Despite the tumultuous year that 2020 was and the rocky year that 2021 is proving to be, there are a number of big moves happening in the local tourism and hospitality industry. These openings not only provide employment for an industry that has seen massive job losses over the last 16 months, but it also gives us hope that tourism will pick up once again.
Here are some of the top hotel openings of the past year and some new hotels we can still look forward to.
Kruger Shalati: The Train on the Bridge
Since opening in December 2020, Kruger Shalati has become one of the world’s top hotels. In this short space of time, the hotel has raked in a number of top accolades including being on Travel + Leisure’s “It” List for 2021, being awarded a Robb Report Best of the Best award, and being named as one of TIME’s World’s Greatest Places.
Over the months, Shalati has seen strong occupancy numbers as local travellers and some international guests look for a unique bush escape within the Kruger National Park. Suspended over the Sabie River in the heart of the Kruger National Park, Kruger Shalati Train on the Bridge is truly a unique hotel offering. When staying here, visitors have a vantage point from above the river - something no other known safari experience offers - providing unparalleled views of the Kruger National Park and the majestic Sabie River below.
Radisson RED Rosebank
This August, Joburg’s Rosebank will go from cool to RED hot with the opening of Radisson RED Rosebank. The new hotel will be situated at Oxford Parks, a vibrant mixed-use precinct comprising offices, apartments, retailers and restaurants.
Radisson RED is a unique hotel concept, created for the next generation of travellers with a modern mindset and an always-on attitude. Inspired by art, music and fashion, RED Rosebank has people at its core and its dynamic brand is highlighted in the art and colourful accents of its interior design. Each floor of the hotel has custom African printed wallpaper, the street style art on display in the hotel’s public spaces is rotated every six months and technology is built into the hotel’s design. For drinks and dining, there is the OUI Bar + KTCHN, the grab ‘n go bar for those wanting a quick drink or snack between meetings in the area and the RED Rooftop, which will have a selection of share plates, cocktails and DJ sets
A new addition to the Cape Town hotel scene is Hotel Sky. Boasting 535 rooms and suites and an address that is just across the street from the Cape Town International Convention Centre, this hotel looks set to attract both leisure and business travellers from around the world. The Infinity Restaurant on the 26th floor provides stunning views over the Mother City. Adding to the uniqueness of the hotel are the AI-powered robots that the hotel claims will assist with room service deliveries and answering guest questions. Of course, a highlight of Hotel Sky is the 30m thrill ride on the rooftop. You have to see it for yourself to believe it.
Cape Town has long been a tourism gem for South Africa. It’s good to see that while many businesses have unfortunately been pushed to the brink according to impact reports by Cape Town Tourism, there are still new ones opening up across the city.
Former president Nelson Mandela’s first home in Houghton, Johannesburg, has been refurbished, transformed, and re-envisioned as an iconic hospitality experience set to attract world leaders and people who take inspiration from this global icon, offering them an opportunity to be immersed in his most intimate environment. Renamed the Sanctuary Mandela, this unique hotel features nine rooms accommodating up to 18 guests, retreat spaces for reflection, and a personal connection to the private life of Madiba.
It is the one of Madiba’s former residences which is open to the public for an intimate stay, rather than as a museum.
Babanango Game Reserve
Situated on the White Umfolozi River, Babanango Game Reserve is a conservation paradise. The Reserve is home to Zulu Rock Lodge, which opened in November 2020, and it pays respect to the Zulu culture of the area. Babanango works closely with the local Emcakwini, Esibongweni and KwaNgono communities to ensure that the reserve and lodges continue to be respectful towards the environment and surrounding areas.
Guests who stay within the reserve will be able to spot giraffe, hyena, zebra, rhino and buffalo. African Habitat Conservancy (AHC) has been the project developer on this project. AHC is headed up by German philanthropist Hellmuth Weisser, and they are committed to conservation in the area. The group has plans to introduce more of the Big Five to the area in the coming years, while also rehabilitating the fauna and flora of the area.
Canopy by Hilton
Canopy by Hilton is considered to be the “hip” brand under the Hilton Hotels umbrella. Across the world, this brand of hotels offers beer and wine tasting, rewards “employees of the month” with orange Converse sneakers, locally roasted coffees, co-working spaces and more. After closing it’s Cape Town Hotel last year, Hilton has signed a deal to open a Canopy by Hilton in Cape Town within the next year, with another opening in Johannesburg within the next two years.
The Cape Town hotel is based in the heart of the city centre, close to the Company’s Garden and key Cape Town attractions and features, while the Johannesburg Hotel is expected to open on Jellicoe Avenue.