By Annisa Essack
South Africans, yesterday, celebrated the further easing of restrictions as the President announced that we would be entering Alert Level 1 of the lockdown.
But, whilst the announcement brought much relief to some, others, particularly those who have invested in one of the country’s most luxurious internationally operated resort hotels, did not.
The five-star Fairmont Zimbali Hotel, near Ballito on KwaZulu-Natal’s North Coast, was effectively placed under administration on Wednesday. The company confirmed the business rescue move to “Moneyweb” in a statement on Thursday.
The decision comes in the wake of the Covid-19 economic crunch, which saw the hotel being mothballed since the start of the lockdown. IFA Fair Zim Hotel & Resort Proprietary Limited, owners of the resort, opted to go into a business rescue “to safeguard the interests of all its stakeholders”.
Kuwait-based IFA Hotels and Resorts was the investor that opened the Fairmont Zimbali Hotel ahead of the FIFA World Cup in 2010 within the multi-billion-rand Zimbali Coastal Resort estate. It what was touted as one of the biggest foreign direct investment into SA’s tourism industry.
The hotel’s general manager, Wayne Krambeck, said despite experiencing exponential growth with record turnover between November 2019 to March 2020, the hotel faced an unprecedented situation following the lockdown and border closures.
Pierre Berrange has been appointed as the business rescue practitioner by IFA Fair Zim Hotel & Resort.
South Africa’s five-star hotel sector has been particularly hard hit by the Covid-19 lockdown, with much of its business coming from foreign tourists and corporates. Larger high-end establishments, including the Mount Nelson, Table Bay Hotel and Westin in Cape Town, remain closed.
With the gradual lifting of international travel bans as of October 1, as announced on Wednesday, some of these hotels are now expected to open.