In a year that’s mostly been dominated by doom and gloom for the hospitality industry, it’s great news that Kempton Park is set to house a Southern African first – the Radisson Hotel & Convention Centre Johannesburg, O.R. Tambo.
While Radisson Blu, Radisson RED and Park Inn Radisson are quite familiar to most South Africans, this will be the first Radisson branded hotel. Aimed mostly at the bleisure market (a trip or visit that combines both business and leisure), the full-service hotel is at the level of a four star. The property’s look-and-feel is Scandinavian-inspired – light and bright with plenty of wood, function is top of mind for both the social spaces and rooms, which have minimal décor.
The Radisson Hotel and Conference Centre is based about 8km from the O.R. Tambo airport, in the Kempton Park suburb of Bredell, and comprises a 248-room hotel, a conference centre that seats up to 1260, and an Amani Spa. The site once held the 42-roomed Destiny Hotel, which has now been incorporated into the Radisson property – and the previous staff of the Destiny Hotel have also been integrated into the Radisson Hotel’s team.
At the helm
Heading up the management team is General Manager Rob van der Velden, who has been part of the opening team for the last two months. “I’m still fairly new – this is the first time I’ve been with the Radisson, after working locally with Tsogo Sun and internationally with Marriott,” he says. “The Radisson Hotel group has developed tremendously in Africa over the last few years, and there’s still more in the pipeline, so that made joining this hotel group a very attractive proposition. There is future potential – something new, something to get involved in, and on top of that I get to be part of the opening team of a brand spanking new hotel!”
With over 30 years of experience in the industry, Rob is Joburg born and bred, and studied Hotel and Business Management at the Wits Hotel School. While Rob has been part of opening teams before, this project was a little different thanks to Covid-19. “We had to be a bit more careful with hygiene, signing in, taking temperatures – complying with all the Covid-19 regulations,” says Rob. “Radisson manages the cleaning and hygiene process through a company called SGS, and it ensures that guests have a safe environment to stay in. And those are the same processes that we’ve applied to this hotel. The hygiene standards make it a bit more complicated, and a bit more expensive, but you have to keep people safe. Testing, cleaning, wearing protective clothing – it’s all a massive undertaking.”
Despite the challenges that the Covid-19 pandemic has brought, Rob says that there are already a lot of corporates visiting the hotel to see what’s on offer. “There’s huge excitement from corporates already for next year. We have enquiries and bookings, but some of those are dependent on what lockdown restrictions are in place. Hopefully in the new year we’ll be a bit closer to normal, however safety will stay at the heart of all operations,” he says.
“We know, though, that we’re going to open with very low occupancy, with a very low start to the business, but we do believe that we have a few things that are in our favour,” he says. “Firstly, we are in a great location, and secondly, we’re a brand-new hotel, a brand new facility. Lastly, people want to get out and get their staff together – either in training sessions or just a conference to reset before the new year – and we have the facilities to do that in a socially distanced and Covid-19 compliant way.”
One of Rob’s notable passions is nurturing team members, and it’s something that he finds is part of the pleasure of being a general manager. “My philosophy is always to bring the guys in and make them aware of the problem in order to get a solution together – it grows everybody, myself included,” says Rob. “It’s all about sharing and accepting ideas and solutions from others, because you can’t think of everything yourself even though you think you can. You can’t prepare for everything yourself, you can’t plan ahead for everything yourself. You are just one member as part of a team – even as a leader of the team, you’re just a member.”
He continues that once you have identified the people on your team that are passionate about what they do, you need to look after and guide them. “Give them a bit of space and allow them to make mistakes, but then show them what the mistake was and put them on the correct path,” he says. “I’m still in touch with people that I’ve helped to grow and mentored in some sort of way, and there’s nothing better to be honest.”
Radisson Hotel & Convention Centre Johannesburg, O.R. Tambo Features:
Location: 10 minute drive from the OR Tambo International Airport, with a complimentary shuttle available.
Convention Centre: The convention centre’s main amphitheatre can be divided into 5 separate areas, and the venue is equipped with translation booths, built-in projectors and PA systems.
Venue Facilities: The centre also includes a VIP Holding Room, team building area, dining space, boardrooms and business lounges.
Parking: The property has 500 secure parking bays and 80 underground bays
Dining: The hotel has four restaurants –
- The Avenue is the hotels’ main restaurant and offers a home-cooking inspired dining experience, celebrating South African favourites like Durban curry.
- The Peacock Lounge serves relaxed all-day dining menu in the common area, including platters and cakes.
- The 24-hour deli is located in the lobby and offers grab and go bites, sweet snacks and freshly-made coffee.
- Level Seven is part of the Signature Hospitality Brand and perched at the top of the hotel, offering fine dining.
Bars: The hotel has two bars –
- The 3rd and 6th Bar is located between the pool and lobby and offers an extensive range of cocktails, characterized by florals and herbs.
- The Mural Bar overlooks the heated pool and is the perfect spot for a sundowner.
- All room types feature a workstation, complimentary WIFI and ample plug points.
- Standard twin
- Executive room featuring a king-sized bed and complimentary gown and slippers
- Junior Suite features a private dressing area as well as a deep-seated bathtub
- Deluxe Suite includes a private living room and wrap-around balcony
- Diplomatic and Presidential Suites both include spacious business meeting areas and elegant lounges. The Presidential Suite also features a separate kitchen, interconnecting room and concierge – ideal for extended stays.
Wellness: All guests have keycard access to the wellness centre, which boasts high tech fitness equipment and 2 outdoor heated pools.
Spa: The O. R. Tambo Amani Spa is the largest freestanding spa of its kind in Joburg and is located between the hotel and convention centre. The treatments have all been developed to promote a positive and harmonious travel experience. Facilities include –
- Salt room
- Four private treatment areas
- Signature hot stone massage