Cresta Hotels is undertaking a $2,5 million refurbishment of Cresta Oasis Hotel and Apartments in Harare, gearing for an expected increase in local and international business in coming months and years.
Speaking at an announcement briefing, Cresta Hotels’ country director, Chipo Mandela, said the exercise was already under way and would be completed by year end, involving all bedrooms and long-stay apartments, public areas and conference rooms. The project will also see the closure of the current entrance on Nelson Mandela Avenue and the creation of a new entry facility on Kwame Nkrumah Avenue.
“We are already in the process of undertaking a major refurbishment programme that will transform this hotel into what will be the most exciting venue in its specialised market field,” she said.
“It will be the natural home for small to medium-size conferences, long-stay guests, short-stayers primarily from around Zimbabwe and across the Southern African region, and people from within the city looking to be hosted and entertained in a stylish and modern manner. This hotel celebrated its 40th anniversary just three years ago and it is our belief that we will create on its already solid foundation one of the true hospitality gems of Harare.
“Work will involve all apartments and bedrooms, all public areas, all conference rooms, the creation of a new conference room on the site of our existing public bar and the creation of an exciting new bar and entertainment centre in the old night club on the eastern side of the hotel. In all the bedrooms and apartments, bathrooms are being upgraded, an important factor given that almost 60 percent of decision-making related to choosing accommodation is based on perceptions of the bathrooms.
“In addition, we are opening a new hotel entrance along Kwame Nkrumah Avenue, closing entrances through the sanitary lanes, which will become service lanes. As a result of having a new entrance, the reception will also be repositioned to face north. We are also re-paving all the car parks and installing car ports in the main car park to improve the shade factor for guests’ vehicles.
“This is a significant and exciting development that will cost Cresta Hotels about $2.,5 million and is scheduled for completion by the end of this calendar year. It is a major investment and stems from our confidence in the current and future potential of Harare, of Zimbabwe and of this region. We firmly believe that a golden age of travel and tourism into this region and this country is about to happen, spurred on in part by the changes that have taken place and continue to take place in the macro-economic environment. Between 1988 and 1999 Zimbabwe was the go-to destination of Africa, and we in Cresta believe a return to this positioning is on its way.”
Cresta Hotels is one of Southern Africa’s best-known hospitality groups, with operations in three countries: Zimbabwe, Botswana and Zambia. Zimbabwean operations are Cresta Oasis, Cresta Lodge and Cresta Jameson in Harare, Cresta Churchill in Bulawayo and Cresta Sprayview in Victoria Falls.
In the past six years our group has undertaken a significant transformation of its operations across Zimbabwe, driven by the need to remain relevant and to be the market leader in our area of chosen participation, which is basically the three and four-star market.
Ms Mandela said Cresta had been active in recent years in upgrading and expanding all its properties.
“We built and opened a new major conference centre at the Cresta Lodge property in eastern Harare, called Cresta Sango, opening up a new opportunity for conferencing, banqueting and eventing in the market up to 1 000 people. We then undertook a complete renovation and refashioning of Cresta Lodge and it is now a popular, respected and sought-after hospitality establishment with excellent feedback from guests across the board. Cresta Lodge this year celebrates its 25th anniversary and looks forward to a continued growth in its prime market, which is that of business travel,” she said.
“After that we entered into an arrangement to take over and revamp an existing hotel in Victoria Falls and in 2013 opened this as Cresta Sprayview, the group’s first entry into Zimbabwe’s primary tourist destination. Business has been good and, in the past 12 months in particular, this hotel has established itself as one of the most attractive and desired accommodation and event venues in Victoria Falls town. Cresta Sprayview this year marks six operational years as a Cresta establishment, although its roots go back 50 years to 1968, when its predecessor opened for the first time.
“We then converted the accommodation block at the rear of this very hotel, Cresta Oasis, into an Apartments facility, aimed at long-stay travellers who wish to have a larger accommodation offering linked to a hotel with all the features of a hotel, from conferencing rooms to restaurants and bars. After that, we undertook a series of upgrades and changes at Cresta Jameson, a hotel that carries with it a remarkable history dating back to 1958, which means it will this year celebrate its 60th anniversary. These upgrades and improvements will continue at Cresta Jameson and we will continuously make sure this hotel meets changing expectations of guests who first and foremost enjoy the ambience of a busy and buzzy establishment in the exciting city centre.
“In Bulawayo, we have recently re-launched the 44-year-old Cresta Churchill after a year-long refurbishment costing $700 000. It is now without doubt the market leader in Bulawayo and we look forward to increasing business levels, just as we look forward to a steady and dramatic increase in business and leisure travel to Bulawayo and the surrounding areas.”
Ms Mandela said Cresta Hotels believed Southern Africa in general and Zimbabwe in particular were worth investing in.
“Zimbabwe is open for business and so are we, for today and tomorrow. Backing this physical development is training and development of all our team, at all levels and in all departments, as well as increased levels of promotion of Zimbabwe, its tourism and business destinations and of the region as a whole, which we are undertaking at travel shows, in direct sales and marketing and in all our above and below the line promotion. Tomorrow is a brighter day and Cresta Hotels is ready and able to take advantage of it.”