Nqobile Bhebhe, Senior Business Reporter
THE country’s largest hotel group, African Sun Limited (ASL), has announced the closure of the 294 roomed Kingdom Hotel in Victoria Falls effective 5 January 2023.
In July, the hotel group announced its pending exit citing the lease tenure with property owner- First Capital Bank (FCB).
According to the July notice, the hotel group said it had hoped to secure at least a 10 year lease but FCB was offering two years.
The hotel has been under the African Sun stable since 1966 and was leased from Makasa Sun (Private) Limited.
In a letter dated 24 November, African Sun chief executive officer, Mr Peter Saungweme said: “Further to the formal announcement, which African Sun Limited (African Sun) released to the market on 4 July 2022, we would like to inform you that the Kingdom at Victoria Falls Hotel (“the Hotel”) shall be closing for business with effect from 5 January 2023,” he said.
The letter, which is addressed to the Travel Trade Partner, adds: “we would like to thank you for your past business and support over the years and look forward to continuing working with you at our other ten hotels, which include the Victoria Falls Hotel and Elephant Hills Resort and Conference Centre, which are also situated in the City of Victoria Falls.”
In the July notice, Africa Sun said the exit is coming after it had been successful in the 2021 tender for the hotel’s lease.
“However, despite this success, a mutually agreeable lease tenure could not be reached, with the landlord only willing to offer a lease of two years against the group’s ask of a tenure of at least ten years in its tender.
“The ten-year lease tenure was and is still considered as being the minimum the company would need to recoup and realise a return from its envisaged investment in the hotel,” reads the notice.
“The decision to exit the hotel has not been an easy one for the board, but was necessary and unavoidable to protect shareholder value in the circumstances.”