The venerable, century-old Protea Hotel Edward closes its doors. Picture: Zanele Zulu/African News Agency/ANA
The venerable, century-old Protea Hotel Edward closes its doors. Picture: Zanele Zulu/African News Agency/ANA

Protea Hotel Edward to shut its doors after 111 years

By Taschica Pillay Time of article published Jun 21, 2020

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Durban - Durban’s grand old dame, the Protea Hotel Edward, will shut its doors after 111 years.

The hotel on Durban’s famous Golden Mile has played host to royalty, presidents, millionaires and movie stars.

Global hotel group Marriott International said, due to the financial impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, it had been forced to cease operations at Protea Hotel Edward, Protea Hotel Hazyview near Kruger National Park in Mpumalanga and Mount Grace Country House & Spa, Autograph Collection in Magaliesburg.

“The hotels will be handed back to the property owner, Hospitality Property Fund. The impact of Covid-19 on the hospitality industry has been unprecedented.

“Travel restrictions and social distancing efforts around the world have resulted in weaker demand and economic uncertainty.

“These are challenging times and our thoughts are with the associates impacted by this decision.

“We value their hard work and dedication over the years and thank them for their service.”

An employee at the Edward, who did not want to be named, said they put in a lot of hard work and were sad to see it go. “There’s a lot of history in that building,” said the staffer.

A former employee, who also declined to be named, said: “Covid-19 has not spared anyone. Those are my people. I am sad to see the place close.”

Picture: Zanele Zulu/African News Agency/ANA

Lee Zama, chief executive for the Federated Hospitality Association of Southern Africa (Fedhasa), said the tourism business has been devastated by the virus.

“We are seeing restaurants and hotels closing. We hope the government will reopen the sector under normal conditions and not under restrictions, like we had prior to lockdown, or we shall see more businesses closing. We have been the worst affected sector.”

People reacted with sadness and nostalgia on social media to news of the hotel closing.

“That is such a tragedy as I recall it being one of the first 5 Star hotels in Durban...my late Dad worked there for +-20 years as a wine steward...surely a landmark for many a family memory.”

Another wrote on Facebook: “Really shocking to hear, The Protea Edward, is a solid landmark, government has the means to save this Industry!”

“Such very sad news. Spent our honeymoon there in 1965. Plenty of wonderful memories of this grand and beautiful hotel over many years.”

Tsogo Sun Hotels via its subsidiary Hospitality Property Fund owns a controlling stake in the three hotels. It plans to take them under the Tsogo management portfolio and fully integrate them.

Marcel Von Aulock, chief executive, said: “These are three great hotels. The Mount Grace in Magaliesburg was developed by the Brand family and was the sister hotel to the Grace in Rosebank, which we acquired and restored in 2015 and now operate as 54 on Bath.

“The Edward is a landmark on the Durban beachfront where we already have a strong presence.”

In the short term, Tsogo Sun is working with Marriott and has mobilised resources to ensure the properties are handed over, secured and maintained while they remain closed.

Sunday Tribune

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