New look AVANI Maseru launched

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Mohalenyane Phakela

AVANI Hotels expects to attract more guests and increase profitability after completing the M25 million refurbishment of the AVANI Maseru Hotel.

The refurbishment exercise was conducted from September 2016 to March 2017. The hotel was relaunched on Tuesday at a ceremony that was attended by Prime Minister Thomas Thabane, several cabinet ministers, the media and other dignitaries.

For the first time in seven years, AVANI Hotels this year declared a M7 million dividend to the government which owns a 53 percent stake in the hotels. The remaining 47 percent stake is owned by Minor Hotels group, through its subsidy AVANI Hotels and Resorts.

The new look hotel is expected to attract more business for the hotel which currently has a 20 percent uptake of its 95 rooms.

Speaking at the relaunch, Dr Thabane expressed hope that the M25 million investment would result in the booking rates doubling within a short period.

“The twin hotels are an iconic investment of the government to cater for the upmarket tourism industry and because of their location in the heart of the city, they are eligible to attract more clients,” Dr Thabane said.

PM Thomas Thabane cuts the ribbon assisted by Finance Minister Moeketsi Majoro

“Before these renovations, rooms occupation had dropped to 20 percent which is a worrying factor hindering the declaration of dividends but however, I would like to applaud Minor Hotels for declaring a M7 million dividend this year.

“With this renewed infrastructure I am confident that the guests will double to 40 percent within a short time. We hope Minor also brings on board world class expertise which will turn around our economy.”

Dr Thabane encouraged young hotel staffers to aspire to be part of management but said that they should learn from the best.

“They (young people) should learn from the experts and never think they know too much. I would like to congratulate the board and management for this transition aimed at protecting our investment.”

Trade Minister Tefo Mapesela said the hotel has to work closely with ministries of finance, labour and the deputy prime minister to ensure that the government’s investment bears fruit.

“We have to ensure that there is consistency in declaration of profits in order for the money to be invested back into uplifting the tourism sector. We will walk hand-in-hand with Minor Hotels as it is important for stakeholders to have a common goal,” Mr Mapesela said.

Finance Minister Moeketsi Majoro said tourism was a key driver of development and the government has identified it as a top priority to create employment.

“This facility must create jobs and link with other attractions in the country to allow tourists to spend more money in the country.

“We are exploring other tourism attractions in the country which Minor Hotels can expand to and I challenge them to be innovative and cease the opportunity.

“We also need to ensure that this facility makes money for all stakeholders and therefore need to do more to get to where room occupation is consistent and above 80 percent after this refurbishment,” Dr Majoro said.

The board chairperson, Nthateng Lebona, pledged to ensure that the M25 million investment is recouped within six years as dividends.

For his part, the general manager for AVANI Lesotho and Maseru, Willem Van Heerden, said they had worked on strategies to ensure growth. He said the strategies are aimed at regaining the market share that has been taken over by guest houses that offer similar services at lower prices.

“The strategies that we will implement will ensure that we win a large share of the market while giving clients value for money. On the other hand, competition is good as it compels one to upgrade services regularly,” said.

 

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