THE Swakopmund public has welcomed the downsized design of the Strand Hotel to be built at the Mole.
There was a public outcry about the initial bulky design of the Kempinski Strand Hotel, which was considered a threat to Swakopmund’s popular public beach.
The Kempinski project caused a stir among the Swakopmund community because of what they termed the ‘privatisation’ of the public open space by millionaire holidaymakers at the expense of locals. Another concern was the effect of the hotel on the Arnold Schad Promenade linking the Mole and the Swakopmund jetty and that an open view of the ocean and free movement from the promenade would be obstructed by the hotel. A petition of more than 2 000 signatures against the old design was the result.
The new design for Ohlthaver and List’s (O&L) Leisure Hotels and Lodges project was introduced in Windhoek last month by its managing director, Bruce Hutchison.
The new design is a third of the size of the previous construction plan for the Kempinski project, and will also only be a four-star hotel instead of the five-star establishment originally planned.
“We are not able to support a five star in Swakopmund. It would not have been good for business for the other hotels,” said Swakopmund municipality CEO Eckart Demasius.
Swakopmund already has a few four-star hotels, and it is believed that the new hotel will offer healthy competition.
According to Hutchison, the new Strand Hotel will fit the brand values of O&L Leisure Hotels and Lodges, the new subsidiary created by O&L that will not only own, but also manage the group’s leisure portfolio after it severed ties with Kempinski.
The new hotel will have 135 rooms, three restaurants, three bars, a conference centre and swimming pool, as well as a spa, gym, deli shop and beach kiosk. There are even plans to include a micro-brewery.
The former Kempinski Strand, in the pipeline since 2007, would have had 87 hotel suites and 28 apartments.
The new design seems to have changed the public opinion, as expressed during a public opportunity to view a model of the new design.
“The hotel’s construction has already been approved. The fight was already fought and is now over. This exercise was to address the design and the public’s concerns that it was too bulky and intrusive of the public open space. The new design was at stake here in comparison to the old design,” said Demasius.
Some of the comments congratulated the designers and developers on the improvement and urged for the development to start as soon as possible.
Construction is set to start next July and is expected to be completed in the first half of 2015.