Cape Town visitors looking for luxury are spoilt for choice
The Manor House and The Taj Cape Town properties are both rooted in history and a sense of place, writes Brian Berkman
The Taj Cape Town is a hotel that gets the important things right. Lifts, for example, don’t sound like cathedral bells every time they open, a most annoying thing if your room is near the lift well. But even the double glazing can’t totally silence the bells of neighbouring St George’s Cathedral pealing on a Sunday morning.
The hotel is built on top of heritage buildings (a former reserve bank among them) on bustling Wale Street.
Block-out curtains are another thing it does well but the bed, and 300-thread-count cotton linen sourced from India, made the biggest difference to our stay.
We had a corner suite with a large sitting room and a two-seater balcony with full-frame views of Table Mountain looking over the cathedral, Parliament and the Company’s Garden.
At desk height are several useful plugs and connection points for guests wanting to play their own media through the wall-mounted television. This is especially useful for presentations with three or four other people. A drawback to using the suite to entertain business guests is that there is only one loo, but the hotel has a selection of meeting rooms and conferencing facilities.
The Twankey Bar was upgraded last November with a greater focus on cocktails and First Thursdays in the City — an endeavour to get more people into the central business district and its art galleries — has evolved into a wine, curated art and food event open to the public at no charge.
The Taj Cape Town could well be the only local hotel to offer a traditional Indian breakfast along with a special children’s breakfast selection.
Another bolthole for business travellers to Cape Town is the Manor House, Newmark Hotel’s latest accommodation offering in the historic Portswood precinct in the V&A Waterfront wedged between The Queen Victoria Hotel and the 1894 Time Ball Tower. CEO Neil Markovitz explains its ethos: "The idea to create a high-end experience was very definitely identified out of demand in the market.
"There is something uniquely special about this area of the Waterfront. The idea of being positioned above the Waterfront and literally a short walk down to the hustle and bustle is particularly appealing to guests."
Markovitz says Newmark has traded in the Waterfront since 1990 and has "a very good feel for demand from the luxury side of the business".
The Manor House’s new butler-serviced suites offer a high level of luxury detail, like 100ml Molton Brown toiletries and bathrooms larger than many standard hotel rooms.
"We started The Manor House project with a blank canvas and used our 30 years in the business to develop a top-end product," Markovitz says. "I travel extensively and always try to stay in properties around the world that can teach me something. One really never stops learning and listening to your own guests and then I suppose you try and find ways to implement this feedback in trying to develop something unbelievable and then always try and exceed the expectation."
There is so much high-end accommodation now at the Waterfront, one wonders if there is not a risk of Newmark cannibalising its own clients.
However, the company’s sales director, Lina Nel, says: "Each one of our four Waterfront hotels offers a unique setting with access to all the facilities offered by our adjacent properties, all of which can be billed to the room account." The company’s Dock House Boutique Hotel & Spa and The Queen Victoria Manor House are available in their entirety to clients seeking exclusivity.
"We have seen a demand for exclusive use – similar to a villa – but with the added benefits of luxury hotel services," says Nel.
"Our butlers have been specially trained by the South African Butler Academy to perform a wide range of duties from unpacking luggage to booking theatre tickets."
The Queen Victoria Hotel is a deluxe boutique hotel with 35 rooms and suites. The Manor House’s four suites, all elegantly decorated in a contemporary style, have space that works as well as a business meeting room or private dining room.
The Manor House and The Taj Cape Town properties are both rooted in history and a sense of place.