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Tatas to open first five-star hotel in S Africa

July 07, 2009 15:04 IST

The Tatas are set to open their first five-star hotel in Cape Town in December.

The 176-room Taj Palace Hotel,currently being constructed, is located in the central business district of Cape Town and will cost about $65-million or about Rs 500 million.

The Cape Town hotel is the first of a number of hotels the Tata's plan in South Africa,with one more each in Johannesburg and Durban, said the general manager of the hotel, Michael Pownall, in an interview Tuesday.

Pownall told the Business Report that the Taj, which already has hotels in 15 countries, including the United States and United Kingdom, wanted to have a 'large foothold' in South Africa.

The hotels would be part of the mulit-million dollar investment that the company has in South Africa.

Pownall said unlike many other international hotel chains, Taj prefers to own its own hotels, either alone or in partnership.

He said many of its hotels worldwide are in historically significant buildings where the atmosphere of the past had been preserved in the same way as had been done in Cape Town's Mount Nelson hotel, of which Pownall was a general manager.

The new Taj Palace Hotel in Cape Town will incorporate the old Reserve Bank building and the former headquarters of BoE.

The facades and many of the original features of the two 19th century buildings will be incorporated into the new hotel.

Pownall told Business Report that it was intended to preserve much of the atmosphere of old Cape Town in the Taj Palace, with the public areas in the heritage part of the building.

The rooms and suites would be in a tower block rising behind it.

Pownall added that the need for consistently high standard of service was being stressed and the recruitment of more than 300 staff members had already begun.

He said Taj would start its own hotel school and take on about 30 apprentices a year. The Cape Town hotel would have two restaurants.

Pownall said the decision to build Taj hotels in South Africa was to be in readiness for the exponential growth in the country's tourism industry, which he was confident would follow the 2010 World Cup.

He told Business Report: "I am confident that tourism, which already is South Africa's biggest earner of foreign exchange, will become this country's main industry and employer.

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