First stadium hotel in Africa

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Sahara Park Newlands Cricket Ground could soon become the first cricket stadium to have a hotel built at the stadium. Picture: Jason Boud

Cape Town - Sahara Park Newlands cricket grounds could soon boast a new 148-bedroom hotel, the first stadium hotel in Africa.

Guy Stehlik, chief executive officer of BON Hotels, said the hotel group was involved in final negotiations with the Western Province Cricket Association about the project.

“There is a specific reason why BON Hotels has chosen to launch itself at these beautiful cricket grounds in Newlands,” he said at the launch of the hotel management and marketing group last week. “We have been working closely for some time now with the Western Province Cricket Association and other prospective partners, with a view to opening a flagship hotel at this priceless, legacy-rich space.”

Stehlik said it was too early to give details, but BON Hotels was hopeful that once the ongoing negotiations with the cricket association and other parties were concluded, an announcement would be made. He said the hotel would be the first of its kind in Africa and one of only seven in the world.

“The Western Province Cricket Association has rights to build a hotel at the stadium; can there be a more special space in Cape Town for such a project? If everything goes ahead, construction for the hotel will start in January.”

Stehlik said there had never been a better time to launch a hotel management group. “The challenge is to add value on the side of owners and guests. Every decision we make is on whether we are adding value.”

BON Hotels’ first management contract was signed with Hotel Verde near Cape Town’s International Airport. “Verde Hotel is the greenest hotel, every aspect of it from procurement to food. That hotel is expected to be officially opened in June,” he said.

Stehlik said the South African hotel sector was going through tough times, despite an increase in foreign tourism.

“The latest estimates are that over 20 percent of South African hotels are non-profitable and a large number are in various stages of distress.

“Game lodges, many five-star boutique type hotels and remote country inns appear to be worst affected. The value-for-money perception that guests have of a property will impact on whether they return, or recommend the hotel.”

BON Hotels’ intention is to take on hotels they believe could add real value for the hotel guest and hotel owner. “This may mean our growth is relatively slow, but that does not worry us. We have the resources, income stream and backing to operate at the pace we choose.” - Cape Argus

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