BELGIAN-American hotel group Carlson Rezidor, which is presently on an aggressive expansion drive buoyed by its imminent takeover by Chinese investors, is set to shell out more than US$135 million for a 245-room five-star property in Harare, it has been learnt.
The 56-year-old giant operates 1 400 hotels in more than 115 countries in the Middle East, Europe and Africa. Its local investment is being promoted by Stream Walk, a business that is controlled by Mr Farai Jere.Carlson Rezidor owns several brands such as Radisson, Radisson Blu,Radisson Red, Quorvus Collection, Park Inn by Radison, Country Inns & Suites by Carlson and the Club Carlson. In Zimbabwe its lead brand will be Radisson Blu.
The project has received all regulatory approvals and Stream Walk and Carlson Rezidor are working on an “accelerated design programme”. Physical work will begin “in a few months time” after a groundbreaking ceremony.It has been established that the mixed-use development that will be located in Eastlea will comprise offices, retail outlets and a hotel
offering that will include 40 long-stay residences, a number of food and drink offerings, an all-day restaurant, a specialty restaurant and cocktail lounge, a pool bar and grill, and a large terrace.
Extensive meeting and event spaces are planned, including an Amani Spa and an 800-square metre gym that will be complemented by two swimming pools and a kid’s club.Radison Blu Hotel Harare is set to open its doors to the public in 2019.In an interview with The Sunday Mail Business, Carlson Rezidor’s vice president (business development, Africa and Indian Ocean) Mr Andrew McLachlan said the project had “Presidential Project Status”.
“The total investment sum for the mixed-use Stream Walk development is US$135 million. Stream Walk has all approvals in place from EMA (the Environmental Management Agency), to full support from the (Harare City) Council.“This project has been given ‘Presidential Project Status’ due to its importance to Zimbabwe . . . We offer the brand infrastructure, systems and support that help any new build (to) become a successful hotel. Our experienced team of technical and hospitality professionals is here to advise our project partners through every stage of each new build property, from preliminary concept to the grand opening, and beyond,”said Mr McLachlan.
In a statement released through Carlson Rezidor, Stream Walk MD Mr Farai Jere said construction was likely to begin in March 2017.
“This is the manifestation of a dream which started in 2010. We thank the regulatory and the responsible authorities for facilitating the project, and the investors for supporting this initiative. The fulfilment of our dream would not have come better than partnering a big brand like the Radisson Blu. Our task is now to achieve financial close to enable construction work to commence by March 2017 and complete on time,” he said.
Roping in Carlson Rezidor will be a corporate coup for Mr Jere who in 2013 unsuccessfully tried to partner American hotel behemoth Hilton Worldwide to build a facility on the very same land that Radison Blu Hotel Harare will be located. Initially, the project was expected to start in April 2014, but it is understood that the risk-averse American business was spooked by rival business interests that raised the flag on the santions regime that currently exists against Zimbabwe.
The US congress passed the Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Act (Zidera) – which effectively prohibits American businesses from dealing with local companies – in December 2001.
Hilton Hotels is one of the largest brands in the sector, with 4 600 hotels in more than 102 countries. Its premier brand portfolio includes Waldorf Astoria Hotels & Resorts, Conrad Hotels & Resorts, Canopy by Hilton, Curio – A Collection by Hilton, DoubleTree by Hilton,
Embassy Suites by Hilton, Hilton Garden Inn, Hampton by Hilton, Tru by Hilton, Homewood Suites by Hilton, Home2 Suites by Hilton and Hilton Grand Vacations.
However, Carlson Rezidor said it was in for the long haul.“Investing in a hotel is not a short-term play. You need to be in it for the long haul and both Stream Walk and Carlson Rezidor believe in the long-term future of Zimbabwe and in particular the capital city and
financial hub of Harare where there is a lack of quality hotels and no globally branded hotel for many years,” explained Mr McLachlan.