Ex-flight attendant Annette Skaap on opening Khayelitsha’s first four-star hotel

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Annette Skaap is the CEO of Khayelitsha's first four-star hotel.
Annette Skaap is the CEO of Khayelitsha's first four-star hotel.
Supplied to TRUELOVE

On Sunday, 5 December, the township of Khayelitsha in the Western Cape opened the doors to its first-ever four-star hotel, The Spade Boutique Hotel and Spa.

Fitted with 13 suites, the boutique-style hotel features luxurious en-suite bathrooms, air conditioning, unlimited WIFI, complimentary tea/coffee-making facilities, Smart TV, hairdryer, safe and a mini bar fully stocked with beverages, as well as access to M-Net and DStv.

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Guests also have the added advantage of enjoying room service, as well as an in-house gym, spa, a heated outdoor swimming pool, restaurant, bar and business services facilities. There’s also complimentary shuttle services on offer.

Speaking to TRUELOVE, the woman behind it all, Annette Skaap says that the hotel has been in the making for three years.

“This project has been in the making since 2018 but was derailed by the COVID-19 pandemic, which has affected the global and business community. With this hotel, we wish to accommodate our guests, local and international, to experience the other side of Cape Town and more. We wish for our guests to leave with an incredible South African experience that will stay with them forever,” she tells us.

Annette, who is also a digital content creator, a wife and a mother, holds a National Diploma in Internal Auditing from the Cape Peninsula University of Technology and is currently pursuing a BCom Degree in Accounting Science at the University of South Africa.

Annette Skaap at the launchof the hotel. Image: Supplied to TRUELOVE

With a history of developing rental properties in Khayelitsha, for this business venture, Annette partnered with her husband and businessman Bulelani Skaap, who is popularly known as Ace Mabheka – the owner of popular Khayelitsha lounge, Kwa Ace.

She speaks to TRUELOVE about her passion for development in her township, the new hotel, and building a legacy.

As an entrepreneur, why did you specifically choose to venture into the tourism/property industry?

Having been in aviation for a decade, I learnt a lot about hospitality, customer service and generally, the ability to engage people from all walks of life. When I hung my cabin crew uniform and decided to settle down and start a family, I had no idea what was next. However, I had been a witness and had a front-row seat watching my husband build his lifestyle and entertainment spot. I was fascinated by how he had been able to pull in people from as far as Fish Hoek, City Bowl, Parklands and Paarl to come and experience the niche entertainment he had been offering at his spot in Khayelitsha.

I thought if we can pull them in, why not build a space where they can stay overnight – for a couple of days, business, pleasure or just a getaway in Khayelitsha. Additionally, Khayelitsha had become a buzz with lifestyle entertainment spots that had popped up. Combining all those thoughts, I had one idea to explore and that was to build a hotel. Not only to attract the locals, but to bring the world into Khayelitsha.

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What inspired the idea of building the hotel in a township such as Khayelitsha?

While I was in the aviation industry, I travelled to many destinations around the world, for work and for leisure. Therefore, I have been exposed to opulence and luxury and that has ignited the vision of bringing that to Khayelitsha. Secondly, Khayelitsha is home. I grew up there and my vision is to change the trajectory that nothing good can come out of townships. I wanted to put Khayelitsha on the map, have people experience the positive side of the townships, the hustle and bustle, the people, the energy and experiences.

What opportunities do you hope the hotel will bring to the community of Khayelitsha?

The existence of the hotel will contribute immensely to township economy through job creation and boost interest in local tourism and hospitality. We are hoping that this establishment will become a passage for local and international tourists to come in to experience not only the hotel, but other businesses that surround it, such as the local vendors, lifestyle and entertainment spots, local restaurants and bars, art centres, etc. This is why we have included a list of things to do in and around Khayelitsha on our website. 


Please paint a picture of the hotel in words. What inspired the designs and some of the elements incorporated into the feel of the hotel?

The boutique hotel is for those who want to escape, as well as experience cultural diversity and the spirit of ubuntu. It is a four-star luxury hotel designed to offer opulence, complete comfort and relaxation. It has 13 suites, elegantly decorated interiors with modern features, the finest linen and four-star amenities. The hotel features luxurious en-suite bathrooms, air conditioning and unlimited WIFI. Guest have the added advantage of enjoying an in-house gym, a spa, a heated outdoor swimming pool, restaurant, bar and business services.


How many people has the hotel employed so far or plans to employ?

So far, we have employed eight staff members. We are in the process of employing 17 people in total because it’s a small hotel. We’re looking at employing men, women and youth for an array of positions such as housekeeping, reception, front desk, chefs, admin, managers, etc. All our staff is mainly recruited from Khayelitsha and surrounding areas. We have a rigorous process to ensure that we recruit talented, experienced, capable and willing staff.


Please tell us about your journey into entrepreneurship. How did it all begin?

My business venture started with the development of rental properties in Khayelitsha seven years ago. I saw a gap in the market, with an influx of people flocking into the Western Cape annually, from other provinces for work and study opportunities, and I thought why not seize the opportunity by developing a string of rental apartments and properties for safe and secured accommodation.


Growing up, have you always had aspirations of one day being in business?

To be honest, no. I grew up in a household where both parents owned businesses. I saw the challenges and struggles they had to go through in order for their businesses to succeed. I told myself that I don’t want to live like that but I guess as we grow up, our aspirations change too. I have also been greatly inspired by my husband’s business acumen, how he runs his businesses and how he started in a container selling alcohol to building a lounge that has become a tourist attraction in Cape Town.


What are some of the challenges you encountered while trying to bring your vision of the hotel to life and how did you overcome these challenges?

We had challenges with raising the capital to complete this project. We started in 2018 and only completed now in 2021. We overcame them by not giving up and by taking things one step at a time.


What do you think makes The Spade Boutique Hotel and Spa unique as compared to other similar hotels?

Firstly, the location – a four-star luxury boutique hotel in a township sounds cheeky, but also interesting. That’s the reaction we were aiming for, to entice outsiders to wonder and want to experience this new, outside-of-the-norm experience. You wouldn’t associate luxury with a township, but wouldn’t it be a wonderful story to tell? To say you have experienced Khayelitsha or any township yourself through the introduction of this establishment. Over the years things have changed, more and more people are finding pleasure in the entertainment offered in township lifestyle spots. Our guests will experience luxury in the heart of Khayelitsha. They will feast on African cuisine and share spaces with ordinary South Africans. 


What advice would you give to aspiring entrepreneurs who would like to be in your shoes some day?

Firstly, they must have a solid business plan. I believe that planning is important. They must be prepared for financial challenges and most importantly, they must have a team that shares their vision.


Where do you hope to see The Spade Boutique Hotel and Spa in the next five years?

In the next few years, I want us to learn from our experiences and create memorable times for our clients. I hope that with the existence of this hotel, we will boost surrounding businesses and vice versa.  I see the hotel expanding with more franchises in other provinces of South Africa. I see it being the tourists’ ‘must experience’ accommodation. I see it being mentioned in the Top 5 places to stay when in Cape Town, South Africa, and even in Africa. I see us accommodating international guests who want something different from Camps Bay or the City Bowl.

What does the future look like for the businesswoman, Annette Skaap?

I am currently furthering my studies and hope to continue post my current enrol. I want to develop more projects that will continue to put Khayelitsha on the map. I want to travel to more destinations with my kids so that they can experience what I’ve experienced. Lastly, I would love to start an organisation where I can uplift and empower young girls and women.

Here's a look inside the hotel.

Inside the Spade Boutique Hotel. Image: Supplied to TRUELOVE
Inside the Spade Boutique Hotel. Image: Supplied to TRUELOVE

Inside the Spade Boutique Hotel. Image: Supplied to TRUELOVE

Inside the Spade Boutique Hotel. Image: Supplied to TRUELOVE


Inside the Spade Boutique Hotel. Image: Supplied to TRUELOVE

Inside the Spade Boutique Hotel. Image: Supplied to TRUELOVE


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