WITH only six weeks to go before the Boardwalk’s new five-star hotel in Port Elizabeth opens its doors for bookings, workers are racing against time to finish off before December 15.
Construction of some of the 140 sea-facing rooms is complete while the 3000m² international convention centre, health spa and restaurants have all taken shape.
Emfuleni Resorts, co-owner with Sun International, has committed itself to doubling employee numbers from 4300 in 2009 to more than 8000 when the complex is fully operational.
Boardwalk Casino and Entertainment World general manager Clifford Ngakane said while the hotel would only hold its official opening in February or March, some rooms were ready and the hotel was on track to accept bookings from December 15.
“It is difficult to believe, but inside the building itself work has nearly been completed on the international convention centre, the health spa, entrance to the hotel, the restaurants, and a number of the rooms.
“So, we are on track for the hotel and convention centre to start trading from the middle of December. The first guests will stay in the hotel before then as part of the usual pre-opening process.”
He said while the recent heavy rains in Nelson Mandela Bay had affected progress, crews were still planning to finish on time.
“The teams will probably be working late into the night, but we are doing everything possible not to affect anyone around the property. Water damage could have been a lot worse.
“We obviously would need the weather to clear up as we cannot work in the rain on the façade and roof of the building, the two major exterior elements remaining to be finished,” he said.
Inside the building, Most Valued Guests (MVGs) have been using the parking for some time.
The hotel and convention centre kitchens are installed and working, and rooms are being handed over to the operations team who will do all the necessary testing before the first guests arrive.
Also on track is the new Boardwalk Spa which will be operated by Africology. The spa is adjacent to the in-house gym and a 20m indoor heated solarium swimming pool.
Paintings by local artists decorate the rooms.
Ngakane said the rooms had sensors to detect how many occupants there were in a room at a time.
There are four levels, with about 35 rooms per floor. The loft rooms include a separate lounge area and there is also a presidential suite.
“The hotel will have a business centre with printers, fax machines and the entire hotel will have Wi-Fi,” he said.
“The convention centre can accommodate around 1200 banquet style, with a stage and a dance floor, and around 1680 cinema style.”
The rooms can be subdivided to create smaller venues.
Boardwalk tenants and major chains are also investing in the complex.
Ngakane said a 400-seater Red Rock Spur restaurant would be opened on November 15 at the former 34 degrees South premises, with a view of the lake which will feature one of the highest fountains in the Southern Hemisphere.
With an investment of about R6.5-million, Spur will join a number of other national franchises at the Boardwalk, including Squires Legendary Grill, News Café, Leonardo’s, Steers, Dulcé Café and Wimpy.
“We welcome Spur to our world of tastes and experiences.
“This will complement the wide selection of entertainment for the whole family, which includes the Eastern Cape’s only permanent outdoor fun-fair, adventure golf, and a games arcade with some of the latest technology and experiences,” Ngakane said.
With the nine restaurants in the retail precinct, one new restaurant within the hotel and the Bayside Pantry in the casino building, the Boardwalk will have 11 restaurants once construction is completed.
Retail manager Mandy O’Regan said some of the restaurants were either in the process of expanding, or had already reopened.
All the fast-food outlets are now housed in a fast-food zone near the entrance through the main parking area off Second Avenue.
An additional six shops have been built at the complex while some of the new shop space is to accommodate existing tenants.
New tenants include Watersport adventure store Pro Dive, a photography shop and studio called ZoomWiz and gift and novelty outlet Studio Store.
Ngakane said most of the employees had already been hired and were being trained and the chefs were currently planning various menus.
“I think PE will be pleasantly surprised by what we will be offering them.
“This will be a great place to come and relax and we will also market abroad through the Sun International Network.”