Avani Hotel and shopping centre revamp to cost N$160 million

The colossal renovations of the Avani Hotel in Windhoek's Independence Avenue, which is transforming the entity into an ultra-modern hotel with state-of-the art facilities, will also see a major revamp of the Gustav Voigts Centre where the hotel is situated. Total cost of the renovations is estimated to be about N$160 million, of which the hotel will cover N$20 million while the owner of the property, Oryx Properties, will fork out between N$135 million and N$140 million.

These figures were confirmed yesterday by Avani Windhoek's General Manager, Rudy Putter, during an exclusive interview with New Era. The renovations and total revamp of the hotel includes most aspects of the establishment, from the reception area on the ground floor all the way up to a new pool area and grand ballroom on the rooftop.

During yesterday's interview Putter for the first time revealed that the rooftop ballroom and restaurant will bear the names Stratis Ballroom, Stratis Restaurant and Stratis Bar, in a clear association with the stratosphere as these will be the highest facilities of their kind in Windhoek.

Putter noted that in addition to the N$20 million, Avani, which is part of one of the largest hospitality and

leisure companies in the Asia Pacific Region, Minor International, will contribute an additional N$6 million to replace the four elevators in the hotel while the remainder will be injected by Oryx. Minor International operates over 159 hotels and resorts, 2000 restaurants, and 307 retail trading outlets in Thailand and in 32 markets from Africa to Australia, including South America and Europe.

Before being taken over by Minor International, Kalahari Sands belonged to South African hotel and resorts group, Sun International, which was reluctant to re-invest in the refurbishment of Kalahari Sands.

According to Putter, the original Kalahari Sands Hotel was constructed as an office building during the 1970s. As such, Putter noted that the property was plagued inherent weaknesses as an accommodation establishment. These inherent weaknesses included a compromised guest experience, under-utilised banqueting facilities as well as poor luggage handling capabilities, Putter explained.

These renovations are an indication of Avani's inherent confidence in Namibia. The country has great potential to grow the influx of tourists. However, in order to do this, we have to make Windhoek a better MICE (Meetings, Incentives, Conventions and Exhibitions) market, said Putter.

Based in Bangkok, Thailand, Minor International operates hotels under the Anantara, AVANI, PER AQUUM, Oaks, Tivoli, Elewana Collection brands and owns The Pizza Company, Thai Express, and Riverside Restaurant franchises.

They also operates restaurants under the Swensen's, Sizzler, Dairy Queen, Burger King, and The Coffee Club brands in Thailand and other countries.

Once complete towards the end of 2018, the revamped Avani Hotel will employ 350 staff. Putter emphasised Avani's aggressive reinvestment in skills and on-the-job training. He also noted that currently the hotel employs 100 percent Namibians. All our staff members come through our development pipeline or have been recruited locally, said Putter.

Source: New Era Newspaper Namibia