When people talk about Cape Town - more often than not they refer to so much more than just the actual city. To many locals it’s a long-standing joke that you can be in the greater winelands region and still it gets the broad stroke of being referred to as, "I live and work in Cape Town".
But we'll leave the Mother City's many colourful stereotypes right here.
The city centre in itself is unique, the setup alone is an Instagram dream come true day or night, even if the traffic can be the stuff of nightmares (London or Paris can we get a witness) and there are certainly a few dark clouds lurking - not all the kind that will bring the rain the city desperately needs. But as a tourism darling for locals and foreigners alike it has much of the continent itching for some of its success in turning its CBD into a sought-after place to be seen, let alone live.
Sure it gets referred to as Slaapstad ever so often, but recent developments within the travel and tourism space are certainly challenging this slapgat title.
SEE: PICS: What Cape Town’s new R8bn Harbour Arch precinct will look like
It's become a city of partnerships. Partnerships that are showing a marked measure of progress. The Cape Town Direct Routes Access being a prime example. And at the rapid rate at which hotels are popping up in and around the city - it’s a good thing with tourism to the Mother City seeing a 29% year on year spike in 2016 alone, as Cape Town International celebrated 10 million passengers through its airport doors. Forming an exchange alliance with major cities like New York, the overall experience and desire to live and linger is expected to become even stronger.
And a lovely peg in the open-streets and pedestrian friendly evolution of what the Mother City has become is Bree Street.
What Loop and Long undoubtedly were in their 90s heyday (Don't get me wrong, these street can still charm you in the right way), has now spilled over to the road that is much like the Afrikaans word breed meaning, wide. A perfect descriptor when it comes to its offerings for visitors too, as First Thursday's will see it turning into a buzzing social strip, but this vibe is not confined to the monthly, mid-week phenomenon.
There really are plenty of things to do, with eateries, museums, galleries and dance halls to suit all tastes.
I recently spent the night at the newly opened Sun Square - part of Tsogo Sun’s new dual-brand 19-storey hotel located on the corners of Bree, Strand and Buitengracht and found it to be a convenient, modern and great addition to the affordable, value-stay accommodation set in the city.
Especially since you're smack-bang in the midst of the complex heritage of the Cape Town's CBS, its vibrant restaurant district, Table Mountain Cable Way, V&A Waterfront, Cape Town Stadium, and Cape Town International Convention Centre.
SEE: New R700m dual-brand hotel on track to redefine Cape Town's budget stay offering
The R700-million Tsogo Sun development incorporates two hotels - the select service SunSquare Cape Town City Bowl, meaning they don't do room service - is made up of 202 bedrooms. The adjacent StayEasy Cape Town City Bowl, offers 302 bedrooms and brings Tsogo Sun’s total number of rooms operated by the group in the city centre to over 2 000, spread across six hotels.
These include the Southern Sun The Cullinan, Southern Sun Waterfront, Southern Sun Cape Sun, Garden Court Nelson Mandela Boulevard, SunSquare Cape Town Gardens, Southern Sun Newlands, StayEasy Century City, and three SUN1 properties. In addition, the Tsogo Sun Group owns the Westin at the CTICC, Radisson Blu Waterfront and Protea Victoria Junction through its controlling investment in the Hospitality Property Fund.
Sun Square specifically is rated three stars but feels like four and caters to the understanding that travellers who might not want to splurge on the likes of the Mount Nelson or One & Only, don't necessarily want to have to contend with a motel setup, often synonymous with CBD's. This idea of economical, lifestyle-centric accommodation is further cemented by the popularity of Airbnb, which is tightly regulated in built up business districts the world over - Cape Town included.
SEE: THINC Africa 2017: Hotels must tap into the experience economy
Jacques Booysen, Group CEO of Tsogo Sun says, “Cape Town has become a globally-competitive business and leisure destination – and tourism to the city is growing. Just last year, according to Cape Town Tourism, over half a million visitors arrived in Cape Town by air, representing an 8% year on year increase. Of these visitors, close on 84 500 were international visitors, which was a strong 29% increase on the previous year. The numbers say it all – and we were convinced that the City Bowl would be an excellent location for a major investment, particularly as this is the first large-scale new build in the Cape Town city centre for some years.”
Modern and functional
The SunSquare hotel has five banqueting and conference venues, the largest of which caterers for up to 140 delegates; a fitness centre; and a trendy Vigour & Verve casual dining offering, which serves a delicious and varied breakfast - all in a modern and elegant set-up.
The StayEasy hotel has a dedicated breakfast restaurant and offers access to all the facilities on the complex. The hotels also have their own undercover parking for 300 vehicles - vital in a city like Cape Town.
Apart from the traditional popular and varied offering in Tsogo Sun’s Vigour & Verve restaurants around the country, a special section has been developed especially for the new SunSquare City Bowl restaurant, featuring authentic specialities from the region “the way they were prepared by our ancestors”, according to the hotel. This includes Uitpak Slaai, with layered salad, bacon, cheese, and soft egg; Pickled Fish, a local classic served with mosbolletjie bread; Traditional Cape Malay Lamb Bobotie as an example.
Added to this its 14 Stories Rooftop Bar, offers panoramic views of the city - making it an ideal sundowner spot. At the time of visiting the pool was out of order - and while not very big, it certainly is functional. But you're a short city bus ride or Uber away from a number of SA's Blue Flag beaches so there is really nothing to complain about.
SEE: #LoveSA: 62 Beautiful Blue Flag beaches
So whether you're visiting Cape Town for a convention, once-in-a-lifetime live concert, the 2018 Cape Town Carnival or one the many city-centric sporting events - don't expect either of these affordable options to have unlimited availability. Its prime positions, together with its competitive pricing will certainly see it well supported.
SEE: CTICC 2 opening to further boost Africa's business events leader Cape Town
At the centre of Cape Town’s coolest strip:
A mere stroll allows you to explore any one of the following treasures; I'd recommend checking out one of the following during your stay too:
What to read next on Traveller24:
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Disclaimer: Traveller24 Editor Selene Brophy was hosted for an overnight stay by Tsogo Sun, including breakfast.