New look for an old icon

Posted On Wednesday, 03 June 2009 02:00 Published by
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The makeover of a local hotel as the Crowne Plaza Johannesburg – The Rosebank after an extensive R315m refurbishment sees the return of the Crowne Plaza brand.

THE makeover of a local hotel as the Crowne Plaza Johannesburg – The Rosebank after an extensive R315m refurbishment sees the return of the Crowne Plaza brand to South Africa after a long absence.

Previously known as the Rosebank Hotel, something of a Johannesburg icon, the remodelled version is the first hotel in SA to comply with stringent Crowne Plaza standards.

The hotel will be linked to the InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) and its Crowne Plaza Hotels & Resorts brand. The Hospitality Property Fund (HPF), through the Hospitality Hotel Management Company that manages the hotel, has a franchise agreement with IHG that saw the hotel branded as a Crowne Plaza last month.

IHG is a fast-growing international hotel group with 4150 hotels and more than 620000 rooms in almost 100 countries. It incorporates the InterContinental Hotels & Resorts, Crowne Plaza Hotels & Resorts, Hotel Indigo, Holiday Inn Hotels & Resorts, Holiday Inn Express, Staybridge Suites and Candlewood Suites brands.

Crowne Plaza, the group’s premium brand offering, has 320 hotels in 50 countries, with another 130 being developed. The Crowne Plaza brand’s core market is business travellers who need an environment where they can be productive and work effectively.

Trevor Latimer, GM of the hotel, attended an InterContinental Hotel Group GM training course in Dubai where managers were given an overview of the brand standards.

“Their priority is guest safety, so there is a huge emphasis on fire, life and safety in making sure that evacuation procedures are 100% and that training of staff is implemented — as well as to ensure that their franchised properties have the correct equipment in the rooms and the correct standards are applied in training of staff.

“Its been quite a shift for us, because in many respects the international standards are much more stringent than South African standards, but it is exciting to be affiliated with such an internationally renowned company.”

Most of the hotel’s rooms are designed for single occupancy.

“The rooms are tailor-made for the needs of the business traveller, including the right meeting space and the right feel in the lobby areas, so that the single traveller will feel comfortable and at home and not alienated.

“It was encouraging to come back to the old Rosebank Hotel and realise how perfectly positioned we are to align ourselves with the brand internationally. The hotel has unique facilities to accommodate the business traveller and conference delegates. There are very few hotels of this size in Johannesburg that can still accommodate conferencing.”

Latimer says that one of main focus points has been an internal staff training project designed to bring hotel employees up to the brand standards of excellence that have been set by Crowne Plaza.

“While this has been challenging, it has been gratifying as well.”

The hotel bathrooms and bedrooms have been completely upgraded.

“Our rooms have been designed so that in most rooms we have done away with the bath entirely and now offer rooms with a shower only — a demand identified from business travellers.”

In some of the rooms the bath area is veiled from the bedroom through a one-way mirror, enabling the guest to see from the shower into the bedroom, or both ways depending on the lighting.

The bedrooms have wireless internet connectivity throughout, and mini bars, ironing and coffee facilities are standard features.

The timing of the new hotel’s launch is auspicious, with the country gearing up for the 2010 Soccer World Cup.

In addition, the successful staging of the IPL Twenty20 cricket tournament at short notice brought SA invaluable positive international publicity.

“SA is still placed fairly strongly in the hotel market, and particularly Johannesburg, where we are not feeling the pinch as much as cities such as Cape Town.

“Having seen the success of the IPL tournament, and now moving towards the Confederations Cup, with the World Arts Summit coming up in August/September, the peak summer season in November/December and then the World Cup next year, there will certainly be a lot more interest and (the effects of the recession are) not nearly as daunting as the rest of the world might be feeling.”

Rosebank will be one of the stations on the route of the Gautrain. The train will drop passengers opposite The Zone, less than 800m from the refurbished hotel.

“Rosebank as a node and suburb has gone through incredible transformation over the past five years in terms of reinvestment.

“It is set to become a destination of choice that is likely to surpass Sandton. Rosebank now has a much more European street-café atmosphere, while it still retains its African heritage.

“In addition, crime levels in Rosebank as a node have decreased incredibly since the late 1980s and 1990s.”

Source: Business Day

Publisher: I-Net Bridge
Source: I-Net Bridge

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