BON HOTELS Group is on a mission to aggressively stand out from its competitors and they extended invite to members of the corps (borrowed from our lensman) for an 'expeditious' three-day sojourn.
Despite chilly weather as anticipated we hopped along.
After reporting at their Midrand outlet for a ‘quickie’ lunch and showcasing on Thursday, we made our way to the one of underestimated tourist destinations in Gauteng -Vaal for a night stay over at the Riviera Hotel.
Perched along the jaw-dropping Vaal River, the hotel is synonymous for arranging water sport games for kids and adults- one of their selling
points. It’s no brainer that it has been selected as one of key tourism drivers in the area. If only the locals could own up and proudly play their part as well.
And to wrap our evening a cruise boat was on hand for a Sundowner experience backed up by sumptuous dinner. And forbidden waters flowed.
Our inconspicuous host General Manager of the hotel (whom I have known for years’) Craig Swart and customers relations executive Rozanne Hamilton, outdid themselves in making sure our brief stay was memorable, the Bon way of course!
“Hosting members of the press works for us, in that the word reaches our market and new opportunities present themselves,” Swart tells SLM aboard the cruise, as we cruised the night long.
“Watersport is one of our major revenue contributors and guests as far as US, Europe, China and our own South Africans, enjoy playing in water,” he said with a ‘ticklish’ smile.
With pounding headaches and eye balls peeping out, some colleagues (who shall remain anonymous) skipped breakfast as our drivers kept revving shuttles for a long but expeditious drive to Paris-oops Parys I meant- on Friday.
Parys is celebrated internationally for being home to the Vredefort Dome, the world’s largest meteor crater and Premier of Free State Ace Magashule.
How and why we didn’t make our to the Dome still remains a mystery, and to kill time we snooped around and ended up visiting “a chemist” to handle the’ unforbidden’ headaches and purchasing some antiques as Tankiso Komane (The New Age Entertainment editor) unfailingly led the entourage.
Having left the bloody freezing Gauteng, FS was the opposite as scarf’s and Beanies were left for ‘dead’ as Parys was scorching hot. Interestingly,
both provinces are only 60min drive apart.
Our next destination, ‘City of Roses’.
Since this was a three-hour drive it gave us enough time for a nap but being a globetrotter, I enjoyed the serendipity, lush and green open fields thanks to a Godly rain. As a result, yours’ truly saw a farmer and two of his workers dancing in the rain -like kids enjoying some candies. Stru!
As I relayed the story I was told “you seeing things-thanks to babalaaz”.
As we entered Bloemfontein having passed numerous road works, BON Hotel Bloemfontein Central welcomed us with ululations and songs thanks to the energetic staff, just like their boss ‘Mnr’ Pieter Van Rooyen.
And for clarity he has no relationship or whatsoever with Des Van Rooyen- minister for Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs. No talk of capturing here, please!
The pint-sized Van Rooyen (who has been with the hotel for 17 years) in his welcome address gave us breakdown on the acquiring of the hotel by BON Hotels Group, future plans and what needs to be improved.
To tell the truth, this is one honest man I’ve come across as a manager who did not mince his words, more so to do with intricacies the hotel industry is facing.
But before we could unwind and let our hairs down, we opted to visit the Towers of Hope Stre37 project at the Free State Synod of the Dutch Reformed Church of SA-for blanket drop off and a cup of soup, since it was in the evening and bones were being inflicted by depreciating degrees – as Bloem is known for.
Towers of Hope Stre37 Foundation has been adopted by the hotel as part of its CSI project.
During the address by De la Harpe le Roux- who is a group leader and the church’s clergyman, indicated that the foundation was established in 2008, whose mandate is to plant an NGO that could co-ordinate practical service to the vulnerable and marginalized in the City. And a brief prayer worked magic, some of us needed that divine intervention.
Some colleagues also took part in the spraying down of illegal and vulgar posters by means of a high pressure waterhose. The sooner we have such kind of equipments in Jozi, the better ‘cos these posters are splattered all over your face.
Back to the hotel that boasts 115 rooms, 6 conference centers and two popular features the Courtroom restaurant and Judge’s bar, Van Rooyen in company of Charlize Badenhorst-customer relations executive, had prepared a receptive welcome in the form of ‘Bloem’ canapés that was preceded by dinner and Boma-fire at the rooftop of the hotel.
“We have a special school that helps us identify young students to join our hotel within Bloemfontein. As a result, we have employed more of them as part of the company’s youth empowerment,” says the bespectacled Van Rooyen, on the side lines, when asked on youth empowerment and skills programmes.
On the hotel, he indicated ‘minor changes’ will be effected following its acquisition last year by the BON Hotels Group.
He went to say with Bloemfontein being the judicial capital of South Africa, the hotel’s close proximity to the airport and sporting facilities, coupled with its large, multi-use conference and events facilities, makes it a popular venue of choice for gala dinners, car launches, corporate training, special events, weddings, matric farewells and graduation ceremonies.
On Saturday morning (accompanied by screaming and heckling) it dawned on us that it was time to head back to Jozi.
Great experience but we await the Cape Town expedition with bated breath as promised by the organizers-ahem!
As the adage goes: Good people. Good thinking. Good feeling at BON Hotels…