By Kenneth Matimaire
MUTARE — African Sun Limited (ASL) is to spend $1,5 million over the next 12 months on the refurbishment and upgrading of Holiday Inn hotel in Mutare, which was recently rebranded from Amber Hotel.
The group had already spent $500 000 in upgrades to meet standards for the Holiday Inn franchise before rebranding.
ASL managing director, Edwin Shangwa, said they had proceeded with the rebranding after meeting all critical requirements.
These included the updating and upgrading of the hotel’s fire, life and safety systems, Holiday Inn brand hallmarks and signage, reservations and the hotel property management system.
“The hotel has successfully managed to meet the initial and most critical Holiday Inn brand requirements after several hotel inspections. There is an area of fire and safety as well as product and service standards in line with the minimum requirements of the Holiday Inn brand, which the hotel successfully complied with,” Shangwa said in response to questions.
He said they were now planning further upgrades, which would entail refurbishment of the hotel’s interior, with new beds for all rooms expected soon.
“The next stage will now be completed in the next 12 months and already new beds for the entire hotel are already in transit and expected in the next two weeks, demonstrating commitment from the owners of the company,” he said.
Holiday Inn Mutare has 96 rooms, bringing the total number of all Holiday Inn brands, including Harare and Bulawayo, to 454 rooms.
The decision to rebrand the hotel was made in 2015 after considerable investment was made to meet the Intercontinental Hotels Group specifications under the Holiday Inn franchise.
The re-launch comes five years after Holiday Inn Mutare had adopted a home-grown brand, Amber.
Shangwa said over the years, they had received overwhelming requests from their clients to revert back to a recognisable brand.
“Most of you still have fond memories of the Holiday Inn brand even five years after the hotel was rebranded to a home-grown brand (called) Amber. Let me be quick to say that during the period we have operated the hotel as an Amber brand, there has been overwhelming calls from our well-travelled and discerning customers to have the Holiday Inn brand back in Mutare,” he said.
“As a customer-centric organisation, we have listened to our customers, and this brand re-launch event is to unveil and deliver back to our customers, a brand they love,” he said during the launch recently.
Holiday Inn is the only international brand under the African Sun portfolio and in the country.
ASL owns 11 hotels in Zimbabwe, including the Victoria Falls hotel in a 50/50 percent partnership with Meikles Limited.