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First Radisson Red hotel coming to V&A

Cape Town’s V&A Waterfront will soon boast Africa’s first Radisson Red hotel. The hotel, which is expected to be opened later this year, will employ more than 100 people.

The development has been described as a welcome boost for the city’s job creation goals.

The Radisson Red hotel, part of the Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group, is a unique structure inspired by art, music and fashion. Curator Dale Simpson said the hotel would shake South Africa’s hospitality industry with its bold new philosophy. Simpson said it would offer an exuberant and unique take on modern hospitality.

“We are excited to be situated in the wonderful city of Cape Town,” he said. “As we build towards developing in September, we will very much engage with the local talent in Cape Town.” Simpson said the hotel was built following studies which showed that travellers were looking for quality and genuine experiences.

He said the desire to just see the big ticket items when visiting a destination was no longer the main attraction.

“Travellers want to explore the destination from a lifestyle point of view, they want to know where the best coffee is served, where the local food markets operate and where the most exciting restaurants in the neighbourhood are.

”The drive of localisation continues. At Radisson Red, we look forward to sharing all our knowledge and foraging all of our areas to offer guests that genuine quality experience in Cape Town.”

Simpson said the V&A Waterfront, together with leading architects, had transformed six grain silos into modern sustainable spaces.

“Radisson Red embraces freedom, flexibility, fun and will bring these elements to life through a whole new type of guest experience.

“We’re a city hotel for an ageless expressive crown, and by occupying Silo Six, we’re right in the heart of the bustling Waterfront, amidst the city’s vibrant nightlife, only 25 minutes from Cape Town International Airport,and all the while boasting Instagram-worthy harbour and mountain views.”

He said the V&A development followed successful launches in Brussels and Minneapolis, with Campinas and Glasgow also expected to follow suit.

He said that adding to the buzz would be the highly-anticipated Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa (Zeitz Mocca), set to open in September.

“Art is always at the heart of Red and our dynamic design is both inspiring and functional.

“So it makes sense that we’d be neighbouring the world’s largest museum dedicated to showcasing contemporary art from Africa and its diaspora.”

Simpson added however, that beyond the hotel’s dynamic location that would prove attractive to guests, the hotel would also boast trends and lifestyle of the ageless millennial, tapping into modern, high-tech travellers.

“In addition to our 252 contemporary rooms and fully equipped gym, the hotel will house four events and games studios for up to 90 guests, ideal for hosting high-octane meetings and social occasions.

It probably goes without saying, but guests will be able to access super-fast free wi-fi and 24/7 entertainment tech throughout the property.

Additional good news for all animal-lovers is that all “fur babies” of 8kg or under are welcome to stay at the hotel too.”

Source: iol 

Uganda: Young Hoteliers to Get Training From Sheraton

At least 20 young entrepreneurs working in the hospitality industry are set to benefit from a deal signed between Sheraton Kampala Hotel and mentorship firms, Youth Business International (YBI) and Enterprise Uganda, which will improve their skills and raise their business profiles.

According to details of the one-year mentorship pact signed on Wednesday, Sheraton will host four selected local youth hotel entrepreneurs or managers every month for hands-on training and experience in handling customers.

Dubbed the Sheraton Enterprise Experience (SEE), trainees will also get managerial tips during the course of practical trainings and internship at the five-star hotel.

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Officials are optimistic that lessons from the trainees’ experience shall be transferred to their businesses to boost growth, services and profits.

Speaking after the signing of the deal, Charles Ocici, the executive director of Enterprise Uganda, said the mentorship programme is tailored towards nurturing young entrepreneurs and managers into world-class hospitality industry players. He explained that trainees will have to apply and must be youths below the age of 35 years.

Ocici said such mentorship programmes could empower more Ugandans and cut down on the dominance of Kenyan and South African experts in the local hospitality service sector. He added that Kenyans and South Africans have more experience in the hospitality industry because of their success in the tourism sector.

The mentorship deal was one of the outcomes of the global ‘Promise of Youth Event’ hosted in Kampala from April 5 to 7. The two-day conference, supported by YBI, attracted youth entrepreneurs and managers from Kenya, India, Sweden, Tanzania, the United Kingdom and donor representatives.

Apart from recognizing successful entrepreneurs and sharing experiences, officials discussed the challenge of unemployment.

Uganda is one of the countries grappling with unemployed youth. According to official statistics, 400,000 graduates join the search for jobs every year, yet only 9,000 vacancies are available in the formal public employment sector.

It is against such background that officials urged private sector-led initiatives such as mentoring programmes to encourage youth create their own jobs instead of seeking employment.

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Minor Hotel Group cements green credentials by implementing Green Growth 2050 standards

Minor Hotel Group (MHG) has moved to cement itself as one of the global leaders in sustainable tourism by implementing the Green Growth 2050 (GG2050) sustainability solution.

MHG has committed its 35 resorts and hotels under the Anantara brand to the Green Growth 2050 program, launched in 2015, with many already undergoing certification. A further 35 hotels under different MHG brands are currently implementing the Performance Measurement solution planned for live operation later in 2016.

“In identifying a sustainability partner for the Hotel Group, Minor was looking for a solution that could take our hotels to the next level. A program with the potential to operate across our entire portfolio”, said John Roberts, MHG Director of Conservation Efforts.

“We found Green Growth 2050 was the only solution that brought together a GSTC recognized Certification Standard, aligned with international conventions including the UN Global Compact, with true measurement of our sustainability initiatives across over 200 GRI and tourism based metrics. The ability to measure and manage performance across all our hotels in the one place, standardizing the group wide recording, was crucial to our decision in moving to Green Growth 2050,” said Mr. Roberts.

Green Growth 2050 CEO, Wayne McKinnon, said: “MHG has one of the most impressive hotel portfolios in the industry combining luxury properties with outstanding service. It is a privilege to have many of them as our current members.”

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“When we developed the sustainability framework for GG2050 we wanted to provide a solution designed to take leading organizations like MHG beyond the one-dimensional legacy certification systems currently being used and provide a true cloud-based solution that brought together certification, performance measurement and online learning overlaid with full business intelligence and analytics.”

“Minor’s sustainability performance can be managed across their entire portfolio and segmented by business type, city, region, brand, or any defined grouping. They can compare the performance of their Asian hotels against their Middle Eastern hotels or owned hotels against managed hotels; certified or not certified, etc. to provide both individual hotel management teams and head office executives with unrivalled granularity in managing their sustainability initiatives.”

“All this information is available in user-defined dynamic dashboards specifically tailored to the needs of each organization, and at the touch of a button. Full reporting and data export is also supported.”

Green Growth 2050 Chairman, Professor Geoff Lipman, a long-time industry leader and sustainability advocate, praised the Minor Hotel Group for its commitment to corporate social responsibility: “We decided to create Green Growth 2050 to help move traditional environmental indicators for the sector into the mainstream of industry response to climate change and sustainable development. We spoke to a number of hotel groups – all of whom were positive, but it took the long-term vision of the Minor Hotel Group to join us as a launch partner for the program – we are incredibly pleased to be working with them.

“2015 has been a watershed year for the International Community with three Heads of State Summits – on Development Finance, Sustainable Development Goals and Climate Change; setting the agenda for a new socio-economic paradigm. The overarching aim is to stabilize climate change by 2050 but the broader goal is a more caring, inclusionary, resource efficient, low carbon society. Green Growth 2050 is a key tool in the armory of creative and positive change,” he concluded.

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Minor Hotel Group (MHG) is a hotel owner, operator and investor, currently with a portfolio of 145 hotels in operation under the Anantara, AVANI, PER AQUUM, Oaks, Tivoli, Elewana, Marriott, Four Seasons, St. Regis, Radisson Blu and Minor International brands. Today MHG operates in 22 countries across Asia Pacific, the Middle East, Africa, the Indian Ocean, Europe and South America. With ambitious plans to grow the hotel group to 190 properties, MHG continues to expand the home grown brands of Anantara and AVANI, plus continues to announce strategic acquisitions. For more information, please visit www.minorinternational.com.

Green Growth 2050 is a new dynamic product and service set that links sustainable tourism and corporate social responsibility in support of Green Growth. It has been developed by Greenearth.travel, based in the EU and Vision CSR based in Australia. It draws on their multi decade experience as leaders and innovators in creating sustainable travel and tourism frameworks, as well as their extensive partnerships and alliances focused on green economy transformation and climate response.

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Green means go for Hotel Verde and Datacentrix

High performing and secure ICT solution provider, Datacentrix, has been helping keep the lights on (and off) – literally – at Hotel Verde, South Africa’s greenest hotel and the first hotel in Africa to offer carbon-neutral accommodation and conferencing.

Hotel Verde was built to be as sustainable as possible from the ground up. This includes energy-efficient LEDs used for lighting throughout the hotel, with a number of controls helping reduce the energy they consume, such as motion sensors in all public areas that activate the lights and switch them off after 15 minutes if there’s no further movement. The hotel also uses light level sensors, which measure the amount of light that’s available – including natural light from windows and skylights – and dims or brightens the output of the lights to ensure only the required amount of light is given out at any time.

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Appointed to roll-out a number of systems prior to the official opening of the energy and water-efficient hotel two years ago, Datacentrix initially implemented the lighting control system, together with biometric access control, building and property management systems, video conferencing facilities, an audio and video system, room management software, and a video surveillance solution and storage.

The company also put into operation a structured cabling infrastructure (including telephone, BMS cabling and Ethernet, which enables guests to view a dedicated television channel that displays the hotel’s most updated energy and water consumption statistics, as well as its waste management), a managed power over Ethernet (POE) local area network (LAN), firewalls, fibre Internet connectivity, telephone and WiFi systems, and a staff time-and-attendance solution.

Besides this, Datacentrix still interfaces with a number of the third party solution providers as part of its multiyear outsourcing agreement with Hotel Verde. “We are currently in full swing in terms of the maintenance side of our project,” explains Hotel Verde operations manager, Philippe Marechal. “Datacentrix provides us with managed services to maintain hardware, such as our network equipment, desktops and printers, and also assists with maintaining other systems, for example, our telephone solution, acting as a single point of contact for Hotel Verde.

“Datacentrix has a good understanding of the hospitality industry and its specific needs, having worked with several local hotel groups,” says Marechal. “It was the obvious choice when it came to appointing an IT infrastructure and services partner, working very closely with Hotel Verde when it came to setting up our facilities from scratch, and still assisting with the management of our other service providers.”

Aside from its experience within the hospitality sector, Datacentrix also met Hotel Verde’s non-negotiable service provider criterion of being located within a maximum of 160 kilometres from the hotel, as part of its carbon-offsetting programme, which complements the hotel’s other green initiatives. “Not only does Hotel Verde offer guests and conference delegates a carbon-neutral stay at the hotel by offsetting carbon emissions through responsible carbon capturing and reduction projects, we also believe in responsible procurement.

“This means that our suppliers are chosen based on the sustainability of their own practices and their proximity to the hotel. To reduce the carbon impact of transportation, all suppliers used by Hotel Verde must be based within a 160km radius,” he adds.

Hotel Verde is the first hotel in Africa to achieve the Platinum LEED certification level, as assigned by the United States Green Building Council. In addition, it was the recipient of the Imvelo Award 2014 by Lilizela for Best Overall Environmental Management System, and won the World Responsible Tourism Award 2014 by World Travel Market, London for Best City Hotel.

“It has been a real honour for Datacentrix to be involved in the establishment of this exceptional, sustainably operated business,” says Juane Peacock, managing director: coastal regions and Enterprise Information Management (EIM) at Datacentrix. “One of our strategic imperatives involves building long-term partnerships with customers, which enables an intimate understanding of their business and its systems. To have been involved with Hotel Verde since the very beginning has allowed us to help create the most efficient, effective technology environment for them.”

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Hospitality Industry Joins the Green Revolution

It has become quite common to hear big corporations talking about their environmental and sustainability responsibilities. Various bodies seeking to validate and give awards or certification for these noble activities have also come into existence. And so, there’s now a race to become the greenest business operation around.

The Green Building Council of South Africa (GBCSA), is a member-driven non-profit entity formed in 2007. It certifies buildings according to a number of green building rating tools. GBCSA, with a membership of more than 1000, is in turn a member of the World Green Building Council. The council rates buildings according to nine separate environmental impact categories which include: management, indoor environmental quality, energy, transport, water, materials, land use and ecology, emissions and innovation. GBCSA awards certification for 4-Star, 5-Star and 6-Star, Green Star SA ratings. Since the council was started, it has certified more than 100 buildings across South Africa.

A number of hotels have also joined the green revolution by embarking on sustainable operations. It is now, not surprising to walk into a hotel where you have to separate your trash; paper in one bin, bottles in another and so on. A number of hotels have also taken to cutting their power bills by installing energy saving lighting systems and appliances. Whilst many hotels and other accommodation facilities are always striving to earn as many stars as possible, there’s a new recognition they’re also now vying for – a green building or green operation rating. Sustainability has become a buzzword among hoteliers.

Just a stone’s throw from Cape Town International Airport is the 4-Star Hotel Verde which has earned itself the title of the greenest hotel in Africa. In June 2015 the hotel became the Green Star SA’s first 6-Star rated hotel.

Hotel Verde has taken going green to a whole new level in the hotel industry. The design, construction and operating practices have made the hotel an award winning one literally from underground to the rooftop. These innovations helped Hotel Verde to become one of six hotels to receive a LEED Platinum award for a new construction. LEED or Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, is an internationally recognised rating tool for green buildings from the United States Green Building Council. Since the start of operations, the hotel has scooped numerous accolades including another Platinum award from LEED for existing building operations & maintenance in July 2015. This made the Hotel Verde the first hotel to achieve a double LEED Platinum award globally.

Some of the features that have placed Hotel Verde a cut above the rest include an air conditioning system in the form of a geothermal installation. This provides the hotel with an efficient heating and cooling system. The geothermal installation works as a heat pump that doesn’t use cooling gases found in conventional air conditioning systems. The heat pump, which helps the hotel save about 25% on their power bill, comprises of one hundred 70m deep boreholes. The boreholes circulate water underground making use of the constant 19.4°C underground temperature to shed off heat picked up from rooms that need cooling. The water also picks up heat to warm up rooms that need warming.

Hotel Verde has set up other facilities to reduce its energy bill. Photovoltaic solar panels on its roof and northern façade are producing just over 700 000kWH of electricity per year. The hotel also has three vertical wind turbines that greet you as you arrive at their main entrance. These turbines have a combined capacity to produce 9kW of electricity.

Not only is Hotel Verde producing some of the electricity it needs, the hotel has also installed efficient equipment to minimise their electricity usage. The equipment includes intelligent lighting in all rooms and outside, regenerative drive elevators, energy star rated office equipment and washing machines, and water saving taps and shower heads. Double glazed windows in all rooms, not only help keep out the noise from planes at the nearby airport, but also help with managing the temperature in the rooms, reducing heating or cooling needs.

Another area the hotel has proven its seriousness in going green is water. Hotel Verde has a rainwater harvesting setup with a 40 000 litre underground tank used to store the water. The hotel has an onsite grey water recycling system, which recycles the grey water from showers and bathtubs. The resulting clear water is then used for irrigation and to flush toilets, saving approximately 1.5 million litres of municipal water per annum.

Hotel Verde’s commitment to sustainability is reflected in their day to day operations. Supplies are procured from producers who are within a certain radius of the hotel. A reward system encourages guests to reuse their towels. Their outdoor swimming pool is a natural pond which uses natural filtration rather than chemicals. Their state of the art gym has treadmills and spinning bikes that generate electricity when they are being used. And on top of that, Hotel Verde has teamed up with some international organisations to ensure that their guests’ stays are carbon neutral. This is achieved by offsetting carbon emissions through responsible carbon capturing and reduction projects.

Whilst Hotel Verde has scored a first not only in South Africa, but across the continent, there are other hospitality industry operators that are also taking sustainability seriously. The GBCSA is reporting a year on year increase in its membership and the buildings it is certifying. And this is good news for our Planet.
Source: enca


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Cape Town makes world’s top 10 list

Cape Town – Cape Town has again featured in a list of the world’s top 10 cities according to the latest Travel + Leisure survey.

Travel + Leisure, an international travel magazine, hosts the annual survey via a reader questionnaire.

Readers vote on several categories, including the world’s best hotels, airports, spas and islands.

Ranked at number 9, Cape Town has featured in the top 10 for several consecutive years.

Top of the list, however, was Japan for the second year running with Charleston, South Carolina and Siem Reap, Cambodia in second and third place respectively this year.

These were followed by Florence and Rome in Italy, Bangkok in Thailand, Krakow, Poland and Barcelona, Spain.

Jerusalem was listed at number 10.

Readers rate the top cities based on sights, culture, arts, food, friendliness and shopping.

The Cape Grace, a Cape Town hotel also made it on to the list of the World’s Best Hotels , ranked at number 34.

Also on the list was Singita Kruger National Park at number 59.

Hotels were rated in terms of facilities, location and service.

Based on the survey, the top hotel in the world is The Oberoi Udaivilas in Udaipur, India.

Source: traveller24.news24


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V&A announces ultra-luxurious hotel

Cape Town – In 2013, the V&A Waterfront announced its R500-million philanthropic undertaking in the conversion of the historic Grain Silo complex into the Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa.

More than a year into the ambitious redevelopment of this heritage landmark, an exclusive 5 500m2, 28-key hotel, managed and operated by The Royal Portfolio, has been announced.

The Silo is an exclusive hotel in all aspects, including its special location atop the Museum with 360 degree mountain and sea views. Renowned industrial designer Thomas Heatherwick of Heatherwick Studio, London is the architect for the reimagining of the Grain Silo complex, which combines both the museum and the hotel above it.

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From the outside, the greatest visible change to the Grain Silo’s monumental structure will be the addition of pillowed glazing panels, inserted into the existing geometry of the upper floors, which will bulge outward as if gently inflated. By night, this will transform the building into a glowing lantern or beacon in the harbour.

The size of the suites range from Luxury Suites at 41m2 with full height 5.5m glazing to the 120m2 double storey Family Suites, the 132m2 Royal Suites and the Penthouse which extends up to 211m2.

David Green, CEO of the V&A Waterfront said, “This hotel will offer something rather unique by virtue of its size and incredibly special location. We believe The Royal Portfolio is the operator that will deliver an exceptional guest experience and run the hotel to the highest, luxury boutique standard.”

Artists impression of the interior of a room at the Silo Hotel, overlooking Table Mountain. Picture: Supplied by the V&A Waterfront.

In an independent economic impact assessment commissioned in 2012 and updated in 2014, findings indicated that future developments at the V&A Waterfront would contribute R223.7-billion to the nominal GDP by 2027, over and above the R259.1-billion contribution of the past 12 years.

In addition to the contribution to GDP, development at the V&A Waterfront is responsible for impressive direct and indirect job creation. At its peak, the Silo District development, at a cost of R1.5-billion, will have 2 000 workers onsite.

Green concluded, “Development at the V&A Waterfront is important in not only ensuring the destination remains relevant and fulfils market needs, but also in the economic stimulus it provides.”

Source: iol


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Global hotel groups seek a slice of SA pie

HILTON Hotels is planning to pour more money into South Africa as competition hots up for the continent’s tourism riches.

For a start, the US group plans to convert the independent hotels it controls in South Africa into Garden Inn hotels, according to Patrick Fitzgibbon, vice-president of development for Europe and Africa.

The plan follows signs that a tourism boom is taking shape in South Africa, helped by the rand’s fall against the dollar.

Grant Thornton’s latest Tourism Business Index showed an increase in tourist spending in the fourth quarter of last year – despite the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, which prompted some tourists to cancel their trips to the continent.

Fitzgibbon was in South Africa to meet a team developing a new Garden Inn in the Namibian capital Windhoek.

Hilton’s announcement comes three months after Hard Rock International, which owns the Hard Rock Cafe, said it planned to build a hotel in South Africa. Group president and CEO Hamish Dodds said South Africa was a “really logical” place to launch its hotel.

Fitzgibbon said he was not surprised by his rival’s plans, given that Africa had “massive opportunities” in tourism.

The landmark Westcliff Hotel in Johannesburg, which has hosted celebrities such as Oprah Winfrey, Brad Pitt, Will Smith, Richard Branson and the Dalai Lama, was bought by the Four Seasons group and its 117 rooms overhauled.

The new-look Westcliff opened for business late last year, but reviews after the R200-million makeover have been mixed, specifically of the one restaurant currently open. A further four restaurants will be opened this quarter.

Perhaps scarred by this poor reception, hotel management did not respond to interview requests this week.

Other hotel groups that want to increase their foothold on the continent include Marriott International, which bought the Protea Hospitality Group for R2-billion last year.

But South African hotel groups are not taking the challenge lying down.

Tsogo Sun, which is controlled by HCI, spent R220-million renovating two key Durban beachfront hotels and has invested R100-million in refurbishing its Southern Sun Waterfront Hotel and building a new hotel, 177 Empire Place, in Sandton.

Other developments announced include the Radisson Blu Le Vendome Hotel Cape Town, the Thaba Moshate Hotel in Burgersfort and upgrades to Emperors Palace in Kempton Park and the Mmabatho Palms Hotel in Mahikeng.

Hilton has 37 hotels in Africa and plans to build 29 in the next few years.

A three-year upgrade has just started on the Hilton in Durban, a welcome sign of new investment after some volatile years following the 2010 soccer World Cup, which didn’t provide the sort of tourism riches that many had expected.

Tourism revenue grew more than 10% in 2010, but fell more than 18% in 2011, according to a report by PwC.

In 2012, it clawed back some of this ground, growing 12%.

The PwC report said that by 2018, there will be an estimated 63 600 hotel rooms available — up from 60 900 in 2013.

In the report, Nikki Forster, PwC leader of hospitality and gaming, also said capacity was growing faster than room supply, so the occupancy rate for hotels would rise to a projected 71.1% in 2018 from 58.9% in 2013. The average rate will climb to R1265 in 2018, a 6.2% compound annual increase from R935 in 2013.

Hotel room revenue is expected to climb to R20.9-billion in 2018, up 11.2% compounded annually from R12.2-billion in 2013.

Fitzgibbon said South Africa was the most competitive region on the continent.

Its faltering economic growth is not worrying him. He said Hilton was in the business of investing long term, so recent economic woes did not deter the group.

Source: BDLive


 

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WTM Africa 2015 announces new raft of delegates

WTM Africa 2015, the leading business-to-business tourism event in Africa, has added an array of new International exhibitors, including destination hot-spot Abu Dhabi and a number of major players from the hotel, travel technology, cruise and airline sectors.

Screen Shot 2015-01-29 at 8.58.03 AMThe new exhibitors at WTM Africa 2015 – which will take place at the Cape Town International Convention Centre from April 15th-17th – signed up following glowing publicity and positive feedback that resulted from the hugely successful inaugural WTM Africa last year.

The Abu Dhabi Tourism and Culture Authority is the latest destination to sign up to WTM Africa 2015, while, from the global accommodation sector, International Hotel Group, Best Western and Hotel Verde are new exhibitors.

Mubarak Al Nuaimi, director, destination promotion department, TCA Abu Dhabi, said: “We followed with interest the success of the inaugural WTM Africa exhibition in 2014 and we are excited to be exhibiting this year at what has already established itself as a major trade must-attend event on the continent.

“Our delegation of leading hotels, tour operators and national airline Etihad Airways will showcase the very best of Abu Dhabi’s tourism opportunities while also highlighting the culture and heritage of the emirate.

“Airlift to Abu Dhabi will substantially increase from March when South African Airways begin flights direct to the UAE capital, joining Etihad Airways’ seven flights a week to Abu Dhabi, and this is an ideal opportunity for us to increase our inbound visitors from the African continent.”

From the airline sector, fastjet, the low-cost pan-Africa airline – part owned by easyJet – will be highlighting new opportunities following its newly launched routes to South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe from its Dar es Salaam base.

From the world of cruising, Pullmantur Cruises is aiming to raise awareness of its fleet of five ships and its wide selection of destinations.

The company has long served the Spanish market, but is now keen to establish itself as an international brand.

Finally, two new travel technology companies will be exhibiting for the first time this year: booking system provider Traveltek and All In Travel, which provides travel agents with an online reservation system that integrates hotels’ inventory and direct contracted products.

This year’s event has been expanded by an extra day to become a three-day event and the exhibition floor space will be 50 per cent bigger.

WTM Africa 2014 facilitated an impressive $314 million in industry deals.

WTM Africa, Thebe Reed Exhibitions, managing director, Carol Weaving said: “We’re excited to welcome more of the world’s key tourism players to WTM Africa 2015.

“It’s great to see such a wide range of new exhibitors from such different International tourism businesses, and it’s a result of the buzz WTM Africa created during its inaugural event last year.”

Source: Breaking Travel News

Image: WTM Responsible Tourism


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Spotlight On The Hotel That Claims To Be Africa’s Greenest: Hotel Verde

There are not a lot of hotels near Cape Town International Airport. Most business and leisure travellers are in a hurry to get to Cape Town, or reluctant to leave, and understandably so, given the city’s many attractions.

That’s why the 145-room Hotel Verde, located about a three-minute drive to Cape Town International Airport, feels like such a game changer. I stayed there my last night of a recent trip to Cape Town and it felt like a glimpse into the future of the hotel industry.

Hotel Verde claims to be Africa’s greenest hotel, built from the ground up according to eco-friendly principles. Staying there, you are practicing conscious, sustainable tourism. It’s the first hotel in Africa to offer a carbon-neutral stay, meaning you know exactly how much or how little your stay impacted the environment, and that makes it an amazingly feel-good experience.

Being accountable for its footprint is the guiding principle behind this hotel, which opened in August, 2013. South Africa’s green building certification wasn’t sophisticated enough for Hotel Verde, said General Manager Samantha Annandale, so they applied for — and got – LEED certification by the U.S. Green Building Council.

Annandale reckons the hotel got about 30 million rand (2.57 million USD) in free publicity just for being green.

Pulling up to the hotel, I knew it was going to be unlike anything I’d ever experienced when I saw the massive wind turbines spinning in the parking lot. But as big as they appear to be, they aren’t big enough, Annandale said. Though these are the most visible signs of green technology at the hotel, the wind turbines turned out to be probably its least productive investment.

“Return on investment (of wind turbines) is 20 years,” Annandale said. “We’d need to build (the wind turbines) bigger to make it worth it. We’ve learned from our mistakes. But they make a huge statement.”

Eco Pool

Annandale spent a lot more time talking to me about the hotel’s eco pool, which uses plants and natural soil filtration to balance bacteria without chlorine. Water is clean and clear, but nothing like the hotel swimming pool international guests are used to, and some find it a bit weird, Annandale said.

Getting used to it requires a new mindset. “We cannot build hotels the way we used to build them,” she said.

Hotel Verde owners Mario and Annemarie Delicio have a 10-year lease on the wetland adjacent to the hotel where they built the eco pool. They took what amounted to a rat-infested swamp and turned it into an outdoor gym, with plants that attract birds and bees, owl houses and beehives that the hotel harvests. Kids staying at the hotel can go on a treasure hunt there.

Born in Italy and raised in Germany, Mario is a longtime South African resident and the shareholder in another hotel in Ethiopia.

One of Mario’s goals at Hotel Verde was to have zero waste to landfill. “We wanted to revolutionize that,” Annandale said. So far, the hotel manages to divert an 91-to-94 percent of waste from the landfill and they do that by recycling. The hotel has a composting room. Packaging is returned to suppliers. “One thing you can never control is what guests bring in,” Annandale said.

About 30 percent of the hotel staff’s time is spent educating school children, guests, tours and site inspectors.

Hotel Verde construction cost about 240 million rand ($20.5 million) and building it green cost about 20 million rand ($1.7 million) more than an ordinary hotel would have cost, Annandale estimates. It will take three to five years to see a return on the investment, she said.

Annandale is particularly proud of the room where gray water from guest showers is recycled. It’s fed into tanks, filtered by ultraviolet light, and then piped back up into the building to flush guest toilets.

The hotel also has a 40,000-liter rainwater harvesting tank for car washing, irrigation and cleaning.

To save energy on water heating, a geothermal loop system 90 feet beneath the surface of the hotel taps into the natural water in the earth, acting as a heat sink for the hotel water.

Engineers from the University of Cape Town visit the hotel, which serves as a model for the Stellenbosch municipality.

Art designed by local school children and South African artists is used to decorate the hotel. School children in the nearby townships don’t get art education, according to Annandale. Mario agreed to fund an art education project on condition the children learn about sustainability. In return, they created the designs for stunning tapestries that decorate the common areas on the floor I my room was on.

Using Recycled Products

One wall in the lobby was textured with recycled glass. The hotel’s carpet runners are made of recycled plastic. On the outside of the hotel, a five-story mosaic art installation was designed by Svenja, Mario’s youngest daughter.

There is free unlimited Wi-Fi and sensor lighting throughout Hotel Verde, and my room was paperless, in that all hotel information was on the TV.

One of my favorite places in the hotel was in the basement garage, where graffiti artists had been invited to come in and paint. This turned out to be a moneymaker for the hotel. Guests loved the basement art and some have paid to have banquets there, Annandale said.

But you probably want to hear about the rooms. I loved that the butter cookies I found on the coffee tray in my room were made by a local woman in Mitchell’s Plain, one of South Africa’s largest townships.

“We helped her become compliant in food preparation and now she employs two people,” Annandale said.

When you check out of Hotel Verde, you have the option to offset your carbon footprint and you can track where and how it was offset. Just knowing that made me feel good.

Source: AFK Insider