The lights are on but no-one is home: Dark days ahead for Sandton hotels

with No Comments

As night falls on many of Sandton’s dormant hotels, reception areas are lit up, but the dark towers filled with empty guest rooms confirm the old adage “the lights are on but no one is home”.  

The driveways and entrances to most hotels in Sandton would have been buzzing with activity little more than a year ago before the arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic which has been a game-changer for South Africa’s tourism and hospitality sectors.

There is no sign of familiar touring coaches, shuttle buses and taxis that once delivered throngs of international guests to Sandton’s hotels.  Numerous once-busy hotels have now closed doors, with notices advising the suspension of operations.

SANDTON HOTELS’ RELIANCE ON INTERNATIONAL VISITORS

Sandton is home to a selection of the country’s best and busiest hotels including the Sandton Sun, Sandton Towers Intercontinental, The Michelangelo, Da Vinci Hotel and Suites among others. Many of Sandton’s hotels are top-notch properties with five-star grading, and Leading Hotels of the World status.

Image: Lorne Philpot

Many of these properties relied on foreign guests for their occupancy. International visitors prefer to stay in Sandton since the area offers greater security than other parts of Johannesburg, as well as being having a range of facilities which travellers need including a wide selection of retail outlets and fine dining options.

“Some hotels that are wholly reliant on business and international tourism, have been closed for a full year now,” Fedhasa chairperson Rosemary Anderson told Tourism Update.

ATTRACTION OF SANDTON

Many multinationals and prominent local businesses are based in Sandton, bringing vast numbers of business travellers to the area. The Sandton Convention Centre was also a drawcard for the city, hosting meetings, conferences and exhibitions, attended by business travellers from inside and outside of the country’s borders.

With continued travel restrictions and the prevalence of the more virulent 501.V2 COVID-19 variant in South Africa, visitors to Sandton have dried up, with dire consequences for hotels and businesses in Sandton.

SANDTON’S ‘MOTHBALLED’ HOTELS

Several Sandton hotels suspended operations in March last year at the onset of the national lockdown as there is insufficient business to warrant keeping the doors open without international visitors and business travellers.

Anderson states that many hotels across the country have been severely impacted by constrained business conditions.

“The hospitality industry was left in tatters by the first and second waves and many businesses are now so financially compromised that they are unable to hang on any longer, especially in light of a predicted third wave and resultant lockdown measures.”

It is concerning that these properties have been “out of action” for more than one year. The return of foreign tourists and business travellers is not imminent and unfortunately this could lead to Sandton hotels having to furlough staff and use up precious cash reserves for way longer than expected.

ALSO READ: Durban’s Hilton Hotel closes doors temporarily due to lockdown losses

DMCA.com Protection Status

 

Original Article Posted on The South African