The ‘Best’ hotel in Polokwane
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