Accountants cleaning rooms - how local hotel group survived lockdown and expanded

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The rooftop pool deck of the ANEW Hotel Green Point, the group's first property in the Western Cape.
The rooftop pool deck of the ANEW Hotel Green Point, the group's first property in the Western Cape.
Photo supplied by ANEW
  • The ANEW Hotel Green Point is the hospitality group's first hotel in the Western Cape.
  • In November it also launched two rebranded hotels in Gauteng.
  • The group's top management share their views on what got them through the pandemic without having to mothball any properties.

South African hospitality group ANEW Hotels & Resorts has expanded its property portfolio once again by opening its first hotel in the Western Cape.

What was once the Vib Best Western Hotel in Green Point, Cape Town, has been rebranded as the ANEW Hotel Green Point.

ANEW Hotels & Resorts owns and manages various properties in South Africa, including in Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal, Mpumalanga and the North West. Its vision is to grow the brand by acquiring additional properties and management contracts in strategic locations.

In November, the group also added two other properties to its portfolio, namely the ANEW Hotel Parktonian - formerly the Protea Hotel by Marriott Johannesburg Parktonian - in Braamfontein, Johannesburg; and the ANEW Hotel Roodepoort - formerly the Protea Hotel Roodepoort. 

"The Covid-19 pandemic was completely unforeseen and our revenue dropped to barely nothing overnight. However, we decided not to mothball any of our hotels. When you close a hotel, you kill that business and everything around it and we did not want to do that," says CEO Clinton Armour.

Ran on a shoestring

"In the end, our saving grace was having kept our hotels open and managing to still get guests - at some point even a group of nurses. Some of our properties did well and others not. We ran them on a shoestring. At times there were just essential workers on site, but as a group we could trade throughout the pandemic and managed to make arrangements to still pay salaries."

ANEW's operations director Kevin Burley says the group managed to get some essential service business - including a group of nurses - during hard lockdown and offered a few rooms for people needing to isolate.

He was most impressed by the "roll-up-your-sleeves-and-get-the-job-done" attitude of staff members.

"We had accountants cleaning hotel rooms, waiters making beds, and receptionists helping with room service. With a smaller staff complement, everybody banded together to get things done. There was a real spirit of working together. We really are one big family, and I think that’s been our success," remembers Burley.

According to Alan Campbell, ANEW's sales and marketing director, one of the biggest changes they have seen relates to lead times. Before, guests would book about 28 days in advance. Now they tend to wait until about four days in advance due to uncertainties created by the pandemic. The domestic leisure market also seems to be mostly over weekends.

Flexibility crucial

"Flexibility is crucial and being available on all channels consumers look at for information and to book. That is why during the pandemic we worked on our technology side of things, for example self check-ins. We also wanted to make it as safe as possible for our staff," says Campbell. "What really helped us was that we are South African born and bred. We understand the local market needs."

The group is committed to continue to operate in SA.

"This is where we want to be and to grow our brand. We are looking to expand more, but in the right way and at the right pace. Our market mix usually consists of local leisure tourism and local government and corporate travel. We do not foresee large international tourist numbers until later next year," says Armour.

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