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Reinventing the African hospitality sector

by Media Xpose

The iconic 5-Star Cape Grace Hotel (Cape Town, Western Cape), under new ownership and management, heralds positive investment for the sub-Saharan region. Leon Meyer, General Manager of Cape Grace Hotel shares some insights pertaining to this investment that will most certainly have a ripple effect in Cape Town and even beyond the borders of South Africa.

Unlocking opportunities to rise to even greater heights

“In 2022 the Cape Grace underwent an ownership and management change. Cape Grace was aquired by Kasada Capital Management, which is an independent investment platform within the Kasada Group, dedicated to hospitality in sub-Saharan Africa. The firm was launched in 2018 with the backing of Qatar Investment Authority, the sovereign wealth fund of the State of Qatar, and Accor, a world leading augmented hospitality group,” says Leon Meyer, General Manager of Cape Grace Hotel.

“While already an iconic fixture on the V&A Waterfront and having been voted as one of the ‘Top Luxury Hotels’ on the continent and the ‘Best City Hotel in Africa’, the new ownership brings about a new opportunity for Cape Grace to rise to even greater heights as a result of being the beneficiary of the Kasada Group’s and Accor’s expertise,” comments Meyer.

Daring reinvention to realise the vision

“Cape Town deserves a truly iconic luxury property and who better than Accor to achieve this in the light of their proven track record with other high-end luxury hotel and hospitality brands such as Raffles, Fairmont Hotels and Resorts, Sofitel, Sofitel Grand, Orient Express & Emblems and Banyan Tree. The Group will strive to amplify luxury hotel experiences through a distinctive collection of unrivaled hotels under the Accor Luxury brands banner within the Western Cape and beyond,” says Meyer.

Taking into account the bold vision the Kasada Group has for the region, the Accor Group is well-placed as this kind of daring reinvention is part of the Accor DNA. For more than half a century, Accor has continuously been reinventing the hospitality business by making daring moves, challenging the status quo, and responding to global shifts as well as guests’ evolving needs. They do this through instilling the same values into the heart of the organisation and the more than 230 000 women and men who form part of its global reach.

Accor works tirelessly to build a reputation as an employer of choice that empowers and supports its people. Team members at Cape Grace will benefit from the same philosophy that will cascade to all touchpoints. But they are not the only ones who will benefit. Accor’s business and performance are closely linked to those of its partners, the suppliers and owners of Accor establishments operated under management and franchise contracts. This describes a wider arc of responsibility and commitment,” continues Meyer.

Embracing ESG values

Well-known for its tasteful elegance with regard to its aesthetic, Cape Grace is set to mark a new chapter in its history. “While being cognizant and staying true to the rich legacy, cultural essence and authenticity of Cape Grace, we will be undertaking certain renovations with the view of obtaining the EDGE green-building certification,” says Meyer.

According to Olivier Granet, Kasada’s Managing Partner and CEO of Kasada Group, “Our value creation strategy will be driven by our sustainability values and highest ESG standards for the benefit of our guests, employees and local communities.”

Meyer adds, “The Accor Group is committed to guaranteeing not only a quality offering and world-class service but also a high environmental and social ethic, constantly forging strong bonds around sustainable development issues so that guests can enjoy a more responsible hotel experience. Zero carbon, zero waste, recycling, and controlled water consumption are just a few of the targets that Accor has set for all its properties. While there are changes planned, these seek to enhance and do not detract from our commitment to luxury and the ultimate guest experience.”

Challenges, lessons learned and looking ahead

Reflecting on the challenges of the past few years, Meyer notes that the Covid-19 pandemic left deep scars on the industry, which is now perceived as an ‘unreliable’ sector for employment or career prospects.

He comments, “Looking at the impact, some hotels had to open in phases due to the lack of business demand or having been reliant on international travellers who are not yet back travelling to long- haul destinations. Globally our clients have been disrupted and the global cadence for travel is still in the process of being reset. Granted the view at the beginning of Covid-19 was a recovery in 2025 or beyond to 2019 levels. However, we have seen that around the world, holistically speaking, results in Q3 & Q4 2022 are better than 2019 – supported by a strong pipeline entering 2023.

“Liquidity presents itself as an immediate challenge for hotel owners and operators who remain laser-focused on understanding cash flow management and the importance of accurate forecasting. Realistically, the cost of running businesses remains eye-watering compared to just 3 years ago! The pressure that poor planning and government infrastructures place on business makes it challenging when one takes into consideration the increase in labour cost, fuel prices, basic food items and then the issues we are having with electricity supply and loadshedding daily.

“We also saw a shift in consumer behaviour – Covid-19 ushered in an unprecedented level of channel switching and brand loyalty disruption.

In general terms 75% of consumers tried new shopping behaviours, with many of them citing convenience and value. A large percentage, mainly

Gen Z and Millennials, deserted trusted brands for new ones. That means we as big hotel brands need to be relentless in making sure we communicate well to our younger consumers and underpin our hotel brands commitment to reflecting their values.

In conclusion, Meyer says, “As hotel leaders, we need to make sure that our hotels are known for truly looking after our employees and that we are seen as an employer of choice. For me, this is a principle I will be focusing on at Cape Grace, and success will mean that we need to make sure we look after the local communities we serve, focusing on sustainability and our commitment to ESG and finding that sweet spot where we can be driven, successful in running our properties but importantly do so whilst having a lot of fun.”

Cape Grace Awards

Consistently rated as one of the top hotels globally:

  • Best Hotel in the World/World’s Best City Hotel/ Best Hotel Africa and the Middle East/ Best Hotel South Africa: Travel and Leisure Magazine’s World Travel Awards
  • Best Hotel in the World/ Best Hotel in

Africa: Conde Nast Traveller Awards

  • 2nd Best Hotel in the World; Top Hotel with Exceptional Service in South Africa; Top luxury Hotel Africa; Top Hotel South Africa:

Tripadvisor Travellers Choice Awards:

  • Best Hotel in Africa & Indian Ocean: Ultratravel (US & UK Poll)
Leon Meyer

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