Leonard Ncube, Victoria Falls Reporter
A TOTAL of US$24,6 million was used to construct the new luxurious The Palm River Hotel, which opened in Victoria Falls on Wednesday, adding to the list of upmarket tourism facilities in the country’s prime tourism destination.
The new facility is a 50-50 partnership between leading integrated financial services giant, Old Mutual Zimbabwe and Spencer’s Creek, a hotel operator that also runs the luxurious Ilala Lodge, also in Victoria Falls.
It is a shareholding joint partnership structured such that both partners co-invest. The construction of the 4-star facility located on the edge of Zambezi River started in 2019 and is the first phase of a bigger project to follow.
The hotel is a six-block facility with a total of 73 rooms, including the presidential and honeymoon suites, deluxe rooms and private villas, all with a Zambezi River frontage.
Spencer’s Creek managing director, Mr Jim Brown, said the new hotel will take clients starting December 1 with 31 rooms, and already more than 40 percent of them are taken for December and fully booked for the Christmas holidays. The other rooms will be opened in April next year.
“This is one of the key attractions here with river frontage. It shows restoration of confidence on our tourism especially with the Covid-19 pandemic around and we expect an earning in excess of US$6 million. We are going to have 200 trained staff and all local,” he said.
Victoria Falls Mayor, Councillor Somveli Dlamini, said the Palm River Hotel adds to the exciting packages in the city and country at large.
“This ceremony ushers a great era in both the economic and infrastructural development of Victoria Falls. We have eagerly waited for this occasion as we anticipate better fortunes for Victoria Falls after nearly two years of Covid-19 lockdowns,” he said.
“The establishment of Palm River Hotel speaks to the key tenets of the National Development Strategy (NDS1) whose aims are to unlock opportunities, which will in turn lead to employment creation in our communities.”
The mayor said prospects of visitors thronging the city will be higher with the coming in of the luxurious hotel, which cements prospects of a preferred destination. Victoria Falls thrives on offering quality tourism services.
The project is one of Old Mutual’s investment portfolios as the organisation continues to embark on a strategic diversification with more focus on resilient sectors of the economy such as mining, energy, agriculture and tourism and hospitality sectors.
Board chair, Mr Kumbirai Katsande, said the hotel was a magnificent asset done to international standards.
“We are gathered to witness the official opening of this 4-Star, 73-room hotel and the project is a US$24,6 million investment done through a partnership between Old Mutual and Spencer Creek,” he said.
“The way in which the asset was done also shows the amount of respect given to the environment and the design was done in a way that preserved the existing trees and nature around.
“One of the key attractions for the project is the river frontage that allows guests to see wildlife drinking from the mighty Zambezi.”
Old Mutual, which has over 100 years of service in Zimbabwe partnered with a number of pension fund clients to co-invest with in the project.
Mr Katsande said the tourism industry is ripe for more investment, as it is a good source of hard currency, which can be injected to boost economic activities across the country.
Such investments as The Palm River Hotel, he said, showcase what Zimbabwe has to offer to the international world and offers an opportunity for solid returns and value preservation for valued clients.— @ncubeleon