The list of luxury boutique hotels in Victoria Falls continues to grow with another addition scheduled to open its doors in the prime resort in May next year.
Mbano Manor Hotel will bring a unique experience to global, high-end tourists visiting the resort’s pristine surrounds, which include the major drawcard, the world-famous Victoria Falls waterfall, and Zambezi National Park.
The 19 all-suite luxury boutique hotel will be situated between the Zambezi National Park and the majestic Victoria Falls, in the middle of an ancient, natural teak forest. The foreseen rate will be from US$800 per person per night sharing, for full board, including accommodation, meals, beverage and transfers.
Zimbabwe-born businesswoman Mati Nyazema, the driving force behind the hotel, is ecstatic and says her project is “the ideal product for a renewed travel experience” in the country, especially for discerning clients visiting Southern and East Africa.
However, the new arrival would have to fight it out for the evidently resurgent market share in an environment where others have already marked their territory in black and white. There are other luxury hotels in the Victoria Falls who have made their names on the global stage of travel such as on ratings agencies like TripAdvisor and fivestaralliance, among others.
The market is defined by names such as the Victoria Falls Safari Lodge, Stanley & Livingstone Hotel, Matetsi Victoria Falls, the Elephant Camp or even the intimate “grand old lady of the falls”, the Victoria Falls Hotel, itself.
Riding on the crest of renewed interest in the Zimbabwean market — albeit short-lived — following a coup in November last year and the subsequent economic developments, the country was seen as the new investment frontier. Toppling of long-time ruler Robert Mugabe ushered a new glimmer of hope, while the new government of President Emmerson Mnangagwa embraced a reform agenda under the mantra “Zimbabwe is open for business”.
The first half of 2018 reported 21% growth in the local tourism sector in Zimbabwe. A number of hotels in Victoria Falls reported record occupancies up to August 2018, attributed largely to the newly-built Victoria Falls International Airport and more frequent flights being added by local and international airlines.
Victoria Falls alone has recorded a 50% increase in tourist arrivals this year, with some hotels fully booked for the rest of the year, according to Tourism minister, Prisca Mupfumira.
Mupfumira said hotels in Victoria Falls last experienced 100% bookings in 1999.
Nonetheless, Nyazema believes the renewed interest and optimism in Zimbabwe after the change of leadership in the country offers a great opportunity for investors seeking to leverage on the uncultivated luxury tourism market within Victoria Falls. Tourism operators, mainly in the Victoria Falls, have recorded occupancy levels of nearly 90% since the beginning of the year with some recording advance bookings for 2019.
Each standard suite at Mbano features high rafters, open ceilings and large windows allowing natural light to flow in and providing a cool interior. The suites comprise a relaxing lounge area, a spacious bedroom, modern best-in-class bathroom, as well as a dressing room. A generous veranda offers guests the opportunity to relax outdoors while enjoying the beauty of the lush site and sounds of nature. The suites are equipped with modern essentials, such as air conditioning, television and wi-fi connectivity
The hotel also has a presidential villa which boasts of its own gardens, plunge pool and individual access. Besides a king-size bedroom, it is also complemented by fine finishings and luxury couple amenities, generous veranda and a discreet plunge pool allowing guests to cool down in privacy.
Nyazema, who grew up in Zimbabwe and worked in South Africa as a director at the Tsogo Sun Group and managed one of Africa’s leading congress venues, the Sandton Convention Centre in Johannesburg, says the global luxury hotels market continues to expand, characterised by high-end experiences.
“People are choosing to spend their money on experiences that create memories. At Mbano, we have designed our product and guest experiences to embrace the latest trends, such as responsible tourism, perceptive dining, and a simple focus on rest and a pronounced sleep experience,” Nyazema says.
“South Africa, Botswana, Kenya, Namibia, Mozambique, Zambia and Tanzania have attracted high-end clients to their top hotels and exclusive game lodges. Zimbabwe in particular is poised to take its natural share of this high-end market and attract foreign investment in Zimbabwe. Attracting foreign investment to the area can provide much-needed financial support to stimulate the local travel and tourism sector, and drive job-creation.”
Nyazema says construction and “a big part of the design brief was to come up with an environmentally-friendly luxury hotel that respects its natural surroundings”.
She brings 30 years of tourism and hospitality experience, including involvement in global travel companies and hotel start-ups in several African countries.
She will lead the management team of the hotel.