Refurbishment boosts Meikles' occupancy

HARARE - Listed Meikles Limited says its five-star Meikles Hotel has experienced increased occupancy following the completion of a $8,5 million refurbishment.

However, the group could not disclose the figures as they are in a “closed period”, but said occupancy levels had surpassed last year’s, comparatively.

“The feedback and response post refurbishment has been very positive and encouraging,” said Karl Snater, Meikles Hospitality’s managing director.

“We are seeing growth in occupancy levels and banqueting business on 2012 figures.”

The group embarked on the multi-million dollar refurbishment during the first quarter of 2012, ahead of the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) general assembly held in August this year.

Zimbabwe and Zambia co-hosted the tourism event in the resort town of Victoria Falls and Livingstone respectively.

Meanwhile, Meikles is currently in discussions with property developers in Zambia for the construction of a hotel in that country as the company expands into the region.

According to the group, the hotel will be part of a mixed-use retail scheme being developed close to the Lusaka airport by one of Africa’s leading real estate companies.

“Going forward to the festive season, Meikles Hotel accommodation occupancy traditionally drops post December 13 through to mid-January as industry closes down and the corporates take their annual holidays,” Snater said, adding that “banqueting business follows the same trend barring of course Christmas Day and New Year’s Eve functions which are normally fully subscribed.”

Market analysts say refurbishment of the Harare CBD-based Meikles Hotel is expected to enhancethe  hospitality group’s competitiveness and is in line with local tourism industry objective of improving quality of products and services.

Snater noted that as the high season draws to a close at the end of November, it is traditionally followed by a drop in occupancies in the first two weeks of December, but picking up thereafter.

“Bookings for this period are looking very good and have a good mix of domestic, regional and international business,” he said.

Under the renovation exercise, the group acquired new banqueting furniture and equipment and undertook various upgrades of product and service, such as the introduction of new beds and flat screen televisions for all rooms and suites.

There were also changes in food and beverage operations, where the company introduced new menus, new wine lists and new styles of cuisine and presentation.

The refurbishment also involved the complete renovation of all suites and bedrooms, including major changes to bathrooms.

Function rooms on the ground and second floors of the wing were also redesigned, while the hotel’s flagship restaurant, La Fontaine Grill room, was extensively refurbished and its kitchen completely transformed into one of the most modern in southern Africa.

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