Durban’s Golden Mile has been taken to new heights with the opening of the spectacular new multipurpose venue on the 31st floor of the Southern Sun Elangeni & Maharani Hotel’s Maharani Tower – called Sky – offering possibly the most panoramic views of the coastline on the beachfront.
Sky represents the next phase in the overall R220 million that Tsogo Sun has committed to the refurbishment and relaunch of the Southern Sun Elangeni and Maharani. Sky is a complete renovation of the popular Raffles bar that thrived at the top of the old Maharani Hotel three decades ago. Sky now offers an ideal ‘venue with a view’ for conferences, launches, themed evenings, banquets, private functions and celebrations, and features extensive stage, lighting and sound production equipment and facilities. It can accommodate up to 250 people, or more intimate groups, with a main floor of 300 square metres.
It perfectly complements the Southern Sun Elangeni & Maharani complex’s wide range of conferencing facilities, which include 17 meeting and conference rooms and two fully-equipped business centres, adding a new and exciting option for conference and event organisers.
Tsogo Sun CEO Marcel von Aulock said, “Whenever the return of the Maharani was discussed people asked two questions: what about the red lift and what about Raffles. Unfortunately we couldn’t bring the red lift back as modern health and safety rules make the original design defunct, so we have installed a multicolour LED light show, which creates a presence and brings life to the building – and whilst some nostalgic types will say it’s not the same, a whole new generation of visitors, especially children, will leave with the image of the lights of the Maharani as one of their enduring memories of their holiday in Durban. For the space formerly occupied by Raffles, the development team came up with concept of a truly multi-purpose venue. We drew on the expertise gained by the Group in the construction of the Teatro at Montecasino, which is one of the leading venues for large scale productions in South Africa, and created a space with state-of-the-art equipment and acoustics for everything from day conferences, to cocktail parties to theatre evenings and, yes, a mind blowing night club experience.”
Following the success of the Southern Sun Elangeni and Maharani, the next project to be undertaken by the Group is the R100 million refurbishment of the Garden Court Marine Parade, one of the most iconic buildings on the beachfront. The upgrade will entail a refurbishment of all the 346 rooms in the hotel, the public areas, and the large-scale conference space, whilst remaining true to the art deco theming of the hotel. This project is scheduled to start in April 2014 and will take around a year to complete.
“Every stage that we go through in the ongoing revamping of our properties on Durban’s Golden Mile makes us prouder than ever – not only of the new life and spirit that our investment is contributing to the area, but also of our successful partnership with the eThekwini Municipality in dramatically improving every aspect of the beachfront for the benefit of all its visitors,” comments Von Aulock.
Dr Naledi Moyo, Deputy City Manager of Sustainable Development and City Enterprises for the Ethekwini Municipality, states, “Durban has put a lot of effort into relaunching and repositioning itself, particularly as a vibrant conference and meeting destination; it has also put a lot of resources into bringing large events to Durban – and this is now bearing fruit. The response by the private sector, and particularly by Tsogo Sun, has been a large-scale investment into the type of facilities and aesthetic appeal of the city that are vital to the future of the city.”
Von Aulock believes that the opening of Sky will add richly to the conference and eventing facilities available in Durban, contributing to the city’s positioning as a world-class business tourist destination, concluding, “The Durban beachfront is a particularly ‘good news’ story for us as the joint efforts of the city council as well as private investors in the area have seen a complete new lease on life for the area. As Tsogo Sun, we are excited about the potential that our properties have to help make every visit to Durban’s beachfront a spectacular experience for every leisure and business tourist.”