Cape fire reduces hotel to ashes
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Cape Town - A single brick fireplace is the only solid structure that stands among the rubble that was once the five-star Tintswalo Atlantic hotel, which was destroyed by the raging South Peninsula fires.
Around the fireplace the charred remains of televisions, beds and furniture litter the ground of the hotel that opened in 2008.
“We lost five of our rooms, our main service areas, a storage room and about 65 percent of the hotel is gone,” said Warwick Goosen, chief executive of development of the Tintswalo Group, which has hotels in the Karoo, Joburg and in Cape Town.
The hotel, just off Chapman’s Peak near Hout Bay, needed to be evacuated in the early hours of Monday, and 14 guests and staff members were taken to safety.
Goosen flew down from Joburg immediately after getting the call that the hotel was in danger, and once he saw the damage, said he felt devastated to see his dream go up in flames.
“This hotel was the crown jewel of the lot and it really contained all of the energy of those who made it possible. We are a family business and we all made a contribution to it - for example my mother-in-law was heavily involved in the building of the lodges.”
The dream began in 2005 when Goosen and relatives drove home after taking part in an off-road race in Darling.
“We drove over Chapman’s Peak and from the road we looked down and saw this location. We stopped and told ourselves that this spot would be the location of our next hotel. As part of our tradition we all took coins and threw them over our shoulders to make a wish and soon afterwards it all came true.”
Ever since, guests have been encouraged to throw a pebble over their shoulder and make a wish.
Goosen and his family have already identified December as the date of their re-opening, with construction set to begin next month. “No matter what - the sun will rise and the sun will set and you can be sure that we will be back here again by the end of the year. This hotel was our baby and we loved it just the way it was. When we rebuild it we will do so without changing anything, all of it will be put back together again. Right now we do not see this as a tragedy, it is more like a sabbatical.”
Goosen said the ordeal of seeing the hotel burn down was softened by the support he received from the Hout Bay National Sea Rescue Institute and the city’s firefighters.
“We saw all the boxes and crates of donations that were brought in and it was really an unbelievable sight to see a community come together like this. There were tons of stuff donated by people from all over.”
To chime with the goodwill that has been manifest, Goosen said the rebuilding of the Tintswalo Atlantic would aim to benefit the surrounding communities.
“We will be looking to include members of the community in the rebuilding process and we will also try to establish some training opportunities in terms of cookery and building courses. Also all 45 members of our staff are safe in terms of their jobs and none will be retrenched. They help make this place special and they will continue to be part of it when we open our doors again.”