Sandton's new hotel: The Maslow

07 Dec 2012

The Maslow, a Sun International owned 4 star hotel property in Sandton, Johannesburg will open on 7 January 2013 following a R250 million refurbishment.

The Maslow, a Sun International owned 4 star hotel property in Sandton, Johannesburg will open on 7 January 2013 following a R250 million refurbishment.

Located at the corner of Grayston Drive and Rivonia Road, this property is formally known at the Southern Sun Grayston Hotel which closed in December 2011.

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The Maslow is owned by Johannesburg Stock Exchange listed company, which owns hotels, resorts and casinos, Sun International Limited.

According to Garth Collins, acting chief executive officer of Sun International, growing the company’s presence in Sandton has been a major focus.

“I am delighted that we now have our first business-centric hotel to our portfolio of hotels in Southern Africa.

“The Maslow is an entirely new class of hotel, adept at helping guests balance work and life,” he says.

Some of its properties include the Table Bay Hotel in Cape Town, The Palace of the Lost City, Sun City hotel, Wild Coast Sun, Gaborone Sun and The Royal Livingstone among others.

Speaking to Property24.com ahead of the opening, general manager Johan Scheepers explains that the refurbishment involved internal and external works to the property, landscaping of gardens including the pool and terrace, reconstruction of the conference centre and the addition of 13 individual meeting rooms.

I remember not so long ago, the hotel entrance on Rivonia Road was sealed with a large plaque saying something along the lines of ‘when we are done, you won’t remember what was here.’

That in my case was true, on a hard hat tour of the hotel last month, I had almost forgotten that we couldn’t see what was happening.

Now, the place has been transformed, importantly, I like the colour tone of the building exterior, which creates a force of its own as one drives past the property.

The average room size measures 32 square metres and opening rates to enjoy a night at this hotel are set at R1 726 per person.

I must say I found the name a little unusual, perhaps I am losing touch with naming properties, but Scheepers explains that they were inspired by psychologist Abraham Maslow and his well-known hierarchy of needs, hence the new name of the hotel, and have applied his straight forward approach to understanding customers’ needs in their service philosophy.

To compete in this climate, it is imperative that we treat our guests as individuals and customise – meaning, remembering details such as a guest's pillow preference, choice of mineral water or beer for the mini-bar and having the technology and intelligence in place to facilitate business and help individuals succeed both personally and professionally, he says.

“The service has to live up to expectations and the experience has to be absolutely seamless from check-in to check-out.”

With so many hotel properties in Sandton, we asked why this one would stand out – he says it combines style and functionality, but importantly, they looked into a Customer Value Proposition when planning everything, each room has been designed to meet the needs of the business traveller and will provide the best sleep and the best shower in town.

“Attention has been paid to ensure total darkness is achieved in the room, at night and during day time for jet-lagged travellers, while the windows are double glazed and rooms sound proofed to block out noise.”

With less than a month to opening, Scheepers they had had a lot of enthusiastic potential customers on site inspections with some interacting via social media channels including Twitter and Facebook.

Inside the property

The property, designed by Graeme Holtshausen of Dakota Architecture & Interior Architecture and Drop Design reflects the spirit of the business traveller.

Every design space attracts attention – the driving ethos being simplicity – elegant restraint and great craftsmanship, according to its owners.

Since the hotel mainly targets the business traveller, guests would be happy to know that it offers complimentary high speed internet access throughout the property.

Speaking to Property24.com ahead of the opening, general manager Johan Scheepers explains that the refurbishment involved internal and external works to the property, landscaping of gardens including the pool and terrace, reconstruction of the conference centre and the addition of 13 individual meeting rooms.

The Conference Centre includes a multi-divisible ballroom accommodating up to 650 people, a smaller 219 square metre Salon, a pre-assembly area and a 50 seater auditorium.

It offers 13 meeting rooms, all with access to the gardens including a room designed especially for creative workshops and brainstorming sessions.

“The Incubator is an unadorned space conducive to creativity and the floor is a mass of colour and texture compared to the monochrome minimalist wall treatments, says Holtshausen.

An interesting feature is the Wayfarer Lounge - a business class type lounge located at the heart of the lobby and designed to enable guests to be totally productive while waiting to check in or before departure to the airport.

Facilities include washrooms with showers, complimentary Wi-Fi and a supply of power sockets should guests need to recharge phones and laptops.

The same menu served in the Lacuna restaurant is also available in the Wayfarer lounge and guests can enjoy a meal whatever the time of day.

Scheepers highly recommends the lounge saying it will be particularly popular for Early or Late Check-out requirements.

The Maslow Hotel is one of the first properties within Sun International to feature the Africology Spa.

Invigorated by ancient African healing methods, Africology is an authentic skincare brand focused on creating results driven experiences for business travellers.

Staying at The Maslow

The property has 281 rooms which include 239 luxury rooms, six family apartments with two inter-leading rooms, four junior suites, 14 luxury suites with balconies, five executive suites with separate bedroom and living room and seven accessible rooms.

The average room size measures 32 square metres and opening rates to enjoy a night at this hotel are set at R1 726 per person.

Holtshausen explains that timber clad pillars and neutrally painted walls provide a design connection with nature as do Hugh Turvey’s unique flora x-ray photographs.

An interesting feature is the Wayfarer Lounge - a business class type lounge located at the heart of the lobby and designed to enable guests to be totally productive while waiting to check in or before departure to the airport.

The skeletal nature of the x-ray images is overplayed with fresh colours and emphasises the sense of layering as a common aesthetic thread.

“Featured in all the public spaces and bedrooms, each space is enhanced with an ambiance of Zen ease allowing one to relax and focus,” he says.

In keeping with the needs of the business traveller, rooms are fitted with a power shower, a media hub so guests can listen to music, watch movies or connect with family back home on the 40-inch flat screen TV, complimentary Wi-Fi as well as a speciality coffee maker.

For extra convenience rooms are soundproofed with black out curtains.

Dining at the hotel

If like me, you love good food, the Lacuna Bistro and Bar serving international cuisine and using the best local produce should be a spot to check out.

Scheepers says the restaurant, which overlooks the patio with views onto the garden and pool area, has an open style kitchen and private dining option.

The design features a glass curtain which facilitates an intimate relationship with the natural setting while serving as a barrier from the elements.

This is also one of his favourite parts of the hotel as non-guests can enjoy a drink or two after a hard day at work.

Expect delicacies including tapas, sandwiches, tarts, salads, pasta dishes and many more.

Property design and architect

Holtshausen explains that the use of consistent and stark palette with shades of charcoal unite the lobby, lounge, Lacuna Bistro and Bar and Conference Centre.

If like me, you love a good dose of good drink and good food any day, the Lacuna Bistro and Bar serving international cuisine and using the best local produce should be a spot to check-out.

“We have re-orientated the internal spaces to produce hierarchical functionality,” he points out.

The Aluminium curvaceous lines of the ground floor are a unified integration of external and internal spaces and the design maximises the effect of the outdoors to full advantage.

All the public rooms are seamlessly joined creating a symbiotic alliance between spaces, revealing an ordered functionality that frames the landscape and views of the terraced garden and pool, he says.

“The design is a dynamic composition of intersecting rectilinear forms carefully layered with overlapping materials to provide visual continuity.’

He says the aluminium-clad grid walls fold and bend and the colour aesthetic is brought through in the artwork, upholstery, curtains and carpet - aubergine in the bar, pistachio in the restaurant and indigo blue in the lobby.

The full volume lobby is a powerful chromatic experience in shades of black, interspersed with accents of white and chocolate brown and features a long granite reception and concierge desk.

Dark timber clad pillars and a massive reticular grid chandelier dominate the space.

Holtshause says guests will immediately feel a sense of space and attention has been given to wellbeing and comfort.

Hotel property market

According to the latest report by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), hotels are expected to have a compound annual increase of 3.9 percent in stay units to 2016.

The report notes that hotel properties appeal to business travellers and the high-end vacation market.

PwC reveals that the average room rates for hotels will rise at a 4.6 percent compound annual rate and will continue to generate the majority of accommodation revenue during the next five years.

The property offers 13 meeting rooms, all with access to the gardens including a room designed especially for creative workshops and brainstorming sessions.

According to Statistics South Africa, in September 2012, hotels contributed the most towards accommodation income recording 13.3 percent and contributing 8.8 percentage points while other accommodation recorded 19.5 percent and contributed 5.3 percentage points towards the 14.3 percent year-on-year increase in accommodation income for September.

The report indicates that growth will average 8.7 percent compound annually comparable to the average compound annual increase for all accommodation of 8.8 percent.

In 2016, hotels will comprise 71.4 percent of spending, according to the report.

PwC says 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 would seem, Sun International has been watching the markets closely hence the R250 million refurbishment.

Being located in the country’s financial district, the property is likely to see value in its investments if the report findings are to go by.

PwC says given the increased number of foreign visitors in 2011 and the forecast growth in foreign visitors, they expect four-star hotels to benefit more from the increase in tourism than three-star hotels and project revenues 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 four-star sector is expected to increase from 54.1 percent in 2011 to 64.2 percent in 2016.

In 2013, the occupancy rate of four-star hotels will increase reach by 60.9 percent from 58.4 percent in 2012 while the average room rate will increase slightly to R1 140 per night from R1 100 in 2012, according to the report.– Denise Mhlanga

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