South African Per­spec­tive

Africa’s eco­nomic ‘su­per power’ is a na­tion at the edge of the world, and in the mid­dle of ev­ery­thing

Business Traveler (USA) - - INSIDE -

Africa’s eco­nomic‘su­per power’is a na­tion at the edge of the world, and in the mid­dle of ev­ery­thing

Twenty years have passed since South Africa’s apartheid sys­tem was dis­man­tled and Nel­son Man­dela led one of his­tory’s most dra­matic peace­ful tran­si­tions of power.Yet the legacy of those years lingers on in the form of high un­em­ploy­ment and a vast wealth gap be­tween rich and poor.

Still, South Africa re­mains one of the wealth­i­est coun­tries on the con­ti­nent, and among its most dy­namic. Its vast min­eral re­sources (it has some of the world’s largest gold, di­a­mond, plat­inum and chromium de­posits) have pow­ered the econ­omy for over a cen­tury.

South Africa ac­counts for a mas­sive 40 per­cent of Africa’s in­dus­trial out­put and is by far the most so­phis­ti­cated free-mar­ket econ­omy in Africa. The abun­dant sup­ply of min­eral re­sources, well-de­vel­oped fi­nan­cial, le­gal, com­mu­ni­ca­tions, en­ergy and trans­port sec­tors, plus mod­ern in­fra­struc­ture, support an ef­fi­cient dis­tri­bu­tion of goods to ma­jor ur­ban ar­eas through­out the en­tire re­gion, thanks to its cen­tral lo­ca­tion; it bor­ders Namibia,

The cap­i­tal of South Africa’s small­est prov­ince, Gaut­eng, is Jo­han­nes­burg. This city is the eco­nomic pow­er­house of Africa and beyond Joburg, as it’s called, ad­vanced de­vel­op­ment is fo­cused around four other

Dur­ban, and Pre­to­ria/Jo­han­nes­burg.

Tak­ing Flight…

South Africa has 10 in­ter­na­tional air­ports. The ma­jor one is O.R. Tambo In­ter­na­tional in Jo­han­nes­burg, which is the main gate­way to South Africa. This state of the art air­port has the ca­pac­ity to han­dle up to 28 mil­lion pas­sen­gers an­nu­ally and pro­vides con­nec­tions to most re­gional air­ports from here. The air­port is 14 miles east of Jo­han­nes­burg and ac­cess to the city is quick­est via the Gau­train, a mod­ern rapid rail trans­port sys­tem that links the air­port with Pre­to­ria, Sand­ton, Rose­bank and the city cen­ter.

For trav­el­ers com­ing through in­ter­na­tional ar­rivals, just make sure you keep right out of the exit doors and look for the Gau­train signs. Pur­chas­ing a card is straight­for­ward and will cost you R13 (just over $1). There­after, it’ll cost you in the neigh­bor­hood of R135 to R155 ($12 - $14) for each leg to and from Sand­ton.

Cape Town air­port also ser­vices di­rect re­gional and in­ter­na­tional routes and Dur­ban of­fers di­rect flights to

rec­om­mended that trav­el­ers check in at least one hour be­fore a do­mes­tic flight and two to three hours be­fore re­gional/ in­ter­na­tional de­par­tures.

There are a num­ber of air­line-spe­cific Business Class lounges, par­tic­u­larly at O.R. Tambo In­ter­na­tional. South African Air­ways ac­tu­ally has two in­ter­na­tional lounges and one do­mes­tic at OR­TIA, two do­mes­tic lounges in Cape Town and one in Dur­ban.

…Or Stay­ing Put

As you would ex­pect, South Africa’s ur­ban cen­ters can claim a host of in­ter­na­tional ho­tel brands. In Jo­han­nes­burg, a fair num­ber of them clus­ter in the main business dis­trict of Sand­ton, which is ap­prox­i­mately 20 min­utes from the cen­tral business dis­trict and about half an hour from OR­TIA.

There’s a Hil­ton prop­erty in Sand­ton, and the group also has ho­tels in Dur­ban (ad­ja­cent to the city’s main con­ven­tion cen­ter) and Cape Town (smaller, with a bou­tique-type feel).

Also in Sand­ton are two Radis­son Blu ho­tels, in­clud­ing the Radis­son Blu Gau­train, which is ide­ally po­si­tioned op­po­site the lo­cal Gau­train sta­tion. There’s also a Park Inn by Radis­son in Sand­ton,

pres­ence in this business-fo­cused area of Jo­han­nes­burg.

Another in­ter­na­tional group with a pres­ence in Jo­han­nes­burg is Ac­cor, through its mid­scale Mer­cure brand. They have three prop­er­ties, but none in Sand­ton. In­stead, they’ve fo­cused else­where. There’s the Bed­ford­view ho­tel to the east of the city, the Midrand ho­tel

be­tween Jo­han­nes­burg and Pre­to­ria, and the Rand­burg prop­erty in the West Rand mar­ket.

In­ter­Con­ti­nen­tal Ho­tels Group has Jo­han­nes­burg Sand­ton Tow­ers and the O.R. Tambo Air­port ho­tel. Ad­di­tion­ally, IHG’s Hol­i­day Inn brand has three prop­er­ties in Jo­han­nes­burg, in Rose­bank, Rivo­nia Road (Sand­ton) and Wood­mead.

Speak­ing of the air­port, the gen­eral area around it is dot­ted with ho­tels across the star range, and but a short drive away is the Peer­mont of­fer­ing, the 5-star D’Ore­ale Grande at Em­per­ors Palace, which is also home to the group’s 4-star Mon­dior, 3-star Met­court and 3-star Met­court Suites prop­er­ties.

In the same Kemp­ton Park area is ar­guably the coun­try’s big­gest con­fer­ence of­fer­ing, the Birch­wood Ho­tel & O.R. Tambo Con­fer­ence Cen­tre. That ho­tel’s sis­ter prop­erty, the 4-star Soweto Ho­tel is sit­u­ated in the his­toric area on the other side of Jo­han­nes­burg.

Among lo­cal ho­tel brands, it’s sig­nif­i­cant that Sun In­ter­na­tional now has a‘business ho­tel’pres­ence in Jo­han­nes­burg – more specif­i­cally Sand­ton – with The Maslow. The pre­vi­ously leisure-fo­cused group plans to roll out this business ho­tel brand with other prop­er­ties across the con­ti­nent.

One of Sun In­ter­na­tional’s stand­out prop­er­ties is the Ta­ble Bay in Cape Town, which con­sis­tently re­ceives rave reviews, while Dur­ban fea­tures the group’s Sibaya prop­erty.

The other ma­jor lo­cal brands, Protea Ho­tels, Tsogo Sun Ho­tels and City Lodge, are the groups with a big pres­ence, as is Legacy Ho­tels & Re­sorts, which is strong in the Sand­ton area.

The big news this year for Protea Hos­pi­tal­ity Group, based in Cape Town, was the com­ple­tion in April of its ac­qui­si­tion by Mar­riott In­ter­na­tional. The ad­di­tion of Protea’s 116 prop­er­ties el­e­vates Mar­riott to the largest ho­tel company in Africa. The Protea port­fo­lio in­cludes 79 ho­tels in South Africa, plus 37 prop­er­ties

Uganda and Zam­bia.

Protea Ho­tels has 10 prop­er­ties in and around Jo­han­nes­burg, in­clud­ing two at O.R. Tambo In­ter­na­tional Air­port. But should you be do­ing business in the area,

Rose­bank, Sand­ton or the CBD, the ho­tels that stand out are the two Mel­rose Arch prop­er­ties. In Cape Town, Protea also has its bou­tique Fire & Ice! prop­erty and two stand­out African Pride ho­tels – 15 On Orange and the Crys­tal Tow­ers Ho­tel & Spa.

Tsogo Sun has 22 prop­er­ties in the greater Gaut­eng area, which in­cludes three in the Mon­te­casino en­ter­tain­ment com­plex to the north of Jo­han­nes­burg, with the

Then there’s the three ho­tels at the air­port (In­ter­Con­ti­nen­tal, South­ern Sun, Gar­den Court) and six in and around the Sand­ton node and nexus.

Tsogo Sun now has a pres­ence in Rose­bank, with the lux­u­ri­ous 54 on Bath, which was pre­vi­ously The Grace. Tsogo Sun also has two bud­get brands, StayEasy and SUN1, which was a re­brand­ing of their For­mula 1 ho­tels.

The City Lodge Ho­tel Group con­sists of 1-star Road Lodges, 2-star Town Lodges, 3-star City Lodges and 4-star Court­yard Ho­tels. The group has 53 prop­er­ties across South Africa, in­clud­ing 16 in Jo­han­nes­burg and seven in Cape Town.

Legacy Ho­tels & Re­sorts’foot­print in the Sand­ton area in­cludes the 5-star Michelan­gelo, DAVINCI Ho­tel & Suites, Michelan­gelo Tow­ers, and Raphael Pent­house Suites. Th­ese are suited to the pre­mium business trav­eler who wants to be in the heart of Sand­ton. The group’s other two Jo­han­nes­burg prop­er­ties are the Sun­ny­side Park Ho­tel and the Air­port Grand Ho­tel.

There are two good Legacy op­tions in Cape Town; both the Com­modore and the PortsWood are in close prox­im­ity to the V&A Water­front and boast out­stand­ing views of Ta­ble Moun­tain. From a bou­tique ho­tel per­spec­tive, t two prop­er­ties stand out – the Saxon and Fairlawns – both sit­u­ated within a few min­utes’drive of Sand­ton City, ei­ther side of it. The Saxon is ar­guably the premier bou­tique ho­tel in Jo­han­nes­burg and pos­si­bly South Africa, and is where the late Nel­son Man­dela wrote his me­moirs.

Just a short drive up the road, op­po­site the Jo­han­nes­burg Zoo, the newly re­flagged Four Sea­sons West­cliff, which boasts pos­si­bly the best view in the city from its el­e­vated ter­race, is fin­ish­ing up its ren­o­va­tions and is tak­ing reser­va­tions for stays be­gin­ning Dec. 1.

A notch or two down the star scale, Faircity has three prop­er­ties – all in the three and 4-star range, with one in the Jo­han­nes­burg CBD and two in Sand­ton –

The Rose­bank neigh­bor­hood, about a 10-minute drive from Sand­ton, has a good se­lec­tion of qual­ity ho­tels, with the Hy­att Re­gency, the Hol­i­day Inn, the Court­yard, 54 on Bath, Man­tis Col­lec­tion’s Monarch Ho­tel (which un­der­went ren­o­va­tion in

The Rose­bank, and the Clico Bou­tique Ho­tel, which has a warm and in­ti­mate con­fer­enc­ing set­ting.

Things You Need to Know

Visas: Most African trav­el­ers do not re­quire a visa to visit South Africa for a stay of 30 to 90 days. Note that visas are not is­sued at South African ports of en­try, so trav­el­ers re­quir­ing visas should ap­ply for th­ese be­fore ar­rival. Trav­el­ers ar­riv­ing from yel­low fever-en­demic ar­eas will re­quire a yel­low fever cer­tifi­cate.

Con­nec­tiv­ity: South Africa has an ex­cep­tion­ally well-de­vel­oped com­mu­ni­ca­tions in­fra­struc­ture. In­ter­net and WiFi are eas­ily ac­ces­si­ble and the ex­ten­sive GSM net­work is on the same fre­quency as the rest of Africa and Europe. There are five cell phone providers in South Africa: Vodacom; MTN; Cell-C; Vir­gin Mo­bile and 8ta.

SIM card pre-paid starter kits are avail­able for around R1.You will need a pass­port and a proof of res­i­den­tial ad­dress, and it has to be regis­tered be­fore you can call or re­ceive calls.

Health: There are no ma­jor dis­eases to guard against. Most of South Africa is malaria-free, but al­ways check with the game re­serves you are plan­ning to visit and take pre­cau­tions if nec­es­sary. There are many world class pri­vate hos­pi­tals and med­i­cal cen­ters around the coun­try, es­pe­cially in the ur­ban cen­ters.

The Ex­pe­ri­ence: Safety is still an is­sue here, par­tic­u­larly in Jo­han­nes­burg, and vis­i­tors to South Africa should be aware of the coun­try’s high crime rate. South African au­thor­i­ties do give high pri­or­ity to the pro­tec­tion of tourists, and popular tourist sites and the main ho­tel ar­eas tend to be safe and most vis­its are trou­ble-free. BT

Above: South Africa Right: Nel­son Man­dela Square; South Africa wild life; Gandhi Square in Jo­han­nes­burg

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