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Hilton Cape Town City Centre hotel shutters amid global staff cuts

South Africa loses a premier luxury hotel destination with the closure of the Hilton’s five-star hideaway on the Cape

The Hilton Cape Town City Centre hotel has ceased operating from its building on the city’s Buitengracht Street.

The five-star hotel finally closed for good on Sunday 12 July.

The reasons for its closure amid the coronavirus pandemic are unclear.

The Hilton branding will be removed from the building and the structure will be handed back to its owners, Millat Properties.

The owners

A statement from Millat Properties said it was “disappointing that our relationship with Hilton has come to an end, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic, when South Africa’s primary tourist destinations and its people most need support”.

The Cape Town hotel was operational for nine years.

Employee cutbacks

Early in June this year Hilton Worldwide Holdings announced a cut of 2,100 corporate jobs globally.

The company said it was being forced to reduce the number of Hilton staff because of the crippling effects of the novel coronavirus on the global travel and tourism industry.

At the end of 2019 Hilton Holdings had a corporate staff strength of 9,600 and 173,000 employees in total.

Ripple effects

With the imposition of travel bans and the enforcement of lockdowns globally, tourists are being forced to cancel holiday and tourism bookings. The hotel industry has been among those worst hit by COVID-19.

“Never in Hilton’s 101-year history has our industry faced a global crisis that brings travel to a virtual standstill,” said Christopher J Nassetta, the group’s chief executive officer.

A Hilton spokesman told IOL Travel: “As of 12 July 2020, Hilton is no longer operating Hilton Cape Town City Centre.

“We are proud of the exemplary hospitality the property has delivered under our management and would like to thank all of those who have contributed to this over the last nine years.

“We remain committed to Cape Town as a destination and continue to welcome guests at DoubleTree by Hilton Cape Town Upper Eastside.

“The city will also be the location for Africa’s first Canopy by Hilton hotel, named Canopy by Hilton Cape Town Longkloof, which is currently scheduled to open towards the end of 2021,” the spokesman said via email.

Light at the end of the pandemic

Hilton is poised to open South Africa’s very first Garden Inn property, the Umhlanga Arch Hilton Garden Inn, a four-star hotel with 207 guestrooms, in Durban, KwaZulu-Natal later this year.

Hilton Worldwide Holdings Incorporated, formerly Hilton Hotels Corporation, was founded in May 1919 by the Norwegian-American hotelier Conrad Hilton. The group has over 575 hotels and resorts in 76 countries across six continents.

Nana Abena Boakye-Boateng

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IOL Travel Reuters
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