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AAT unveils newlook safari club

Africa Albida Tourism (AAT) Group has unveiled its newlook Victoria Falls Safari Club, a boutique luxury hotel, located on the same estate as Victoria Falls Safari Lodge — a US$600 000 redevelopment which was completed at the end of March.

By Zivisai Chagaka

The upgrade and expansion of the Victoria Falls Safari Club’s central building doubled the size of its existing deck, created a new restaurant, with a dedicated kitchen and increased the lounge space. The redevelopment also included addition of a swimming pool precinct.

The swimming pool precinct features a plunge pool with a horizon waterfall spilling into a 15-metre lap pool, surrounded on two sides by a split-level deck with sun loungers. An adjacent gazebo has a bar, servery and change facilities.

The pool area will feature rock gardens, as well as indigenous bushes to ensure guest privacy, and will overlook a small waterhole frequented by kudu, warthog and bushbuck as well as various bird species.

The safari club is one of Zimbabwean hospitality group’s properties and winner of the prize for Best Boutique Hotel of the Year at the recent Association of Zimbabwe Travel Agents’ Awards.

Victoria Falls Safari Lodge general manager Dustin Kennedy said the soft rehabilitation of the safari club comes as AAT braces for a continued boom in international tourist arrivals into the country’s top resort town.

“Besides the structural changes that we will undertake in the organisation, we will also be upgrading our services,” said Kennedy. “We are also going to build a state-of-the-art fitness centre over the water hole starting June.”

He said their main property, the Victoria Falls Safari Lodge would also see upgrades. The must-do activity in the Victoria Falls, the Boma – Dinner & Drum Show, would also benefit as well as the Lokuthula Lodges from redevelopments that will run into thousands of dollars.

Investment into their properties will run into US$500 000 in the next three years, he said, with new big projects in the pipeline.

The group intends to pour half-a-billion dollars into expansion and upgrade of its properties on the estate. AAT operates a portfolio of properties in Victoria Falls, including Victoria Falls Safari Lodge, Victoria Falls Safari Club, Victoria Falls Safari Suites, Lokuthula Lodges, and Ngoma Safari Lodge in Chobe, Botswana

Kennedy said this year has been exciting, “we are not below 80% and the bookings are good”.

The new political dispensation has also opened huge opportunities for the tourism as the traditional source markets are coming back in the map, he said.

There has been a clear growth in demand for Victoria Falls as a destination, already witnessed in 2017 by an increase of over 25% in international arrivals, coupled with advance demand for 2018 and 2019.

He said high season for tourism is usually between July and September because of the school holidays in Europe.

America leads as the pack as a source market followed by Europe and Asia. Regionally, South Africa leads in tourist arrivals and also Botswana and Zambia, who mainly occupy the self-catering Lokuthula Lodges as they can accommodate the whole family.

International airlines now flying into the country’s prime resort’s new airport and government’s engagement efforts under the “Zimbabwe Is Open for Business” mantra have helped boost arrivals and bookings in the Victoria Falls and the country at large, Kennedy remarked, adding that “Victoria Falls is sure open for business”.

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