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Century City to launch new hotel as domestic market heats up

The growing hospitality group said it was hard hit by the first three waves of the Covid 19 lockdowns and was on the recovery path when the latest wave of the Omicron virus hit hard on bookings. Picture: David Ritchie.

The growing hospitality group said it was hard hit by the first three waves of the Covid 19 lockdowns and was on the recovery path when the latest wave of the Omicron virus hit hard on bookings. Picture: David Ritchie.

Published Dec 17, 2021

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Century City Hotels, which has instituted mandatory vaccinations for all its staff, is set to launch its second brand, the Century City Bridgewater in February as it focuses on the domestic market after losing about 60 percent capacity to the Omicron wave cancellations earlier this month.

Joint CEOs Gary Koetser and Glyn Taylor said bookings were already streaming in for the Cape Town-based Century City Hotel Bridgewater which is in addition to the 125 rooms capacity Century City Hotel.

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The growing hospitality group said it was hard hit by the first three waves of the Covid 19 lockdowns and was on the recovery path when the latest wave of the Omicron virus hit hard on bookings that had already been made by the international market, resulting in its having to focus more on the domestic market to maintain business.

Part of the advances made includes securing business from South African Airways flight crew, health workers in Cape Town and a Germany-based shipping company that is bringing in a large complement of clientele from the end of this month to the middle of January.

"We are very far from where we need to be. If we did just five percent of the business we had pre-covid, it would have been a lot," Koester said.

The group had bustling conference business pre-covid, which diminished as lockdown requirements restricted large gatherings.

Koester said the group's size and agility to make quick decisions stood it in good stead in the trying times as it could quickly adjust to ongoing trends, unlike international conglomerates that required lengthy processes to make decisions on picking up the pieces.

"We hope covid fatigue will bring better business. People are tired, and they want to go out more. It has been a long 18 months or so, and we are hoping there will be some kind of December, even with the current wave," Taylor said.

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The group is banking on the momentum of the early part of next year to open up business.

Century City’s new hotel, Century City Hotel Bridgewater, will be located on the site of the old Ranga Junction Amusement Park.

"Hotel Bridgewater will offer the best of both worlds: with rooms overlooking  a six-hectare parkland of landscaped islands and waterways, just a stroll from Century City’s vibrant Urban Square and Conference Centre with a host of activities available on the door step including stand-up paddling, kayaking as well as running and cycling trails," Koster said.

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He said the mandatory vaccination requirements were from customers making bookings who wanted to ensure that all staff were fully vaccinated. The group said it had to retrofit its hotels to ensure compliance, including mandatory fumigations of rooms between guests, seals in all rooms and ensuring housekeepers had protective gear.

"These increased our operating costs, but we are following global protocols. Some of our guests feel safer in South Africa than they do, say in the United States, because of the high level of safety we are following,"Taylor said.

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