September marks Heritage Month, which celebrates the input of all South Africans in building the country. For the past 25 years, Premier Hotels & Resorts has been contributing through the creation of accommodation options that not only enable local and international tourists to explore South Africa’s natural, cultural and historical offerings, but add to the economy.
In 1991, the old Carlton Hotel in Quigney in the Eastern Cape was up for auction. Premier Hotels & Resorts’ Founder and Managing Director, Samuel Nassimov snapped up the opportunity to buy the hotel, with the aim of refurbishing and managing it. At that stage, the hotel had a one-star rating and by the time the transfer went through, the Tourism Board decided to remove this as it was no longer compliant.
Nassimov embarked on a 14-month upgrade that would result in the hotel receiving three stars. During that time, he experienced everything from floods to fire. In February 1992, the hotel reopened as the King David Suites and Conference Centre with a compliment of 23 staff members – three of whom are still working with him today. In 1994, the hotel was extended with the acquisition of the adjacent Killarney Court, which increased the number of rooms from 44 to 80.
“By overcoming the challenge of converting this once dilapidated hotel into a successful establishment in East London, I had the drive and passion to embark on a bigger project,” says Nassimov. Thus, in 1996 he seized the opportunity to develop a vacant plot on the East London beachfront into what is today the Premier Hotel Regent. “This hotel has been the biggest success for our Group and has hosted many large conferences,” shares Nassimov.
With this success under his belt, Nassimov decided to continue Premier Hotels & Resorts’ expansion in the Eastern Cape with the acquisition of the popular Mpongo Park. At that stage the 1300-hectare Park featured only a six-bedroom lodge and restaurant with a smattering of zebra, giraffe and antelope. Under Nassimov’s guidance it was extended to 3 300 hectares and the Big Five along with other animals was introduced. A five-star lodge comprising 18 rooms and chalets together with conference facilities were constructed and the restaurant was refurbished.
Soon after, Nassimov decided to take the brand nationally beginning with the procurement of the Cape Manor Hotel in Cape Town. After renovating and extending the room capacity to 99 bedrooms, the first four-star Premier property outside the Eastern Cape was born.
In 2005, Premier Hotels and Resorts expanded to Gauteng with the purchase of an old hotel in Pretoria that had ceased trading. “I saw its potential and took up the challenge,” says Nassimov. Today, his R30-million investment has resulted in the four-star, 118 bedroom Premier Hotel Pretoria which generates substantial revenue for the Group. To make the Group’s footprint truly national, a 60-bedroom hotel in Pinetown and a small hotel in Port Edward in KwaZulu-Natal were acquired and transformed into Premier Hotel Pinetown and Premier Hotel Edwardian.
Between 2007 and 2010, Nassimov developed the largest conferencing venue in East London, the East London International Convention Centre (ELICC), Premier Hotel EL ICC and Premier Hotel OR Tambo in Johannesburg – three of the biggest properties in the Premier Portfolio that today contribute more than 40 percent to the Group’s annual turnover. “My vision for these developments in East London was to create facilities that would increase business flow and tourism to the city and province,” explains Nassimov.
Over the past 18 months, Premier Hotels & Resorts has expanded its portfolio by acquiring properties in Knysna, Richards Bay, Nelspruit and Drakensburg, with a combined investment of R200 million. From a humble 40 bedrooms, Premier Hotels & Resorts’ portfolio today encompasses 16 hotels and resorts throughout the country, offering nearly 2 000 bedrooms and providing employment opportunities to over 1 500 passionate members of staff.
Source: Eclipse Public Relations.