MOLIMU Nthuse Lodge is set to reopen next month after a decade out of business, the Lesotho Tourism Development Corporation (LTDC) has said.
Situated at the Molimo Nthuse Pass, on the way to Thaba Tseka, the lodge nests deftly in a forest just by the road side.
The LTDC announced this week that it has handed over the facility, which is owned by the government, to Molengoane Ltd (Pty), a local private company to operate on a 20-year lease.
The company currently runs Ka Pitseng Guest House in Teyeteyaneng and Molengoane Lodge in Nazareth, Maseru.
The company was awarded the rights to run Molimo Nthuse from a competitive public tendering process.
The government announced in 2018 that it was planning to hand over the operation of some its tourism facilities to the private sector to accelerate the sector’s contribution to the country’s economic growth.
Molimo Nthuse along with a near-by pony trekking business as well as the Liphofung Caves in Butha Buthe, were among the facilities whose operations the government planned to hand over to private operators.
In addition, the government indicated that it would bring into operation the Butha-Buthe Tourist Centre, Sehlabathebe National Park and Bokong Nature Reserve Chalets, which is currently non-operational.
Addressing a media briefing this week LTDC Chief Executive Officer Mpaiphele Maqutu said the resuscitation of the facility is a big deal as “wherever we travel around the world we are always asked as to when Molimo Nthuse is reopening”.
He said the place does not need to be advertised “because it is a brand in its own right,” as many people around the world already know about it.
“We are therefore proud that soon the facility will be fully back in business receiving tourists from all over the world,” Mr Maqutu said.
“The corporation handed over the above facility to a local private operator in February 2019 with a view to revamp the facility which had been lying fallow for more than 10 years.
“A 20-year agreement has been signed with the operator. The construction and renovation works have started and it is expected that the restaurant will start operating in July 2019 while the rest of the other facilities will be up by November 2019.
“In the spirit of ensuring community participation in tourism, sustainable tourism development and community beneficiation through tourism, LTDC has also started sensitising the communities living around Semonkong and Molimo Nthuse on possible business opportunities to tap into to create jobs and generate revenue,” Mr Maqutu added.
For her part, the managing director of Molengoane Lodge Pty, ‘Mamothe Mohapi, said their plan is to restore the facility back to its former glory.
Mr Maqutu also said that they have engaged a consultant to develop the operating lease model in such a way that the government will benefit financially from letting the businesses to the private sector.
He said the remaining government-owned tourism facilities will be transferred to the private sector as soon as the operating lease model is completed.
“We wanted to take a chance on the facility to see if we can take it back to its former glory. We were saddened by the fact that the place was becoming a white elephant when it could do so much more for this country’s economy,” Ms Mohapi said.
She said they are now renovating the facility, which has 16 bedrooms and a combined restaurant and bar. She added that they would also be able to offer conference services.
She said on completion of the renovations, which are expected to cost M3 million, the lodge will be transformed into a four-star facility.
Ms Mohapi said they would also be resuscitating the pony trekking service at the lodge.
“We also hope to empower the local community by sourcing ponies to be used at the centre. That way, we will be able to positively contribute to towards improving their lives.”
She added that more people from the local areas are being hired in the renovation phase.