The ‘Best’ ho­tel in Polok­wane

CityPress - - Business - Setumo Stone

The new Park Inn by Radis­son that opened last week on Sil­i­con Street in Polok­wane, Lim­popo, has been dubbed “the first real ho­tel in Polok­wane”.

“It is in­deed the first real ho­tel in Polok­wane,” says owner Mo­fasi Lekota (59), adding that he has al­ways been fas­ci­nated by prop­erty, “es­pe­cially beau­ti­ful prop­er­ties that en­hance the land­scape”.

“Ho­tel de­vel­op­ment gives me that in­ner sense of sat­is­fac­tion when I see the dra­matic trans­for­ma­tion of plain veld into a beau­ti­ful ar­chi­tec­tural struc­ture that, when com­plete, will give jobs to so many of our peo­ple, safe com­fort for many of our guests and hope for so many of our peo­ple who are fast los­ing hope.

“My imag­i­na­tion of a world with­out all these beau­ti­ful build­ings is re­ally de­press­ing,” says Lekota, a Polok­waneborn busi­ness­man, who turned his dream to own such a big ho­tel into re­al­ity through a part­ner­ship with the In­dus­trial De­vel­op­ment Cor­po­ra­tion (IDC) and the Na­tional Em­pow­er­ment Fund.

“The IDC in par­tic­u­lar was help­ful and showed flex­i­bil­ity in work­ing with us to come up with a cap­i­tal struc­ture that made com­mer­cial sense,” he says, adding that both in­sti­tu­tions “are agents of change be­cause they make it pos­si­ble for black peo­ple to en­ter into busi­nesses that we have been ex­cluded from in the past”.

A foot­ball fa­natic in his youth, Lekota had earned him­self the nick­name “Best” – af­ter the for­mer English soc­cer star Ge­orge Best. How­ever, his pas­sion to be­come a fa­mous striker was soon re­placed by a new­found love for beau­ti­ful build­ings that he spot­ted dur­ing his trav­els.

How­ever, says Lekota, the nick­name has “out­lived its at­tach­ment to my soc­cer prow­ess and for many years I used it as my mantra that in what­ever I do, I must do my best or not do it at all”.

“My in­ter­est in ho­tels started more than 25 years ago when in my lo­cal and in­ter­na­tional trav­els I no­ticed that some of the most beau­ti­ful prop­er­ties in the world are ho­tels. That de­vel­oped into a hobby and I started col­lect­ing pho­tos of ho­tels.”

His first hos­pi­tal­ity project was a 20-room bed-and­break­fast lodge in Midrand, fol­lowed by a 50-room lodge in Makhado in Lim­popo and an 80-room ho­tel in Mbombela in Mpumalanga.

“I started small and learnt the ropes be­fore em­bark­ing on a project the size of the Park Inn by Radis­son in Polok­wane,” says Lekota, also an avid ad­mirer of busi­ness mag­nate Sol Kerzner.

The Park Inn has 160 gue­strooms and event space for 120 peo­ple. Other fea­tures in­clude free wire­less in­ter­net, a restau­rant, a lobby bar that leads to an out­door ter­race, an out­door swim­ming pool, am­ple park­ing and three meet­ing rooms as well as a board­room.

As part of our growth strat­egy, he says, “we will be look­ing at ex­pand­ing into other geo­graphic ar­eas both in South Africa and in­ter­na­tion­ally”.

“We have a 10-year plan to grow our busi­ness to at least 1 000 rooms in and out of South Africa. Park Inn by Radis­son Polok­wane rep­re­sents 160 of those tar­geted 1 000 rooms.”

He says the vi­sion is that “a third of those rooms should ide­ally be earn­ing their rev­enues from cur­ren­cies other than the rand”.

“This is not go­ing to be an easy road. Like in any busi­ness, we an­tic­i­pate ob­sta­cles along the way. Find­ing suitable lo­ca­tions that meet our in­vest­ment cri­te­ria is nor­mally the first hur­dle.

“Then, find­ing a fea­si­ble cap­i­tal struc­ture is the next and nor­mally most dif­fi­cult to over­come.

“Once those two re­quire­ments are met, it be­comes eas­ier to find an ap­pro­pri­ate brand, which in the case of Polok­wane is one of the Radis­son brands,” says Lekota.

ROOM TO GROW The brand-new, 160-room Radis­son Park Inn ho­tel in Polok­wane, Lim­popo

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