By Wezi Tjaronda
Mokuti Lodge, outside Etosha is to become Namibia’s first five-star lodge.
The lodge will operate under a new name – Kempinski Mokuti Lodge in June this year when the first phase of redevelopment is completed.
The venture forms part of the N$550 million investment deal signed in March last year between Ohlthaver and List (O&L) and Kuwait-based IFA Hotels and Resorts, involving the development and upgrade of hotels and lodges previously part of Ohlthaver & List’s tourism arm Namib Sun Hotels.
Recently, the two formed a joint venture company called OLIFA Hotels &Resorts Namibia (PTY) Ltd.
Patrick Hashingola, Manager: Public Relations of O&L, said the redevelopment of the lodge, which started early this month, involves a complete revamp of the main building, including the reception area, lounge, restaurant and kitchen. A soft upgrade of the rooms and landscaping will also be done in due course.
The final phases include the addition of a spa, a luxury tented camp, waterholes and game-viewing platforms with food and beverage outlets.
Hashingola said Namib Sun Hotels’ operational structure, reservation system and branding have been transformed so as to meet the requirements of Europe’s oldest luxury hotel collection Kempinski Hotels – the company that has been appointed to manage OLIFA’s operations.
“We have completed the structuring and organising of the head office,” said Hashingola, adding that transfer of employees was complete and the upgrade of its flagship Mokuti Lodge was in full swing.
He said the development of Strand Hotel in Swakopmund was awaiting regulatory approval.
The Swakopmund project will be a brand new medium-sized 70-roomed hotel with beach and garden views of the Atlantic Ocean.
Out of 173 Namib Sun Hotels’ former employees, 84 chose to be transferred to the new company, while 22 remained in Namib Sun Hotels service, which now only concerns the operations of Midgard Lodge.
O&L and its partner IFA Hotel and Resorts held year-long negotiations culminating in the signing of the agreement in KwaZulu Natal last year. The agreement involved building of five-star hotels, Mokuti and a hotel in Windhoek in the old brewery area in the city.
Another project is the refurbishment of the King’s Den Lodge on the bank of the Chobe River in northeastern Caprivi, with access from Botswana and Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe. All the four establishments have five-star grading, said Hashingola.
IFA Hotel & Resorts is a world leader developer of premier integrated and mixed-use hotel and tourism resort projects throughout Europe, the Middle East, the Indian Ocean region and Africa.
It was listed on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE) in February last year and has a US$2 billion capitalisation on the Kuwait Stock Exchange.
Kempinski Hotels will operate all four of the joint venture hotel properties in Namibia. The group has 68 hotels.