The facelift was after a group of local investors signed a three-year lease agreement with the Zimbabwe Farmers’ Union (ZFU) to re-brand, refurbish and expand the former Bira Hotel into a modern leisure and conferencing facility targeting the upper class.
The ZFU owns the hotel.
Upper City Hotel managing consultant Happy Tuwe said the hotel décor and ambiance had received favourable comments from patrons and stakeholders who have visited, particularly from those who frequented the place when it was under the previous owners who operated as Tereskane Hotel or Bira.
“The Zimbabwe Tourism Authority has guided us by giving advice on the refurbishment. They have indicated we could attain between 2-3 grading stars once we complete the refurbishment,” said Tuwe.
The hotel has undergone extensive refurbishment to all its major facilities including reception and foyer, rooms, restaurant, bars, kitchen and public convenient rooms.
“We have recruited and trained our staff to understand the hotel aims and objectives so that they can take ownership and be proud to deliver a re-branded world class service to all patrons,” he said.
A consultant working with the investors, Farai Mpofu, said the new place was a “must- visit if you are planning a business breakfast, luncheon, dinner, workshop/conference”.
“We have already opened its (Upper City Hotels) doors conducting trial runs. The response has been encouraging,” she said.
Plimex Mine Holdings director Walter Chirenje, who is leading the investors, said the hotel will be expanded to 44 rooms from the current 39.
“We are looking at about US$700 000 for the whole refurbishment to be complete,” Chirenje said.
Chirenje, the brains behind most of the renovations, said his team was also gunning for a share of World Cup soccer tourists.
More than 90% of refurbishment work has been completed with 12 double rooms, 12 economy rooms, 11 modern single rooms and two family rooms already finished and fitted with TV sets, air conditioning and satellite TV channels.
“We are targeting the mature executive who does not want to go to the five-star hotels, for example. We are confident the perception associated with the previous owners will change once we are rated by the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority,” said Chirenje.
Meanwhile, low activity characterised the property market in January, as the sector was subdued due to liquidity shortages. During the period under review activity was mainly in the residential sector on properties costing below US$100 000.
There was limited activity in commercial and industrial properties. Activity on the property market was, however, better compared to the same period last year. According to analysts’ latest market highlight, the slight improvement was due to “acceptance of deed of sale by sellers where a buyer pays a deposit and spreads the balance over a period of time usually six months”.