By Petronella Sibeene WINDHOEK The famous Strand Hotel at Swakopmund will soon be history. The hotel is to be demolished and will be replaced by a brand-new structure. The multi-million dollar initiative to be undertaken by the Ohlthaver & List Group of Companies starts next year. It is envisaged to last between 18 to 24 months. The Chairman of Ohlthaver & List, Sven Thieme, yesterday said the current building is old-fashioned. Having been in operation for about 40 years, any refurbishment to be done to the structure will be costly. As such, it is better to build a new structure. The investment cost will be between N$90 million and N$120 million. Currently, the company is finalizing several projects and as soon as they are complete, the Strand Hotel project will kick off. It is not clear at this stage if the current structure will be demolished completely before construction of a new hotel starts, or operations will continue in the old building while the new structure is being built. Should the building be demolished and operations temporarily cease, Thieme assured that the 40 employees at the hotel would not be left on the streets. “The main objective is to operate in the four-star plus market. We believe the site of Swakopmund is four-star,” he said. The hotel is graded as two-star. The group believes that offering luxury services will attract more tourists. The new structure will have the leisure component for tourists, which will include more restaurants and a wellness centre such as a gym and sauna. “We believe more luxurious facilities will complement other hotels in the area. Four-star hotels in the country are lacking,” Thieme said. The hotel presently offers 23 sea- and 22 garden-facing rooms but once the new project is complete, these will be increased to 90. Thieme said the company is involved in negotiations with two major international groups in the hotel industry to assist with the portfolio of the new hotel to be built. “We want to get brand names to Namibia,” he added. The Ohlthaver & List Group has five hospitality outlets across the country. These are Mokuti Lodge, Thuringerhof, Midgard Lodge, Kingsden Lodge and the Strand Hotel Plans are also under way to build another four-star hotel in the capital. Thieme declined to provide further details terming this “premature” at this stage. Thieme further revealed that his group plans to sell one of its hospitality outlets, the Ghaub Guest farm located between Otavi and Tsumeb, because the company has changed its strategy to only operate in four-star tourist facilities. Previously, the company invested about N$8 million in upgrading Mokuti Lodge found at the gateway of Etosha. The group plans to upgrade Mokuti even further. Ohlthaver & List is Namibia’s largest privately owned group of companies outside the mining sector. The company has vested business interests in a variety of subsidiaries, subdivided into seven industry-related focus groups. These are beverages, food, leisure, retail, information technology, property and services.
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