408 rooms and 39 suites, all designed with indigenous inspiration and handcrafted details. In addition, there are three pools; Esencia Wellness, a holistic spa offering signature treatments; a full-service beauty salon and barber shop, and a state-of-the-art fitness facility. Select spa treatments, golf and tours are included in the guest’s stay. Exciting pop-up events, such as mezcal tastings, art competitions and acoustic sunset jams, insert a touch of spontaneity into travelers’ experiences.

An uncommon experience not to miss: UNICO 20°87°’s rotating chef restaurant, Cueva Siete, is sure to surprise guests with exciting tastes throughout the year. Cueva Siete’s current partnership with celebrity chef Christian Bravo, a competitor on Top Chef Mexico, showcases a gourmet Mexican menu drawing inspiration from the region and local ingredients.

Soon to open:
Palácio Tangará, São Paulo, Brazil

Situated in the heart of São Paulo, adjacent to a lush tropical park, Palácio Tangará offers an unparalleled and exceptional location in the desirable Panamby Morumbi neighborhood, just minutes from some of the city’s most notable attractions. Palácio Tangará’s 141 spacious guestrooms, including 59 suites, offer beautiful views overlooking the rich flora and fauna of Burle Marx Park. Outstanding dining experiences, led by legendary chef-restaurateur Jean-Georges Vongerichten, include signature Restaurant Tangará Jean-Georges, a chef’s table, and a bar. In addition, the hotel boasts state-of-the-art recreational facilities including the Spa by Sisley Paris, heated indoor and outdoor pools and a kids’ club. Palácio Tangará will begin welcoming guests in June.

An uncommon experience not to miss: Guests at Palácio Tangará can enjoy stunning views of the famous Burle Marx Park right from the comfort of the hotel. The Park is home to a wide variety of rare tropical birds, butterflies and flora, which can be admired from Palácio Tangará’s private terraces while enjoying fine dining or simply lounging by the pool. Following some R&R, guests can take a shady stroll through The Park, to experience the flavor of Brazil’s tropical forests – look out for opossums and white tufted marmosets.

Reopening after renovations:
Villa Del Parco & Spa, Forte Village Resort, Sardinia, Italy

Sardinia’s Villa Del Parco & Spa, Forte Village Resort will re-open for the 2017 season in late May, following a complete restructuring and renovation. The EUR 5 million investment includes the 25 Luxury Rooms of the main building, the external facades, public areas, reception and bar patio, plus a new all-weather covering for the Thalasso pools of the spa.

Leeu Collection to open first London property

Leeu Collection to open first London property in 2019

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Leeu Collection has acquired its first London property, due to open in 2019.

The company now owns 55 Newman Street, Fitzrovia which is a former office building. Leeu will be transforming the offices into a 100-room luxury hotel.

Carrie Wicks, CEO of Leeu Collection, said: “The purchase of a London property is a very exciting development for [us], as it marks the first acquisition for the group in a major city, but it will certainly not be the last.

“Leeu Collection continues to seek hotel opportunities in key locations around the world that reflect the Leeu ethos of creating unrivalled escapes for discerning guests.”

Leeu Collection owns three five-star boutique accommodations in South Africa and the firm’s first addition outside of South Africa was the 30-room Linthwaite House in the Lake District. The second was Leeu Villa Querce in Florence, Italy, a 70-plus room luxury hotel and gardens due to open in 2021.

Swiss-Belhotel continues expansion in Egypt

Swiss-Belhotel International continues expansion in Egypt

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Global hotel management company, Swiss-Belhotel International (SBI), has announced its further expansion in Egypt with the signing of Swiss-Belresort Marseilia Beach 4 on the country’s north coast.

The agreement was formalised at the Arabian Travel Market in Dubai in the presence Mohamed Yehia Rashed, Minister of Tourism for Egypt.

Swiss-Belresort Marseilia Beach 4 is the second property owned by Marseilia Egyptian Gulf Real Estate Investment that will be managed by Swiss-Belhotel International.

With a robust pipeline of more than 2,296 rooms in development across four hotels, Egypt has emerged as a key growth market for Swiss-Belhotel International.

Boasting 150 well-appointed rooms, Swiss-Belresort Marseilia Beach 4 enjoys an idyllic location in Sidi Abd El Rahman Bay which is considered to be one of the most beautiful areas in Egypt. The hotel is being developed as an upscale 4-star resort to offer guests exceptional recreational facilities and varied dining options.

swiss-belhotel.com

Rotana at ATM 2017

ATM 2017: Rotana showcasing its upcoming properties

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Rotana, one of the leading hotel management companies in the region with hotels across the Middle East, Africa and Turkey, will showcase its key upcoming properties at Arabian Travel Market (ATM) 2017, the region’s premier travel and tourism event which takes place in Dubai from 24 – 27 April.

Rotana is preparing to open 17 new properties before the end of 2018, adding more than 4,500 keys to the company’s existing room count.

Key Rotana properties that will be on display at the high-profile exhibition includes Saadiyat Rotana Resort & Villas – a luxurious five-star hotel in Abu Dhabi set to open in the fourth quarter of 2017 on Saadiyat Beach. Featuring 354 upscale rooms and suites in addition to 13 private beach villas, the luxury resort will be the 15th Rotana property to open in the capital of the UAE.

Rotana - ATM 2017Visitors to the Rotana stand at ATM 2017 will also receive a glimpse into the traditional charm of The Cove Rotana Resort, a spectacular property located on an idyllic water inlet on the Ras Al Khaimah beachfront. Currently undergoing large-scale refurbishment, the Extension is due to open its doors in Q2 2017.

Rotana recently made its long-awaited debut in Africa with the opening of the five-star Kin Plaza Arjaan by Rotana in Kinshasa, capital of the Democratic Republic of Congo. Africa is a key focus market for Rotana and the company currently has a number of projects under various stages of development across the continent including Marrakesh, Luanda, Nouakchott, Dar es Salaam and Lagos.

Rotana is also looking to strengthen its presence in Turkey by adding two more hotels in Istanbul. With the scheduled opening of the inter-connected properties under “Centro by Rotana” and “Arjaan hotel apartments by Rotana” brands in Q4 2017, the company will add a combined 305 rooms to its inventory while taking its total number of operating properties in Turkey to four hotels.

Rotana - ATM 2017Even as it pushes into new markets and keeps extending its geographical reach, Rotana continues with its aggressive expansion plans in the GCC, with a total of four new hotels set to open in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia this year alone – adding 888 keys to the company’s existing supply of 969 rooms in the Kingdom – and two hotels to open in Qatar by 2019.

In the coming two years, Rotana will open six properties in its home market of UAE, where the hospitality industry is projected to sustain its steady upward trajectory despite global challenges, with both Dubai and Abu Dhabi set to witness an increase in visitor numbers. Leisure travellers are expected to account for a 60% share of total visitor arrivals in Dubai in 2017, with business travellers making up the remaining 40%, while the comparative ratio for Abu Dhabi is projected at 60% business travellers vs. 40% leisure travellers. Rotana has been aggressively reaching out to new markets such as Poland and the Czech Republic to support the leisure segment in the UAE.

In total, Rotana will open 12 new hotels in 2017, and five more in 2018. Property opening in Q2 2017 includes Erbil Arjaan by Rotana, Kurdistan, Iraq (168 keys). Those launching in Q3 2017 include: Centro Waha, Riyadh, KSA (290 keys); Sundus Rotana, Muscat, Oman (215 keys); Pearl Rotana, Abu Dhabi, UAE (315 keys); Centro Salama, Jeddah, KSA (189 keys), and Al Bandar Rotana and Al Bandar Arjaan by Rotana, Dubai, UAE (280 keys). In Q4 2017, Rotana will be launching: Centro Istanbul and Arjaan Istanbul by Rotana, Istanbul, Turkey (305 keys); Centro Olaya, Riyadh, KSA (156 keys); Centro Corniche, Al Khobar, KSA (253 keys); Saadiyat Rotana Resort & Villas, Abu Dhabi, UAE (340 keys). This will be followed by five openings in 2018: Sulaymaniyah Rotana, Kurdistan, Iraq (240 keys); Rayhaan Imam Reza by Rotana, Mashhad, Iran (272 keys); Al Jaddaf Rotana in Dubai, UAE (338 keys), Sundus Arjaan by Rotana, Muscat, Oman (102 keys), and Beach Arjaan by Rotana, Abu Dhabi, UAE (326 keys).

Louvre Hotels

ATM 2017: Louvre Hotels announces future growth strategy

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Louvre Hotels Group, one of the largest hospitality groups in the world, continues to shape its wider growth strategy in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA).

Louvre Hotels is looking ahead to the opening of 10 new hotels in MENA by the end of 2017, which will add 1,600 keys to its current room inventory, exceeding the 11,000 milestone. In 2016 alone, Louvre launched 12 properties in key markets including UAE, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Algeria, Tunisia and Lebanon and expects to open no less than 10 hotels per year leading up to 2020 and beyond.

Louvre Hotels has a collection of six brands including Première Classe, Campanile, Kyriad, Tulip Inn, Golden Tulip and Royal Tulip. In 2017, the group is confirmed to open 10 new hotels ranging from upscale five star to midscale three stars such as :

– Royal Tulip The Act, Sharjah, UAE (180 rooms): Opened in January 2017
– Golden Tulip Ruwi Muscat, Oman (118 rooms): Opening Q2, 2017
– Tulip Inn Downtown Muscat, Oman (180 rooms): Opening Q2 2017
– Golden Tulip Sousse Palace Hotel & Spa Tunisia (250 rooms): Opening Q2, 2017
– Golden Tulip Regency Monastir Hotel & Spa Tunisia (200 rooms): Opening Q2, 20170
– Golden Tulip Palmeraie Tozeur Tunisia (100 rooms): Opening Q2, 2017
– Golden Tulip Doha, Qatar (198 rooms): Opening Q3, 2017
– Tulip Inn Algier Airport, Algeria (91 rooms): Opening Q3, 2017
– Tulip Inn Modon Jeddah, KSA (123 rooms): Opening Q4,2017
– Royal Tulip Korbous Resort Tunisia (167 rooms): Opening Q4, 2017

Louvre HotelsIn keeping with the evolving needs of guests seeking affordable yet modern and fresh hospitality options, the group’s long-term expansion plans in the region will additionally see the opening of budget and midscale properties under its Campanile and Première Classe brands. Such focus on the budget friendly segment will add 40 hotels and 5,000 additional rooms to its existing portfolio by 2020 – reinforcing the group’s position as one of the largest hospitality players in the MENA region with a total room inventory of 20,000.

“Our commitment to actively expanding our footprint in the Middle East and North Africa region underscores the importance we believe the region holds in our future growth as one of the leading hospitality brands. Owing to its strategic geographic location as a trade corridor that connects the East and West, the region holds tremendous potential for increased business and leisure-related travel and tourism prospects from around the globe. Therefore, we see the region as one of our strongest growth markets that will continue to play a significant role in our expansion plans in the years to come,” said Amine E. Moukarzel, President, Louvre Hotels Group MENA.

“With the evolution of customer needs and their emphasis on value driven experiential travel, our mid market brands are a natural fit for todays traveler. We have placed experiences at the core of our global strategy and plans are already in place to introduce Campanile, our economy lifestyle brand in the region; with the first property under this modern fresh mid-market brand set to open in Kuwait by late 2019. In addition, we are looking ahead to bringing our mid-scale three to four-star brand, Kyriad, to the UAE and Oman with four properties planned across Dubai and Salalah,” Moukarzel added.

Earlier this year, Louvre Hotels Group also cemented its position in the Asian hospitality sector by becoming the leading hotel group in India with over 90 hotels under its stewardship following the group’s acquisition of a majority stake in Sarovar Hotels, the largest independent Indian hotel chain in terms of hotels and presence.

“Our continued expansion in MENA along with our strengths in Asia as the largest players in India and China enables us to build one of the strongest networks of hotels and brands across key business and leisure destinations around the world. Through our fast-expanding international footprint, we look forward to giving more choice to our growing community of loyal global consumers while further strengthening our focus on the Middle East as the central hub connecting our guests from the East and West.” he concluded.

www.louvrehotels.com/en

Marriott-Starwood merger

Marriott International reveals future of brand portfolio across Middle East and Africa

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Marriott International continues to strengthen its position across the Middle East and Africa (MEA) region, with projected growth across 38 countries and 150,000 rooms, operational and pipeline, by 2022. The new additions will bolster Marriott International’s existing collection of 247 hotels and 54,000 rooms in 30 countries across the region.

The completion of the acquisition of Starwood Hotels & Resorts in 2016 now positions Marriott International as the world’s leading hotel company. The company now offers the broadest portfolio of brands in the MEA region, combining Starwood’s leading lifestyle brands and international footprint with Marriott International’s strong presence in the luxury and select-service tiers, as well as the convention and resort segment. Each brand has been classified into luxury, premium or select categories, with the luxury brands forming a standalone group.

The recently created luxury brands group currently features six brands across the region, including JW Marriott, The Ritz-Carlton, The Ritz-Carlton Reserve, St. Regis, W Hotels, and The Luxury Collection. A remarkable 15 new luxury brand properties with 3,500 rooms are set to open across the region between now and the end of 2018.

Further adding and strengthening to this luxury lifestyle offering, Marriott’s scheduled 2017 openings include the 200-room Bulgari Resort and Residences Dubai, 257-room Edition Abu Dhabi, 280-room W Amman Hotel in Jordan, and The St. Regis Cairo, all set to open by the fourth quarter of this year. Globally, The Ritz-Carlton, St. Regis and JW Marriott brands are classified as ‘classic luxury’, while the other five brands fall under ‘distinctive luxury’.

Alex Kyriakidis, President and Managing Director of Marriott International, Middle East & Africa, said: “The guests we see visiting our hotels today are looking for authenticity and personalization within their experiences. The unmatched breadth and depth of Marriott International’s brand portfolio uniquely positions us to cater to the increased demand of the rapidly-expanding cadre of affluent travellers.”

“With luxury travel continuing to grow across the region, we see a steep growth curve at the high-end and have a world-class, dedicated luxury structure in place to nurture and strengthen this coveted portfolio of eight diverse luxury brands. Our aim is to ensure that our award-winning brands continue to flourish while safe-guarding the uniqueness and prestige of our luxury brands as we carefully grow them across the Middle East and Africa.”

Traveling well beyond tried and true locations, to destinations from Cape Town to Abu Dhabi, and all points in between, travellers look to Marriott International for authentic experiences whether it’s business or luxury travel. The unmatched variety and regional nature of these hotels means Marriott International can offer truly differentiated offerings – from The Nile Ritz Carlton in Cairo to Marriott Hotel Al Forsan Abu Dhabi which openedin March, 2017.

Marriott has carefully defined each of its brands and their distinct offerings under luxury, premium and select to offer different experiences to guests. Premium brands including Marriott Hotels and Sheraton anchor the portfolio and provide a broad array of choices across the Middle East and Africa for business and leisure travel while evolving lifestyle brands such as Westin, Autograph Collection and Renaissance occupy the distinctive premium brand category.

New, fun, accessible experiences at Courtyard Hotels, Four Points, Protea, AC Hotels, and Aloft Hotels add to the select portfolio, ensuring Marriott International guests have whatever they want, wherever they are in the world.

“When we think about any of our brands, we start with the consumer and look at what they value,” added Kyriakidis. “With Marriott Hotels, this consumer is really looking for experiences that keep the mind balanced, sharp and inspired. And for Aloft Hotels, it’s really about urban-inspired spaces and vibrant social scenes for the next-generation traveller.”

Marriott International continues to strengthen its position across the Middle East and Africa region, with a remarkable 29 new properties set to open in 2017 with a total of 6815 rooms. The openings will see the hotel operator expand its Middle East footprint by 15 properties across the UAE, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Jordan, including the Bulgari, Renaissance, The Ritz-Carlton, Marriott Hotels, Aloft and Four Points by Sheraton brands.

The company has also announced further growth to its African pipeline with the opening of 14 new properties under the Courtyard by Marriott, JW by Marriott, Protea Hotels by Marriott, The Ritz-Carlton, Four Points by Sheraton, and Element brands.

At present, Marriott International is building bridges among its three loyalty programmes; Marriott Rewards, SPG and The Ritz-Carlton Rewards combined now counts for 100 Million members. On the day the acquisition closed, members were immediately able to link their accounts to have their status matched and transfer an unlimited amount of points among the programs, resulting in all members now having more access to more diversity in more destinations.

Wilderness Safaris Relaunches Little Vumbura

Wilderness Safaris relaunches Little Vumbura in Botswana

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After an extensive refurbishment and partial rebuild, Little Vumbura Camp has reopened in Wilderness Safaris’ private Vumbura Concession in the Okavango Delta, Botswana. With only six intimate tented suites, the camp offers a true Delta-island experience, complete with an array of both land and water-based safari activities.

“We are thrilled about Little Vumbura’s refreshed look and feel, with the tents now boasting spacious rooms that lead onto a lounge area, having increased in size by 30%. They also feature large windows that bring the feel of the outdoors within so that guests can enjoy the beauty of the bush whilst also relaxing in their suite. The family tent has also increased by 30% and the intimate nature of the camp remains the perfect choice for exclusive family safaris”, said Vumbura Concession Manager, Nick Leuenberger.

Wilderness Safaris Relaunches Little VumburaOther improvements to the camp include the extension of the bar area, which now includes a circular bar with a lot more space for guests to enjoy a range of cocktails or their favourite drink whilst watching the sunset. The new shaded pergola, situated between the dining and lounge area, is ideal for afternoon tea or midday relaxation and also provides another scenic venue choice for communal dining. The main dining area now features new decking and free-standing furniture. The new fire deck will be used for pre-dinner drinks, offering the most incredible 360-degree views of the concession.

“One of the things that makes Little Vumbura special is the unique arrival into camp by boat which can only be experienced in a true year-round water camp in the Okavango Delta”, added Leuenberger. “Little Vumbura really does tick all the boxes in terms of exceptional wildlife viewing in addition to tranquil water experiences. You can begin your day by floating serenely through the waterlilies on a silent mokoro and end it on an expertly-guided game drive, watching a herd of 1000 buffalo against a golden African sunset”.

Wilderness Safaris Relaunches Little VumburaThe rebuild of Little Vumbura follows the extensive refurbishment of the main area of Vumbura South Camp in October last year. North Camp, South Camp and Little Vumbura all provide the perfect base from which to explore the diverse Vumbura Concession, renowned for its variety of activities on offer – on land, on water and by air! “It is a “hybrid” concession with the best of both worlds – permanent swamps, dry woodland and everything in between. It is the only Wilderness concession in Botswana that offers hot-air ballooning safaris – an absolute must-do bucket list experience”, Leuenberger concluded.

Relais & Chateuax

Relais & Châteaux announces three new members

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Relais & Châteaux is established around the globe, from the Napa Valley vineyards and French Provence to the beaches of the Indian Ocean.

Its ambition is to be much more than an association – to champion the principle of sharing the arts of gracious living and culinary expertise, and preserving local culture and diversity. It is this spirit – the celebration of both L‘Art de Vivre and joie de vivre – that lies at the centre of Relais & Châteaux that separates it from the rest.

From the United States, Colombia, France, Denmark, Switzerland, Netherlands, Italy, Greece, Spain, China, Japan and New Zealand, these are the latest establishments to carry Relais & Châteaux’s indistinguishable golden fleur de lys serve as the living embodiment of their locale and its history, environment and culture; respect the people who participate in the life and culture of their region; share a passion that endures from the head of the establishment through to the Maîtres de Maison and staff; and are committed to building on the legacy of hospitality and cuisine.

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Zanzibar White Sand Luxury, Zanzibar (Tanzania)
Located on Zanzibar’s Eastern coast, Zanzibar White Sand Luxury Villas & Spa is spread over four hectares of tropical gardens and 200 meters of beachfront on Paje beach. The property was designed in a spirit of sustainability. The architecture was designed to be unobtrusive to the flora and fauna; the hotel is powered by wind and solar energy thanks to solar panels and a wind turbine, recycles and grows organic fruits and vegetables onsite. The restaurant serves a cuisine which blends local Zanzibari inspired dishes with international accents and flavours. The spa is set in a tropical garden and offers a variety of treatments and massages. Numerous activities are available onsite, including snorkelling, fishing, cycling, tours and excursions. The property has its own water sports centre.

Zanzibar

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Gabriel Kreuther, New York (United States)
Owners: Gabriel Kreuther and Eben Dorros
Chef: Gabriel Kreuther

Located near Bryant Park, Gabriel Kreuther is the newly opened eponymous restaurant of Chef Gabriel Kreuther. The interior design blends tradition and modernity, featuring cream leather seating, timber columns and a glass-walled display kitchen. The menu reflects Kreuther’s culinary journey, from his childhood in Alsace to his experiences in first-class New York restaurants. Signature dishes include foie gras terrine with black truffle praline, cardamom-roasted Alaskan king crab, and a tableside-torched crème brulée frappée. Wine pairings are selected from the 42-page wine list.

Relais

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The Ring, Vienna (Austria)
Maître de Maison: Eugenio Rigo

The Ring is situated right in the centre of the historic Viennese Ringstraße Boulevard, 200 metres from the Opera. The 19th century façade as well as historic details, such as the listed elevator, stuccoed walls and old tiling are combined with a more contemporary interior design. The rooms likewise mix contemporary and classic furniture. The spa is located on the 7th floor and offers panoramic views over Vienna’s rooftop. The Eight Restaurant, serves aroma cuisine, featuring a variety of spices and sauces, fresh herbs and ingredients.

www.relaischateaux.com

Zanzibar Amber Resort to change the face of East African tourism

Zanzibar Amber Resort to change the face of East African tourism

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Zanzibar is a cluster of tropical islands nestled in the Indian Ocean off the coast of Tanzania and has a diverse history that underwent Portuguese, Arabic and British control before its independence in 1963.

Today Zanzibar stands to undergo a new transformation, one of both social upliftment together with a mega luxury development and global marketing campaign set to position it firmly on the map as a world leading tropical tourism destination.

The development of Zanzibar Amber Resort, by Pennyroyal Gibraltar Limited will sustainably and economically transform Zanzibar and its community at large

The development of Zanzibar Amber Resort, by Pennyroyal Gibraltar Limited will sustainably and economically transform Zanzibar and its community at large with maximum positive effects, whilst being culturally responsible, socially desirable, ecologically and environmentally friendly. Zanzibar Amber Resort is set to change the face of Tourism in East Africa. With the commissioning of this Luxury tropical resort by Pennyroyal Gibraltar Ltd. the premium hospitality offerings and world-class facilities will benchmark luxury in Africa.

The development of Zanzibar Amber Resort, by Pennyroyal Gibraltar Limited will sustainably and economically transform Zanzibar and its community at large

Appointed across 1520ha of prime Indian Ocean coastline the resort will encompass an unsurpassed variety of hospitality and leisure facilities including, but not limited to: Five world-leading international hotels including the Anantara, Signature Ernie Els Design Golf Course – the first in East Africa (18 hole), Deep water marina, Aqua park for the whole families’ enjoyment, Underwater restaurant, Glamorous Souk, Equestrian centre and International polo club and Super Yacht facility.

The development of Zanzibar Amber Resort, by Pennyroyal Gibraltar Limited will sustainably and economically transform Zanzibar and its community at large

These facilities include:
o 1914 Luxury Villas of 3,4 & 5 bedrooms; 14 designs with swimming pools
o 3440 Luxury & Penthouse Apartments of 1,2,3 & 4 bedrooms
o Shopping mall & commercial retail outlets
o Cafés
o International School – affiliated to premier educational establishment
o Sports centres: football, tennis, and horse riding
o Faith centres for diverse religions, including Mosques and Churches
o The first residential opportunity released to the market will be the luxury apartments, available for pre-sale in the second quarter of 2017.
o Private airport and medical facilities to be built.

As part of the Zanzibar Amber Resort, Pennyroyal Gibraltar has founded a CSR division, ‘Best of Zanzibar’, established for the social upliftment of the local communities. This community CSR initiative is geared towards continuously giving back to the locals of Zanzibar by tending to a variety of community needs such as education, nutrition, water sanitation and job creation. ‘Best of Zanzibar’ aims to assist in developing key skills of the locals for empowered and sustainable futures.

www.zanzibaramberresort.com

EMEA - Hilton's solid numbers in the region

Hilton surpasses 100,000 open hotel rooms in EMEA

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At this year’s International Hotel Investment Forum in Berlin, Hilton has announced that it has passed the milestone of 100,000 rooms trading across its Europe, Middle East & Africa portfolio.

The news comes in a period of unprecedented global growth for the company. In EMEA specifically, this has seen net unit growth of more than 20,000 rooms in the past three years, a trend which is set to continue with close to 40,000 rooms currently under construction and expected to open by the end of 2020.

Patrick Fitzgibbon, senior vice president, development, Europe, Middle East & Africa, Hilton said: “Reaching 100,000 trading rooms is a significant milestone for us as a company, particularly given the quality and breadth of Hilton’s portfolio in the region. Our development journey in EMEA continues to set the pace for the industry – with over 60% of our pipeline rooms already under construction.”

Brand Highlights:
– A burgeoning pipeline is set to double the number of Hampton by Hilton and Hilton Garden Inn hotels over the next three years
– This year has also seen Hilton’s upscale DoubleTree by Hilton brand open its 100th property in the region, (DoubleTree by Hilton Madrid Prado)
– The city of Reykjavik, Iceland became home to the world’s first Canopy by Hilton in 2016
– Curio – a Collection by Hilton has already accumulated 16 trading and pipeline properties in EMEA.

Fitzgibbon added: “In the last decade we have introduced five new brands to the market which have allowed us to kick-start growth in a variety of segments, with our mid-market and economy brands now trading or under development in more than 200 locations. We have also successfully launched our collection brand, Curio, as well as continuing to build our core Hilton brand and luxury offering. Owners of our hotels were rewarded with the highest occupancy rates recorded in our history across the globe last year, 2017 is set to be another milestone year for Hilton in EMEA.”

Hilton’s EMEA growth in numbers:
– 5,477 new rooms opened in 2016 helped reach the 100,000 landmark
– 23,384 rooms added in the past three years alone
– 11,000+ rooms expected to open in 2017 and 40,000+ by the end of 2020
– 64,000+ total rooms in Hilton’s EMEA pipeline
– Approximately 50% of Hilton’s pipeline located in Middle East & Africa

hiltonworldwide.com

Gallery 1957 at Kempinski Hotel Gold Coast

Kempinski Gold Coast Accra at the heart of Ghana independence celebrations

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Ghana will celebrate 60 years of Independence on 6th March 2017, marking the end of colonial rule and the beginning of independence. With this key anniversary, the spotlight is on Ghana and in particular the capital Accra, which has recently been experiencing a new cultural revival with ground breaking development in construction, cultural and tourism perspective.

Kempinski Hotel Gold Coast City Accra is at the heart of Ghana’s thriving cultural scene and is home to the contemporary Gallery 1957. The gallery which will be showcasing Ghanaian-Togolese multidisciplinary performer Va-Bene Elikem Fiatsi (also known as crazinisT artisT) and his ‘Rituals of Becoming’ exhibition over this historic anniversary.

Gallery 1957
Va-Bene Elikem Fiatsi (also known as crazinisT artisT) who will be producing a site-specific installation at Gallery 1957 which runs until March 12th 2017, created in collaboration with the Amsterdam based international curator Maria Rus Bojan. The exhibition will be using the body as a material and thought-provoking-tool to confront political and social issues. The work will be launched with a performance; extending the gallery’s mission to promote contemporary art in Ghana. Consisting of a theatrical installation that displays multichannel video projections, a readymade sculpture and a performance from the artist, the exhibition explores the assumed distinctions between gender identity, class, political injustice, violence and the objectification of humans.

Destination Accra
Kempinski Hotel Gold Coast City Accra, is surrounded by an emerging cultural scene including Accra’s first wine/champagne bar and private members’ nightclubs in close proximity, and a contemporary art gallery housed within the hotel. Accra has also seen Nick House of London Mahiki fame open the hotly anticipated Carbon nightclub earlier this year, in addition to the construction of Accra’s first green building. Up and coming local Ghanaian designers also are hitting an international audience such as Christie Brown. There are several exciting openings coming later in 2017 including one of the largest spas in West Africa within the Kempinski and Accra’s first luxury mall The Galleria which will be situated next door to the hotel.

Kempinski Hotel Gold Coast City Accra

The Galleria Mall
The Galleria Mall, set to open later in 2017 will offer 6,000 sq.m of high-end retail and commercial office space with substantial underground parking. On offer will be a carefully selected tenant mix of both local favourites and premium international brands such as Hugo Boss, Versace and Roche Bobois opening flagship stores for the first time in Ghana.

The Galleria will also house a unique food hall that will combine a traditional market feel with the latest modern interventions. Retail food outlets, dining areas, coffee bars and an outside terrace all combine to create an exciting offering.

gallery1957.com

kempinski.com/en/accra/hotel-gold-coast-city/

Belmond Mount Nelson

The Belmond Mount Nelson reveals its guestroom redesign

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Inge Moore and her London-based design team have completed the refurbishment of 48 guestrooms and suites in one of the world’s most iconic hotels – Cape Town’s Belmond Mount Nelson. The design intent was to recreate the original spirt of the grand old hotel, which opened in 1899 and was said at the time to be as elegant as any fine London hotel, while updating it in such a way to engage today’s connoisseur travellers and lovers of exceptional hotels.

Inspired by Heritage
Capetonian heritage and influences were therefore the foundation to the designers’ thinking and this was a narrative that proved to open up layers of design opportunity. Once, seafarers from around the globe discovered the Cape and made it home, embracing what she had to offer and combining this with what they had brought from their previous lives. Local materials, rustic timbers, beads and clay brought together with sparkling crystal, silver cutlery and fine bone china created a new vernacular that uniquely belonged in the Cape. It was this mixing of the old and the new, the refined and the artisanal that Inge has translated into the refurbished guestrooms. Importantly, just as the “Nellie” has always been, the redesigned rooms are comfortably residential in feel. For the many loyal guests who return year-after-year, the ambience of their room will be reassuringly familiar while there will be much to discover that is new and enchanting.

The Belmond Mount Nelson reveals its guestroom redesign

“The Mount Nelson is one of a small handful of hotels that epitomise the inheritance and soul of their location, so they must be subtly moved on within the continuum of their beloved personality,” says Inge.

Connected with Nature
The gardens, lovingly tended and matured over the decades since the hotel first opened, as well as the breath-taking view of Table Mountain mean that Mount Nelson Hotel is the place to contemplate both the majesty of untamed nature and the beauty of man’s work with nature. The redesign celebrates both. Windows and casings have been restored and painted white, while the new drapery pelmets are smaller than before, effectively opening up the windows and framing the views. Guests can now better connect with what is outside and take the emotion with them as they relax inside. The bed is the centrepiece of each room, focused on the view and, at the foot of each bed, there is a local ‘riempies bank’ – the bench introduced to the Cape by the early settlers and locally made. Each room has a “chair to dream in”, a deeply comfortable armchair placed at a vantage point to soak up the panorama and allow the guest a place to slow down and feel what is important to them, be it to think, read or just to be.

Other heirloom furniture includes dark timber tables and cabinets with brass and leather detailing, while some furniture has been specially designed as a modern take on traditional pieces. There are idiosyncratic pieces, such as a beaded mirror, introduced to balance the collection and ensure the rooms retain an air of light hearted residential randomness. In re-planning the rooms, wardrobe space has become as generous as each room allows to meet the needs of the many guests who stay for a week or more.

The Belmond Mount Nelson reveals its guestroom redesign

All materials are classic, timeless and locally sourced. Originally, the hotel had timber flooring. Now, new oak flooring has been introduced into some suites, scattered with rugs crafted by local carpet weavers. Natural leather and linen abounds and antiqued and bevelled mirror reflects the sparkle of crystal and the sunshine dancing through the room. Drapery is soft and calming in tone, locally embroidered with a flower motif to bring a biophilic context – a love of life and things natural and hand-made – to the design. The guestrooms are light and airy on sunny days but they will also be cosy and cocooning when the sea mists and rain roll in. “They are rooms for slow living, a place to nest and connect with one’s emotions,” says Stan Chan, a senior member of the design team.

Telling the Story through Art
Artwork is a major part of the experience and the rooms have been lovingly accessorised with collections of objects and over-scaled paintings curated by Janine Bath in collaboration with Inge. All of the art is by local artists, some is contemporary and some depicts the beautiful landscapes of this part of the world in a new way.

“I think that art in hotels is either just decorative or it has real meaning – there is nothing in-between,” says Inge. “When we have the opportunity to develop art with local artists, it creates the meaning of the project and sets the tone. For Mount Nelson, I wanted to celebrate the amazing Cape and bring this into the hotel.”

The Belmond Mount Nelson reveals its guestroom redesign

The new artworks have joined many fine existing pieces which have been re-framed in a contemporary manner, complimenting the traditionally classic images of landscapes and flowers. Guestroom corridors have been transformed with new art offering a journey through the work of some of Cape Town’s most interesting established and budding artists, combined with the existing collection. The introduction of additional chandeliers and crystal wall lights provides new sparkle as well as more light, the tones of paint replicate heritage colours favoured in domestic settings in the late 19th century and a new sisal-inspired carpet hints at the hard-wearing floor coverings of the turn of the century.

“I want guests to feel like they are walking through the corridors of a beloved aunt’s amazing home,” concludes Inge.

All photography: Micky Hoyle

belmond.com/mount-nelson-hotel-cape-town/

Es Saadi Resort, Marrakech

Es Saadi Marrakech Resort recognised in Condé Nast Gold List

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Es Saadi Marrakech Resort is pleased to announce its inclusion in the latest edition of the US Condé Nast Traveler’s Gold List.

The Palace features as one of only five mentioned hotels in Morocco. A leading voice in luxury travel the Gold List recognises Condé Nast Traveler’s best and most favourite hotels in the world, where uniqueness and authenticity are paramount and the hotels offer you an unforgettable experience.

Es Saadi Marrakech Resort boasts the most exceptional offerings in hospitality, accommodation and over all experience and is why the team at Condé Nast Traveler have chosen to include it as one of the best places to stay in this vibrant city. The Palace knows it is important for guests to feel welcome visit after visit, whilst offering an extraordinary stay. With these outstanding attributes, it’s an honour to see the resort on the Gold List, celebrating iconic hotels and old favourites.

Es Saadi Resort, Marrakech

The Bauchet-Bouhlal family are honoured to see the Resort featured in the Gold List. Acknowledging the prestigious Condé Nast Traveler’s Gold List, the Resort Development Director Caroline Bauchet-Bouhlal commented: “We are delighted to be recognised by such a renowned and world-class publication. We take huge pride in offering our guests the ultimate and most unforgettable experience possible.”

Es Saadi, which means “The Happy One”, was created by Jean Bauchet and his wife in 1966, artists and owners of the Moulin Rouge and Casino de Paris. It has been in the Bauchet-Bouhlal family for three generations, run with passion and dedication.

Es Saadi Resort, Marrakech

Located in the heart of the ‘Golden Triangle’ of Marrakech, in the quiet residential district of Hivernage and facing the snowy summits of the Atlas. Es Saadi is an oasis of splendour, mixing luxury, refinement and Moroccan tradition. Surrounded by eight hectares of majestic gardens, planted with orange trees, bougainvillea, roses, palm trees, banana trees and has a “lagoon” swimming pool of 2400 m2 with a circular bar immersed in water.

The Palace is a majestic building and offers 92 suites, 10 private villas around the gardens and 8 Ksars. All suites overlook the garden and have views of the Atlas Mountains. The furniture is built in accordance with this tradition. The 3,000 m2 Palace Spa, built around a 100-year-old eucalyptus, offers a unique wellness experience, offering traditional and technical care, signature massages, chronotherapy and also daily yoga for maximum relaxation and serenity.

Es Saadi Resort, Marrakech

On the third floor, the restaurant ‘La Cour des Lions’ is a perfect fusion of modernity and traditional, in an oriental palace, offering its guests a panoramic view of the park and menu, elaborated by the chef Fatéma Hal, honouring the forgotten traditional dishes.

Culture plays a large part of Es Saadi’s charm which the hotel hosting frequent events, such as exhibitions, auctions, theatre, etc. The hotel also exhibits Madame Elisabeth Bauchet-Bouhlal’s stunning collection of Moroccan paintings and contemporary art for all to enjoy.

In 2017, the hotel will be celebrating its 50th anniversary and the Palace’s 10th. For this monumental occasion, to be recognised in the Condé Nast Traveler Gold List 2017 is an honour and a great reward.

Park Inn by Radisson, the colourful and dynamic mid-market brand, has announced the opening of its first property in Polokwane

Park Inn by Radisson opens its fourth hotel in South Africa – in Polokwane

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Park Inn by Radisson, the colourful and dynamic mid-market brand, has announced the opening of its first property in Polokwane. The Park Inn by Radisson Polokwane is the ninth hotel in South Africa by The Rezidor Hotel Group, one of the fastest growing hotel companies in the world.

Located in Limpopo, the country’s northernmost province, the hotel’s proximity to the neighbouring countries of Botswana, Zimbabwe, Mozambique and Swaziland, as well as a convenient distance from Kruger National Park, make it the ideal regional gateway to South Africa.

The hotel has 160 rooms with full-length windows to let in plenty of natural light and views to serene gardens. Park Inn by Radisson is only 9km from Polokwane International Airport and 3km from city centre of the Limpopo capital. Other facilities include a bespoke Smart Meetings & Events concept in three versatile event rooms that can seat up to 100 delegates. Park Inn by Radisson offers free high-speed WiFi access throughout the hotel.

The new hotel’s all-day dining Live-Inn Room Restaurant provides a lively, welcoming experience to relish multicultural cuisine, incorporating the brand’s international flair with a unique African twist. In addition, the hotel also features an open plan bar that leads to the terrace and outdoor pool.

Nisha MacDougall, General Manager of Park Inn by Radisson Polokwane, said, “My team and I are proud to bring Park Inn by Radisson – a brand that adds color to life – to Polokwane. We are looking forward to delivering a fresh, energetic and vibrant hospitality experience to our guests. We welcome the world to Polokwane to enjoy colorful moments and enjoy the best of South Africa.”

Deutsche Hospitality opens Steigenberger Hotel El Tahrir in Cairo

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Deutsche Hospitality is continuing on its path of expansion. The focus is both on tapping into new markets and on strengthening its brand presence at existing locations.

In accordance with this strategy, the company has signed 14 contracts for new hotel on three continents over the past year. One particular milestone to mark the new year is the launching of the one hundredth hotel to operate under a Deutsche Hospitality brand.

Steigenberger El Tahrir, Cairo - Deutsche Hospitality

The Steigenberger Hotel El Tahrir is located at the very heart of the Egyptian metropolis of Cairo. Its central position on Tahrir Square, only 900 metres from the Egyptian Museum and within the immediate vicinity of the city’s main sightseeing attractions like the Khan El Khalili Bazaar, makes it the ideal starting point for any kind of activity tourists and business travellers wish to pursue. As leading international hospitality company in Egypt, Deutsche Hospitality extends its presence now to eleven hotels and three Nile river ships.

“The opening of our 100th hotel is a real highlight in a company history that stretches back almost 87 years,” said Puneet Chhatwal, CEO of Deutsche Hospitality. “It sets out a clear direction of travel in our drive for growth. Cairo adds an internationally relevant metropolis with millions of inhabitants to our portfolio. At the same time, we are filling in a blank spot on the map in terms of our presence in Egypt, the second largest location of our hotel company after our home market of Germany.”

The Steigenberger El Tahrir offers its guests 300 exquisitely furnished rooms and suites, all of which are equipped with the very latest technology. Five conference rooms and a large banqueting Hall offer plenty of space for events, and there is also a spa as well as a health and beauty centre and gym complete with swimming pool.

Steigenberger El Tahrir, Cairo - Deutsche Hospitality

Mrs. Mervat Hataba is chairwoman of the Owning Company of Steigenberger Hotel El Tahrir, HOTAC. She announced that the Hotel has been opened successfully: “We believe that this is a great success to the owning company as we own several historical 5 stars hotels all over Egypt and the opening of Steigenberger El Tahrir is a great plus to our portfolio. To have a brand of Deutsche Hospitality in the prime location of El Tahrir square five minutes’ walk from the River Nile and surrounded by all big hotel chains and the Egyptian Museum is an added value to the Egyptian Market, wishing all the success to all our partners.”

Project Spotlight: Areen Hospitality working on JW Marriott in Morocco

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Award-winning design practice Areen Hospitality is working on the interiors of a new 5 star hotel under the JW Marriott brand, to be built alongside the renowned Marina Smir in Tetouan, Morocco. The 22,500sqm development comprises 194 guestrooms including VIP suites, a spa and three restaurants.

Just 10 miles from the straits of Gibraltar, Marina Smir is Morocco’s first yacht harbour and rapidly becoming the port of choice for those travelling along the waters of the Southern Mediterranean. Tetouan itself, as a UNESCO World Heritage site, is an established tourist attraction with significant cultural and heritage significance.

Andrew Linwood, Head of Design, Areen Hospitality, comments: ”As always we search for a balance between providing durable and functional spaces, whilst still offering an interior which surprises and embraces its guests. Traditional Moroccan hospitality is renowned the world over and we wanted to capture this essence within the new JW Marriott Tetouan. Creatively this is always a challenge but one which we feel we have successfully met on this project.”

JW Marriott hotel in Morocco to be designed by Areen Hospitality
Soft colours and fabrics are used throughout the scheme, hand tufted rugs in the public areas alongside richly detailed screens. Locally-sourced marble and timber are used extensively, complimented by Arabic geometric patterns incorporated within floor and wall finishes.

Eugenia Rolando, Associate, Areen Hospitality adds: “Inspiration for the design of the interiors is drawn from traditional Moroccan patterns, materials and heritage. Alongside respecting these values, we wanted to provide an elegant and sophisticated interior offering a warm welcome to all hotel guests.”

areen.com/work/hospitality

Hilton Garden Inn - Casablanca

Hilton continues Moroccan expansion with first hotel in Casablanca

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Hilton has signed a management agreement with Group Sadiki to open its first hotel in Casablanca. The news follows the conclusion of a landmark year for Hilton in Morocco which saw it re-establish a presence in the country in March 2016, with the opening of Hilton Garden Inn Tanger City Center.

The mid-scale Hilton Garden Inn brand will now be soon represented in Morocco’s largest city, with construction set to begin this year.

Hilton Garden Inn Casablanca Sidi Maarouf will consist of an initial 118 guest rooms with space available on site for further expansion. The hotel forms part of a mixed use development with a 550sqm ballroom and Moroccan-oriental restaurant also to be built in the vicinity. The Hilton Garden Inn will contain three dining options on property, in addition to another 300sqm of event space to the complex. It is forecast that the hotel may welcome its first guests in 2021.

Sheraton Grand Conakry

Marriott International debuts first hotel in West Africa with Sheraton Grand Conakry

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Sheraton Hotels & Resorts has announced the debut of Sheraton Grand in Africa with opening of Sheraton Grand Conakry. The newly built hotel marks Marriott International’s entry into Guinea, West Africa and joins a portfolio of more than 35 Sheraton Grand properties worldwide, with destinations spanning Istanbul, Dubai, Bangalore, Beijing and beyond.

Within easy reach from the international airport, Sheraton Grand Conakry is conveniently situated in Conakry’s up-and-coming trendy Kipe district. With an enviable ocean-front location, the hotel introduces modern, elegant design, signature brand programing and an elevated guest experience for business and leisure travelers in the heart of West Africa.

All 269 well-appointed guestrooms boast breathtaking ocean views, offering unmatched comfort and the Sheraton Signature Sleep Experience. Contemporary design and local touches blend to create a distinct and vibrant aesthetic.

“We are proud to be the first Sheraton Grand in Africa and Indian Ocean, and to join the existing roster of esteemed hotels and resorts worldwide,” said Helga Deboeck, General Manager of Sheraton Grand Conakry. “We have worked diligently to ensure the hotel goes above and beyond to deliver a fresh, modern and memorable experience to our guests setting a new benchmark of service within West Africa.”

sheratongrandconakry.com

Design Hotels

Design Hotels introduces seven newcomers

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Design Hotels is pleased to announce seven new additions joining a growing portfolio of over 290 independent hotels in more than 50 countries across the globe.

Tucked inside the historic centre of the UNESCO Heritage village of Pienza, La Bandita Townhouse is a rambling palazzo set on a beautiful hill amid quiet Cobblestone streets in Tuscany. The brainchild of Original John Voigtmann, the one time Vice President of International Marketing for Sony Music, was transformed from a dilapidated 500-year-old convent into a luxury 12-room boutique hotel.

Design Hotels

La Bandita Townhouse

Through a narrow street and a small tunnel sits Memmo Príncipe Real — home to a secret sightseeing spot with breathtaking views over the city and a gateway to one of the most attractive and charming neighborhoods in Lisbon. Located in the heart of the 41-room hotel Café Colonial is a celebration of the many global influences represented by Lusophone roots.

Design Hotels - Dos Casas Hotel & Spa

Memmo Príncipe Real

The result of a decade of careful architectural renovations, Dos Casas Hotel & Spa is set in the heart of San Miguel De Allende, a bustling UNESCO-listed World Heritage Site in Mexico. The result of a decade of careful architectural renovations, 12-room Dos Casas—set within two adjoining 18th-century colonial houses—offers cool vanguard design and warm traditionalism.

Design Hotels - Dos Casas Hotel & Spa

Dos Casas Hotel & Spa

Creating a benchmark for casual luxury in Switzerland, Giardino Ascona is a haven committed to charismatic design, casual ambience, and recreational splendour. Located in a spectacular sunny bay of Lake Maggiore, along a tranquil parkland, Giardino Ascona, and its 54 rooms and 18 suites, is awash with Mediterranean joie de vivre.

Design Hotels - Giardino Ascona

Giardino Ascona

Behind a refurbished façade that recalls 1950s Palma, Nakar Hotel emerges as a serene retreat through light-soaked lounges, spa, and a spectacular rooftop infinity pool. The structure that houses Azor hotel is a specimen of modern architecture with an imposing cuboid form, an exterior of white stone, and expansive windows of polished glass.

Design Hotels - Nakar Hotel

Nakar Hotel

Inspired by the surrounding sea and the volcanic nature of the Portuguese Azores Island of São Miguel, Azor Hotel abounds with natural materials that serve to remind guests of the property’s remote location. Not only do the architect, interior designer, owner, and chef all hail from the island, but the 57-room hotel is fashioned from local materials; serves guests an authentic Mallorcan cuisine; and offers impressive views of the Old Town and the sea.

Design Hotels - Azor Hotel

Azor Hotel

In one of Taipei’s most cosmopolitan neighborhoods, Hotel Proverbs Taipei takes minimalistic design and pairs it with the utmost in personalized service while adding a dash of hedonism in the process. In one of Taipei’s most cosmopolitan neighborhoods, Hotel Proverbs Taipei takes minimalistic design and pairs it with the utmost in personalised service.

Design Hotels - Hotel Proverbs Taipei

Hotel Proverbs Taipei

Photos: Design Hotels
designhotels.com

Bon Hotels, Africa

BON Hotels hosts official launch in Nigeria, showcasing nine hotels across five cities

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BON Hotels, a hospitality company that owns, manages and markets hotels throughout Africa, hosted their official launch in Nigeria, at BON Hotel Stratton Asokoro in Abuja, last week.

Over the past year, BON Hotels has undertaken an aggressive rebranding and refurbishment campaign of their hotels in Nigeria, with creative input from Delta Design Studio, a specialist hospitality interior design and procurement company. The hotels will be positioned as international 4-star, boutique-style, full-service hotels, at affordable prices, offering personal, friendly and efficient service that is synonymous with BON Hotels’ operating standards.

The properties include:
– BON Hotel Grand Towers
– BON Hotel Stratton Asokoro, refurbished & rebranded
– BON Hotel Abuja, refurbished & rebranded
– BON Hotel Delta
– Protea Hotel Ikeja, refurbished & operated by BON Hotels
– Protea Hotel Victoria Island, refurbished & operated by BON Hotels

Three hotels under construction and due for completion in 2018, are:
– BON Hotel Apo
– BON Hotel Ekiti
– BON Hotel Owerri

Commenting on the refurbishment plan, Guy Stehlik says, “Our strategy is to be competitive in our offering, service delivery and price – to create a four-star standard international Nigerian hotel chain, a tourism circuit if you will that caters to all markets – the inter-regional businessman, the international and Nigerian local traveller, tourists and the leisure sector, with alternatives, designed to meet their requirements.”

Stehlik adds that they have rolled out the upgrades with minimum fuss – the hotels are operating as usual with all staff and general managers remaining in place. The group is also committed to training and empowerment of local Nigerians and significant social investment with their BONangels platform that is focused on supporting local communities through charity drives and events.

Industry stalwart and familiar face to the African hospitality industry, Bernard Cassar, Director of BON Hotels International West Africa, says, “With many larger groups exiting their business interests in Nigeria, we believe that now is the time to support the country that has given us decades of success and we will continue to add value to the local hospitality industry, our guests, our staff, suppliers, the communities in which we serve, and of course our owners.”

With nine hotels across five cities in Nigeria, and the potential of 36 states with their own cities and towns, Nigeria has endless opportunities. Together with new acquisitions in East Africa – in Uganda and Ethiopia – and continued growth prospects throughout the continent to add to their South African and Namibian portfolio, the African sky is the limit.

Bab Hotel, Marrakech

Bespoke Hotels to manage Bab Hotel, Marrakech

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Bespoke Hotels is delighted to announce that it has reached an agreement to take on the management of The Bab Hotel in Marrakech, Morocco’s bustling and lively ‘Red City’.

Located in the city’s fashionable Gueliz district, The Bab offers a contemporary take on traditional North African hospitality, retaining all the charms that the exotic locale has to offer, while blending modern design and state of the art amenities.

Featuring 45 spacious bedrooms, including 19 suites, The Bab is dressed in black and white and brimming with character. It boasts a modern restaurant, swimming pool and inner courtyard, alongside a traditional spa in the mould of a Turkish bath, as well as conferencing space and an enchanting rooftop venue, ideal for everything from afternoon tea to cocktails beneath the sunset.

“We are thrilled to take on the management and build on the potential of this terrific property”, commented Nick Turner, Managing Director of Bespoke Hotels International. “We look forward to establishing a presence in Marrakech and, in time, expanding our management portfolio across Morocco.”

“This is a historic moment in the fortunes of the hotel”, added owner Abdesselem Ababou. “I am delighted that Bespoke Hotels are bringing their outstanding skills and key personnel to enhance and grow our reputation, both of The Bab and of Marrakech itself as a key international tourism destination.”

The Robertson Small Hotel

Big things happening at Robertson Small Hotel, South Africa…

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The Robertson Small Hotel is excited to announce that it has recently undergone a complete redesign.

The hotel’s relationship with their collaborators and contributors has been a unique feature of the renovation. Curated by Studio Ashby of London, the redesign saw local designers and collaborators tasked with creating bespoke items to form part of a brand new look while enhancing the award-winning facilities.

The Robertson Small Hotel

The Victorian Manor House rooms as well as the Stable and Poolside Suites, the ample gardens and Wellness Room were all set upon by designers and artists including Alexis Barrel, Michael Chandler, Renee Rossouw, House of Gozdawa, Lisa Firer, Rene Botes, Bonfred Furniture among others.

Fashion designer and textile artist Alexis Barrell drew inspiration from local flora and fauna to design a range of textile works using techniques such as hand block printing and intricate and laborious process of carving sketches into wood and printing on cotton with natural dyes by hand.

The Robertson Small Hotel

The Small Restaurant received a new menu courtesy of Rose Ashby of Spring Restaurant at Somerset House in London, with the focus on seasonal produce sourced in the Robertson area Ashby worked alongside head chef Tiaan van Greunen.

The EM BAR, a custom designed bar in blue and white porcelain by artist Michael Chandler, offers a selection of the area’s finest wines and a small range of cocktails.

therobertsonsmallhotel.com

BON Hotels - Uganda

BON Hotels opening second property in Uganda

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With the ink just dry on the BON Hotel Addis Ababa contract, BON Hotels, a hospitality company that owns, manages and markets hotels throughout South Africa and Africa, has taken on a second property in East Africa, namely Lake Heights Hotel, Uganda, which is to be re-branded Lake Heights Entebbe by BON Hotels, on 1 October 2016.

This is the latest addition to the BON stable and forms an integral part of the group’s expansion plans into Africa.

Entebbe International airport, currently undergoing a multi-million dollar expansion has high volumes of East African transit business from member states that Lake Heights Entebbe by BON Hotels, given its nearby location, is poised to take advantage of, providing a convenient option for the leisure market, international visitors on their way to Uganda’s national parks, and the corporate traveller en route to Kampala.

The hotel is Entebbe’s first boutique-style hotel and offers 33 individually designed rooms overlooking Lake Victoria, all with signature comfortable beds, generous work spaces and high-speed complimentary Wi-Fi. Facilities include a wellness centre, spa and gymnasium, full in-house restaurant and bar overlooking the lake, a purpose-built conference venue and swimming pool.

YES! Hospitality, East Africa Limited, who oversee operations for BON Hotels in East Africa, are excited about the expansion into Uganda – a country that is politically stable and poised for rapid economic growth. Guy Stehlik, CEO of BON Hotels adds, “This acquisition further cements our presence in key African countries that we identified some time ago.”

Bisate Lodge, Rwanda

Bisate Lodge to open in Rwanda June 2017

820 400 Daniel Fountain

Wilderness Safaris Bisate Lodge, situated next to Rwanda’s renowned Volcanoes National Park, is on track to open for guests in June 2017. Comprising just six forest villas, Bisate Lodge will offer a luxurious base from which to visit the nearby gorilla conservation experience.

“We are extremely proud of the progress we have made with Bisate, especially with regards to our pioneering reforestation programme which has already seen over 5 000 indigenous trees planted to date in partnership with the newly-created Tuzamurane Cooperative. This incredible opportunity to use our model of responsible ecotourism to contribute to positive conservation and community empowerment in such a unique and exciting Rwanda environment is exactly why we do what we do”, said Wilderness Safaris CEO, Keith Vincent.

Bisate Lodge, Rwanda

Featuring six luxurious forest villas, the real generosity of Bisate in the Rwandan context will be the amount of private and exclusive space that surrounds the Lodge, cosseting it in a rare natural landscape brimming with Albertine Rift biodiversity and beauty. Each spacious forest villa will comprise a generous yet intimate combination of bedroom, reception space and bathroom, all warmed by a central fireplace and with views out across a private deck towards Mount Bisoke.

Bisate’s sophisticated architectural and interior design will be rooted in Rwandan building tradition as exemplified in the design of the Royal Palace of the traditional monarch. This spherical, thatched structure echoes the thousands of hills that dot the Rwandan landscape, while the richly-detailed interiors will exhibit surfaces and screens made from a variety of woven materials with strong resonance in Rwandan culture.

Four Points by Sheraton, Benin City - Nigeria

Starwood Hotels ramps up Nigeria portfolio with new Four Points in Benin City

624 385 Daniel Fountain

Accelerating growth in emerging markets across the globe, Starwood Hotels & Resorts has announced the signing of Four Points Benin City, Nigeria.

Owned by Eagle Hospitality and Leisure Limited, the sleek new Four Points hotel is built for the modern traveler with an emphasis on approachable design and stylish comfort. Conveniently located in the heart of Benin City – the capital city of Edo State, one of the 36 states in Nigeria – the hotel is situated within a five-minute drive to the airport and no more than 10 minutes from the government and business district.

Four Points Benin City offers 176 spacious guest rooms and suites along with exciting food and beverage options including an all-day dining restaurant, a pool bar and the brand’s signature Best Brews™ program featuring local beers at the lobby bar and lounge – the ideal spot to watch sports matches and unwind with friends and colleagues.

Other hotel facilities include a state-of-the-art 24-hour fitness centre, an outdoor pool, 400 square meters of flexible meeting spaces and a fully equipped business center. The hotel will provide all of the brand’s defining elements including the signature Four Points bed, complimentary bottled water in all rooms and suites, fast and free Wi-Fi throughout the hotel, and an energizing breakfast with fresh coffee that helps guests start and end the day right.

With over 200 hotels in nearly 40 countries around the world, Four Points continues to penetrate new markets, globally. The brand is on track to expand its portfolio of rooms by more than 50% in the next five years.

Leeu Estates

Leeu Estates, Franschhoek opens its doors

1000 490 Daniel Fountain

The five-star Leeu Estates has opened its doors in Franschhoek, South Africa.

Numerous designers worked on the property’s architecture, interiors and gardens, including Spanish architect Tomeu Esteva, South African firm Graham Goosen and Johan Malherbe of Malherbe Rust Architects. Cape Town-based studio Beverley Boswell Designs focused on the interiors, while landscape designer Franchesca Watson crafted the gardens.

The 17-room boutique property is located on more than 168 acres of working vineyards. The renovated 19th-century Manor House has contemporary and classic detailing in its guestrooms and suites. Custom architecture and a relaxed colour scheme define the rooms, which also has curated artwork and sculptures from across the globe. Most rooms have terraces and fireplaces.

Leeu Estates

Named after the Afrikaans word for ‘small buck’, the Bokkie Garden has grasses and hedges typically found in the animal’s diet. There is also a bronze and granite sculpture by South African artist Angus Taylor. The property’s signature Leeu Spa houses a gym with mountain views, a nearly 50-foot-long infinity pool, and various wellness offerings.

Other amenities at the property include the garden terrace, which offers al fresco dining for up to 40 guests, and a reading room with a fireplace and views of the vineyards and gardens.

leeucollection.com/leeu-estates

Kempinski Hotel Gold Coast City Accra

Sneak Peek: Kempinski Gold Coast City Accra, Ghana

1000 562 Daniel Fountain

Located in the heart of Ghana’s thriving cultural scene and the economic hub of Accra, Kempinski Hotel Gold Coast City is perfectly positioned for memorable corporate events.

This vibrant property is home to the largest conference facilities in Ghana and features over 1,750 sqm of sophisticated meeting space, ideal for hosting up to 850 people. The Kempinski Hotel Gold Goast City Accra is the only 5* hotel offering state of the art meeting facilities in the city. The hotel is a truly desirable destination for the corporate traveller and is located in the central business district within close proximity to government ministries and historical landmarks.

Kempinski Hotel Gold Coast City Accra Ghana

Conference & Meeting spaces
The Kempinski Hotel Gold Coast City Accra offers exceptionally high levels of service and style throughout its exclusive spaces. The Grand Ballroom can cater up to 800 guest’s theatre style respectively, while the Executive Meeting Room is a fixed boardroom for up to 16 delegates equipped with cutting edge technology. The beautiful outside function area can be divided to create two individual meeting areas, hosting up to 100 and 250 guests banquet style. Day Delegate packages are also available and include WiFi, room hire, bespoke coffee breaks, stationery and a tailored working lunch. In total the hotel has six meeting rooms between 3sqm and 100sqm, which can be used for presentations, business meetings, banquets or receptions. On the sixth floor, guests staying in the Suites or Executive rooms can enjoy the exclusive privileges of the charming Executive Lounge. The lounge provides an inviting place to enjoy complimentary benefits such as drinks, canapés, newspapers, magazines and two exclusive boardrooms with state-of-the-art technology by day.

Kempinski Hotel Gold Coast City Accra

Accommodation
Inspired by the heritage and vibrant colours of Ghana, each room features hardwood floors, luxuriant textiles, and carefully selected artwork. The rooms and suites are spacious; 142 of which have their own balconies. The hotel features 269 rooms including 22 luxury suites and 2 presidential suites. The suites draw inspiration from African artistry, featuring comfortable living areas and ergonomic work stations. Executive rooms and suites have the added benefit of overlooking the pool or city of Accra with access to the Executive Lounge. The Presidential Suites offer panoramic views of Accra and complimentary use of a luxury car chauffeur and 24 hour butler service. All rooms feature complimentary WiFi, Interactive TV, In-room safe, private bar and climate control.

Kempinski Hotel Gold Coast City Accra Ghana

The Grand Ballroom
The hotel’s ballroom is the largest and most luxurious in Ghana and the jewel of the conference and event facilities. In total, the ballroom covers 970 sqm, divided between three areas and a foyer, and includes a 50sqm built-in stage. Whether guests plan for a luxury banquet, a musical performance or a glittering cocktail reception, the ballroom will provide a breath-taking venue.

L'Amandier

L’Amandier, Marrakech

1000 635 Amelia Walker

Marrakech is abuzz. Not just because of it currently being peak summer, nor because, earlier this year, when Tripadvisor announced the winners of its 2015 travelers’ choice awards for destinations travellers ranked the city as the top travel destination in the world (last year, it ranked at no. 6).

But, because the long-awaited launch of the five-star L’Amandier hotel has finally been unveiled. It is nestled in the Ouirgane Valley and only an hour from the city.

L'Amandier (Anthony Craddock)

L’Amandier (Anthony Craddock)

“My brother and I discovered this place some years ago when it was a scrub of land, with a few dying almond trees and nothing else. This was the start of a colourful journey of new friendships, discovering water, running water, sowing seeds, laying brick on top of brick, bring in power…and now we are here,” says Founder, Anwar Harland-Khan.

Well, for those of you in need of inspiration for an international destination, be it for incentive travel, a private party, a conference, a holiday, team builder or celebratory venue, this gem-like haven is a beguiling place.

L'Amandier (Anthony Craddock)

L’Amandier (Anthony Craddock)

“L’Amandier has been quite a journey,” says Anwar. We are sitting on one of the villa’s expansive sun-warmed terraces, within 12 acres of citrus groves and almond trees, surrounded by a patchwork of valleys and mountain peaks. The panoramic views over the surrounding Toubkal National Park that we’re looking out on are spectacular. Aside from the gentle hum of the call to prayer that I can hear in the distance, it is peaceful, quiet and wonderfully still. I can’t remember the last time that I’ve felt this relaxed. ‘Landscape therapy’ here is instant and you immediately give in to the pace of life. Calm trickles down from the top after all – and Anwar is warmth and charm itself.

I am one of the lucky media guests invited to the hotel’s soft launch (before it officially opens its doors in Autumn 2016), to join his friends and family to celebrate this 12-year project coming full circle.

L'Amandier (Anthony Craddock)

L’Amandier (Anthony Craddock)

L’Amandier is an environmentally sensitive venture that has remained sympathetic to its surrounding environs. The property has been designed by London-based architect, Nick Gowing, who has juxtaposed the contours of the surrounding landscape with the buildings geometric lines. His aim? To ensure that the beauty of the vista was incorporated into the living and communal areas where possible, through floor-to-ceiling windows (light and space are recurrent motifs throughout), and buildings rendered in the same colour as the rich, red earth of the L’Amandier Plateau, merging it as part of the landscape, in form and function.

L'Amandier (Tara Panchaud)

L’Amandier (Tara Panchaud)

The premises accommodates up to 46 guests in the six suite boutique hotel and the 13 estate villas. All villas have been sold to private investors but are available to rent (each owner has full use of the hotel’s facilities and access to In-house Catering with Private Chef). Each boasts a vast roof terrace with frame pergola style seating area, swapped with deep cushions and white cotton drapes, and showstopping vistas – the perfect backdrop for sundowners.

The architecture is cubist in form yet embraces the characteristics of a Moroccan riad – whereby the rooms are built around a central courtyard. Each villa accentuates L’Amandier’s philosophy of uniting a contemporary European design aesthetic with traditional Moroccan artistry and sustainable materials, think tadelakt walls, bejmat tiles and local walnut wood for the furniture.

L'Amandier (Anthony Craddock)

L’Amandier (Anthony Craddock)

Elsewhere there’s a 50-cover restaurant, a blinding 25m-infinity pool, tennis court and a vast 40m2 terrace perfect for alfresco soirées.

Elegant interiors represent a timeless grace and come courtesy of Michael Kopinski. His descriptions of “Zen-like” and “raw” are spot-on, nodding to the country’s past and championing the skill of the Moroccan people, through ethically sourced local products. It’s all in the detail right? Well the subtle intricacies do not go unnoticed. I’m referring to the change of light throughout the day, and how the colours of the bespoke handpicked tiles dotted around the resort flicker between cobalt aqua and silver depending on the positioning of the sun. “The feeling inside the hotel is of shimmering water,” explains Michael. “The colour palette reflects the beautiful rich greens of the surrounding lush valleys and the baked clay colour of the sunsets… but toned down, subdued, an echo.”

L'Amandier (Anthony Craddock)

L’Amandier (Anthony Craddock)

I felt a shift at L’Amandier. At one point I did nothing but stare at the view for 40 minutes – no need for emails, or phone. It is a heady mix, this seamless blend of indoor-outdoor living and the combination of culture, creativity, spirit and vision.

lamandierhotel.com

Agadir Hilton - Morocco

Hilton expands presence in Morocco with $33m coastal hotel

1000 544 Daniel Fountain

Hilton is to open a 170 guestroom hotel within the Taghazout Bay Resort located 10 miles north of the Moroccan coastal town of Agadir.

Hilton Taghazout Bay Beach Resort & Spa is set to open in 2018 and will join three Hilton Worldwide hotels currently operating or under development in Morocco.

Hilton Taghazout Bay Beach Resort & Spa is part of Morocco’s new sustainable Taghazout Bay Resort complex, which is set in the peaceful foothills of the Atlas Mountains and overlooks the stunning Atlantic coastline.

A progressive open-skies agreement with Europe has removed the limit on EU flights to Moroccan airports. As a result there are a significant number of flight routes from key source markets including Germany, France and Spain, whose tourists increasingly flock to Taghazout Bay Resort for its peaceful beaches and striking mountainous scenery.

Hilton Taghazout Bay Beach Resort & Spa joins two Hilton Worldwide properties currently under development in Morocco. Hilton Tanger City Centre Hotel & Residences and Hilton Tangier Al Houara Resort & Spa are both set to open in 2017.

“Hilton Taghazout Bay Beach Resort & Spa takes us one hotel away from 50 Hilton Hotels and Resorts trading or under development across Africa,” said Jim Holthouser, executive vice president, global brands, Hilton Worldwide. “The brand has seen exceptional success across the continent since our longest trading hotel Hilton Addis Ababa first opened in 1969.”

The property will have stylish and spacious outdoor pool areas that overlook the bay’s curving beach, with direct access to the shore for guests of the hotel. In addition to its fully serviced spa the hotel will include two signature restaurants and a bar. For corporate travellers the hotel will include a ballroom suitable for up to 500 delegates and four meetings rooms.

Four Points by Sheraton

Starwood to debut Four Points by Sheraton brand in Tanzania with two hotels

540 400 Daniel Fountain

From the Africa Hotel Investment Forum in Togo, Starwood Hotels & Resorts announced that it will introduce its booming Four Points by Sheraton brand in Tanzania with the signing of Four Points By Sheraton Arusha and Four Points by Sheraton Dar es Salaam. Together both hotels will add more than 230 rooms and significantly expand the brand’s presence in East Africa.

“The entry of Four Points to Tanzania is a milestone addition to our rapidly growing footprint in Africa and reflects the strong traction the brand has gained in the region,” said Michael Wale, President, Starwood Hotels & Resorts, Europe, Africa and Middle East. “Tanzania has long been on travelers’ bucket list and Four Points by Sheraton is reinventing travel by offering guests exactly what they need while on the road.”

Owned by Union Trust Limited, the historic Arusha Hotel founded in 1894 will be re-branded as a 108-room Four Points by Sheraton after completion of an ongoing renovation. Arusha acts as the major tourist gateway to the Serengeti Safari circuit and Mount Kilimanjaro. Set within three acres of tropical gardens, Four Points by Sheraton Arusha will offer guests a peaceful getaway located only a few kilometers from the famous Clock Tower in Arusha, known to be the Center of Africa.

Also a conversion from an existing independent hotel, the 126 room Four Points by Sheraton Dar es Salaam is owned by New African Hotel Limited and is located in the central business district of Dar es Salaam, close to the docking area known as the “Harbor of Peace.” Dar es Salaam is a gateway to Zanzibar and other exotic islands of the Zanzibar Archipelago as well as to the Northern Safari territories.

Both hotels will offer modern rooms as well as food and beverage options including an all-day dining restaurant and a pool bar. Guests can also experience the brand’s signature Best Brews™ program featuring local beers at the lobby bar and lounge – the ideal spot to watch sports matches and unwind with friends and colleagues. Other hotel facilities include a fitness center, an outdoor pool and flexible meeting spaces. Both hotels will provide all of the brand’s defining elements including the signature Four Points bed, free bottled water in all rooms and suites, fast and free Wi-Fi throughout the hotel, and an energizing breakfast with fresh coffee that helps guests start and end the day right.

“The Four Points brand has the largest global pipeline within Starwood’s portfolio of brands,” said Neil George, Senior Vice President Acquisitions & Development, Starwood Hotels & Resorts, Africa & Middle East. “With two Four Points by Sheraton hotels currently operating in Africa and eight more in the pipeline, the brand is enjoying great interest from developers across the continent. These signings underpin Starwood’s conversion-friendly approach and our ability to convert hotels within a short amount of time as we strive to maximize value for our partners and create experiences for our guests.”

Grupo Hotusa opens first hotel in Africa in Morocco

Grupo Hotusa makes its debut in Africa with hotel in Casablanca

780 400 Daniel Fountain

Eurostars Hotel Company, the hotel division of Spain’s Grupo Hotusa, is starting in Africa with the opening of its first hotel in Morocco, the Eurostars Sidi Maarouf 4*.

With this latest addition, the company has now reached 158 hotels in 16 countries in three continents and has opened the door to a destination where it intends to expand its portfolio in the coming months.

The president of the Grupo Hotusa, Amancio Lopez Seijas said:“Having a hotel in Africa was an objective we have had for a long time; we are sure that this will be the first of many. We have a lot of expectations in Morocco, a destination that has a great potential for growth in the urban segment”.

Grupo Hotusa opens first hotel in Africa in Morocco

The Eurostars Sidi Maarouf 4* is a new-build modern hotel, located in the La Colline district in the south of Casablanca. It stands out for the elegance and comfort of its facilities, perfect both for pleasure trips and for business trips or small business meetings. The hotel has a multi-purpose hall and two event halls with natural light, both perfect for holding company meetings. The rest of its facilities include an outdoor swimming pool, gymnasium, massage room and yoga room.

The Spanish company has another project on course in Casablanca and is willing to analyse opportunities in Morocco or other African countries, by means of lease contracts, management contracts with purchase of the building or other mixed options, such as franchise. According to Amancio Lopez, “we believe that our know-how, based on over 20 years’ experience running hotels, can be perfectly replicated in several African destinations.”

Hotel Verde, Tanzania

Bakhresa Group and Verde Hotels to build Zanzibar’s ‘greenest hotel’

1000 545 Daniel Fountain

The Tanzanian based Bakhresa Group has appointed Verde Hotels from South Africa to develop and manage the total overhaul and upgrading of the old Mtoni Marine Hotel in Zanzibar. The brand new five star property will be known as Hotel Verde, and Zanzibar’s ‘greenest hotel’.

“We are serious about being the leaders of the Green Economy sector and therefore we approached the developers of Africa’s greenest properties, Verde Hotels, to ensure that Hotel Verde Zanzibar will be the greenest hotel in East Africa” stated Mr. Said Salim Awadh Bakhresa, Chairman of the Bakhresa Group.

Hotel Verde Zanzibar is set to take sustainable development to new heights in east Africa and become a flagship for tourism in Zanzibar and Tanzania.

Hotel Verde, Tanzania
Mr. Bahkresa has commissioned the Verde Hotels Group to manage the development and operate the hotel as a certified sustainable establishment that offers a carbon neutral hotel experience. Verde Hotels will work with Estim Construction who have a strong reputation for project excellence in the East African region. Hotel Verde Zanzibar will be pursuing independent certification, utilising the Green Star rating tool from the Green Building Council of South Africa (GBCSA).

Verde Hotels intends to integrate sustainability into every facet of their involvement in the construction, as well as throughout the hotel’s daily operation.

Hotel Verde, Tanzania
Sustainability strategies that will be implemented in the redevelopment phase include passive and active design, that optimise resource efficiency; these include: renewable energy generation; regenerative drive elevators, a grey water recycling system, responsible procurement, waste minimisation and management and indoor environmental quality optimisation, to mention just a few.

Hotel Verde Zanzibar will showcase the integration of 5 star luxury and environmental best practice. The hotel will feature 142 ultra-stylish rooms, luxury suites, a spa, gym, restaurants, entertainment and marina.

Hotel Verde, Tanzania
The contemporary design fused with local Tanzanian elements will be an attraction for local and international guests to enjoy whilst keeping to the standards and practices of responsible tourism principals.

As a hotel management group, Verde Hotels specialises in a turnkey management approach that includes the construction phase of new hotels and the renovation phase of existing buildings that are subsequently operated and managed by Verde Hotels, with sustainability at their core. The aim is to transcend conventional hotel and business standards whilst entering into a new era of environmental consciousness and responsible tourism.

Bakhresa.com
www.VerdeHotels.co.za

Botswana's Chobe Water Villas to open in July

Botswana’s Chobe Water Villas to open in July

896 544 Daniel Fountain

Opening on 1 July 2016, Chobe Water Villas is an exclusive and intimate lodge, accommodating guests in 16 raised villas in the 150km² Namibian Kasika Conservancy. All the villas are situated directly on the edge of a lagoon, enjoying direct views of Sedudu Island, Chobe National Park and the Safari Town of Kasane in Botswana.

Chobe Water Villas will host a maximum of 32 guests in its uniquely positioned villas, lounges, bar, restaurant, infinity pool, pool desk and African “Boma”, a shielded area once used to protect both man and livestock, but now a traditional place to enjoy a “Braai” (BBQ) and camp fire while on safari.

Opening on 1 July 2016, Chobe Water Villas is an exclusive and intimate lodge, accommodating guests in 16 raised villas
The luxurious water villas have 85m² of living space, including lounge and bedroom areas, with floor-to-ceiling glass doors which fold back completely, opening up to the 19m² front terrace with built in day-bed and views of the Chobe River. Every villa also has a 12m² rear terrace which faces the natural bush and is the perfect spot to enjoy spectacular evening sunsets.

Opening on 1 July 2016, Chobe Water Villas is an exclusive and intimate lodge, accommodating guests in 16 raised villas
Under thatch and partially open to the gardens, the Main Lodge building overlooks the spectacular infinity pool and pool deck, blessed with unobstructed views of the neighbouring rivers and national parks. The Main Lodge features a 36-seat restaurant, cosy cocktail bar and library lounge with complimentary all day butler station.

www.chobewatervillas.com

Sofitel Tamuda Bay

Sofitel Tamuda Bay Hotel launches on Morocco’s riviera

1000 619 Daniel Fountain

May saw the launch of Sofitel’s new 5 star beachfront hotel in Morocco. Stunning architecture, award-winning contemporary design and Arty-Chic atmosphere are set to make Sofitel Tamuda Bay Beach & Spa undisputed leader in the Kingdom’s most exclusive coastal resort.

Celebrating the Riviera lifestyle
For guests seeking the perfect blend of leisure and wellbeing, the Sofitel Tamuda Bay Beach & Spa offers 82 chic light-filled and intensely colorful guestrooms, all with private balcony and magnificent views of the Mediterranean gardens, pool and beach.

Sofitel Tamuda Bay

To celebrate the Riviera in style, the hotel proposes the Royal Suite, five Junior suites, three So Spa Suites, five signature villas and eight Beach suites with private terrace and jacuzzi.

French art and Moroccan tradition
Sofitel chose French-Lebanese architect Galal Mahmoud to create Tamuda Bay’s award-winning design, strongly inspired by French Riviera glamour of the 1950s and ‘Fauviste’ artists (including Matisse and Rouault).

Striking contemporary architecture is combined with Moroccan influences, seen in geometric motifs and modern reinterpretation of traditional Mashrabiya latticework.

Sofitel Tamuda Bay

SoSPA: an oasis of calm and wellbeing

Guests can unwind and chill in the new SoSPA, a vast 1259 sq. metres space entirely dedicated to relaxation. Decorated in warm colours, the Spa offers authentic hammam rituals, sauna, unique hydrotherapy, beauty and detox treatments plus relaxation area. Fitness fans can test the latest So FIT exercise machines and the heated swimming pool.

www.sofitel.com/gb/

Gallery 1957 at Kempinski Hotel Gold Coast

Celebration of artistic flair at Kempinski Hotel Gold Coast City, Accra

1000 679 Daniel Fountain

Located in the heart of Ghana’s thriving cultural scene is a brand new five star luxury hotel, Kempinski Hotel Gold Coast City, Accra. The vibrant property features 269 rooms, including 22 suites and 2 stunning presidential suites.

Art is a key focus for the property and this is reflected in the unique pieces located throughout the hotel and in the independent contemporary art gallery located inside the hotel known as Gallery 1957. Taking its name from the year Ghana gained independence; the gallery represents artists such as Jeremiah Quarshie, Yaw Owusu, Serge Attukwei Clottey and Zohra Opoku.

Featured in the hotel’s collection are also outstanding pieces by Agosor, Ni Mills, Krotei Tetteh, Gideon Appah and Ablade Glover.

Kempinski Hotel Gold Coast City Accra encourages both local audiences and international visitors to discover new artists and to gain a deeper understanding of the breadth of their practices through the hotel installations and exhibitions at the gallery. With a range of exquisite dining options and a new spa to open in November, the property lives up to its name as the only true 5* hotel in Accra.

Marwan Zakhem commented, “The gallery evolved from my experience as a collector of contemporary African art. I began building relationships with artists and understanding their creative process better. I decided to found Gallery 1957 to support, complement and highlight the art scene that is already started to grow here in Accra. It wanted to establish the gallery to provide increased opportunities for artists based in Ghana and the hotel provided the ideal location. The work being created here is very exciting, emotive and often experimental and I hope visitors will enjoy the experience of discovering art at the Kempinski.”

The Arjaan Hotel Apartments by Rotana property, in Marrakech will have 140 keys

Rotana to debut Arjaan property in Morocco in 2018

650 411 Daniel Fountain

The Arjaan Hotel Apartments by Rotana property, in Marrakech will have 140 keys and be located at M Avenue, the new shopping, entertainment and residential destination in Marrakech.

Catering to both business and leisure travellers, the property will feature modern facilities including three dining outlets, meeting rooms, conference and banquet halls, wireless internet access, a swimming pool, and a fitness studio.

Rotana president and CEO Omer Kaddouri said: “We are very proud to have been selected to manage this property which will have great appeal, particularly among tourists and long stay guests. Our new Arjaan in Marrakech will offer everything guests need to be comfortable and productive, and will exude sophisticated elegance across all facets of the property.”

The M Avenue is a dedicated lifestyle district with a mix of premium hotels, residences, offices, retail outlets, restaurants, cafés, art galleries and exhibition venues, along a 500-metre-long promenade entitled ‘Garden Avenue’.

“The M Avenue intends to play a central role in the lives of the region’s residents and tourists, providing a new way to experience Marrakech by weaving links between a rich heritage and modern Morocco,” said Nabil Slitine, general manager of Downtown Hotel Corporation, developer of M Avenue.

In 2014, Marrakech hosted 1.89 million tourists with six million overnight stays. The increase in international visitor arrivals was driven by a number of factors including re-introduction of several airline routes that had earlier been suspended during the economic downturn, as well as the city’s emergence as a MICE and events tourism destination.

Ruckomechi Camp

Wilderness Safaris opens Ruckomechi Camp, Mana Pools in Zimbabwe

820 400 Daniel Fountain

This month, Wilderness Safaris, the award-winning luxury safari operator, is delighted to announce the opening of the rebuilt and revamped Ruckomechi Camp, located in its private concession in Zimbabwe’s Mana Pools National Park.

“We are extremely proud to welcome guests to our beautiful new camp which still retains the understated tented luxury and nostalgic safari feel that is synonymous with Ruckomechi,” says Wilderness Safaris Zambezi MD, Ron Goatley.

Ruckomechi Camp
Comprising just ten spacious tented suites (eight of which have opened, with a further two family suites opening on 1st August 2016), the camp boasts the same wide-angled views of the Zambezi River and the dramatic purple-hued escarpment of Zambia in the distance. All the tents, as well as the central dining, bar and lounge areas face this evocative scene, often with an elephant or two included in the spectacle. The pool, star-gazing deck and outdoor ‘bath with a view’ add to the incredible camp offering.

Ruckomechi Camp

Subtle interiors were chosen for the guest areas and tented suites to ensure that the main focal point remained the sweeping views of the surrounding wilderness.

“We used lots of blues in the guest tent interiors which were inspired by the beautiful deep-blue colours of the Zambezi River at sunset; these hues are picked up in the Trading Glass beads in the Lozi wooden bowls and the hand-blown glass vases on the console tables and desk, as well as the natural cotton linen denim scatter cushions,” says Interior Designer and bush enthusiast, Mandy Langebrink, who has worked with Wilderness Safaris on a number of camps for the past 20 years.

Ruckomechi Camp

“The coolness of the Zambezi River is reflected in the light elegance of the stylish interiors, with the blues offset by the light tones of the solid wooden furniture, all complementing the old African artefacts of the Turkana and Tuareg bowls and the rustic coffee table. Large leather sofas create the perfect space for relaxing in between game drives and the elegant louvre screens provide a sense of lightness and temporary style of the ‘old camping days,’ Mandy added. “The camp epitomises luxury in style; one that is totally in touch with its surroundings.”

Elewana opens luxury tented camp in Kenya

Elewana opens luxury tented camp in Kenya

640 376 Daniel Fountain

Luxury safari camp and lodge operator Elewana has opened a new luxury tented camp on the site of the former Loisaba Lodge. Located on a 600ft escarpment, every room in Loisaba Tented Camp enjoys spectacular views stretching across the Laikipia Plains to Mount Kenya.

Elewana has been chosen by Loisaba Conservancy, with support from The Nature Conservancy (TNC), to partner with it in the development and management of its primary tourism assets in this critically important conservation area that has been recently secured by TNC for ongoing protection for the foreseeable future. The new camp is part of the Elewana Collection – a portfolio of fifteen properties spanning the highlights of East Africa’s safari and beach offerings.

Elewana opens luxury tented camp in Kenya

Loisaba Tented Camp comprises six stylish and extremely spacious ensuite tents (three double/three convertible twin/double), three family combinations each consisting of two ensuite tents with adjoining walkway. The Private Residence houses three ensuite tents (one family combination and one convertible tent) complemented with a private bar, dining area and infinity pool. Not least of all, the property will reflect Elewana and TNC’s commitment to the environment by limiting its ecological footprint wherever possible.

Commenting on the partnership, Karim Wissanji, Elewana’s CEO, said, “The partnership with The Nature Conservancy highlights Elewana’s passion and commitment to conservation, one that is reflected in its support (financial and otherwise) for this exciting new project; a project that sits at the very heart of TNC’s community, wildlife and land conservation philosophies and their important collaboration with tourism.”

Elewana opens luxury tented camp in Kenya

Matthew Brown, Africa Conservation Director, The Nature Conservancy remarks, “Tourism support helps make Loisaba a self-sustaining engine for peace, community development, and wildlife conservation. This is an innovative example of how Africa can both preserve its heritage and create economic opportunities for its people. We are excited to be working with Elewana.”

Melia Hotels

Meliá Hotels International announces new hotels in Africa, Indian Ocean and Central Asia

750 531 Daniel Fountain

Meliá Hotels International has announced the signing of three new hotels during the Arab Hotel Investment Conference (AHIC) last week in Dubai…

• Gran Meliá Maldives, Indian Ocean – it will offer a mixture of luxurious private villa and guestroom living within one of the best fishing and diving destinations in the Maldives
• Meliá Serengeti Lodge, Tanzania, Africa – The first state-of-the-art sustainable hotel by MHI, the hotel will offer ‘off the grid’ living and the perfect viewpoint for the annual migration of one million blue wildebeest, lions, leopards and zebras
• Meliá Almaty, Kazakhstan, Central Asia – the first hotel to be signed by Meliá Hotels International in Kazakhstan – a wealthy country located in the heart of Eurasia (countries situated within the borders of Europe and Asia) – it will bring to life a new city hotel concept for corporate travellers and congresses

Gran Meliá Maldives
Scheduled to launch October 2017 and set amongst virgin coral reef, the Gran Meliá hotel will offer 95 private villas, including 100 rooms, as well as three restaurants, a bar and café, spa, leisure centre and several retail shops. The hotel will also be able to arrange and host exclusive private events and romantic dinners on a smaller nearby island. 66 per cent of Maldivian visitors are honeymooners or guests who wish to enjoy an idyllic beach holiday with exceptional diving.

Meliá Serengeti Lodge (Tanzania)
Meliá Serengeti Lodge, scheduled to open in June 2017, will be Meliá Hotels International first state-of-the-art sustainable hotel, located on the natural terraces on the southern slopes of Nyamuma, with spectacular views over the peaceful valley of the Mbalageti River. To be located 700 meters below the peak of Nyamuma, the hotel will offer a perfect viewpoint for the annual migration of one million blue wildebeest, lions, leopards and 250,000 zebras which pass through the valley every year in search of rains and cooler pastures.

Meliá Serengeti Lodge will sit on three natural terraces that descend from an elevated plateau, with the lodge located on the middle terrace and the hotel’s architectural design will adopt the gentle curves of the land, creating an intimate link with the vegetation and rocky outcrops. The location’s natural surroundings have inspired the design of this unique hotel, as the suites will offer a unique and privileged African experience in a secure and luxurious environment.

Melia Hotels

Meliá Serengeti Lodge will boasts 50 rooms consisting of 25 ‘Meliá Forest’ rooms, 23 ‘Meliá Hills’ rooms and two ‘Serengeti Suites’. The lounges and restaurants will overlook sunny terraces around an infinity pool with pool bar, barbecue patios, with stone and foliage strategically planted and designed to ensure a cool and attractive environment.

Meliá Almaty (Kazakhstan)
Meliá Almaty is the first hotel to be signed by Meliá Hotels International in Kazakhstan. The hotel will be situated amongst the mountains of Tien Shan, Altay, and Ulytau, a winter sports paradise. Kazakhstan is blessed with vast natural resources of oil, gas and mines; as well as traditional cultural attractions that illuminate the relationship between the Kazakh people and nomadic tribes, influenced by the Russian occupation in the 18th century. In 2013, the country received five million visitors and this is expected to grow to eight million by 2024.

Meliá Hotels

Meliá Hotels International will launch a hotel specialising in corporate travel and congresses in Almaty, the former capital of Kazakhstan until 1997, as it is the largest city in the country, which aims to become one of the top 30 economies in the world by 2050.

Meliá Almaty will open in 2018, providing 250 rooms, including 50 Suites and Junior Suites. The hotel will boast cutting-edge architectural design through a steel and glass structure that will also home a restaurant, bar, lounge, spa and fitness centre, as well as meeting rooms.

Louvre Hotels to open properties in Middle East and Africa

Louvre Hotels Group opening 40 economy hotels in MENA region

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Louvre Hotels Group has strengthened its position in the Middle East and North Africa by announcing the opening of 40 economy hotels over the next five years.

A seasoned player in the Middle East region with 60 hotels and over 8,000 rooms, Louvre Hotels Group brings its experience into play to meet the market dynamic. With the support of its shareholder Jin Jiang International, the hotel group continues its development strategy on the low-end and mid-range segments by privileging its Première Classe and Campanile brands, operating a network of over 650 hotels worldwide. The Group’s next step is to open 40 new hotels in the region within the next 5 years.

Since it was launched in 1989, Première Classe has renewed the super-budget hotel sector by adopting a veritable strategy combining low-cost and comfort. The brand delivers the promise of a unique experience: essential comfort, all-you-can-eat breakfast and modern and functional rooms with WiFi access. Today, Première Classe counts 264 hotels in 6 countries.

Campanile, the historic French brand founded in 1976, counts 375 hotels in 8 European countries and is the fourth largest restaurant network in France. To create the right design match for its brand image, authentic and welcoming, the brand called on French designer Patrick Jouin, while Michelin-starred chef Philippe Renard worked on its restaurant menu. 2016 will be an important year in Campanile’s globalisation strategy; in addition to moving into the Middle East, it will open its first hotel in Shanghai, China in the summer this year.

“By developing Première Classe and Campanile on the Middle East and North African markets where our 4- and 5-star brands are already established, we are meeting a real local need for economy hotels by offering clients uncompromising service quality,” explains Pierre-Frédéric Roulot, President and CEO of Louvre Hotels Group.

The first Première Classe hotel will open its doors in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, in 2018, while the first Campanile hotel locations will be announced in the coming months. These new opportunities dovetail into the Group’s international development strategy, while meeting needs identified by the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC).

According to the UNWTO, the number of international tourists in the Middle East grew by 3% in 2015 to reach a total of 54 million, consolidating a recovery begun in 2014.

Kempinski Hotel Gold Coast City Accra

Kempinski introduces new hotel in Accra, Ghana

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A brand new five-star luxury hotel, Kempinski Hotel Gold Coast City Accra, has arrived at the heart of Ghana’s capital. The property features 269 rooms including 22 suites and 2 presidential suites with entry level rooms from an expansive 50sqm: the largest room size in Accra.

Home to the brand new Resense Spa due to open in late 2016, the hotel offers world-class conference facilities and a variety of dining options. Just six hours from London with daily British Airways flights, guests will be immersed in a vibrant Ghanaian revival. European luxury at the heart of an African renaissance, Kempinski Hotel Gold Coast City is the centrepiece of a ground breaking ongoing development for the capital; encompassing offices, residential and retail space.

Kempinski Hotel Gold Coast City Accra

Rooms & Suites
Inspired by the heritage and colours of Ghana, each room features hardwood floors, luxuriant textiles, and carefully selected artwork. The rooms and suites are spacious; 142 of which have their own balconies. Deluxe, Executive and Superior rooms draw inspiration from African artistry, featuring comfortable living areas and ergonomic work stations. Executive rooms and suites have the added benefit of overlooking the pool or city of Accra with access to the executive lounge. The Presidential Suites offer panoramic views of Accra and complimentary use of a luxury car chauffeur and 24 hour butler service.

Kempinski Hotel Gold Coast City Accra

Meetings & Conferences
Perfectly located for the corporate traveller, Kempinski Hotel Gold Coast City is in close proximity to the State House, Accra International Conference Centre and the National Theatre. The hotel also provides the ideal venue for meetings and events with more than 1750sqm of meeting and banquet space. From elegant affairs in the grand ballroom to productive meetings and special open-air events, the expertly designed conference facilities are world-class. The hotel’s Ballroom is the largest and most luxurious in Ghana. Eight further meeting rooms and break out spaces feature innovative technology, such as touch panels built into the tables.

Gallery 1957
Gallery 1957 is a new gallery in Accra dedicated to contemporary art situated in the hotel. With an initial curatorial focus on contemporary Ghanaian art, the gallery presents a programme of exhibitions, installations and performances by the country’s most significant artists under the Creative Directorship of Nana Oforiatta Ayim. Gallery 1957 works with artists currently bridging the gap between local and international practices, including Serge Attukwei Clottey, Zohra Opoku, Jeremiah Quarshie, Ibrahim Mahama and Yaw Owusu.

Kempinski Hotel Gold Coast City Accra

Spa & Fitness
Opening in late 2016, the Resense Spa at Kempinski Hotel Gold Coast City will transport guests to an oasis of sophisticated relaxation with gold mosaic interiors, 10 treatment rooms, and a hammam. Set to be one of the largest spas in West Africa, the spa invites guests across a dramatic threshold into a lounge with the atmosphere of a chic private members’ club. Guests will also be delighted by the spa menu, based on traditional European treatments, including the Resense bathing ‘Kur,’ combining ancient Roman bathing traditions with a holistic approach of natural therapies. For guests who want to enhance their wellbeing, the Health Club also offers a 25-metre outdoor swimming pool, fully fitted state-of-the-art gymnasium, yoga studio, health and beauty salon, tennis court and organic bar.

Kempinski Hotel Gold Coast City Accra Ghana

Restaurants & Bars
At Kempinski Hotel Gold Coast City, guests will enjoy the flavours of Africa blended with international cuisine, appealing to all tastes and occasions from a family meal to a business lunch. The Papillon Restaurant is a vibrant all day restaurant showcasing Mediterranean flavours and the best in local Ghanaian cuisine. The infinity Papillion Pool Lounge offers views over the greens of the Cedar Terrace and a waterfall running all the way down to the Cedar Garden. Cabana style seating offer daytime relaxation, while moonlights and lanterns set the mood in the evening. Meanwhile, in the Cedar Garden, opening in late 2016, you can dine on Lebanese and Oriental cuisine and partake in a shisha experience. Alternatively, the Gallery Bar is the perfect place for guests to socialise. A short distance away, the Gallery Lounge is a comfortable lounge venue to see and to be seen. A place where the guests come for afternoon tea or a glass of wine, while listening to custom designed lounge music or live piano.

Kempinski Hotel Gold Coast City Accra Ghana

The Galleria Mall
The Galleria mall, set to open in late 2016 will offer 6,000 sq. m of high-end retail and commercial office space. Substantial underground parking and a carefully selected tenant mix of both local favourites and premium international brands such as Hugo Boss, Versace and Roche Bobois opening flagship stores for the first time in Ghana. The Galleria will also house a unique food hall that will combine a traditional market feel with the latest modern interventions. Retail food outlets, dining areas, coffee bars and an outside terrace all combine to create an exciting offering.

Kempinski Hotel Gold Coast City Accra Ghana

Linthwaite House - now part of Leeu Collection

South African boutique firm Leeu Collection acquires UK property

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Leeu Collection has acquired its first UK property, the acclaimed Lake District hotel, Linthwaite House.

It is Leeu Collection’s first property outside of South Africa, where the group currently operates two hotels (Leeu House and Le Quartier Francais), with a third – Leeu Estates – due to open in June 2016.

Linthwaite House is a celebrated, four-AA Red Star Hotel located in the South Lake District (South Lakes). Originally built as a country house in 1901, this boutique hotel has been independently owned for 25 years. Situated in 14 acres of landscaped gardens, the property offers complete privacy and spectacular panoramic views across Lake Windermere and the surrounding fells. Accommodation is offered in 30 en-suite bedrooms and the hotel also has a 3 AA Rosette restaurant.

Renowned for its homely comforts and for being a haven of tranquillity, Linthwaite House personifies the best of traditional British hospitality. Garnering a Best Service honour from Conde Nast Johansens 2016 UK & Ireland Awards for Excellence, as well as the Good Hotel Guide’s, Editor’s Choice 2016 award in the Romantic Hotel category, this acquisition echoes Leeu Collection’s founder, Indian industrialist Analjit Singh’s vision of creating unrivalled escapes and offering visitors extraordinary experiences.

Leeu Collection comprises four properties, three in South Africa and now one in Britain. Leeu is the Afrikaans word for lion, as is Singh in Sanskrit.

All three of the Leeu Collection’s South Africa properties are located in the Western Cape’s wineland town of Franschhoek just under an hour’s drive from Cape Town and its International Airport.

Sheraton Hotel, Addis Ababa - Hotel Development in Africa

Hotel development in Africa jumps 30% to 64,000 rooms

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The number of planned hotel rooms in Africa has soared to 64,000 in 365 hotels, up almost 30% on the previous year, according to new figures from the annual W Hospitality Group Hotel Chain Development Pipeline Survey.

The increase is largely down to strong growth in sub-Saharan Africa, which is up 42.1% on 2015 and is significantly outstripping North Africa which achieved only a modest 7.5% pipeline increase this year.

A major shake-up in the rankings by country saw Angola, never before listed among the top 10, push Egypt out of second place, due to a major deal there signed by AccorHotels.

The W Hospitality Group survey is published ahead of the African Hotel Investment Forum (AHIF) (www.Africa-Conference.com), which is organised by Bench Events. The conference attracts all the major international hotel investors in Africa and is being held for the first time in Lomé on 21-22 June. A second AHIF will also take place in Kigali, Rwanda on 4-6 October.

Trevor Ward, W Hospitality Group managing director, said: “The evidence from our survey is clear – investors remain confident about the future of the hospitality industry on the continent. Even when pummelled daily by low commodity prices, exchange rate problems, political challenges and poor infrastructure, Africa remains resilient.”

Hotel Development in Africa 2016The IMF forecast for economic growth in sub-Saharan Africa is for an increase of 4% this year and 4.7% in 2017, up from 3.5% in 2015. Overall this is down on the 5-6% increase enjoyed over the past decade, but it’s still double or more the forecast for the world’s advanced economies, such as Europe, the USA and Japan.

Matthew Weihs, managing director of Bench Events, said: “Africa is still on the up. For business, trade and capital investment, the continent remains an attractive proposition, leading to continuing demand for accommodation and other hospitality services.”

Anantara Medjumbe Island Resort

Anantara Medjumbe Island Resort reopens following refurbishment

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Secluded on a pristine private island in the Quirimbas Archipelago off the northern coast of Mozambique, Anantara Medjumbe Island Resort has reopened following an extensive refurbishment.

The 12-villa, adults-only African island hideaway now features refreshed décor, luxury villa upgrades and new signature experiences, including a Robinson Crusoe-style star bed for the ultimate romantic escape.

Now, with a host of enhancements, the resort has reopened to offer more unique signature experiences and natural attractions and will soon be the only African island resort to use 100% solar energy.

Anantara Medjumbe Island Resort
Refreshed décor gives Anantara Medjumbe a distinctive African island identity. The resort has been extensively restyled using colourful patterns to depict the vibrancy of local culture. Shades of blue and aqua reflect the evolving hues of the Indian Ocean. All of the 12 thatched Beach Pool Villas, which open onto soft powdery sands, exude a sense of natural luxury, including newly designed private splash pools with an aqua mosaic finish, and a built-in Champagne step to sip bubbles while admiring the Indian Ocean view.

In the guest villas and public areas, the majority of furniture and lighting was custom designed by interior designers, Savile Row, and produced in Indonesia and South Africa with incredible attention to detail. Various accessories were sourced from around the African continent and framed artworks were created using traditional wax printed capulana fabrics that were sourced from local markets.

Photos: anantara.com
Steigenberger Alcazar Resort

Steigenberger Alcazar Resort to open in Sharm El Sheikh in May

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The new five-star Steigenberger Alcazar Resort, set in a beach location directly on the Red Sea coast, will be ready to receive its first guests from mid-May. This will be Steigenberger’s eighth venture in Egypt. Three contracts have been signed during the last three years.

The hotel will offer 610 rooms, including seven Junior Suites and two villas as well as five different restaurants and four bars. Visitors will also be able to enjoy the benefits of a modern conference area able to stage meetings and events as well as being able to access spa and gym facilities.

“Egypt is an important location for the Steigenberger Hotel Group,” said Puneet Chhatwal, CEO of Steigenberger Hotels AG. “The new resort in Sharm El Sheikh fits seamlessly into our existing portfolio and strengthens our position on the market. Together with the opening of the Steigenberger Tahrir Square in July we are well set.”

The Alcazar Resort is situated in the Bay of Nabq on the Sinai Peninsula and offers hotel guests the use of a 3,000 m2 private beach. The area features an extensive underwater environment which is ideal for diving and snorkelling.

Teniqua Treetops, South Africa

Teniqua Treetops, South Africa (Patrick Goff)

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Going green means many things to many people, from adding solar power panels to a roof to a through total reworking of energy use. In our sophisticated cities, going green generally has to be driven by financial return, and the effort involved focusses on energy use. Premier Inn are an excellent example of a group trying to build carbon neutral hotels at no higher cost than any other new build, and who look for a return on investment of around the 7% mark — something that could not be achieved in early years of solar panels, hence many of their properties only now have them added, whilst recycling of heat, and other energy saving measure had previously been adopted.

In some cases however a totally different approach is taken. In Namibia the Damaraland Lodge impressed me by the use of local materials and the ability to remove the hotel, leaving virtually no trace, if the market no longer supported it. In part this was driven by the location in a wilderness where there were no mains services. I was told the only delivery to site was 30,000 empty sand bags, everything else in construction being generated locally. Where the attraction for tourists is the environment, then it makes sense for the hotel operator to tread softly upon the earth or risk damaging that which attracts the guest in the first place. As wilderness decreases so preserving it for tourism becomes an issue.

Teniqua Treetops falls into the category of an environmentally sensitive property focused on sustainability whilst bringing the guest into the wildlife environment too, but here the mix is complicated by the owner’s self-build approach. With just 8 suites built in the treetops of native forest in the foothills of the Outeniqua Mountains, these rooms are the ultimate in recycling, with, for example, many of the windows and doors being recycled from salvage yards. This ecologically sensitive approach provides comfortable suites providing self-catering hideaways just off the popular Garden Route in South Africa.

Teniqua Treetops, South Africa
In truth this kind of hospitality resort has laid the foundation of what has become known in the UK as ‘glamping’ – glamour camping. Not quite tents these rooms none-the-less make good use of camping antecedents. Built on the steeply raking slopes of the Karatara river valley these rooms are isolated from each other, and but for the car port outside, could almost be isolated from the 21st century too, except that despite their self-build nature the solar power and water heating panels are sophisticated enough to cater for most of the needs of guest. Air conditioning and heating is however driven off a backup mains electricity supply so creature comfort is catered for in a way any other form of ‘glamping’ would not be able to do.

Creature comforts are catered for in other ways that mark this as an hotel — for example rooms are serviced daily by housekeepers who access on four wheel drive bikes. The environmentally friendly nature is essential given the build is on the edge of the river valley and away from traditional mains services such as water and sewerage. Water is supplied from rainwater capture, and this is one of the areas of the world with the cleanest air, so the rainwater is drinkable, although most guests bring their drinking water in bottle form.

The hot water supply is adequately supplied in this environment by the solar panels but just in case there is a bottle gas back up, which also provides the gas for the kitchen area. If there is a downside here it is the non flushing soil toilets. A strong arm is needed to work the levers that expel the ordure, and the lack of smell is proof of their functional effectiveness. The mix is allowed to age and emptied to be returned to the land as fertiliser, but despite this there is still an initial ‘yuk’ factor.

Teniqua Treetops, South Africa

All these practical considerations fade into the background when standing looking out at the view. The ‘old mans’ beard’ fronds of lichen Usnea on the trees is very sensitive to pollution and here grows to metres long showing how pure the air is. The forest below the rooms is one of the last remnants of native South African fynbos forest. This is one of the first hotels where there is a list of reasons not to come on the booking site, starting with the observation: * If you are someone who has phobias about flora or fauna: trees, plants, birds, wild animals, insects, snakes, butterflies, moths, tame animals…don’t come.
* We won’t, don’t, can’t fumigate the forest…so, if you would rather be in a sterile environment…don’t come.

In the past guest have also left because of the lack of means for obscuring the views from the bathrooms. As there is no way anyone can look in not reflections in glass, no passers-by in streets, none except possibly a passing sea bird to see you shower this is an hotel where you can revel in the freedom an individually isolated room can provide. During our stay the only intrusive strangers were the occasional spider, the proximity of bird life and the inquisitiveness of the hotel cat (Marlene), who insisted on accompanying walks through the forest.

The bedrooms are secure, with the additional safety of insect nets and inner canvas liners that can be zipped closed at night. During the day the large balconies allow many hours of sun drenched contemplation of the treetops, bird watching and listening to the animal noises from the forest below, tuning in to the natural world. This form of retreat is rare and to be treasured. Yet there is also a social area to this property, complete with a small conference facility, and a pool area for those for whom company of a significant other is not enough. Imaginative recycling throughout the property is marked by the outdoor furniture (one of the owners is an engineer)and the creation of play areas provides and energy consuming area for offspring.

Teniqua Treetops, South Africa
There is a communal braaii area for those who want to indulge the manic obsession South Africans have with burning everything over wood fires, or as a relief from self catering in the individual kitchens within each room. There is a small shop on site but it is an easy drive over deserted roads to go shopping for those gorgeous and cheap South African wines if you didn’t bring along enough in the first place. With any installation in the treetops the problems of how to supply water and take away waste are major concerns. Electricity whether generated via solar or the national grid is relatively simple via a thin(ish) cable. Water and sewage pipes tend to be both bulky and need long trenches to make the provision.

here rainwater provides a large part of the answer and notices in the bathroom, which despite the limitations boast both shower and bath tub, push the lesson home saying showers are for one, baths for two (and may be helps with the popularity with honeymooners…). Guest are invited every time they turn on a tap to choose between the solar heated and gas heated water. At no stage did the hot water supply seem inadequate even on dull days, when the solar heating was selected.

Occasionally the water colour will be somewhat ‘cola-coloured’ as the hotel describes it, because of the tanin that comes in water supply from the forest area, as water or bathing is pumped up from the river below. Rainwater however is very pure and quite drinkable.Both river and rain water have been tested and are potable. The brown colour could be removed from the river water with flocculation (chemicals) and lots of energy and waste (completed flocculent). The operation knows this would not be environmentally justifiable…

Teniqua Treetops, South Africa

Sewerage is a less tractable problem and here the latest dry toilet systems are used to safely and efficiently process human waste without threatening the sensitive Karatara catchment area; septic tanks are used to avoid damage to the underlying root bed of the forest floor and avoid polluting a water course. This means each time the toilet is used, a scattering of forest leaf fall is added and the lid lifted and dropped to power a spiral screw which removes the waste into the septic tank. This is not a silent forest, the sound of birds and wildlife ample tribute to the care and concern the owners have taken to protect what is, after all, their major asset. Here walks may give sightings of caracal (a form of wild cat) or even possibly leopard, Small buck and monkeys and copious bird-life provide a nature lovers idyll.

This is not a destination for those who love cities and night-life epitomised by the pub and nightclub. This is somewhere to feel the soul of the earth, to sit in contemplation watching a sunset, to be at one with the world. Such places are rare, and need to be treasured.

© Words and Pictures Patrick Goff. From a visit in March 2014

131 Herbert Baker, Pretoria

131 Herbert Baker, Pretoria (Patrick Goff)

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Pretoria is the administrative capital of South Africa, Every morning commuter trains bring civil servants in to work, in a town with tree shaded streets and plenty of historically interesting buildings, including the home of Paul Kruger, once one of the leaders of the Boer tribe. Indeed Boer history has been surprisingly allowed to remain as a dominant tourist feature in this town with the monument to the Boer trekkers towering above the city on one side, whilst the Union Buildings (parliament building) dominates the central area.

Herbert Baker is one of those streets seen in many capital cities, where large mansions sit in their own grounds isolated from the daily hubbub of the city. As usual in South Africa each is surrounded by an electric fence on top of a high wall. In these exclusive grounds now nestles one of a number of small boutique properties supplementing the limited hotel offerings in Pretoria from the likes of Sheraton.

In bustling South Africa the absence of the chain hotel groups so common throughout the rest of the world is noticeable. One has to question why these predominantly European or US led chains are so blind to markets such as this, with growth economically over 7% and tourism growth higher. Tourism growth is at 17% in neighbouring Tanzania for example, where ministers have aggressively sold their countries offering in particular to the US market.

131 Herbert Baker, Pretoria
The news that Marriott are buying South African operator Protea, who have over 100 properties throughout Africa is good news for the continent and for the Protea Group home market of South Africa in particular (the protea being south Africa’s national flower). Hopefully I will be able to report on a Protea in South Africa later in the year. After Hilton taking over the Hilton Cape Town last year this news is an injection of quality that the mass market needs throughout the continent. Whilst there are plenty of home grown quality hotels such as the Cape Grace or Bushmans Kloof for example the lack of depth a major chain would bring is noticeable, especially in the burgeoning budget sector.

Much of the gap in quality in mid-level hotels has been filled by high end boutique B&B’s or small boutique hotels style properties like the Robertson Small Hotel. Set in a large garden on the border of a reserve on the edge of Pretoria, the desire of the owners of 131 Herbet Baker for this to be seen as a five star operation is torpedoed by poor management exemplified by a casual attitude to serving what is on the menu. Unannounced ingredients on a plate may surprise but do not allow for allergies, likes or dislikes on the part of the guest, they just make life easy for the kitchen. Menus are typed on the computer so it is easy to present them to show what has been bought fresh from the market that day – advertising dishes that are no longer available is unforgiveable.

131 Herbert Baker, Pretoria
Management has been successful in building a local following for the property, a difficult task in South Africa despite the growth of local internal tourism and business markets. Building relationships across social divides that still exist like chasms in South Africa is difficult. This has been managed and achieved successfully by the owners, but service standards also need the same focus along with training.

The hotel interiors are stylish, let down by a little over elaboration in the decor, sometimes less can truly be more. However the results are comfortable, and the hotel makes the most of a difficult plan. The original layout of the dining room cut across a bedroom access route, and the revised positioning gives it the benefit of the views across Pretoria. The difficulty of the new arrangement is the waiting staff then have a flight of stairs and reception to navigate between diners and kitchen.

A sharp maitre d’ would benefit service levels, perhaps something that could be doubled up with the bar and wine service. The dining space shares the room with the bar, both treading an uneasy line as the property with only 8 rooms and an apartment doesn’t fill the spaces busily – difficult to see a ‘passing trade’ although there were some outside diners during our stay. There could perhaps be more definition between the two areas, perhaps even a physical redefinition, making more of the fireplace to create a snug bar feel at one end. Enclosing the space for dining, and narrowing space between the dining tables would make it feel a little busier, more intimate.

131 Herbert Baker, Pretoria
The large space with windows opening to an outside dining terrace (down more steps) may be delightfully cool in the hot summer months but feels a little bleak in the winter, a common problem in properties optimised for the hot climate that prevails for many months.On the other hand adding floor to ceiling window doors with a balcony would considerably enhance the space in both seasons. Originally the dining room had the colonnaded terrace as part of the dining experience and having dined on the similar pool terrace at Bushmans Kloof it is possible to see how attractive this could be. In summer I would imagine this space is used for table and chairs off what is now the the lounge making the pool area a more social space.

Even in the winter this area is a sun trap and more could be made of it, as it is attractive and secluded.

All these spaces are a good size for the nature of the property and the number of bedrooms. They are supplemented by the large outside garden terrace area with its extensive view across Pretoria, enabling small functions to be accommodated too. The luxury of having outside terraces and large spaces is a major advantage to the hotel, and carries through into the bedrooms too.

131 Herbert Baker, Pretoria
There is also a room available for private functions and meetings with its own sheltered courtyard suitable for coffee breaks etc. Taken with the terrace this enables the property to host small receptions or weddings etc. The bedrooms are large and luxuriously fitted out, and the bathrooms too are generously sized with soaking tubs and walk in showers, all fitted with a local stone. Some bedrooms have their own terraces looking across the skyline of Pretoria, whilst others open on to the internal quadrangle housing the pool.

Bedroom design has been thoughtful with socket plates carrying different types of plugs (US, European, South Arican & British) making keeping equipment charged easy. The is free WiFi too, bottled water and a humidifier alongside the airconditioning. French windows give onto terraces in most bedrooms, and the styling is typically European in feel.

131 Herbert Baker, Pretoria
Rooms have individual air conditioning and bathroom have the luxury of underfloor heating. Humidifiers are added for additional guest comfort.
131 Herbet Baker is a very attractive boutique that has considerable potential to offer more. The major issue is the restaurant layout which has been changed but still needs tweaking to provide maximum benefit. The kitchen offering also needs resolving – mainly simply through much sharper management.

Almost a ‘country house’ property within Pretoria the owners have worked hard to create their boutique. If you are planning a stay in the Johannesburg area then this property may fit your needs. For those who worry about their safety in South Africa, I believe after my numerous visits that for someone who lived in Camberwell the dangers here are no greater than in many big cities like London, New York,or the banlieues of Paris. Be streetwise and take advice from your hosts and you will be rewarded with a sense of history, stunning landscapes and fantastic bird and wildlife in what is becoming one of the world’s best tourist destinations.

©Words and pictures Patrick Goff 2014. From a visit in May 2013

The Blue Train, South Africa

The Blue Train, South Africa (Patrick Goff)

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Last time I rode a luxury train it was the Orient Express UK end, steam pulled from London to Kidderminster, and not the blue of Mallard or Sir Nigel Gresley either. Intended to be a celebration for designers of some good years when planned, the Lawson-induced crash turned it into a wake — grown men crying as they realised the Tory party had bankrupted them in the search for parity with the new Euro, much as many grown men cried in 2010 as they realised bankers had shafted them in this latest crash.

The decision to take the African equivalent of the Orient Express, was one haunted by my 1992 ghosts, but the Blue Train provided an effective exorcist. The train runs a regular luxurious service between Pretoria and Cape Town, timetabled as 27 hours. It harks back to a more graceful era of travel, and is all the better for that.

Relaxed journeys are for those who enjoy travelling as much as arriving, essential here as much of the line is single track. Delays are almost inevitable as we waited for mile long freight trains full of South African minerals to trundle past on the sections of loop track where this was possible. The train describes itself as a window into the soul of Africa, and it does a pretty good job of giving a privileged window into South Africa as it travels the 1000 miles through informal settlements, townships, small towns and farming communities, through a wide variety of land and townscapes.

The Blue Train, South Africa

We started in Tshwane, the administrative capital of South Africa that used to be better known as the capital of Afrikanerdom under the name Pretoria. Surprisingly the Voortrekker monument to the brutal Dutch pioneers still stands high on its dominating hill above the city. Almost a suburb of Johannesburg now, Tshwane is a busy city dominated by the civil servants that run government and the Blue Train starts its journey in the main station, still labelled Pretoria, amongst the busy commuter trains, including the new high speed ‘Gautrain’, standard Metro trains and dedicated Metro Business expresses.

Standing on its own dedicated platform the Blue Train waits the passengers who check in to their own comfortable lounge, where the crew serve welcome drinks and are introduced to their charges. When all guests are assembled they are called off by suite number, baggage loaded in the baggage car and mealtime preferences registered.

The Blue Train, South Africa
The superb dining car can seat half the train at a time, and early brunch can be chosen along with the early dinner, but the guests first have time to settle into the marvellous cabins before they start to eat. Entrance onto the train itself is a piece of theatre and the wood panelled and brass railed corridors barely prepare the guest for the richness of the design of the classical interiors, full of gleaming brass and glowing timber marquetry.

I have stayed in some pod hotels, and some so called 5-star hotels with tiny bedrooms that cannot compare with the luxury achieved in these railway carriages. My cabin had a comfortable lounge with a huge picture window and its own gold tapped en-suite marble bathroom. The choices of cabin include a special provision for the less able and larger luxury cabins with more floor space. Twin or doubles, bath or shower complete the choice. Unlike most hotels the choice is offered on booking, too. Would that hotels that offer shower only bathrooms gave the guest the choice of shower or bath on booking — giving them the choice of going elsewhere if shower only is not acceptable. Research has shown that shower only is unacceptable to over 30% of all guests and less acceptable still to the wealthy older cohort. That they have the choice on a train is a delight.

The Blue Train, South Africa
Unlike many hotels the train is able to offer a smoking lounge, up front, behind the engines, but this is the only area of the train where smoking is permitted — and the Chinese tourists took advantage of it, booking the closest cabins. The restaurant car was in the centre of the train, and immediately behind it was another, non-smoking saloon bar. After more cabins the last carriage was an observation car offering 360o views of the landscape traversed.

The advantage of train over plane or auto is of course the size of the windows. In the cabin each passenger could enjoy the view in comfort, many passengers locking open the carriage doors too, so that they could see clearly out of both side of the train. Riding gently in air-conditioned comfort in complete privacy enabled conversation about the passing views, face to face or side by side, interrupted only by the occasional service from the cabin butler or the call to eat and drink in the comfortable restaurant or bar car. Yet it was possible to go out and walk the train, to stretch and converse with other passengers, to be social in a way not possible in a plane or auto.

The gentle ride at a stately 55kph carried the rhythmic clunk over rail joints. Missing in rail traffic in Europe where tracks are welded rather than jointed, the rhythm was the only sound track as travel rolled the landscapes past gently. Many passengers had cameras permanently ready, and the television in each cabin, which could be used to watch videos or TV could also be tuned to an engine mounted camera to watch the track ahead.
Although the cabins were small at the evening meal the time was used to turn down and transform the cabin into a double bedroom – this functional change in effect doubling the cabin into a suite. The reverse process was achieved whilst breakfasting the following morning.

The Blue Train, South Africa
Sleeping on the train was far more comfortable than on a ship. It lacked that thumping juddering crash experienced when a ship hits a large wave, nor was it possible to hear the engines. The only sound was the rhythmic, gently soporific noise of iron on iron, the steady clunk setting a rhythm that lulled to a sleep only broken when silence came if the train stopped in one of the rail loops to allow for passing freight. Insulation was very good, so no sound from outside the cabin apart from the wheels on the rails, and the tv could be used to watch movies or, if one preferred, the view from the front of the train.

The restaurant car , beautifully appointed with marquetry and murals, brass and the gleam of polish, glistened with white linen and fine china. Service matched a good five star and the fare included all the food and drink one could hold. Yet still there were the views. Occasionally the disparity between the wealth in the train and the poverty still there in some townships would become evident as a signal caused an stop where passengers looking out became like zoo exhibits as people waiting on an adjacent platform looked in, but generally a smile and wave was the response from outside to a lifted glass within.

The train showcases views of the mountains, the Klein Karoo and the veldt, and stops to provide a view of one of the world’s largest holes, the diamond mine at Kimberly. No samples alas but for those with the money and needing the gleam , there is an exclusive shop on the train where diamonds and jewellery can be bought through personal appointment.

The Blue Train, South Africa

South Africa is changing, slowly, noticeable and with increasing momentum as education (sorely neglected by the arrogant and frequently corrupt ANC leaders) and economic growth improve the lot of the majority. I think South Africa is reasonably safe for tourism – take advice before you go. There are areas I avoid, and I get good local advice, but it is a good buy for Europeans and needs your tourist money to help the rainbow nation truly flower.

The beauty of the country is showcased through the windows of this train, as are the local standards of service through the charm and courtesy of the staff. Design harks back to an age when grace and pleasure in travel were key ingredients of the experience, when comfort was more important than style alone, and when customer experience ruled over the bean counters. Using the Blue Train really does show how it can be better to travel than to arrive.

© Words and pictures by Patrick Goff. From a journey in May 2013

The Plettenberg, South Africa (Patrick Goff)

1000 667 Daniel Fountain

Seaside towns have a look about them. The ocean close by obviously, but the kind of shops they have – a strange mix of sunhats surfboards and post cards mixed with high end retail to capture the spending of the wealthy second homers. So it is too with seaside accommodation, a mix of jolly B&B’s, engaging boutique style operations, the family resort hotels full of kids, sand and entertainment. Occasional the five stars hotels try to stand above the hubbub and offer a premium experience with high achieving restaurants and urban levels of service.

Plettenberg has all these ingredients complicated by the fact that some 80% of the houses are second homes. This means population can increase tenfold at a weekend, but the hotels bring a steady footfall of visitors all the year around. It has the range, the B&B’s resort hotel on the beach, the boutiques such as the Grand Café with Rooms, and the five star rated Plettenberg.

Main street Plettenberg sits just back from the top of the cliffs and the Plettenberg, the town’s main five star offering, sits off this main drag in a stunning cliff top location.The hotel has glorious unobstructed views across Plettenberg Bay. Like the location of the Marine in Hermanus, on Walker Bay, it offer the opportunity for whale watching (at the right time of year) from your hotel room.

The Plettenberg, South Africa
Plettenberg is often regarded as the whale watching capital of the world. It is claimed as such on the South African Tourism website. Certainly this coast is the breeding ground for whales as I found on my visit to McGrath’s sister hotel, and both are on the Garden Route drive along the coast so offer more than this anxiety inducing binocular exercise. Although the whales when they are abundant come right under your bedroom window, timing is all, leaving those whose timing is wrong in desparate search of a plume like whalers of old.

The hotel is actually several buildings, the two main bocks facing each other across the end of the cul-de-sac that ends in the scrub on the cliff top. Both sides have pools, one side being suites the other containing the bars restaurants and bedrooms. The reception desk is immediately inside the door but the lobby is ‘see through’ so the arriving guest, welcomed by a porter, gets an eyeful not just of bar and restaurant but also the vista stretching around the bay beyond.

The Plettenberg, South Africa
In 2011 the Western Cape had a poor tourist year. The previous year had been dominated by the World Cup but 2011 saw the region catching the backlash from the European and US recessions. the normal numbers of tourists from the UK diminished as did the flow, previously growing, of visitors from the USA. Overall numbers were down by over 40%. Recovery is underway, but the knock to the cash-flow had put back the refurbishment of the bedrooms that I had hoped to see. So how did this third McGrath hotel measure up against my high expectations, expectations created by the high quality of the Marine and that other gem, the Cellars Hohenort in the Cape Town suburb of Constantia?

The public areas mostly matched those expectations, and whilst they exceeded them in some areas, some were laden with tradition to the point of extinction. The bedrooms, whilst becoming dated, are still stylish and very comfortable. As with many hotels these days though the overuse of scented cleaning materials causes problems for those sensitive to artificial odours. This is not the first hotel, and I’m sure won’t be the last, where here appears to be a misguided belief that using heavily scented items enhances the offering. In a seaside hotel it is the scent of the sea the guest wants, surely? Leaving aside the grumble, the bedrooms are chic – not shabby, but with an old fashioned charm.

Like all McGraths hotels they are beautifully finished and as sophisticated as one would expect from one of the premier Relais & Chateau operators in South Africa. There are two bedroom buildings plus a house that is a fully serviced holiday apartment with its own pool.

The Plettenberg, South Africa
There is a small Spa area beneath it with a thriving local trade in several treatment and beauty rooms. The main block of bedrooms are above the main dining area and infinity pool, whilst the second block, on the opposite side of the road, holds the suites with their own infinity pool and sun lounge.
The views from the second building are if anything more stunning than those from the first as it has views both ways along the coast. It has its own grand entrance and entrance staircase, coolly stylish, whilst the sun lounge provides a quiet retreat both for those wanting separation from the main hotels and for those from the pool to retire to, escaping perhaps from the wind and the occasional squall.

Differentiation between the suites and the standard rooms is difficult as both have separate living room areas. The suites are much larger, but both are large by European standards anyway, certainly comparable in scale to the rooms in the Rocco Forte Charles in Munich, which average 42m² compared to a typical UK five star of 33m². It is the style of the case goods as much as anything which dates these rooms, fabrics and soft furnishing generally looking fresh and quite contemporary.

Having seen the newer contemporary rooms installed at the Cellars Hohenort, McGrath’s hotel in the Cape Town suburb of Constantia, I know the design potentials of this group, so just maybe I have an excuse to come back another time.

You see my expectations may have been high but this hotel more than met them. The quality of the service and the design of the public areas was again superb. Agreed there are some parts of the public areas that like the bedrooms are a little dated but the design of the bar and restaurant show what can be achieved. Elements of the bar echo those deployed at the Marine in Hermanus, but a house look is no bad thing if it is stylish and temporised by location, as this one is.

The Plettenberg, South Africa
You see my expectations may have been high but this hotel more than met them. The quality of the service and the design of the public areas was again superb. Agreed there are some parts of the public areas that like the bedrooms are a little dated but the design of the bar and restaurant show what can be achieved. Elements of the bar echo those deployed at the Marine in Hermanus, but a house look is no bad thing if it is stylish and temporized by location, as this one is. The bar is front lit and whilst it is visible from the reception desk it has private areas for drinkers as well as a large lounge in front. It is adjacent to the restaurant so allows wine service from the bar station and ready access to the cellar. It is also then easy to maintain a drinks service to the terrace all day, including of course a champagne breakfast if required.

The adjacent restaurant is a modern glass cube built into an angle of the building leaving a wide terrace to the infinity pool for diners. As an addition its not problem free, and steps down from the lounge can take an unwary guest into the edge of umbrellas. It is inevitable that there will be areas where old and new don’t quite mesh perfectly, but here as at the other two McGrath hotels the addition is generally managed well by the in-house design team.

Across the group there is a mix of styles in bedrooms with the best being at what I regard as the flagship property, the Cellars Hohenort. Here bedrooms were scheduled to start their refurbishment programme in May 2012, shortly after my visit. However old the schemes may be much of what is there is more than just acceptable. Rooms are large and intelligent design at the outset has given them a longevity not matched by other hotels. However they will need to stretch to match the new rooms coming on stream at hotels such as the Twelve Apostles or POD in Camps Bay both of which are seaside hotels, although without the commanding position of the Plettenberg, both recently refurbished or newly built.

The Plettenberg, South Africa

Bathrooms have baths and showers in most, and again are large, so these are less evidently dated than the bedrooms are. They set a standard that is evidently five star, and one which many European hotels flinch from. Despite the operator identifying the need to upgrade the hotel remains very popular because no-one needs to upgrade its strongest selling point, which is its position. Few other hotels have a view of the sea, whether full of whales or not, like the Plettenberg, and the best of these is probably the previously mentioned McGrath hotel, the Marine in Hermanus.

For many years under Liz McGrath’s leadership these Relais & Chateau branded hotels have provided a benchmark for other hotels in the Republic to measure themselves against. The current world slump has held back the refurbishment programmes that would help to keep them there in the increasingly competitive South African market. Despite this, sun sea and whales which have given Plettenberg its existence, will continue to provide a raison d’etre, and reason for the group to continue the investment it has made over the years

I look forward to returning in the future to see the new rooms, and to update you, kind reader…

Owner developer: Liz McGrath. Design leadership rests with Mrs. McGrath, but as with other strong leaders she has an equally strong team in her interior designers, who are Dawn Dickerson and Carmel Naude of Hotcocoa in Johannesburg. ©Words and Pictures Patrick Goff. From a visit in March 2012.

Chapman's Peak Hotel. South Africa

Chapman’s Peak, South Africa (Patrick Goff)

1000 666 Daniel Fountain

Whilst football is often said to be a game of two halves, Chapmans Peak hotel, known popularly locally simply as ‘Chappies’, is a hotel of two halves. On the left is the original pub much changed since it was built in 1903, whilst on the right is the new four star bedroom extension complete with suites, balconied bedrooms and the most amazing views across Hout Bay. When in Cape Town I stay in Hout Bay and it was then I was taken to the Chapmans Peak hotel as the best place to eat in the area.

My companions were being guided to their table on the large and busy outdoor terrace dining area when I spied a bright red spot of colour inside the hotel. “Aha!” I thought, “someone with a sense of style” and wandered off to look (always curious you see).

A single flower on a table in the centre of a space reminded me in a way of the entrance to the Hempel in London where the same flower was used in serried ranks to create impact. Here simplicity won the eye, and sparked further my curiosity. It was a good half hour later that I rejoined my hosts at their table. Ooops!

Chapman's Peak Hotel. South Africa
From there I became involved, gave advice and tracked the development of the hotel over the following couple of years. Chapmans has been in the same family for years, along with a neighbouring wine distribution service. It is a popular bistro/pub with a menu focussed on local, especially seafood, products. In an elevated position it has a spectacular view across Hout Bay, and stands at the bottom of the road that clings to the cliffs as it winds away around the end of Africa towards the Simonstown naval base.

Originally built in 1903, some of the original building remains evident in fireplaces and lounges – fireplaces that are necessary in the South African winter months when rain clouds can hug the coast – apparently Cape Town only has 60 days a year without a sea mist or cloud cover for some of the time. Hout Bay is a corruption of Houtbaaii, meaning ‘bay of wood’ as in the 18th century this is where much shipbuilding took place using local timber.
A new entrance and underground secure car parking were created as a part of the new construction, organised and overseen by the owner. The rock face against which the hotel sits was incorporated into the new entrance lobby with the front a simple glass screen cut into the rock wall. With two levels coming into the lobby from the garage and the street entrance along with the linking to the previously existing building this is a complex space well handled by the architects. Lit with locally manufactured chandeliers it is contemporary but not in conflict with the previous reception lobby.

Chapman's Peak Hotel. South Africa

The transition from modern to antique is accomplished smoothly, in part eased by the different dates of the various parts of the previously existing 10 bedrooms and meeting rooms. The addition of the two suites and 22 new luxurious and spacious new bedrooms, all with balconies, has transformed the pub into an hotel. The owners recognise this and will continue to refurbish the dining areas, which currently seat over a hundred comfortably, on a large covered terrace in the summer or in front of open fires in winter.

Like the Alma in Wandsworth this transition is based on a very healthy income from the food and beverage operation, making the economics of expansion relatively straightforward to calculate. In expanding the bedroom operation, again similar to the Alma, the standard of the whole operation has lifted. The friendliness and welcome, previously a recognised part of the operation, hasn’t changed though and the staff obviously enjoy the new range of facilities and guests but continue to work with personality and enthusiasm. Some have been at the hotel for many years and plainly feel they ‘belong’.

The style of the restaurant and bars is traditional with white linen and china providing a sparkling contrast to timber. For ten months of the year diners will prefer the outside terrace with its views over the bay, but in the winter mornings breakfast is served in front of open fires in the restaurant. In winter months dinner too is a candle lit convivial affair in front of open fires.

Chapman's Peak Hotel. South Africa
The old main entrance to the hotel has become a restaurant and bar entrance with the new reception having an off road pull-in. Parking was always a problem at Chappies, and the new provision is welcome. The old bedrooms have their own charm as does their balcony but the new rooms and suites are a huge step forward for the hotel. The two rooftop suites have deep private balconies with external showers, lounges with their own fireplaces etc.

The new bedrooms all have balconies, with those on the back of the hotel looking out onto the overgrown cliff face. Those at the front have the beach views but also the road, so the guest can balance quietness versus the view. Most rooms have luxury bathrooms with double wash hand basins, walk in showers as well as soaking tubs. The old rooms have a character and charm that comes with age, but all have en suite bath or shower rooms. The new rooms are larger. They have the classic arrangement with the bathroom helping to insulate the room aurally from the corridor. The lobby has the wardrobe in and in this sense the rooms are completely conventional. However they are longer than usual, giving room for the bathrooms to be large, with separate toilet, walk-in shower and bathtubs. In some rooms the tubs are enclose by shutters that can be opened so that it is possible to lounge in a bath whilst watching the sunset over the bay.

Chapman's Peak Hotel. South Africa
Lounge areas are generous and expanded by the practical balconies which also have their own table and chairs from which to enjoy a view that can encompass seals, a pod of porpoises and the boat traffic into the fishing harbour and marina on the other side of the bay.

Hard flooring and airconditioning make the rooms cool and the glazed end wall leaves the views can be enjoyed unobstructed. Furnishing is styllish and teh use of natural timber finishes chimes with the older parts of the hotel as well as the local styles

Whilst a 15 minute drive from central Cape Town, Chapmans Peak Hotel offers a unique blend of history, style and location that offer an informal alternative to the likes of the 12 Apostles or even the lovely Cellars Hohenort.

Words and Pictures © Patrick Goff July 2011

Ongava Lodge, Namibia

Ongava Lodge, Namibia (Patrick Goff)

1000 666 Daniel Fountain

The boy was nervous, shining his torch carefully into the shadows, walking slowly so we were treading on his heels. The man with the rifle was alert, holding his weapon across his body, finger on the trigger guard. Was this a piece of hotel theatre staged for effect? We were walking back to our room after dinner, and were not allowed to leave the restaurant until our escort was in place.

Ongava Lodge is constructed on a small hill in the 323km² (125mile²) Ongava Game Reserve, a private reserve just outside the main gate of the Etosha National Park in Namibia. The National Park’s original 100,000 km² (38,500mile²) made it the largest game reserve in the world when created. The aim was to stem the rapid depletion of wildlife in the area, and protect the land through which the seasonal migrations passed. Then, just as a nature conservation unit and several tourist camps were set up, the reserves were redefined and Etosha shrank to its present size covering an area of more than 22 750km² (8,750mile²).

The addition of the private parks, many of which abutt each other and Etosha, has extended the range of protected territory as well as that of the predators. A ribbon of such reserves now stretches down through Damaraland and the Skeleton Coast to the Sossusvlei, the Namibian Sand Sea. The Lodges are all connected by dirt tracks and the areas own bush airline Sefofane.

Ongava Lodge, Namibia
So is the escort a piece of theatre by the Lodge to see guest safely back to their rooms? The second night, after a long working day, I decided to go back to our room early, long before dusk, and sit quietly on the balcony with a bottle of chilled white wine and watch the vault of heaven light up with the myriad upside down constellations of the African sky.

As we settled into our wicker chairs, wrapping ourselves in the provided blankets against the chill night air, a black backed jackal walked past a hundred or so metres away – followed by two lionesses and a lion, all on their way to the Lodge water hole. ‘Red in tooth and claw’, such wildlife is why tourism is growing – and why operators take every precaution to ensure the safety of their guests. As our guide said “we haven’t had anyone eaten this year…yet.”

The embrace of nature is a part of the philosophy of Wilderness Group who use the out of season times to provide experience of the game parks to children from African cities through their Wilderness Trust. They have lit enthusiasms, then paid for development and education both for individuals and whole communities. Now many have done this but uniquely Wilderness funds their activities, on over 60 sites across Africa, with luxury hospitality developments (see Little Kulala and Damaraland for other examples).

Ongava Lodge, Namibia
The luxury wraps around the guests at Ongava sometimes striking a slightly discordant note, such as when one can watch rhinoceros or giraffe at the waterhole whilst sipping an iced gin-and-tonic at the bar. The comfort is five star with meals served on the restaurant terrace under the stars or under the thatch, with clear views down to the plain below. Dusk and dawn, evening and breakfast time provide the best game watching as the beasts move to water then, but all the rooms are aligned to watch the waterhole or game paths.

As evening draws on the terrace has a fire pit to sit around and there is always the escort waiting to see guests safely back to one of the 14 rooms. Game paths also run between the rooms, and it can be a little startling to find a buck some ten feet from your balcony in the morning — to the buck too, although they don’t always take fright (too stupid?). Balconies are large and have an outside shower as well as the interior shower, allowing sun worshippers a quick cooling drench when the heat becomes too much to bear.

The individual lodges vary in size, but all have their own air conditioners, although in late July it was still cool enough under the thatch that their use was not necessary. Rooms have ample space for clothing and a daily washing service is included as the guest luggage allowance on the Cessnas is necessarily very limited. Laundry taken away one day is returned the next, neatly ironed.

Ongava Lodge, Namibia
The large shower room is organised so that the twin wash hand basins have a window in front of them through which it is possible to watch the waterhole whilst washing. Materials throughout are carefully chosen to reflect the environment but the whole is sophisticated with electric shaving points and ample power points for charging cameras etc..

Walls and floors look like a concrete version of Venetian plasterwork,and this is practical, being cool in the heat and easy to maintain in the sandy environment. The rooms open up into the thatch providing a large air circulation area to aid cooling. Windows have timber bars for security, which also help provide shade from the heat of the sun. Large French windows open onto the balcony and the absence of TVs and radios allows the wilderness to speak.

There is a separate higher-level lodge called Little Ongava. There, three large apartments each with small infinity pools, lounges etc make up the ‘suites’ of the Lodge. The Lodge has its own pool with sun loungers, sometimes shared with the dassies, and offers the main dining experience but the suites have their own self-contained lounges. Approached by high-level timber walkways this exclusive area was apparently adopted briefly as a sleeping platform by some lions shortly after opening, slightly surprising guests when they opened their front door!

The suites, like the rooms in the main hotel take their design cues from the African vernacular we have seen in other hotels reviewed updating them with luxury described by one commentator as “mixing Robinson Crusoe with the Savoy”. The resulting mix is however far more sophisticated then Crusoe may have managed and energy conservation, water recycling and safeguarding the guest’s physical well being all are part of the designers approach.

Ongava Lodge, Namibia
Game Lodges are a specialised sector of the hotel market. They are set in remote locations where the guest is prepared to endure journeys of enormous distances. Guests live in comparative isolation away from the comfort and security of 21st century city living in order to experience the adrenalin rush of being close to big game.

Despite their isolation and having to rely on their own abilities to supply water and power, these Lodges have lessons for all hotels. Some are obvious such as energy conservation and water recycling. Others are less obvious such as using the local vernacular within guest accommodation to reinforce a sense of place or enhance the theatre of experience. Even the game trails and experiences of seeing wildlife have lessons for hoteliers elsewhere as I showed (slightly tongue in cheek admittedly) when I created a wildlife safari suggestion in my Review of the Premier Inn Woking. David Seymour of Seymours Hotels has done it successfully in Jersey with his very successful guided walks along the tidal beaches on the island.

In all the lodges I have Reviewed there has been a successful blend of comfort with closeness to the environment. Standards of comfort and facilities rival those of any London four stars and are competitive with many of the city’s five stars. As the Cube in Austria has taken a hard look at its market and changed the design parameters to meet the identified guest need, so Wilderness have taken a hard look at the cost benefits of their design and guest needs to create something special.

If travelling and staying in hotels is about creating memories, then Ongava must top the league.

Words and Pictures ©Patrick Goff
Date of Visit August 2009

Twelve Apostles, Cape Town (Patrick Goff)

1000 666 Daniel Fountain

South Africa is in the Southern Hemisphere, which means its seasons are the reverse of those in the Northern Hemisphere – as upside down as the constellations at night. Thus June, July and August are winter months – and of course the time when many visitors from the Northern Hemisphere arrive. It can be very cold in the Cape – indeed the 2010 World Cup has been described as one of the coldest ever, with snow fall on Table Mountain.

For 12 Apostles the variability of the Cape weather and location on the Atlantic (colder) side of the Cape Peninsula ensures that they are frequently inside a cloud mix of salt spray off the sea and mist off the mountains behind the hotel. The hotel is in a narrow band of fynbos (aromatic herbal scrub) between the 12 Apostle mountain range, after which the hotel is named, and the main coast road around the Cape. Whilst it photographs beautifully from around the bay the hotel is isolated by the main road from the shore line which at this point is high surf and large boulders – indeed the hotel carries relics on its terrace from shipwrecks on the point below the hotel.

The hotel is part of Red Carnation group who also operate the wonderful Bushmans Kloof, and whilst the service and staff are excellent (and probably the reason for those awards) the location here is not a patch on Bushmans, despite being in a reserve. Here Cape wildlife may be caught on hotel CCTV cameras at night but there are no conducted forays into the finebos, the emphasis being on the sybaritic, the quality of the bars and restaurant and an award winning Spa. During the day the proximity of the road means wildlife is rarely seen, so this is an urban hotel in a park setting.

Twelve Apostles, Cape Town

During my visit the hotel was undergoing a refurbishment. I had resisted the temptation of visiting the hotel in previous trips to Cape Town so perhaps I have only myself to blame for such a poor sense of timing which meant they had a temporary kitchen, the bistro was out of action and the builders, whilst well managed and discreet, were still evident. So, rain and builders, not a good combination for any hotel wishing to show off its fine qualities. For 12A, as it is known locally, this was not a problem as staff obviously went out of their way to make sure all guests were as unaware as possible of the changes going on. Only because I am a nosy designer was I able to poke my way into the refurbishment and get a sight of the new rooms as they developed.

The weather? Well this is Cape Town, and there are only supposed to be 60 days a year here when there is no mist or cloud because of the two oceans, Atlantic and Indian, that meet just a few miles away.

So what was the refurbishment like? If the old schemes were voluptuous ‘old English’ style of somewhat decadent luxury,belonging to another age the new are a very contemporary reinterpretation of the seaside hotel, bringing a life and vitality into the buildings the old scheme did not quite achieve.
The layout of the hotel helps with refurbishment as it is a collection of connected but independent blocks, allowing refurbishment to be phased a block at a time so guests are not involved. The new schemes bring primary colour stripes to the carpets in the public areas, with signage mixing images of the sea with a tactile quality, a kind of flotsam and jetsam feel, to the images and graphics.

Twelve Apostles, Cape Town

There is a delightful freshness about the corridor schemes that is carried through in the freshness of the bedrooms, with good use of mirror and a baseline green that pulls in the landscape. The whole has a youthful vitality but still has the luxury finishes to be expected. Sophisticated use of upholstered walls carries through into huge upholstered bedheads. The wall coverings are of fabric so there may be a question mark over their longevity, but they bring a sense of luxury sophistication to the rooms.
Whilst very different to the same designer’s schemes at Bushmans Kloof, there is a sense of humour at work in both that enlivens the design. The feel that this is a tongue in cheek rework of a seaside hotel, the stripe in the carpet so obviously visually referencing deck chair canvas (consciously or unconsciouly)makes me smile with pleasure.

Lighting is well handled and whilst most of the guests are leisure, there is a substantial desk for those who need to work, as well a comprehensively equipped business centre for those who need printers, fax machines etc.

The bar also carries through the sense of fun seen in the corridors, with its focus on Africa rather than seaside. In common with the Restaurant that sits on a floor below, it has ocean views and a terrace for smokers, although smoking is not yet outlawed in internal spaces in South Africa in the way it is now in Europe.

Twelve Apostles, Cape Town

There is a successful mix of comfort and design, with the sense of humour engaging though the banana leaf wallpaper that works here very successfully. Images are of Africa with an exceptional collection of original drawings and prints of big cats. The bar is large and comfortable as is the rest of the room, and it is here that the likeness comes closest to Bushmans Kloof, the handwriting of the designer being the same.

The whole is almost from another era in the way the barman remembers names, the easy informality yet superb service in a room that is clubbish homely and stylish all at the same time. This is the same successful blend of Africa and Europe, or modern and traditional that makes the other hotels operated by the group so successful. The restaurant is stylish and very popular. Design again is modern and comfortable, considerably expanded in warmer months by the use of the large terrace. Despite being full the area worked well and the room had the bustle and smiles, chatter and absorption in the food that characterises most succesful restaurants.

In the absence of the bistro, food service from a temporary kitchen into the restaurant and the bar areas was terrific,and the food quality excellent, approved of by another SA hotel manager with whom we dined.

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Many Cape-tonians know 12A well, using its very popular Spa, but it also has a small cinema which is used for previews and small business presentations. In addition there is a marquee style funtion suite.
Twelve Apostles is one of the pre-eminent Spas in Cape Town, winning many awards. The spa is almost carved out of the living rock under the hotel itself. There is an external pool with ocean views but there are also pools within the spa itself.

Treatment rooms are neatly designed and there are also treatment rooms in the fynbos outside, mimicking the installations at Busmans Kloof. In the summer these could be opened up to the sound of the surf beyond the road. Excavating the living rock must have been an enormous challenge. There are two entrances to the Spa, one from the hotel and the other from adjacent to the Reception entrance, with its own reception desk and lounge area. The route into the Spa from its own front reception is over an underlit glass bridge, a device that is used elsewhere to introduce more light into the grotto of the interior.

This leaves a guest coming through from the hotel slightly undecided as to where to go on arrival although staff are usually on hand to greet new arrivals. Carving out the spaces has obviously resulted in some compromises as space is very limited. The spa is stylish and the treatments are expert, but there are areas of constriction. The relaxation zone is small and the male changing facilities are almost a vestigial afterthought.

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The popularity of spa treatments with men (apparently more men then women use them in many countries now) may well have changed the user profile for many spa operators. Here male changing would struggle with more than two guests at a time. Visiting during refurbishment showed how well the hotel is being updated with a fresh stylish contemporary interior. The corridors are hugely improved, whilst the styling of the bar and restaurant is timeless. The new bedrooms will be welcomed as a change from the somewhat old fashioned, stuffy, schemes that they replace.

On a future visit of Cape Town I will have a look at their new bistro. The award winning Chef (his underchef is now chef at the Cape Grace in Cape Town)proudly showed me his new kitchens, not quite ready to be brought into service on my visit but no doubt being worked hard by the time you read this.
With a refurbished Cape Grace, the new One & Only Cape Town, and other new Cape Town hotels under way including a Missoni, competition for the 12A is increasing. Its popularity with local clientele and its views along the coast will give it an edge.

Its biggest asset though is its operator, Red Carnation. With Bushmans Kloof its country cousin now recognised globally as one of the world’s great hotels,and the reopening of the refurbished Oyster Box in Umhlanga the ability to offer the leisure traveller a number and choice of destinations will continue to help this hotel remain full.

©Words and Images Copyright Patrick Goff

Olive Grove Windhoek

Olive Grove, Namibia (Patrick Goff)

1000 667 Daniel Fountain

Concrete is the last material I expect to see as part of the finishes in an hotel room. Oh I know that poured concrete is a modern construction material. I have worked on hotels where it has been a source of problems, seen it used in the construction of bathroom pods, so I’m familiar with its great qualities. But I have never seen it used as a polished finished material, where the construction kind of extrudes itself into making the bathtub, bedhead, vanity unit.

Where the material also ingratiates itself as your floor and wall finishes, polished and with inset subtle pieces of coloured glass. Where white paint, white linen and white towels provide an almost ascetic aesthetic against which drama is provided by the play of light from African sun by day and metal lanterns at night.

Bedroom in concrete Olive Grove Namibia 001

In this quiet corner of Windhoek, Namibia’s small town capital, is the misnamed Guesthouse of the Olive Grove. Namibia is the country with almost the lowest population density in the world at roughly two people to every square mile, so creating an oasis in this town is unnecessary when there is so much country side to retreat to. So here we have a sophisticated urban boutique bridging the gap between western sophistication and wilderness that is the attraction in this country. The voter population of 1.18 million people is estimated to have over 110,000 of them working in the hospitality industry. As the country recovers from a brutal war of independence the government leads the conservation work backed by tremendous private effort. Effort that is epitomised not by large institutions but by individual such as the operators of this, one of Windhoek’s premier boutiques.

I’d love to have seen more of Windhoek. The remnants of the colonial occupiers in the form of the German architecture, churches and even a castle are apparently remarkable. But this was only a transit point on the way to Review the lodges at Little Kulala, Damaraland and finally Ongava in this beautiful country. The five hour delay endured through Air Namibia robbed me of any time for tourism and my meetings, but I was fortunate that the interim accommodation in the form of this supposed guesthouse that is the Olive Grove set me in one of those places where one doesn’t mind getting stuck for a while.

I say supposed guesthouse because this is so much more than just another guesthouse or B&B. There may be just a dozen rooms and three or four suites but they have been well planned and well thought through. The relaxation is encouraged, and although close to the centre of Windhoek the view from the terrace is over the countryside surrounding the town, its ridges and hills practically bare of settlement.

As a transition from the bustle of Johannesburg or Cape Town, an adjustment from the frenetic pace of a European or American City, then a pause here is worthwhile before venturing to the Wilderness.

The silence at night is almost as intense as the darkness that reveals the African night sky. Its dark cobalt is shot through with so many stars that their number is infinite. There are so so many that they in themselves are a wonder that we have lost in the light pollution of our great cities. A pause in travel gives time to slow down, to relearn the art of watching and listening.

“terraces that look out across the newly planted 200 tree olive grove.”

Dining Terrace Olive Grove Namibia 042

Rooms are generously sized and have terraces that are shaded by horizontal blinds on runners that provide shade from the sun, terraces that look out across the newly planted 200 tree olive grove, and provide a perfect spot for reading or writing. There is a small plunge pool, for cooling off in the summer (our winter months – this is the Southern hemisphere) when it can get oppressively hot, surrounded by loungers to which smiling staff bring cold drinks.

Lingering breakfasts are taken on a terrace where canvas curtains keep out the morning chill from a space heated by those ludicrous steel umbrella heaters that seem so pollutingly unnecessary in Europe but are so worthwhile here. Here too is the lounge where a drink can be taken before dinner, although the small kitchen makes for a small menu. True to the guesthouse roots the hotels will provide a taxi service to local restaurants, which include the Namibian Institute of Culinary Excellence, funded by a German safari outfit to train Namibians in the culinary arts.

Learn the Namibians are too, not just the culinary arts but hosting and design. As experience grows so too does the ambition of Namibians working in our industry – not just the housekeeper who proudly asserted her intention of starting her own Guesthouse, but the owners who’s interior design touch grows more assured as they work on their building more. The new suite created overlooking their newly planted 200 tree Olive Grove is evidence of this growing confidence.

A step up from the standard rooms, this uses more contemporary pieces to create a set of spaces that are stylish and comparable with suites anywhere. The space is large and rooms flow from entrance to lounge to bedroom through to bathroom and finally to the sun trap outside areas. With their outside cooling shower these very private areas are quiet and protected with the suite almost self contained from the hotel.

Terrace to suite Olive Grove Namibia 065

The entrance is set back off the plunge pool terrace, with dustily coloured fountain trickling water alongside. Entering the cool beyond the lobby decants into a lounge with floor to ceiling picture windows. The windows look onto the terrace and over a small private plunge pool, and have views overlooking the olives. The space is separated from the bedroom by the large flat screen TV and cupboard unit. Internal finishes are again the polished concrete of the rest of the building, with subtle variations on the colouring. These finishes are complemented by the natural materials used in the furnishings.

The architecture and interior design I saw throughout Namibia used flowing forms where the very structures appeared to grow organically. Whilst breeze block construction ordered straight lines the thatch and tree trunk construction style insinuated itself in this urban environment with roofs and canopies frequently flowing following organic forms. With the nature of the climate dictating a flow between interior and exterior unfamiliar to those from northern Europe, space exploited natural light, ventilation and the use of water and plants.

In art history I was taught there were early cultures in Africa that were totally based on the circle, where the square was not used.Certainly design seems more organic. Maybe too the closeness to nature everyone must be conscious of in Namibia reinforces the organic and natural content of design styles here. To use a much abused set of terms, they appear much more sustainable and environmentally friendly. Perhaps there is much to learn from here.


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Words and Pictures ©Patrick Goff