CT CBD office block turned into hotel

18 Dec 2009

The former Strand Tower office block, situated on the corner of Loop and Strand Streets in the Cape Town city centre, is rapidly being transformed into a four-star hotel.

The construction period of just six months began in October 2009 and the Strand Tower Hotel is scheduled to open next April.

The conversion, costing an estimated R250m, can be carried out so quickly because the "skeleton" of the building is being kept intact. Monica Barnett-Harris, marketing manager of the Leisure Group, whose property arm Leisure Development is undertaking the redevelopment, says that while the interior floor space of 11,460sqm is being totally restructured, the external walls have been retained and are being reclad, and the positioning of the floor levels and lift shafts will not be changed.

After identifying the need for more four-star hotels in the Cape Town CBD - where there are already several three- and five-star hotels, according to Barnett-Harris – the Leisure Group decided to convert the office block, which it owned and had been letting out, into a hotel of this calibre.

"With space so tight in the CBD, we were fortunate to have a whole building to transform, in a central location that we believe is perfect for a hotel. We're also lucky in that we have both a property development company and a hotel operator within our group. Leisure Hotels will manage the Strand Tower Hotel."

The contemporary, 19-floor hotel - one of the tallest buildings in the area - will comprise 252 en suite bedrooms, with most offering views of Signal Hill, Table Mountain, the Castle or the city streetscapes. The facilities will also include a restaurant, bar and lounge, an outdoor pool and sundeck, a gym, sauna, conference rooms, 24-hour concierge and security services, and undercover parking.

Interior designer Vicky Finch says the hotel interior will have a neutral palette, with simple, clean lines.

"We are using earthy colours and textures, and mixing it with luxurious finishes like polished marble and rich fabrics. The combination of materials will give an organic, chic look," she says.

"There will be high ceilings in the entrance lobby with copper hanging spheres, and the reception desk will be of onyx, back-lit to have a yellow glow."

The spacious guest bedrooms, which will have a soothing base palette with accents of red and green in luxurious fabrics, will all be en-suite and air-conditioned, with individual climate-control. "The rooms will be equipped with DSTV, wireless internet access, mini-bars, and tea/coffee-making facilities, as well as all the other perks that a four-star-rated hotel is required to provide," Barnett-Harris says.

Each room will also have a desk and chair so that business travellers who wish to work in their rooms can do so in comfort. "We expect that during the week most of the guests at the hotel will be business people, as the companies that will use our two fully-equipped conference facilities are likely to 'bulk book' accommodation for their delegates. The hotel is also within walking distance of the Cape Town International Convention Centre, and the city's financial and legal districts."

She adds that Strand Tower is just as well-positioned to serve tourists, being close to attractions like the V&A Waterfront, the Castle, St George's Mall, and the recently revamped Greenmarket Square and the Parade. "The whole CBD is coming alive again and is now very welcoming to guests. As the hotel is in the hub of the city, tourists can come from the airport by taxi, and then walk everywhere in the CBD."

Facilities such as the pool and sundeck, gym and sauna are also likely to appeal to tourists, as will the 220-seater restaurant, with bar and lounge area. According to Finch the restaurant, which will serve three meals a day, will overlook terraces, from which a rim-flow pool and fountains can be seen. "The restaurant will be rich in style, with a cinnamon-coloured fabric on the chairs and American walnut table tops," she says.

"The carpet will have an interesting reptile print, giving an essence of Africa."

She adds that the bar area will be very glamorous, with mirror mosaics behind the bar and hanging pendants. "The bar itself will be very slick, with clean lines. Again we have used onyx and back-lit it to give a warm glow. On the bar stools we have used a reptile skin print. We have combined the cinnamon colour with plum, which will add to the luxurious feeling of the bar."

The transformation of the Strand Tower Hotel is not the Leisure Group's only venture into the hotel industry. It already owns three other hotels in the CBD: The Tulip, also on Strand Street, The Lady Hamilton, situated just behind the Mount Nelson, and the Fountains Hotel on the Foreshore. "The Fountains Hotel was also a refurbishment: it used to be the old medical centre on Adderley Street before we redeveloped it six years ago, and has become a very successful hotel," says Barnett-Harris.

The indications are that the Strand Tower Hotel will be equally successful. She says the hotel is already fully booked for the 2010 FIFA World Cup period, as Manja Jaspers, the MD at Strand Towers, recently spent six weeks overseas promoting the hotel, and signing contracts mainly with tour operators and companies wanting to make bulk bookings. "Because we're already in the hotel industry, we've also been able to introduce the new hotel to our existing local contacts, and interest in the Strand Tower Hotel is very high," says Barnett-Harris. – Impti du Toit

For more information contact Manja Jaspers on 082 829 7445.

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