Thebe strengthens investments in iconic tourism destinations
DURBAN – The Thebe Tourism Group, a subsidiary of Thebe Investment Corporation and the oldest black-empowered South African tourism group, is expanding its commitment to offering people innovative travel experiences by launching new developments and announcing strategic acquisitions within the hospitality sector of the tourism value chain.
“Our announcement today reflects our continued investment in iconic tourism destinations and products that not only provide guests with truly memorable experiences, but also contribute to the transformational growth of one of the most important industries in the country,” says Jerry Mabena, chief executive of Thebe Tourism Group.
He says the addition of these hospitality products grows the group’s existing portfolio in tourism and all related industries consisting of tourist attractions, inbound operations, outbound travel agents, corporate travel and car rental.
The group is introducing developments in the Kruger National Park over the coming months – a unique and iconic experience in in the form of a luxury train hotel, The Kruger Shalati Train on a Bridge, and the second: The Kruger Station Precinct, a family lifestyle precinct with a difference. Both of these developments fall under one Kruger Park Concession in Skukuza.
“For us, it is about creating top tourist attractions and facilities in South Africa and ensuring that tourism is practised responsibly throughout all our various businesses. The new properties and acquisition form an integral part of this vision as we offer both local and international tourists unique opportunities to see South Africa in a different light and memories to fill a lifetime,” he adds.
Work is already underway at The Kruger Shalati – the Train on a Bridge which is scheduled to open in December this year, with the official launch scheduled for the first quarter of 2020. This luxury experience incorporates the iconic and still original Selati railway bridge at Skukuza Camp where the Park’s first warden, James Steven-Hamilton, welcomed visitors nearly 100 years ago. These guests would retire to the train in the evenings before it moved to the next part of its journey.
The new property will see the restoration and upgrading of a train that will permanently rest on the original tracks running across the bridge, high above the waters of the Sabie River. It will have 24 en-suite rooms and 7 land-based rooms in what they call Kruger Shalati Bridge House providing a high-star rated luxury experience accompanied by fine dining and other leisure activities on-site. Bookings will open this week during Indaba.
“The Kruger Shalati Train on a Bridge takes people back to a long-lost time and makes them feel part of the history of the Park. It gives a truly memorable glimpse into those early days of the Kruger where the untamed African spirit reigned supreme. We are looking forward to taking our guests on an equally exciting journey that is not available anywhere else in the world,” says Mabena.
The second product within the Kruger Shalati Concession, The Kruger Station, builds on this historical tribute. It offers visitors to the Park a lifestyle precinct in the same spot a makeshift boma hosted people in the bush for a feast when the Park first opened and those first guests arrived by train.
The precinct will encompass everything from retail to food and even provide a venue for a 360 degree immersive theatrical storytelling providing a unique edutainment experience for families of all generations that recreate the magic of the station’s past. One of the features will be the 3638 Artisanal Eatery. Named after the number of the train that currently stands in the station, it will offer visitors a wealth of eating experiences to suit every taste and budget.
“The Kruger Station brings back the romantic feel to what is expected to become the communal heartbeat of the Park. Launching in late August / early September, this setting will be open to all visitors to the Park and become an essential stop in the Kruger travel experience.”
Additionally, Thebe Tourism Group has acquired a 50% stake in Chiefs Tented Camps, an unconventional luxury mobile tented experience with several exclusive offerings throughout Southern Africa.
The group’s acquisition in Chiefs Tented Camps is testament to its passion for offering its customers exceptional and iconic travel options that differ from the competitors. This sees the two organisations collaborating to bring a new pop-up hotel concept, dubbed Imagine, to South Africa for the first time.
“With a portfolio that includes sleeping in luxury tented accommodation in the Kruger to an elegant private mobile tented camp in the Namaqua National Park when the world-renowned flowers are in bloom, Chiefs Tented Camps has a wealth of experience for truly unique accommodation.”
Imagine will launch later this month and is a luxurious ‘glamping’ option where guests stay for predetermined periods of time in iconic settings before packing up and popping up in another iconic location.
“Imagine will provide guests with an opportunity to experience luxurious camping at locations they would not ordinarily be able to do so. This partnership is combining the respective expertise of Thebe and Chiefs Tented Camp to provide a truly thrilling experience to guests.”
“Tourism should not only be about the sights and sounds but also about experiences with loved ones. We work with our communities to ensure that all of this becomes integrated for customers to create memories that will last a lifetime,” Mabena says.
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