After two months afloat and several successful voyages under the belt, the Protea Hotel Southern Belle is comfortably settled in her new home base at Siavonga on the Zambian side of Lake Kariba.
The luxurious floating hotel and conference centre underwent extensive refurbishment last year and now features 22 luxurious en-suite cabins that have remained sympathetic to the design elements that make this ship classical. The Protea Hotel Southern Belle also features a multi-use conference room for up to 40 people, restaurant and bar, swimming pool and a top deck with comfortable lounges and a bar. Activities for children include a cinema with videos and popcorn.
Hotel general manager Herlo de Lange, who has seen the vessel through the first couple of months afloat, said there was very little difference between a hotel on land and one on water. “It’s much the same as the difference between managing a leisure hotel and a corporate hotel; what remains consistent is providing Protea Hotels unique service culture. We profile our GUESTS to ensure the trip and the various activities on board and in the surrounding areas meet and exceed their expectations.”
De Lange, who has worked at the likes of African Pride Melrose Arch Hotel, Protea Hotel Waterfront Centurion and Protea Hotel Wanderers, said the main challenge was adapting to the local business offering. “One challenge we faced and successfully overcame was the procurement aspect of food and beverage supplies because there aren’t major suppliers in the Siavonga district.”
He said the Protea Hotel Southern Belle’s success rested on a combination of warm and friendly service, great food and outstanding decor. “I would say our best feature is the personal touch and service to each guest and that each member of staff goes the extra mile to ensure that guests have an unforgettable experience.”
Protea Hospitality Group Director of Sales Marketing and Revenue, Danny Bryer, who has just completed a site inspection of the ship, said: “Lake Kariba is a must see destination for any traveller to Zambia, and the Southern Belle is the ultimate way to experience it. This product adds a great deal of value to our GUESTS and our brand portfolio as it offers another unique African experience which is in line with our brand promise. The Southern Belle is perfect for travellers wanting some down time; as it offers anything from 2 – 5 day cruises which are complimented by a range of on and off site activities such as tiger fishing from the three tender boats, bush walks, bush dinners, culture experiences and host of other activities for families.”
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