The spirit of “Sabi”

The spirit of Sabi continues despite one of the busiest years in terms of property development.

General Manager at Sabi River Sun Resort, Wayne Wilson, is fully aware that as a custodian of this environmentally aware resort, he is responsible for maintaining the magic that attracts guests time after time. No mean feat.

Hotel refurbishment
After operating for 48 years, the hotel was closed on 17 June 2015 for a complete refurbishment. Rooms were gutted. The building was allowed to ‘breathe’ as doors and windows were removed.

Improvements included:

  • Conversion from baths to walk in showers (56 of 60 rooms)
  • Installation of split unit air conditioners
  • Interior design and art work
  • Replacing wooden balconies with powder coated metal
  • Installation of carpets, tiles and ceilings
  • Implementation of a card access system (guest rooms)
  • Aluminium window frames
  • Exterior buttress walls
  • Painting of buildings and roof

The hotel reopened on 1 October 2015. The conservative budget of R13 million was met. Credit goes to the Tsogo Sun Development Team who suggested refurbishing fittings from other properties.

Additional projects included the installation of fibre optic Wi-Fi to all chalets, the provision of back-up generators, the creation of golf cart paths and the introduction of new menus in the recently renovated restaurant and bar.

Recognition for Sabi River Sun Resort
2016 has been an award-winning year. The resort’s environmental program won the Kruger Lowveld Chamber of Business and Tourism’s Environmental Award. This makes it the “greenest” resort in the Lowveld.

Sabi was also recognised through Trip Advisor’s “Travellers Choice” and “Certificate of Excellence” as voted for by guests.

Hippo pool project

When designed in the early ‘80’s, the current hippo dam was intended as a wind surfing dam.

Soon after the dam was built, heavy rains caused a flash flood that heralded the arrival of several hippos from neighbouring farms. They decided to stay. Since their arrival, Sabi has ensured their well-being.

Subsequent floods and, in particular Cyclone Eline in 2000, resulted in the deposit of tons of silt. The open water area has decreased in size by an average of 7 meters per year. Other factors influencing this are alien vegetation and water hyacinth.

The decision to desilt the dam was made about 2 years ago. It included a brief that the method agreed upon must include a means to prevent silting. A 3-phase program was agreed.

To date, phases 1 (silt trap) and 3 (main hippo pool area) are complete. It is estimated that 32 000 cubic meters of silt were removed from the hippo dam. This is the equivalent of the water required to fill 13 Olympic size swimming pools. Phase 2 – the weir – is expected to be completed in the next year.

Fire damage refurbishment
Fire damage sustained to chalets 95 and 96 has resulted in a complete refurbishment. Many of the changes implemented during the rebuilding of the units were suggested by shareholders:

  •  Bathrooms – a walk-in shower will replace the bath with overhead shower in the second bathroom. En suite bathrooms will be fitted with a walk-in shower to complement the bath.
  • Kitchen – contemporary styling will be used to refit kitchen cupboards
  • Loft – will be sealed off up to the thatch with a large window and sliding door, air conditioning will be installed effectively offering a fully fitted third bedroom
  • Roof – slate tiles will be replaced with lighter and more contemporary tiles featuring a cooler and fresh look

These changes will be tested and introduced during refurbishments planned for 2018/2019.

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