The hotel, built in 1924, has undergone a R130m transformation, from a 10-room lodge into a 60-room upmarket hotel and spa, which blends tradition with modern design. The hotel will be marketed globally as part of Mantis’s unique offering of boutique hotels, game reserves, eco lodges, ski lodges and chalets, and boutique cruises around the world.
History of Port Alfred Hotel
Former Johannesburg businessman Martin Bekker and his wife, Linda, invested in the hotel and its makeover after visiting Port Alfred for the first time in 2008, when they instantly fell in love with the town.
The hotel also offers the popular Highlander Pub for traditional food, the Thistle Restaurant for fine dining, and the new Paper Nautilus Deli, where breakfasts will be served. A modern 200-seat conference facility is expected to attract national conferences to the town, with a spin-off for other accommodation establishments and restaurants. The hotel will also play host to the second Camelot spa to be opened in the Eastern Cape.
New hotel and tourists
RE/MAX Kowie estate agent Shaun Uys says the hotel will assist in attracting more tourists to the town. “People who come here fall in love with the place and then buy property here. We have older people coming to retire here and we also have younger families starting up here. We have the marina with our higher end properties, priced from R12m, and we have houses for about R1,1m, which offer four bedrooms very close to the beach,” he says.
Sunshine Coast Tourism manager Sandy Birch says the opening of the new and improved hotel will bring a major advantage to the small coastal town, as most of its revenue is generated through tourism. “It is going to be of huge benefit to us and we are all very excited about it. Finally, we can offer visitors a hotel with the right number of rooms and upmarket facilities. This may also help to bring in buses with visiting overseas tourists,” she says.
Living in Port Alfred
He adds that Port Alfred offers excellent schools, a good hospital, safety and security. “It is a quiet coastal town and a good holiday destination, but the town is definitely growing in terms of its businesses and entrepreneurs. There are very few places where you can go fishing or surfing after work that offer this kind of safety. And everything you need is three minutes away.”
Birch says the hotel is situated next to the Royal Port Alfred Golf Club, which will assist in attracting larger golf tours to the town as well. “With its fantastic accommodation and large conferencing facilities, this new tourism spending will spill over into the town’s other businesses. We are a tourism-driven town, so all the businesses rely on tourism spending,” she says.
Words: Lee-Anne Butler
Images: Salvelio Meyer; Supplied