Ashley van Schalkwyk gets to snoop around a grand hotel for an afternoon
I had an odd voyeur-like feeling when given a guided tour of one of Cape Town’s premier hotels. Looking through the cupboards, checking the mattresses for firmness, moving through the halls… it definitely felt like Goldilocks territory.
However, unlike the golden-haired urchin, I was there legally, exploring the plush interior of The Westin Cape Town.
Along with a group of fellow journalists, I was given an early look into the future of this luxury 5-star hotel as it undergoes a R150-million refurbishment. The first since it opened its doors, the refurb is being done on a floor-by-floor basis to limit noise and any inconvenience, and is expected to be completed in mid-October 2019.
“We are committed to creating inspiring, relaxing and productive guest rooms that will leave our guests feeling more rested, rejuvenated and energised to take on their next challenge,” says Leon Meyer, general manager of The Westin Cape Town. “The hotel’s guestrooms will be completely remodelled, and have been specially designed by the Global Marriott International design team to keep up with modern-day décor and design trends. The renovation ensures we remain up to date with modern design trends and, more importantly, adds real intrinsic value to each guest experience,” he adds.
In addition, the hotel has opened the new Westin Club: a lounge that offers a panoramic look across Cape Town, showcasing the city’s iconic landmarks of Table Mountain, Lion’s Head, Signal Hill and the V&A Waterfront. During our visit, the lounge was dotted with people glued to their laptops or just lolling with a drink, soaking in the sprawling vista.
It wasn’t just the interior of the hotel we were shown—we were also given unfettered access to its desalination plant. Utilising its natural position on reclaimed land, pumps remove around 1.2 million litres of seawater from the basement levels and can produce 400 000 litres of water when the plant is running at full production. That’s an annual saving of around 40 million litres of municipal water!
Prior to the installation of the plant, independent research was conducted and approved by authorities as to its impact on the area. Funded by The Hospitality Group, owner of The Westin Cape Town, it will also supply the nearby Tsogo Sun Waterfront and Tsogo Sun Cullinan.
I’d like to say our intrepid party was invited to the rooftop garden, but that would be too grand an epitaph to attach to a party of journalists making their way through a hotel. Although, recollections of The Poseidon Adventure did flash through my mind as we climbed the steep narrow stairs to the hotel’s verdant herbatorium.
Off-limits to guests, this slice of greenery is an ingenious use of form and function. Tucked away behind the Westin sign visible at the top of the hotel as you drive past, the little enclave is a treasure trove of herbs that are used in all the hotel’s restaurants. As an Afrikaans speaker would say, “Dis ‘n belewenis.”
Following a pleasant late-afternoon traipse in, under and on top of The Westin Cape Town, we were given a glimpse of how the other half lives as we were escorted to the Presidential Suite. Fit for a king? You’d be right: Not only does it cost about R40 000 per night, but actual royalty has stayed here. (Despite many inducements, the staff steadfastly refused to divulge the identity of this royal…)
Our visit had reached its zenith. After indulging in some excellent canapés and cocktails, we made our way home—back to life and reality.