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Radisson targets ‘millennial mindset’ with new multimillion-rand hotel in Joburg

The Radisson Hotel Group just opened a new boutique hotel, the Rosebank Radisson RED.

The Radisson Hotel Group just opened a new boutique hotel, the Rosebank Radisson RED.
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  • The Radisson Hotel Group just opened a new boutique hotel, the Rosebank Radisson RED.
  • The construction of the hotel, which it says is targeted at a "millennial mindset", was already under way when Covid-19 hit.
  • With international tourists not around, Radisson hopes that the lifestyle focus of Rosebank Radisson RED will draw locals.

Radisson Hotel Group has opened a new Radisson RED establishment in Rosebank, Johannesburg, as it turns its focus to SA and targets travellers with a "millennial mindset".

The hotel’s owners, RDC Properties, poured millions of rands into developing the Rosebank Radisson RED and auditors are yet to confirm the exact amount. Radisson REDs are modern boutique hotels designed around art, music, design and fashion themes.

The group opened the first SA Radisson RED in Cape Town in 2017, importing a model first made for the US market in 2016.

The second Radisson RED was still under construction when the Covid-19 pandemic struck in 2020, but the group is hopeful that it has learnt to "keep going with drastically reduced occupancy rates".

Radisson Hotel Group has almost 100 hotels in operation and under development across Africa. Of the 48 Radisson Hotels that are operational throughout Africa, 16 are now in SA.

Radisson Hotel Group's regional director for Africa, William McIntyre, said SA is now their "main market focus".

He did not comment on the immediate outlook for opening more Radisson RED hotels.

 

Opening a new hotel in a pandemic

The initial plans to build the hotel – hatched with the developer of Oxford Parks Precinct, Intaprop – began years ago. The hotel was already under construction when Covid-19 decimated the hospitality industry.

Halfway through the project, Covid-19 hit, and the development took place for the most part, with the backdrop of uncertainty about what the hospitality industry and hotel occupancy would look like after the pandemic.

Even though many hotels in Johannesburg, particularly around Sandton, have opted to close until SA can welcome international travellers again, the Radisson Group is confident that its new hotel will become a success over time.

The curator of Rosebank Radisson RED, Carly de Jong, said having operated different Radisson hotels at the height of Covid-19 waves, the group learnt many cost-saving tricks and how to restructure operations to keep going with drastically reduced occupancy rates. A lot of those lessons would be carried through to the new establishment until things normalise.

Because the opening comes just after the peak of the third wave of Covid-19 infections, De Jong said the group is estimating that it can achieve an occupancy rate of around 25% for the remainder of 2021.

"We are realistic in our approach. Our expectations from a Radisson Hotel Group are that we will come to pre-Covid-19 levels around about 2023, 2024," she said.

 

Hoping to draw locals

The group also hopes that the different appeal of its Radisson RED brand will provide added insulation. The RED is much more lifestyle focused than the Radisson and Radisson blu brands. These newer hotels are in the middle of the city and strive to collaborate with local artists to showcase their work on a rotational basis. So, it's hoping for vibrant parties, a full rooftop on weekends – within Covid-19 protocols – and sold-out restaurants.

De Jong said the Rosebank hotel is targeting a 50/50 split between local and international tourists anyway. But she reckoned that the myriad of lifestyle elements in the Rosebank Radisson RED will appeal a lot to locals, whether those doing shot left or day visitors from around.

"So, while our bedrooms might not be full, we expect our outlets and our restaurants to be well supported by the local community," said De Jong.

Looking at the other Radisson hotels, she said that a fraction of leisure and local corporate travel is still there.

McIntyre said that since opening the first Radisson RED in Cape Town, this brand that the group thinks "truly represents the future of hospitality" has been well received in the South African market.

Intaprop's legal and commercial director Thinus Crafford believes the hotel's location in the Oxford Parks precinct will also be a drawcard. The precinct is a mixed-use development, housing local head offices of BP South Africa and Life Healthcare, among others. It also has retail and residential apartments still under development.

Even though Covid-19 presented unexpected challenges, McIntyre said Intaprop still wants to further develop the Oxford Parks precinct.

"We would like to continue to roll out the premium facilities that you see around you, with emphasis on the high-quality public environment," said McIntyre.

This article was first published by News24 on the 12 August 2021. 

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