05 Apr 2013
Although the hospitality industry will continue to face challenges of lower occupancy rates and increased pressure on rates in the short term, there is optimism in the market with some signs of recovery translating into improved occupancies in certain sectors, says PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) in its report entitled ‘Unpacking hospitality trends 2012-2016’.
According to the report major players in the industry are continuing with their capital expansion and refurbishment programmes to keep their products current and to maintain their competitive edge. It further notes that 4 Star hotels are expected to benefit more from the increase in tourism than 3 Star hotels and projection revenues are set to grow at a 9.0 percent compound annual rate to R5.2 billion in 2016 from R3.4 billion in 2011.
The occupancy rate in the segment is expected to increase from 54.1 percent in 2011 to 64.2 percent in 2016, reveals PwC.
One such player, Johannesburg Stock Exchange listed hotels, gaming and entertainment group Tsogo Sun Holdings has been reading the market and spent R40 million on the refurbishment of its property, Southern Sun The Cullinan, in Cape Town over the past two years.
The group owns 90 hotels in South Africa, Africa, Seychelles and the Middle East and 14 Casinos.
Tsogo owns two hotels well-located close to the Waterfront and within walking distance to the CBD and the Cape Town Convention Centre, Southern Sun The Cullinan which has been refurbished and Southern Sun Waterfront Cape Town.
This makes the properties an ideal choice for both leisure and for business travellers, explains Garry Reed, general manager for Southern Sun The Cullinan.
“With such high demand over tourist peak seasons and major Cape Town events such as the Cape Argus plus the ongoing demand for business travel accommodation, both hotels are in constant demand,” he says.
The property was opened 16 years ago and continues to pride itself on its attention to detail, exceptional service and special touches.
To ensure it maintains its competitive edge in the prime node, it spent R40 million on refurbishment over the past two years adding 12 new suites on the 10th and 11th floors and the existing six suites have been upgraded, points out Reed.
In total, the property boosts 18 suites all with opulent, ultra-luxurious decor and finishes.
These come with a personal butler service, and signature bath and pillow menus.
“Sweet dreams are delivered to your door with a choice of pillow type, softness and filling and a custom-tailored romantic, invigorating, relaxing or aromatherapy bath can also be ordered from one’s butler,” he says.
Reed points out that thanks to the refurbishment, the property now offers a bespoke Chef-On-Call Service from 3pm until 12am ensuring guests enjoy a specially created meal of their choice day and night.
Reed says as the group’s flagship hotel in Cape Town, this 4 Star deluxe hotel offers a 5 Star experience at a more affordable rate, providing a value-for-money luxury stay.
Expect rates from R1 595 for a standard room to R4 850 for a luxury suite.
He says Tsogo Sun’s Frequent Guest Programme regarded as the best of its kind in the industry helps to retain guests thanks to the card holder and repeat visitors’ benefits.
Reed points to the fact that Southern Sun The Cullinan is the perfect property or local business and leisure travellers as it offers an entertaining experience for the whole family, while their banqueting team will arrange tailor-made conferences, business meetings and other events.
Staying at the hotel
The property has 394 spacious rooms boasting views of Table Mountain, the bustling Table Bay Harbour and Waterfront or the city centre.
It also offers conference facilities for small to large groups of people - ask for it and they will tailor-make to your specific needs.
While you are at the hotel, Reed recommends checking out the sheltered pool deck, the luxury suites and the Peach Tree Restaurant for a delicious breakfast and dinner buffet catering to a wide variety of tastes and preferences.
Under the direction of well-known Cape Town executive chef Lindsay Venn, expect a gastronomic experience unlike any other, he says.
Kayleigh Whitehead, guest relations manager meets as many guests in person as possible so that they can feel the welcome with an added personal touch.
Now if you were paying a 4 Star rate getting a 5 Star service I would reckon there is little to complain about as Whitehead and her team will ensure your stay is comfortable from the minute you step into the property until you leave.
“When people are travelling to Cape Town I want to be the first person they think of when choosing a place to stay,” she says.
Asked what she would do to enhance her guests stay, she says, she finds out from guests what they enjoy doing and this could be anything from a drink preference to a hobby, and incorporate that in their stay.
“It’s always the small gestures that make the world of difference to someone liking a hotel, to someone loving a hotel and not wanting to stay anywhere else,” points out Whitehead.
Asked what guests normally request, he says global travellers want to visit Table Mountain, Cape of Good Hope and Robben Island and these are the most highly recommended for first time travellers to South Africa and Cape Town.
For example, he says in 2012, travellers seemed to like The Cape of Good Hope nature reserve, Simons Town (This has the cultural history of how the Cape started and the penguin colonies are also in this area), Hout Bay (visiting Seal Island, as seen on a few discovery shows) and Chapman’s Peak drive (12km stretch along the cast that has magnificent photo opportunities) are something people have asked a lot about.
Dining at the hotel
The Peach Tree Restaurant offers breakfast and buffet dinner and to catch-up with friends, The Star Bar and Terrace is an ideal location.
Venn is usually seen chatting to guests while they tuck into his gastronomic creations, and making suggestions to those who are otherwise not familiar with his style.
He has various signature dishes and these dishes change every week making dining at this property an affair to remember.
“The chefs create theatre dining every night and the dishes vary from what the fish monger has caught in the early hours of the morning to prime cut beef steaks - a huge hit with local and international guests.”
However, Venn have classics such as braised oxtail, Malay curries and a traditional carvery, but of course very upmarket.
For those book worms who have read The 50 Shades of Grey, Venn has designed his own summer signature dish - The 50 Shades of Pink his little "Something for the ladies", as like he likes to call it.
He says they have exotic seafood selections that can be arranged with a 24 hour notice period and they are also part of the Southern African Sustainable Seafood Initiative and he personally belongs to the Green Peace movement.
The hotel property market
According to Joop Demes, chief executive officer of Pam Golding Hospitality and managing director of Pam Golding Hotels (Pty) Ltd, early indicators for 2013 reflect overall growth compared to 2012, but the daunting task is the ability to improve return by a substantial level before ensuring sustainability and start seeing growth.
Beginning of 2013, PwC expects hotels to have the highest occupancy rates and the projected occupancy rate for hotels in 2016 will be 9.7 percent lower than in 2007.
Average rates for hotels will rise at a 4.6 percent compound annual rate, and they will continue to generate the majority of accommodation revenue during the next five years, according to the report.
Growth will average 8.7 percent compounded annually, comparable to the overall compound annual increase for all accommodation of 8.8 percent.
PwC expects hotels to comprise 71.4 percent of spending in 2016. – Denise Mhlanga
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