Durban - US hospitality conglomerate, Hilton, is to open its first Hilton Garden Inn branded hotel in South Africa within the luxurious new R1.3 billion uMhlanga Arch development, it confirmed this week.
The announcement ends industry speculation as to which international hotel group had secured management rights for the iconic uMhlanga Arch development, which was launched by Durban-based Multiply Group last year.
Hilton, Marriott International and the Rezidor group, which owns Radisson hotels, all have aggressive expansion plans in Africa. However, Radisson was not seen as a contender as it is already involved in the R3bn Oceans Umhlanga development down the road in Umhlanga Rocks.
Hilton said it would open the Hilton Garden Inn uMhlanga Arch in 2020, with the hotel having 207 guestrooms and construction already underway on the mixed-used development. The overall development, which includes the upscale 4 star hotel, upmarket apartments, retail, A-grade office and a motor showroom, is located on a prime site in uMhlanga’s booming Ridgeside precinct, which has views of the Indian Ocean.
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Hilton said it signed a management agreement with UA Hotel Company, which is led by Charles Thompson - a Durban businessman. Thompson is one the partners in 45b000m2 uMhlanga Arch development.
Commenting on the deal, Patrick Fitzgibbon, Hilton’s Senior Vice president for development in the Europe, Middle-East and Africa region says,“Umhlanga is a terrific location in which to launch Hilton Garden Inn in South Africa… It’s a popular upmarket commercial and leisure destination.”
Fitzgibbon adds, “Umhlanga is one of South Africa’s fastest-growing economic areas. The relocation of nearby King Shaka International Airport in 2010 and a significant boost in office space is driving considerable growth in corporate traffic, creating demand for what will be our first Hilton Garden Inn in South Africa."
Thompson said UA Hotel Company was pleased to announce Hilton as its international hotel partner on the uMhlanga Arch development. “The hotel will operate under the Hilton Garden Inn brand, a quality, upper midscale brand with a proven track record of providing exceptional service – the perfect fit for uMhlanga Arch. Along with the hotel, this exciting project will include offices, retail space and contemporary apartments across 45,000m2 of development."
According to Hilton, the hotel will offer its own business and fitness centres, an outdoor pool and various food and beverage outlets, including a garden and lounge bar. Its location in uMhlanga Ridge is within easy access to King Shaka International Airport, the La Lucia Ridge office node and central Durban, and is a stone’s throw away from the Gateway Theatre of Shopping.
“We wanted to associate with international brands, that’s why we chose Hilton to manage the hotel component. Hilton Garden Inn forms a key component of the overall development.We have also secured SMG BMW, who will set up a striking new motor dealership within uMhlanga Arch. In addition to the hotel, prime office space and apartments, uMhlanga Arch will include a concierge service, to handle laundry and the delivery of groceries to guests and residents; a high-tech business centre; a well-recognised gym; and, top-end retail stores,” added du Toit.
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He said the developers had also struck a strategic partnership with innovative Durban-based restauranteurs, Rembrothers Group, to establish a presence at uMhlanga Arch. Rembrothers are behind the Old Town Italy and Remos restaurant, market and deli concept, with outlets in KZN and Gauteng. Multiply Group is a Durban-based global investment company. It has a 30% stake in Imbewu Capital Partners, which acts as its BEE partner.
Meanwhile, Tourism KwaZulu-Natal (TKZN) welcomed the investment and Hilton’s second hotel property in the province. James Seymour, acting CEO of TKZN, says, “Hilton is one of the largest hotel groups in the world, and it’s great that Durban will be home to the first Hilton Garden Inn brand in SA. When international hotel groups come into a city, it not only adds to important tourism infrastructure, but boosts the image of the destination.”
Seymour adds, “This hotel development, as well as others such as the Radisson being built in Umhlanga Rocks, encourage greater tourism flow, and will no doubt assist international airlines coming into King Shaka International to better package Durban and the province as both a leisure and business tourism destination. From an architecture perspective, the uMhlanga Arch development together with the Hilton Hotel in the Durban city centre, will also mean that Durban will have two of the most iconic-looking Hilton hotels in South Africa. Hilton Durban has also just completed a more than R150 million upgrade. These projects represents major private sector tourism investments in the city.”