The Vaal Dam, built during the Great Depression some 77 years ago, over the decades has ebbed and flowed as a popular destination for holiday-makers, conference delegates and pleasure-seekers. Much has changed the landscape of her beautiful river banks - hotels have been built or revamped, real estate has exploded, and function and leisure venues abound – a trendsetting fusion of design and lifestyle. And who knew there was so much to do in Vereeniging? Just 45 minutes from Johannesburg, the area has so much to offer, from sports to culture and the arts. You can enjoy boat cruises, challenging rounds of golf, pampering at a spa, tuck into a long, lazy lunch, take a tour, sip on your favourite merlot, master a watersport or try something you have never done before. And there are some lovely hotels and guesthouses to relax at when you return from a busy day of doing it all! Craig Swart, General Manager of BON Hotel Riviera on Vaal, comments, “With the guest experience always front of mind, we are continually seeking ways to offer more. Over and above the extensive facilities at BON Hotel Riviera on Vaal which include golf, tennis, water sports and a spa, it is wonderful to be able to offer our guests other activities in the area, most of which they are not even aware of.” The area is steeped in history and a selection of tours on offer will take you back in time to remind you of our heritage and transformation. And just for fun there is always a tour of a chocolate factory to satisfy your sweet tooth. Adrenaline junkies can sky-dive, scuba-dive, bungee jump, paraglide or learn something new and challenging. “Sedibeng and the Vaal area in particular is Gauteng’s hidden jewel. It is the golden province’s own coastline - a haven for watersports enthusiasts and the entire family. The serene and tranquil environment makes it a must-visit area and a preferred weekend and short break destination, adding variety to Gauteng’s tourism mix,” adds Barba Gaoganediwe, . . .
With the recent launch of phase one of BON Hotels’ web-based application for mobile devices, “app-tly” named BONNY, the guest experience at any of their properties has just been upgraded. In their efforts to stay ahead in the technological space, continually improve upon existing systems, and create new ways of engaging with their guests, the group is piloting some smart innovation to make your stay a better one. Travel and technology have certainly risen to the challenge, coming together to deliver solutions to enhance the travel experience. Guy Stehlik, CEO of BON Hotels, says that keeping abreast or even ahead of technological trends allows him to provide a better service to his guests, run his business more efficiently and, most importantly, to compete on a global level. He adds, “As our guests demand speedier and alternative options, in keeping with their always-connected lifestyles and latest devices, we have had to adapt to our guests behaviour and meet their digital demands, whilst still maintaining a personalised service – just ask BONNY!” Using the protel Voyager platform which is compatible with any device, this web-based application, a first to market for SA hotel groups, is accessible via a customised link that allows you to access the services and facilities offered at each hotel anytime, anywhere from your mobile device. Ian Lumsden, General Manager at Ankerdata, supplier of hospitality business solutions, says, “Guests are able to seamlessly interact with the hotel before, during and after their stay, and in their own preferred manner.” All of the information is centrally and securely managed, enabling staff to act timeously to support the guest, whether behind the scenes or face-to-face. Guests can access the Mobile Concierge link from their booking confirmation, on the hotel website, or via a QR code displayed at the front desk, allowing them to begin interacting immediately. Phase One of BONNY will first see a rollout of in-house guest . . .
THE WEST COAST – NO LONGER THE BEST-KEPT SECRET! For those of us who used to consider the West Coast “our little secret”, this is no longer the case as hotels, B&Bs, game lodges will testify. Higher occupancies are being enjoyed, restaurants are teeming with visitors, sandy feet and laughter, the local community is growing, with some areas developing overnight, breathing new life into the area. The “Weskus” continues to grow in popularity not only for holidaymakers and homemakers but for investors and business too. The opening of ArcellorMittal in 1998, known then as Saldanha Steel, brought many people to the area looking for work, with the result that the area and surrounds started to grow and small businesses began to sprout. More recently, additional investment in infrastructure at the 330ha Saldanha Bay industrial zone, to the tune of R10 billion, aimed at enhancing the deep-water port's ability to service the offshore oil and gas industry, is now taking place. “This is an opportunity to capture a very lucrative market ahead of anyone else; the project will contribute an estimated R4.74 billion to South Africa’s GDP, creating an estimated 6 300 new direct jobs and 25 200 new indirect jobs,” says Gavin Hofmeester, Tourism Manager, West Coast Peninsula Tourism and TNPA committee member. An important concern, however, is how to keep the balance between development and sustainability, and to hold on to that special West Coast charm. Though still undiscovered by many, the West Coast is a popular retreat for people in the Western Cape because of all that it offers, and its accessibility makes it a favourable destination for holidays and weekend breaks. It would seem that its reputation is reaching farther afield too, with GP number plates on the increase during the December holidays. “The people of Paternoster say that there used to be an off season when they could close their businesses and take a break, but with the area gaining popularity that is no . . .
Midrand – gaining ground Up until 1981, Midrand was known as Halfway House and was the midway point between the region’s two major hubs, namely Pretoria and Johannesburg. Very little is left of the sprawling farms and smallholdings that once characterised this area. Where once only a few corporate head offices stuck out across the horizon, the area is now awash with commercial properties, warehouses, hotels, conference venues and suburbs, with continued construction bringing even more bustle and business to the area. Most notably, the Mall of Africa that will be the continent's largest mall (over 300 shops) will join the N1 Business Park and International Business Gateway as one of the most prestigious commercial developments in Midrand. Construction is under way of what is to become the most sought-after urban structure to the northern region of Gauteng, known as Waterfall City. The development, due to open in April 2016, will act as the central hub for retail, offices, conference and recreational amenities, residential and city parking and will bring renewed interest and investment to Midrand. Additional job opportunities bring more workforce, which will further uplift the surrounding suburbs and attract new residential areas for the middle- to high-income groups. The Midrand Graduate Institute offers a number of university degrees and the area has many schools and pre-schools. Landmarks include South Africa’s largest conference facility, Gallager Estate, and a recently constructed mosque. The area is also home to a host of corporate headquarters, large-scale industries, African Union’s Pan-African Parliament, Kyalami Motor Racing Circuit, Grand Central Airport, large-scale shopping centres, elite suburbs and the South African Lipizzaners riding academy. It is this resurgence in the area that was the final deciding factor for Guy Stehlik, CEO of BON Hotels, to take on the hotel business ownership and management of the old Constantia Hotel, which has . . .
WHAT TO EXPECT FROM YOUR WEDDING PROVIDER? Given that when you are planning your special day you will be spending an inordinate amount of time with your wedding provider, it is highly recommended that you do some research and are confident about firstly where you get married and secondly who you will be dealing with. Amidst the hype and excitement of finally becoming engaged you will be forgiven for not quite realizing just how much goes into planning that day you have been dreaming of since you were a little girl; buried by a snowstorm of checklists and an overwhelming array of decisions. Brides often do not have a clear picture of how they want their day to be, which makes the co-ordinator’s job all the more difficult; however, by asking the right questions they are able to get an idea of your favourite colours, styles, likes and dislikes, so that they can let the wedding reflect who you are, whether it be classic, modern, traditional, unconventional, creative or adventurous. Taking on the services of a wedding planner or in-house co-ordinator makes good financial sense (your husband-to-be will be glad to know), and you will also have someone to oversee the entire wedding on the day, so you are not having to run around and worry about loose ribbons, whether the priest has arrived or finding an extra seat for a long-lost aunt you have forgotten about. Laura Mangunda, Conference & Banqueting Co-ordinator at BON Hotel Riviera on Vaal, says, “Hotels are more than equipped to deal with the bride directly to oversee the wedding planning and arrangements, or to deal with a wedding planner to facilitate the vision of the bride.” You can also decide just how much you want the hotel to be involved, from the very start, the whole bang shoot, or just on the day. And don’t be afraid to ask questions of the co-ordinator – like, how many weddings they have overseen, what their most challenging event was, and do they have any photographs or testimonials? This will . . .