Cape Town CBD’s hotels are reaching for the sky, despite Omicron.

South Africa’s tourism and hospitality sectors lost about R1 billion through cancelled bookings, just in the 48 hours after initial ‘Omicron’ chaos caused global travel bans against the country.  The discovery of Covid-19 variant B.1.1.529 has dealt these industries a devastating blow.

Many were pinning high hopes on the high season to rescue the flailing sectors. Now, homegrown businesses are getting creative to attract domestic tourism. Several well-known Cape Town CBD hotels are looking to locals to recover some business, through attractive specials.

CBD hotels are holding on, despite the ongoing difficulties. According to the Cape Town Central City Improvement District’s (CCID) latest The State of Cape Town Central City Report, the number of the hotels in the city centre dropped from 44 to 42 in 2020; an amazing survival rate considering the challenges. Hoteliers survived through smart strategies, including attracting domestic tourists through enticing staycation specials. Now, with the advent of Omicron, the emphasis is still on safe staycations, which means vaccinated locals could live their ‘best lives’ this summer at a fraction of the usual fees.

Now, with the advent of Omicron, the emphasis is still on safe staycations, which means vaccinated locals could live their ‘best lives’ this summer at a fraction of the usual fees

Now really is the moment to show South African businesses some love. Last year, Cape Town Tourism’s (CTT) Impact Report found its members lost R2 billion and shed 12 000 jobs during the traditional ‘high season’ months. The same report revealed room rates halved, on average, in most establishments between December 2020 and May 2021. This helped raise the occupancy rates, but the concern is that it’s not a sustainable model. For example, in February 2021, the average room rate was R924. In 2019, it was R2 126. Now, many hotels are having to add further specials to get heads onto pillows.

Let’s hear from our hotels:

Here, some of Cape Town’s CBD’s best-loved hotels share how Omicron has impacted them and how they’re attracting domestic tourists.

The Capital 15 on Orange

Capital made the bold move to lease 15 on Orange during the pandemic, in 2020. Now, Marc Wachsberger, The Capital Hotels & Apartments Managing Director, says it has lost around 25% of its bookings since the Omicron announcement, but, positively, it’s seeing strong domestic demand because of its apartment options. Known for its ‘vibe’, The Capital is a hybrid hotel with rooms and apartments on offer – an ideal option for longer-stay guests. Another special feature? Themed foodie nights and other live entertainment offerings. Keep an eye on its website for the next one. The deal: To entice local tourists, rooms have been substantially discounted to just R1 750 per night. The offer lasts until 27 December

Southern Sun The Cullinan Hotel

Marcel von Aulock, CEO of Tsogo Sun Hotels – which includes CBD-based Southern Sun The Cullinan Hotel, along with over 100 other hotels across Sub-Saharan Africa – says that the group experienced significant cancellations of corporate, sporting and cultural events due to the travel bans. “Confidence in regulations around travel and the safety of travellers are fundamental to rebuilding our industry and the recent travel bans have happened in the absence of any scientific evidence of the Omicron variant being any more dangerous to vaccinated people than existing Covid-19 variants. “We are grateful for the approach by the South African government to not impose additional restrictions on the local travel industry, which is the current lifeblood of the hospitality facilities and businesses in South Africa. We are confident of offering local travellers a safe and relaxing environment for their December holidays and look forward to welcoming our international guests as soon as possible.” The deal: Tsogo Sun is offering a selection of exceptional specials via its website. Rooms can be booked from just R1 050 per night.

The Pepperclub Hotel

Efi Ella, General Manager at The Pepperclub Hotel says the team has seen a huge wash of international bookings, which amount to 40% of their bookings for December. “The general feeling among us all is disappointment. We are once again finding ourselves in a position where we are going to have very few – if any – tourists and little to no business.  We are grateful for the support that we are getting from the domestic market.” The deal: Ella says Pepperclub is well-priced and accessible to locals regardless of Covid-19. “Being a well-priced five-star hotel helps us stand-out.” South Africans can also support The Pepperclub by visiting its coffee shop, Ruby’s, or its restaurant, Copa.

The Rockefeller Hotel

The CBD’s new kid on the hotel block, the glamorous Rockefeller is a hotel combined with residential living. Managed by Newmark, the mixed-use development is set to open its doors tomorrow, 15 December 2021. Ryan Joffe, Founder of Ryan Joffe properties says the team is hoping to attract locals with the breadth of its exceptional amenities (including a bicycle room, sushi bar, rooftop pool, boutique store and more). Plus, residents and guests can access its collaborative co-working space. As a hybrid hotel, apartments are up for sale, so residents can live in the dreamy hotel permanently, with access to all its offerings. The deal: Don’t miss out on the Rockefeller’s opening special of dinner, bed & breakfast from R1 450 per room, per night. Valid until 31 January 2022 (excludes 20 December 2021 – 05 January 2022). For booking enquiries, visit www.newmarkhotels.com.

The Hotel Sky

This hotel also took the audacious step of opening in 2020. “The pandemic had a massive impact on both us and our consumers. With the sector and all employment that falls within it taking such a devastating blow, we collaborated with partners and suppliers who held on to a vision beyond the pandemic. We may have faced insurmountable challenges, but we’ve nonetheless clung closely to this vision and that is why we were able to open our doors in April 2021,” says Mercia Horn, General Manager at Hotel Sky.  Located in Long Street, the hotel hopes to attract South Africa’s through its fun features, like AI-powered robotic ‘staff,’ a 30-metre thrill-ride on the roof, the infinity restaurant with 360-degree views, and family- and group-friendly bunk-style apartments. The deal: Hotel Sky is LIFTing tourism by offering free flights as part of its packages! It’s also offering a ‘pay for two, stay for three’ deal currently.

Gorgeous George

The deal: Gorgeous indeed, this much-loved local hot spot is offering a 30% discount to all African residents who book directly through reservations@gorgeousgeorge.co.za.

Until South Africa is ‘out of the red,’ hoteliers seriously appreciate locals who are showing them love. More information on the visitor economy and state of the Cape Town’s CBD’s hotels can be found in the CCID’s latest The State of Cape Town Central City Report, which can be downloaded from the CCID.co.za site.