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Glitzy hotel to open its doors

2009/04/28
Brian Hayward WEEKEND POST REPORTER [email protected]



ALL SYSTEMS GO: Making a final inspection of the Bay‘s latest 5-star hotel landmark, the Radisson Blu, are (from left) Radisson Southern Europe and Africa vice president Michel Stalport, vice president of future openings Thomas Hagemann and the man behind the Bay project, Auspex Property head Ban Nyaumwe.

NELSON Mandela Bay‘s new landmark, the Radisson Blu in Summerstrand, is a hive of activity as workers toil through the night to add the finishing touches to what is billed as the city‘s first five-star international hotel.
With about two weeks to go before the glitzy hotel opens its doors to the public in what is known in the industry as a “soft opening” preceding the official launch by about three months, employees have started working around the clock to ensure there are no hitches.

This week Radisson group directors from Germany and Dubai were in the city for one final inspection of the hotel to make sure it was up to international standards.

“I feel excited and vindicated,” said Auspex Property chief executive Ben Nyaumwe, the man at the helm of the project. “ It‘s extremely exciting and I can‘t wait for the public to come and see it for themselves.”

Of the numerous highlights of seeing his “baby” come to fruition – a project many nay-sayers predicted would fail to get off the ground – Nyaumwe said the ground-breaking ceremony was hugely symbolic, while even the mock-up of the hotel in the project‘s early days had been enthralling.

“There have been many highlights,” he said. “But we have brought the biggest and the best hotel group to the city and I can‘t wait for the big official opening. That will be the cherry on the top for me.”

The 18-storey, 175-room hotel will use the soft opening period to iron out any problems while workers add the finishing touches to some of the unopened themed suites, as well as the three plush presidential suites which will take up the top three floors of the hotel and have panoramic views of the Bay.

This week the R5-million state-of- the-art kitchen began a dry run of its menu, catering to the German directors as well as other contractors involved with the construction.

A “test night” is also planned to take place ahead of the soft opening. It will see hotel contractors along with their friends and family accommodated for the night and encouraged to put the staff to the test by doing the unexpected, “like ordering hairdryers at 2am” said Radisson Blu spokesman, Michelle Campbell.

“People thought we were crazy to bring an international brand like Radisson to the Bay.” Campbell said the hotel was already fully booked for the 2010 World Cup.

“Most of our staff are ready and trained. There are 175 staff. Radisson requirements state there must be one staff member per room,” she said.
With the first dinner served at the hotel‘s Italian Filini restaurant earlier this week, Campbell said the hotel‘s bar, restaurant, spa and gym would also be open to the public.

She said the hotel offered several firsts for the city, including modern bathroom pods for each suite which had been manufactured by a German company in Johannesburg, fully assembled, trucked to the Bay and finally hoisted into place by a crane.

Another was the spa which included a soundproof flotation chamber where guests could float in salt water in a pitch-dark, soundless room.
 

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Bay’s only five-star hostelry kicks off with a full house of ardent rugby fans

2009/06/19
Sipho Masondo BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT



ELEGANCE ... The Radisson Blu Hotel in Summerstrand has opened its doors to the public. Standing outside the hotel is spokesman Celeste Jacobs. Picture SAM MAJELA

THE 17-storey, R360-million Radisson Blu Hotel – the only five-star hotel in Nelson Mandela Bay – has opened its doors to the public – just in time to host rugby enthusiasts streaming into the city for today‘s big match.

Although patrons may now make use of the hotel, the grand opening is still to come. Hotel spokesman Celeste Jacobs said: “It is a soft opening. The grand opening will be at the end of August to be ready for the summer season.”

She said almost 100 rooms were already operational, and were fully booked for the Southern Kings and British and Irish Lions rugby clash taking place at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium today.

The remaining 78 suites, Jacobs said, would be completed within the next few months.

Facilities in the hotel include eight conference rooms, a spa, gym, a restaurant, bar and lounge and a nursery.

“All the rooms have sea views, but obviously the higher up you go, the better the views. It‘s really amazing. It‘s the best thing to ever happen in the hospitality industry in the Port Elizabeth,” Jacobs said, adding that the Bay deserved a five-star hotel.

The Radisson Blu is owned and operated by the Rezidor group, which is based in Belgium, and operates a chain of 323 hotels under the brand names Radisson Blu, Carlson, Park Inn and Regent. The Port Elizabeth property is owned by local entrepreneur Ben Nyaumwe, through his company Auspex Properties.

There are five Radisson Blus in South Africa, one at the V&A Waterfront in Cape Town, one under construction at Bloubergstrand, Cape Town, two in Sandton, Johannesburg, one of which is still under construction, and now one in the Bay.

Jacobs said the hotel employed about 130 people, which was expected to increase to about 155 once it was fully operational.

All the staff, she said, received in-house training. “Our staff are empowered to make things right for our guests.”
 

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Is anything happening in PE? Stopped by briefly when heading to the garden route earlier this year and seemed minimal development was happening.
 

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Not much activity at all. Even the anticipated development around BayWest seems to have stalled (Nothing else built besides the mall and the SANRAL building in over three years). There are a few industrial developments out Coega way. Being from JBay, I honestly think there is more happening here than in PE.

Is anything happening in PE? Stopped by briefly when heading to the garden route earlier this year and seemed minimal development was happening.
 

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It's kind of sad. What struck me on my last visit is the concentration of globally impressive development in Joburg, Durban and Cape Town and then almost nothing anywhere else. This is not long term good for the country
 

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Not much activity at all. Even the anticipated development around BayWest seems to have stalled (Nothing else built besides the mall and the SANRAL building in over three years). There are a few industrial developments out Coega way. Being from JBay, I honestly think there is more happening here than in PE.
That's because JBay is in DA-run Kouga municipality.
 
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