Johannesburg - A rise in business travel, together with South Africa’s increasing popularity as an international conference destination, is enabling the rapid expansion of privately owned Premier Hotels and Resorts.
The group is on the point of opening its newest four-star hotel, in Midrand. This follows the success of its hotel at Johannesburg’s OR Tambo International Airport, which opened two-and-a-half years ago.
Chief executive Samuel Nassimov, who founded the group, said yesterday that Premier intended to follow this up with more new hotels in Johannesburg in areas including Sandton and Fourways.
This is in addition to expansion in Durban, Port Elizabeth, Bloemfontein and smaller towns such as Nelspruit and George to cater for a growth in both business and leisure travel, which Nassimov expects as a result of the government’s job creation campaign.
Nassimov, who left his native Russia as an asylum seeker in 1973, studied hotel management in both Russia and Israel. He came to South Africa with a freight forwarding company in 1987.
In 1991 he bought “a very dilapidated one-star hotel that was built in 1928” in East London and spent R3 million on restoring it. “It was the first I owned and managed.”
His company also owns an international conference centre in East London, where the World Bank hosted a conference attended by 600 delegates this year. An international telecoms conference with 400 delegates was also held at the centre, which has a five-star grading.
Premier Hotels and Resorts now owns and manages 12 hotels, most of them with a four-star grading.
Nassimov explained that it was easier for four-star hotels than for five-star hotels to maintain high occupancy rates, particularly from business travellers and international tourists at times when the rand was strong.
Meanwhile Protea Hotels, which shares Nassimov’s expectation of growth in international conference business, is expanding the facilities at the Arabella Hotel and Spa near Kleinmond on the Western Cape coast, where the championship golf course has also been upgraded.
It is adding two more conference rooms, bringing the total number of meeting and conference rooms to 13. - Business Report