AS SOUTH AFRICA CELEBRATES 25 years of democracy since the end of apartheid, scenic and historic Cape Town, founded in 1652, is experiencing an unprecedented surge of tourism, new business ventures and urban development projects. Ambitious city projects valued at approximately $1 billion are anticipated during the next four to five years, including several new hotel, office and residential developments already underway, as well as the recent completion of the Cape Town International Convention Centre’s expansion project.
With the iconic presence of Table Mountain in the background and lying a stone’s throw from the Atlantic Ocean, the final piece of the CTICC’s major expansion project, a soaring, steel-and-glass pedestrian sky bridge connecting the new building to the original 2003 structure, was completed earlier this year. “We are very excited about our sky bridge, which is both beautiful and functional,” said Julie-May Ellingson, CEO, Cape Town International Convention Centre. “As a worldclass venue, the CTICC is now able to welcome more attendees as well as host large-scale events across both buildings.” The new building offers more than 30,000 additional square feet of meeting and exhibition space.
Upcoming events at the CTICC include the Congress of the International Society for Gynecologic Endoscopy; Cape Town Art Fair; Cape Town Jazz Festival; the Design Conference; and the 2023 Congress of the International Association of Pediatric Dentistry, which will take place in Africa for the first time.
The CTICC sits within walking distance of the Victoria & Alfred Waterfront, a new, 300-acre, mixed-use project which has become Africa’s largest tourist attraction, drawing more than 24 million visitors a year. With its new hotels, restaurants, retail shops, pedestrian and bicycle paths and entertainment activities, the Waterfront district offers a distinct and vibrant atmosphere.
Developers broke ground last year on what will be Cape Town’s tallest building, the 42-story Zero-2-One tower, with 624 residential units; 65,000 square feet of retail space; and a public viewing deck offering 360-degree views of the city. Completion of the structure is expected in late 2020.
Last year Marriott’s 188-room AC Hotel Cape Town Waterfront opened as part of the new mixed-use Yacht Club development adjacent to the V&A Waterfront. The property offers tech-friendly meeting spaces, dining venues, a fitness center and outdoor pool. Two other Marriott properties — a 5-star, 200-room Marriott Hotel Foreshore and a nearby 150-room Residence Inn — broke ground this year at Harbour Arch, an Amdec Group initiative set to become the largest mixed-use development project in the city.
“We are constantly striving for unique solutions for green spaces within our developments,” said Nicholas Stopforth, managing director, the Amdec Group. “We look to trends around urban gardening initiatives and rooftop gardens, and we create parks for dog-walking and simply enjoying the benefits of being in nature. There are also many associated health benefits of life in mixed-use developments. The very nature of the lifestyle means you can walk to everything you need, including work, restaurants and the gym.”
The 483-room Westin Cape Town offers the Heavenly Spa by Westin, located on the 19th floor, with 15 deluxe treatment rooms and panoramic ocean and city views. Its property includes 19 individual meeting spaces, accommodating up to 600 delegates, plus 14,300 square feet of event space and is the only hotel in the city with direct connectivity to the CTICC.
Several other hotel properties offer wellness amenities. The Silo Hotel opened in 2017 with 28 rooms and is uniquely built into a portion of the historic 1920s-era grain silo complex, occupying the six floors above the Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa. The Silo Spa, located on the fourth floor of the hotel, offers a sauna, a gym and signature treatments using top wellness products. Zeitz MOCAA also opened in 2017 and houses a large collection of contemporary African art, as does The Silo Hotel above it. Both venues are independently owned properties but foster an exciting synergy between them.
The iconic 120-room Cape Grace Hotel offers meeting facilities as well as its Kalahari signature massage treatments at the Spa at Cape Grace, using naturally derived ingredients based on various plant oils, red sand, nourishing mud and rich mineral salts. The Spa also offers a skin-rejuvenating QMS Medicosmetics Anti-Ageing Treatment and a workout in the fully-equipped fitness studio on the top floor of the property, with views of Table Mountain.
Other downtown hotels for MICE groups include the Hilton Cape Town City Centre, with 15 meeting rooms; Southern Sun The Cullinan, situated at the entrance to the V&A Waterfront opposite the CTICC; and the Belmond Mount Nelson, an iconic property set in a lush garden estate. Radisson operates six properties in Cape Town, including the upscale Radisson Blu Waterfront and the new, all-studio suites Radisson RED V&A Waterfront, located near Zeitz MOCAA in the Silo District.
Cape Town residents working in the city’s major industries of IT, finance, engineering, design and hospitality definitely enjoy living the good life, and wellness and fitness routines are important to them. The city offers many global and South African brand fitness centers, including Planet Fitness, Virgin Active, Zone Fitness and Curves. With more than 3,094 hours of sunlight annually, the same amount as San Diego, California, it is common to see bikers and runners on city streets; soccer, cricket and rugby games in the parks; and surfers on nearby beaches. In 2018 Surfer Magazine listed the Cape Town region as one of the top 10 surfing destinations in the world.
If time allows, visit one of the three Mami Wata surf shops in Cape Town, where big-wave films are shown and beautiful, primary-colored board shorts and T-shirts brandish surfing zebras and bananas. African surfboards are also for sale, hand-shaped by legendary South African craftsman Hugh Thompson. “Surfing in Africa is unlike anywhere else,” said Nick Dutton, cofounder and CEO of the 2-year-old South African Mami Wata surf brand. “We’re the new frontier.”
Last year, the Norval Foundation opened its stunning museum adjacent to Table Mountain National Park, 25 minutes from Cape Town’s V&A Waterfront, with panoramic views across vineyards and mountains. The new venue houses one of the world’s largest private collections of South African contemporary art. The sculpture garden, outdoor amphitheater, exhibition spaces and restaurant — or the entire museum — can be rented for private events.
Landtscap is a working farm with plum and citrus trees and vineyards as well as a new, environmentally sustainable event and conference venue in the beautiful countryside in the Stellenbosch/Cape Winelands region, one hour from Cape Town. Designed on the ridge of a hill, meeting spaces are bathed in natural light and insulated by a living garden on the roof. The modular venue can accommodate 200 in cinema style, 160 for lunch or dinner, or 100 for corporate meetings.
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