The Taj comes to Cape Town

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - PROPERTY -

I RE­MEM­BER en­ter­ing t he r ather s t uff y offices of the Board of Ex­ecu­tors in Wale Street ev­ery month to buy unit trusts. The build­ing al­ways struck me as be­ing stuck in a time warp. It was like en­ter­ing the Vic­to­rian era with all its dark wood pan­elling and huge oil paint­ings – a rather quiet and very of­fi­cial king­dom.

Time rolled on, the board moved to a lav­ish new build­ing in the mod­ern V&A Water­front and the old build­ing at the top of town stood empty for years.

Then, a few years ago, the build­ings bor­der­ing the Com­pany’s Gar­den were bought by de­vel­op­ers. The process of tear­ing down the in­nards to re­build them started.

To­day, out off the rub­ble and ris­ing to the oc­ca­sion, ready to en­hance ac­com­mo­da­tion in Cape Town, is the Taj ho­tel.

Last week I spent an in­ter­est­ing two hours with Theo Cromhout tour­ing the nearly com­pleted ho­tel and found it in­ter­est­ing that they have man­aged to blend old and new in such a fine man­ner.

He also as­sures us that within the next two weeks the top of St Ge­orge’s Mall and the cor­ner of Wale and Ad­der­ley will be re­turned to Capeto­ni­ans.

We wi l l n o t h a v e t o f i g h t o u r wa y through rub­ble and traf­fic jams.

With many ho­tels around the world, the Taj group has spared no ex­pense to recre­ate an ex­cel­lent blend of old and new in keep­ing the his­tory of the two land­mark build­ings.

In places the old wood pan­elling still ex­ists, the chan­de­liers have been re­fur­bished and will again light cer­tain ar­eas of the build­ings.

And, in a bid to make the ho­tel fully ac­ces­si­ble to Capeto­ni­ans, they have cre­ated three restau­rants, with two ac­ces­si­ble from the street and not via the ho­tel foyer.

The one restau­rant on the cor­ner of A d d e r l e y a n d Wal e wi l l b e c a l l e d t h e Twankey af­ter the statue on the cor­ner of the build­ing over­look­ing the street.

The statue was com­mis­sioned in 1894 as a sym­bol of benev­o­lence of the Board of Ex­ecu­tors. It is of a shep­herdess, hold­ing a crook in her right hand, her left rest­ing on an an­chor, while ap­proach­ing her are two cupids. His­tory re­lates that this bit of whimsy did not bode well with the towns­folk, nor the cost of 94 pounds.

The large draped fe­male be­came known as the “Widow Twankey”.

It is also be­lieved that the old BOE buildi ng boar dr oom may s t i l l have a ghost walk­ing the room. Many years ago some­body took a pho­to­graph of an empty board­room, but when the pho­to­graph was de­vel­oped it had a ghostly form in the mid­dle of the room.

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