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Sheraton drops name

Eric Chiriga

RAINBOW Tourism Group Ltd (RTG) has severed ties with Starwood Hotels and Resorts (Starwood) resulting in RTG dropping the “Sheraton” brand name.

ial, Helvetica, sans-serif”>This means that the popular Sheraton Hotel will have to change its name as part of the conditions.

RTG chairman Ibbo Mandaza said the hotel will change its name on April 4 next year.

RTG and Starwood had a management contract that will effectively end on December 31.

RTG has been using the Sheraton brand for 20 years since the opening of the five- star Sheraton Harare Hotel and Towers (Sheraton Hotel) in November 1985 when they signed a management agreement with the Zimbabwe government.

While the group says it will launch a new five-star brand within the first half of 2006, sources say Sheraton will now fall under Accor brand.

“Starwood Hotels and Resorts leaves the country in good terms, and has been proud throughout the twenty years with its association with the hotel, Rainbow Tourism Group Ltd, the hotel’s owners and the country of Zimbabwe,” a joint statement by Mandaza and Don Elliot of Starwood said.

The statement said the two parties had agreed to a three months transition period, from January 1, 2006 to March 31, 2006.

During the transition period, Starwood will continue to offer essential support until RTG has launched and stabilised its new brand for the five-star hotel.

“Already in place are initiatives to manage key strategic elements such as product and service quality, human resources, marketing, branding and other essential operational issues,” the statement said.

In the meantime, RTG will be informing all its key stakeholders, particularly management and staff about the developments, the statement added.

It said the government of Zimbabwe, through the Ministry of Environment and Tourism was fully appraised of all these developments and has made a commitment to provide RTG with all the necessary support.

RTG also said in the statement that it will utilise part of its $80 billion rights issue funds to refurbish existing properties including the Sheraton Hotel.

The Sheraton Hotel comprises 304 rooms and a 4 500 seater conference centre.

RTG operates four divisions, namely Rainbow Mercure Hotels, Touch the Wild Lodges and Safaris, Tourism Services Zimbabwe and the Sheraton Hotel.

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