The hospitality industry has suffered massive losses since the national lockdown was enforced to control the spread of COVID-19.
While restaurants will soon be opening their doors to sit-in patrons, and hotels have been allowed to take bookings in response to business traveller demands, for some operators, it’s too late.
According to TimesLIVE, three of South Africa’s most iconic hotels have been forced to shut down, at least for the time being.
Global hotel group Marriott International is closing the Mount Grace Country House & Spa in Magaliesburg, the Protea Hotel by Marriott Durban Edward, and the Protea Hotel by Marriott Hazyview.
In a statement issued on Friday, the group said the impact of Covid-19 on the hospitality industry “has been unprecedented” and travel restrictions and social distancing efforts around the world had “resulted in weaker demand and economic uncertainty”.
Marriott said it had been “forced to take the rather difficult decision to shut doors permanently”.
The hotel group, which ran the three hotels on contract, says that it is working hard to ensure that “associates” can access their provident funds as soon as possible. They haven’t indicated how many job losses have occurred as a result of the closures.
“These are indeed challenging times and our thoughts are with the associates affected by this decision across the three properties. We value their hard work and dedication over the years and thank them for their service.”
The hotel properties are owned by JSE-listed Hospitality Property Fund.
Following Marriott’s announcement, Tsogo Sun, which owns the properties, has now come out and said it will take over the hotels, with an expected reopening within 18 months.
“These are three great hotels,” says Tsogo Sun Hotels CEO Marcel Von Aulock.
Of the Mount Grace, Von Aulock says Magaliesburg has great tourism potential, as well as strong demand for conferencing, weddings and shorter family getaways with its close proximity to Johannesburg. The Edward has a 111-year history and beautiful facilities, he added.
“Lastly Hazyview is on the key tourist route through Mpumalanga on the doorstep of the Kruger National Park. We have the Sabi River Sun right up the road and are currently redoing the chalets and the golf course at that property. The addition of this hotel in the area will allow us to broaden the offering we have for the local and foreign markets which will return to Kruger when things normalise.”
Still, the 18-month closure will see many jobs lost, and at this stage, nobody really knows what the future holds.
As of June 12, a survey by LekkeSlaap indicated that 27,6% of hotels and B&Bs posited a high likelihood that their business will not survive.
3,9% said that their businesses definitely wouldn’t survive the economic impact of the lockdown.