Cape Town CBD's chic hotel property

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30 Nov 2012

My recent visit to Cape Town left quite an impression, not only because I chose my properties well, in terms of location, but I really explored the city unlike any other time.

Southern Sun Cape Sun located on Strand Street is a five star property that offers 368 rooms and one can choose from standard rooms, executive suite, penthouse and presidential suites, as well as a wheelchair friendly accessible room.

As much as I have always preferred a quiet location, this time around I felt it appropriate to actually live within walking distance of the Cape Town CBD and I was not disappointed.

The Cape Town Central City Improvement District (CCID) recently reported that investments into commercial property developments and refurbishments continue to rise in the CBD.

The latest estimate of the refurbishment value of developments is valued at over R5 billion.

According to Rob Kane, chairperson of the CCID, the extent and growth of investment in Cape Town’s central city is a testament to business confidence in the CBD as a world-class place for people to work, live and play.

Kane says the CBD currently boasts developments in infrastructure such as the Cape Town Station, the Artscape, the iconic arts and culture building and the government precinct that includes the Civic Centre and the Provincial Government building.

“The combinations of public and private property developments in progress are all indicators of a thriving CBD that is open for business.”

Living in the city

The CCID released a report which reveals that the CBD has the highest concentration of economic activity in the metropole.

The CBD contributes to more than R216 million each year, money that not only supports the continued growth of the CBD but contributes heavily to service provision and government investment throughout the rest of the metro region.

Investment in property over the past three years amounts to R4.6 billion and the total current value of property in the CBD is more than R21 billion, according to the report.

Kane says the CBD holds 47 percent bed space in the city, making it an economic gateway for domestic and international visitors.

The report indicates that users of the CBD (87 percent) feel that Cape Town has one of the safest CBDs in the country and 82.6 percent feel safe on the street.

Close to 80 percent believe the CBD looks clean and orderly.

It is against this background that I happily booked myself into the city’s Grande Dame, the Southern Sun Cape Sun located on Strand Street.

Expect to pay from R1 395 for a standard room including breakfast to R7 500 for a penthouse suite with unrivalled views over Table Mountain, Robben Island, Table Bay and Green Point Stadium.

It is owned by Tsogo Sun Holdings, a Johannesburg Stock Exchange listed hotels, gaming and entertainment group which owns 90 hotels in South Africa, Africa, Seychelles and the Middle East and 14 casinos.

This five star property offers 368 rooms and one can choose from standard rooms, executive suite, penthouse and presidential suites as well as a wheelchair friendly accessible room.

Expect to pay from R1 395 for a standard room including breakfast to R7 500 for a penthouse suite. Yes, it probably sounds a bit pricey when you think about it, but when one considers that some luxury apartments in the Atlantic Seaboard can fetch as much as R50 000 a day, this is a drop in the ocean.

The property offers unrivalled views over Table Mountain, Robben Island, Table Bay and Green Point Stadium.

If you love Cape Cuisine, Riempies Restaurant, which offers a contemporary yet traditional experience that captures the area’s Cape Dutch heritage, is the place to be at.

While indulging in the Cape cuisine, the chefs invite guests to participate in the live cooking concept to ensure that their favourite cut of meat or seafood is grilled to their exact preference.

Another feature of the property which soon became my favourite hangout spot was the New York style Le Bar and Lounge situated in the hotel lobby and reminiscent of old grandeur.

 I could not think of anything better than a good whiskey while watching traffic and people get on with their lives in the city.

The property hosts various events and functions and caters for up to 650 guests.

Those who love lounging in the pool will be happy to know that the hotel, which has 32 floors, actually does have an indoor pool where guests can relax and it also offers a gym (with all the good food and wine, one has to watch the waist).

According to Myan Moodley, general manager at Southern Sun Cape Sun, the hotel is located right in the city centre making it easily accessible to many places.

The CCID report also reveals that 81 percent of businesses experience an overall satisfaction about being located in the CBD, 78 said they are likely to remain in the CBD and 88 percent believe that the Integrated Rapid Transit system is a solution for making the CBD more accessible for the 300 000 people who commute in and out of the CBD each day.

“From corporates to creatives, the CBD brings together a diverse collection of people who have and continue to build our economy.

“Cape Town’s CBD and the people who live, work and play within are set to create some of the most unique and exciting economic activity in the world,” says Kane.

According to Myan Moodley, general manager at Southern Sun Cape Sun, the hotel is located right in the city centre making it easily accessible to many places.

“The city is full of life and its vibrance is extended to our property as well.”

He agrees with the CCID report findings explaining that they host many events and have guests from all walks of life because Cape Town CBD is unlike any other city in South Africa.

Having worked in Durban and Johannesburg, Moodley is quite at home in the CBD and points to how the MyCiti bus has made life and the accessibility to the CBD even easier.

Investment in property over the past three years amounts to R4.6 billion and the total current value of property in the CBD is more than R21 billion, according to the report.

You are likely to find him wandering around the lobby and welcoming guests who have just hopped out of the MyCiti from the station outside the property.

Since I had not hired a car and wanted to experience first-hand all the good about the CBD, I found MyCiti to be the best thing and it cost me less compared to what I would have spent if I hired a car.

As an example, taking MyCiti from the Civic Centre in the CBD to the Cape Town International Airport is only R57 and you do not need a card for that.

For the duration of my stay, I bought the card and loaded it with money and so was able to travel without hassles.

Moodley says the property, which is now 30 years old, showcases how South Africa has evolved as a nation.

Previously frequented by the elite, now it is home away from home for people within the country, continent and overseas and encompasses the property’s cosmopolitan feel that extends to the streets of the CBD.

He points out that former President Nelson Mandela stayed at this property when he was released from prison.

Moodley would rather be in the city anytime and says the CCID has done a tremendous job of rejuvenating the city and making it truly a place to live, work and play.

Across the street from the hotel, a trendy apartment block called 34 St Georges offers luxury accommodation with some apartments priced up to R1 million.

My enquiry about rentals at the place revealed that a one bedroom apartment costs R5 500 a month, and although I did not view one of these, the entrance was tightly secured and clean, and outside on the pavements life on the streets was business as usual.

Moodley says this apartment block and others reinforce investor confidence in buying bricks and mortar in the CBD and says the Cape Town CBD will be a city of affluence in the next five years of so.

Finding a holiday property

Many people tend to always book late for their holidays and as such, pay quite a premium for accommodation.

We all know that hotels, lodges and guest houses have peak and off peak seasons and to get the most of your money, its always best to book when it’s not busy – sometimes we cannot help it though.

According to Deidre Caine-Van Staden of Tsogo Sun SunBreaks, holiday property bargains are always available and one has to be savvy to find them.

She says they often see that many people think about the destination first and will then think later about where to stay.

Another feature of the property which soon became my favourite hangout spot was the New York style Le Bar and Lounge situated in the hotel lobby and reminiscent of old grandeur. I could not think of anything better than a good whiskey while watching traffic and people get on with their lives in the city.

Although many often pay a premium on accommodation booked at the last minute, last minute bookings offer bargain opportunities when timed right.

Caine-Van Staden advises holidaymakers to book their holidays well in advance and if they happen to book late, look out for last minute specials.

As an example, she says they offer various special packages and offers with up to 30 percent discount on property bookings in some instances, of course, there is a limited booking period of up to two days depending on the offer.

If one cannot afford a week long holiday, many hotel properties offer guests packages of booking over the weekend where they are able to stay for 4 nights and only pay for three.

Their statistics reveal that many people in Gauteng prefer Durban as a destination as they can easily drive there and a handful still travel to Cape Town for their holidays.

“Location of a property is also very important as holidaymakers need things to do and see while staying in that particular place,” says Caine-Van Staden.

If you always thought that 4 and 5 Star hotel properties were too expensive for your purse, think again, bargains abound and anything that has a price is negotiable - I have learnt from experience.

According to Joop Demes, chief executive officer of Pam Golding Hospitality, discounting in the hotel market currently offers a value proposition for guests as they can get a fancier room at the cost of a lower positioned product.

“There are still really good value for money packages in South Africa and I advise the holiday makers to shop around in places such as Cape Town, Port Elizabeth and Durban.”

On Cape Town as a holiday destination, he says forward bookings from an international leisure point of view are looking strong and lead times for hotel bookings that have become a lot shorter combined with the favourable exchange rate for foreigners will without doubt translate into even more additional bed nights.

Kane adds that the Cape Town CBD is open for business and is beyond doubt a globally competitive business hub – the CBD has a lot to offer, but most importantly points towards an industrious world-class city. – Denise Mhlanga

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