Namibia Economist (Windhoek)

30 November 2012

Namibia: New Strand Hotel in 2015

Construction of the New Four star Strand Hotel in Swakopmund is scheduled to start in July 2013, the Ohlthaver & List (O&L) Group has announced.

Bruce Hutchison, the Managing Director of O&L Leisure, a new subsidiary in the O&L Group of Companies, told journalists on Wednesday that construction of the new hotel, which has been redesigned after objections from Swakopmund residents, is expected to be completed by April 2015.

Hutchinson said early indications are that most of the residents are happy with the hotel's new design. Construction of the hotel, initially thought to cost N$350 million, has been stalled several times since 2006. Swakopmund residents have previously petitioned the Municipality over the massive size of the previous design which they said was out of scale and character with the Mole setting, and blocked access to the sea.

The new design will now see the construction of 135 rooms up from 87 luxury hotel suites announced earlier, three restaurants, three bars, a conference centre, a micro brewery, a deli shop, a beach kiosk and a public spa and fitness centre with a heated swimming pool.

Meanwhile, O & L says its has revised its hospitality business model after the group decided to part ways in July with Kempinski, managers of Mokuti Lodge and the Midgard Country Estate following poor results.

The Kempinski business model had resulted in an average room occupancy of around 30% from a historical high of 80%. Hutchinson said following the departure of Kempinski, the hotel division had recorded an average room occupancy of 60% for Mokuti and mid-50s at Midgard although he cautioned that it was to early to start making comparisons.

He said:" From July to end October at Mokuti we achieved 60% and at Midgard in the mid-50's. At Mokuti it was in the High Tourist season, therefore it is more relevant to see how we end in July 2013 giving us a full 12-month comparison.

The hotel head said they have completely re-positioned and re-priced their hotels to address, in a realistic manner, the various market segments available in the country.

"O&L Leisure [is] focusing on offering an honest, warm, down-to-earth, professional Namibian-style hospitality which truly represents to both Namibians and our international visitors what we as a country and a people are all about. We rather host than simply serve."

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