Durban – Sun’s nine seafront hotels and the Suncoast entertainment destination in Durban inspire memories for hundreds of thousands of travellers and holidaymakers across generations – and the group’s investment in the rejuvenation of this elegant, mature and ambitious city is seeing to it that it holds its own into the future.

From Tsogo Sun’s early beginnings, when Sol Kerzner’s first modern hotel, the Beverly Hills in uMhlanga, was built in 1964, Durban has been at the very foundation of the group’s growth.

The group’s operations on the Durban beachfront – in an area stretching from Garden Court South Beach to the Suncoast Casino and Entertainment World at the northern end of the Golden Mile – contribute about 25 percent of its EBITDAR (Earnings Before Interest, Taxes, Depreciation, Amortization, and Restructuring or Rent Costs).

Tsogo Sun chief executive officer Marcel von Aulock says: “Over the past few years, we have invested significantly in refurbishing and upgrading our hotels on the beachfront in response to the outstanding work that the City of Durban undertook in upgrading the promenade.

“We brought the Elangeni and Maharani hotels together to create the most exciting destination complex and the largest hotel in the group – the Southern Sun Elangeni & Maharani – and we have just finished a refurbishment of the Garden Court Marine Parade, an art deco masterpiece.”

The Garden Court Marine Parade, as it is now known, was opened in 1985, becoming yet another Tsogo Sun landmark on the Durban beachfront. Costing R45 million, it set a new standard in South African architecture.

Thirty years later, it has been given a R110m refurbishment that has restored it to its former glory.

“This hotel… was described by the Sunday Tribune in the year of its opening as ‘a palace on the beach’,” says John Aritho, general manager of the Garden Court Marine Parade.

He says that the hotel’s designer, Dexter Moren, proved unequivocally that South African architects could hold their own against the world.

“Our development team have retained the core elements of the architecture, and combined it with the modernity of today’s technology in a seamless way so that the guest experiences a fresh, modern product of a world-class standard.”

With a unique dome that has made the building an iconic landmark in Durban and an art deco theme that the group was determined to retain, the Garden Court Marine Parade has 352 sea-facing rooms and occupies a prominent space on the beachfront.

The renovations have included touch-ups and recolouring in all the public areas, the reception, conference rooms, guest toilets, lifts, lift foyers and corridors.

The entire lobby features light Brazilian tiles, presenting a clean, crisp look.

The pool area on the 30th floor boasts sweeping views of the Durban beachfront, harbour and city, and has been revamped with new furniture and a mobile bar, making it an ideal setting for events.

Guest rooms and bathrooms have minimalistic new furnishings throughout, with the emphasis on a cleaner, more contemporary look and simple, uncluttered lines.

Six new rooms have been added to the original 346.

The hotel offers an array of other features, including conferencing and event venues, free high-speed wi-fi, a new open-air gym, hotel shuttle, bicycle rental and self-service business facilities. The upgraded conference facilities are able to accommodate 500 delegates.

The restaurant has been redesigned in a contemporary, fresh style and the bar area has been refreshed with a relaxed café look.

The response from the market to the refurbishment has been overwhelmingly positive, says Aritho.

“We’ve grown our conferencing business as a result of the revamp of our conference centre, which has boosted our occupancy out of season. Event organisers who confess to not having been in this part of Durban for 20 years are now bringing their events to the hotel.

“Everyone is so proud to see Durban returning to where it was in the 1980s.

“Tsogo Sun’s investment in our beachfront hotels has been a great driver for business, one that supports what the city has done and that’s been highly recognised by local government and Durban Tourism.”

Watch out for Sunbreaks specials at the Garden Court Marine Parade on the Tsogo Sun website –

Tsogo Sun’s portfolio includes more than 90 hotels and 14 casino and entertainment destinations in Africa, the Seychelles and Abu Dhabi. These range from the deluxe to budget.

Source: Saturday Star