Cape Town - Newly crowned Miss South Africa, Shudufhadzo Musida and hotel manager Nico Myburgh officially opened the doors to Sun International's Table Bay hotel in the V&A Waterfront on 30 October.
The 5-star hotel is reopening seven months after closing its doors due to the national lockdown to curb the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.
Located in Cape Town’s Victoria & Alfred Waterfront, the hotel which boasts breath-taking views of Table Mountain, the Waterfront, Table Bay and Robben Island, is all set to operate under the new normal with extensive Covid-19 health and safety measures in place.
Like all Sun International properties, it has been awarded the World Travel and Tourism Council’s (WTTC) safe stamp of approval with the V&A Waterfront also receiving this stamp of approval.
The utmost care has been taken from the entrance to the kitchen, and of course in the 329 rooms, which include two presidential suites.
PR manager Sarah Prins explains: “What we’ve done in a room is we’ve taken out all the frills, the touchables, everything that would ordinarily have been here. For example, the throws, the scatter cushions, flowers and all that kind of thing. You still get all the amenities but they are covered.
“So the idea with the room is to create an environment that once it’s been sanitised, it is sealed. So we’ve got this little card that says sealed and sanitised, so from a housekeeping point of view when the staff see that card then they know thy are not allowed to enter the room.
“Housekeeping comes in, they clean the room, they prepare the room, they sanitise everything, the food and beverage guys come in and check the minibars, then we use an electrostatic sanitiser machine and that will be final sanitisation of the room.”
When they strip the room whatever comes out and whatever comes back is sealed - once again reducing all the touchpoints, she adds.
“If guests really don’t want anyone to come into their room for the duration of their stay, there’s a self-cleaning kit where the guests can clean up themselves. In any case no staff will enter the room when guests are there, which is so different from what one would expect from hospitality, but it’s all about respecting the safety of our guests and respecting the safety of our staff.”
It’s the little things, says Prins, like cleaning guests’ masks which they seal in a little bag; it goes to the valet, and then comes back sealed.
“We’ve also taken out the in-room dining menus and the in-room directory, and it is now available through the TV. All you do is scan the QR code and your phone becomes the TV remote, this means one less touchpoint.”
“It’s been seven months of strategic planning on how we come back safely”, says Prins.
“All of our staff before they come back on the property have to complete Covid-19 training modules and once they come back there’s additional training that they have to complete before they come back onto the floor.”
Last week the hotel hosted the Miss South Africa finale, where Limpopo-born Shudufhadzo Musida was crowned at a glittering event in what Prins reveals was the hotel lounge. Miss SA has continued her stay at the Table Bay Hotel making it her “home away from home“.
Prins says: “With Miss SA we’ve had a core staff who’ve come back initially and those core staff members have refined the way we do things, adapting and changing.
“Every staff member has gone for training, every staff member goes through the Covid-19 checkpoint daily. We’ve learnt from other hotels in the group who have been open for months, but it’s also about learning every day.“
Chef Wesli Jacobs also had to learn a new way of doing things.
“We’ve used the last few months to train staff on Covid-19 protocols, getting the guys used to things like making sure the vegetables are pre-sanitised, getting our suppliers on board with our protocols that we’ve put in place. Also in terms of spacing in the kitchen, having the 1.5m spaces. So just getting to the new normal of the kitchens and hospitality,” Jacobs says.
“Also trying to adapt to instead of food being open and exposed to everything in a jam jar, making sure that everything is covered, wrapped, labelled, date coded, the whole shebang.”
He adds: “We’ve changed our menu only so that food can be a confined space. The standard the quality is still there, the presentation we’ve tried to adapt it as best as possible, maintaining a 5-star standard because we are a 5-star hotel, so we don’t compromise in terms of that.
Jacobs says the chefs can’t wait for guests to arrive.
“We’re so excited because we’ve been working on menus, we’re working on presentation so now it’s about execution and getting that standard out. We’re looking forward to people’s feedback.”