The first phase of a major refashioning and refurbishment programme at The Victoria Falls Hotel has been completed. The programme was launched in 2021 and the first phase has involved extensive work in the bedrooms and suites of two of the hotel’s wings, the south I hammerhead’ and the central block.
The refurbishment focused at the creation of a stylish coming together of the hotel’s unique historic heritage and the introduction of the most modern of amenities and facilities expected by top-end travellers of the 2020s.
The General Manager of the hotel, Farai Chimba, said that guided by a values and features programme devised by Source Interior Brand Architecture of South Africa, the project would further enhance The Victoria Falls Hotel’s reputation as one of Africa’s most significant travel and tourism assets and would break exciting new ground in the Zimbabwean hospitality industry.
“We are thrilled and delighted that work on phase one has been completed and we are totally satisfied with the results, and feedback from guests already making use of the facilities has been highly favourable.” he said.
The refurbished areas include the hotel’s historic premier suite, The Livingstone, as well as the Batoka Suite, which has views into the gorges below the famed rail and road bridge across the Zambezi. A new category of Premium bedrooms has been introduced, offering high-end luxury spaces complemented by a serviced lounge in the historic Bulawayo Room.
There has also been refurbishment activity in the Stanley’s Terrace service area, supplemented by the creation of a new cocktail bar, Stanley’s Bar, adjacent to the main lounge. This was the site of one of the first cocktail bars in the country, known originally as the Rainbow Bar, which was open from the 1 950s to the 1990s.
The Victoria Falls Hotel was opened in 1 904, at the time of the arrival of the northbound railway development that stemmed from a vision to create a Cape-to-Cairo rail system, and just ahead of the opening of the famous road and rail bridge that crosses the gorge below the falls to link Zimbabwe with Zambia.
“The Refurbishment celebrates the hotel” historic architecture while simultaneously addressing the needs of discerning 21st-century international travellers. Room layouts have been refined in all refurbished areas to reflect a rationalized selection of style options: Classic, Premium and Suites.
“Key features of the refurbishment will be an increasing inflow of light, granting greater access to views of the hotel grounds, creating walk-in showers in bathrooms, as well as upgrading lighting, air conditioning and electrical features such as points for using and charging devices in all bedrooms and suites. The aesthetic thrust will be achieved with use of new structural features and in the use of colour, furnishings, ornaments and basic décor.
The Classic bedrooms average 30 square meters in size and offer a dedicated entrance foyer, a king-sized bedroom with a large mosquito-free enclosure, a bathroom with large walk-in shower, full wardrobe with luggage storage and a generous refreshment station.
The Premium bedrooms average 55 square meters with a dedicated entrance foyer, separate TV lounge, generous refreshment station, king-sized bedroom with a large mosquito-free enclosure, walk-through dressing area with large wardrobe and luggage storage and a bathroom featuring a large walk-in shower.
The Suites average 72 square meters, with a dedicated entrance foyer, separate living room including TV lounge, dining area, generous minibar, separate guest WC, luxury king-sized bedroom with generous mosquito enclosure and in-room lounge area, writing desk and coffee station, walk-through dressing area with large wardrobe and luggage storage, bathroom featuring large walk-in shower and free-standing bath and double vanity feature.
The Presidential Suite spread over 205 square metres has, large living areas with a separate lounge and dining room, a kitchen, and a generous master bathroom with a double walk-in shower.
Mr Chimba said that elements featured in the design include enhancements through furnishings and fittings, introducing walls and ceiling drops for effect and the use of colours that are simultaneously contemporary and Edwardian: terracotta, pale green, moss green, ivory, grey tones, burnt amber and dark cerulean.
“This will be experienced through furniture, décor, ornaments, features and facilities, with an emphasis on light, bright, functional and comforting features, paying genuine homage to a proud 1 1 8-year-old history,” he said.
“The highest possible levels of environmental sustainability and convenience are the hallmark of the hotel, which focus on capturing the elements of Edwardian and contemporary styles that are essential to The Victoria Falls Hotel’s early days.”
Mr. Chimba said that by recognising the unique positioning of the famously-named ‘grand old lady of the Victoria Falls,’ The Victoria Falls Hotel Partnership of African Sun and Meikles Hospitality had developed the current programme to cherish a rich and colourful history of service and achievement, while committing to offering the most modern and desired facilities and amenities for today’s most discerning travellers.
The enhancement will give greater flexibility for group bookings, and business and leisure travel with increased inter-leading capabilities for families.