After a R120-million rejuvenation, The Ritz hotel in the vibrant Cape Town suburb of Sea Point is ready to welcome locals and tourists to the most glamorous urban resort the Mother City has to offer.
An icon of the city’s skyline since the early 1970s, over the decades this once-stylish address slowly lost its lustre until, in 2016, the Ritz Hotel Management Company (Pty) Ltd or RHMC saw an opportunity to revitalise – and reimagine – this faded star of the Atlantic Seaboard.
“It’s a beautiful piece of local architecture that desperately needed a new lease on life. We had a very clear vision of what we wanted to create, and what Cape Town needed,” says, Lisa Carey, marketing & pr manager for The Ritz.
RHMC identified a gap in the market for an international-grade hotel that would marry a contemporary design aesthetic with world-class service:
“We are not creating a quirky boutique property or a stiff five-star hotel. We want to cater for that beautiful niche in the middle. We wanted to take luxury and design, and make it accessible”, Carey comments further.
That process began with a thorough refurbishment of the 23-story building, the age of the structure necessitating a complete overhaul of the insulation, plumbing and lift shafts. With the ‘bones’ of the building brought into the 21st-century, the transformation from faded star to contemporary glamour could begin.
And the end result is nothing short of staggering. A sleek porte cochere of steel and glass greets guests on arrival, a fitting introduction to the glamorous lobby of glittering golden palm trees and front desk of gleaming white marble. No mobile app check-in or anodyne staff here: rather, expect refined personalised service to become a hallmark of The Ritz.
Ensuring those world-class standards are maintained is general manager Johann du Plessis, who brings decades of hospitality expertise to the role.
“It’s so exciting for my seasoned hoteliers and I to be part of restoring The Ritz to its rightful position as one of the most sought after hotels in Cape Town,” says Du Plessis, whose wealth of experience spans luxury resorts, lodges and hotels across southern Africa. “The iconic design driven hotel is really going to set the bar for urban resorts, and we look forward to our first guests – and locals – discovering the understated luxury of The Ritz.”
Accessible luxury with sensorial appeal is a thread that runs throughout The Ritz with a colour palette dominated by black, gold and white. Authentic Martinique wallpaper – made famous by The Beverly Hills Hotel in Los Angeles – provides a striking backdrop to the lobby, while each of the 213 rooms (The Ritz reopens with 114 rooms, with balance completed during 2018) is decorated in a sleek modern look. Think smoky mirrors and deep-buttoned velvet bucket chairs, moody colour palettes and Louboutin-inspired wardrobes. These are rooms and suites that focus on unpretentious luxury, and finesse without unnecessary frills.
And the décor is only half the allure of a stay at The Ritz. Unique for a hotel in Cape Town, each and every room boasts panoramic views of both the city and sparkling Atlantic Ocean. But far and away the finest views in the city are to be found at the very top on the 21st and 22nd floors and in the hotel’s flagship restaurant on the 23rd floor.
The Ritz has long been famous for its revolving restaurant – the only one of its kind in the Western Cape – and 2017/2018 is set to restore its reputation as one of the most sought-after refined dining destinations in the city. Located on the 23rd floor, Top of the Ritz’s elegant décor – imported Philippe Starck lamps will grace each table – provides a perfect foil for the refined dining on offer. An unforgettable destination for celebratory dinners or popping that question, Top of The Ritz Restaurant may also be booked on an exclusive basis for bespoke occasions.
One floor below on the 22nd, is the Dom Perignon Champagne Lounge, one of only a handful in the world, a sultry and seductive space ideal for pre-dinner bubbles and sundowner cocktails, with local DJs spinning laid-back beats from late-afternoon every day. And on the 21st floor, The Hennessy Cognac Cigar Lounge is similarly set to become an address for after-dinner digestifs and late-night cocktails.
While those upper floors will enchant in the evening hours, during the day it’s down on the humming first floor that locals and travellers are set to find their home away from home.
CASA Restaurant & Cabanas brings a touch of Miami South Beach glamour to Sea Point, with all day al fresco dining that ranges from brasserie-classics to sushi and wood-fired pizza. Tables flow out from the chic interior to a sun-splashed pool deck, host to a Veuve Clicquot Bar, pouring French champagne alongside chilled Whispering Angel rosé from acclaimed Côtes de Provence producer Chateau d’Esclans. Stop by for a bite on your way to the nearby Promenade, or settle in for the day at one of the exclusive poolside Ritz Cabanas.
“Just a few years ago, who would have believed that The Ritz would be home to a Veuve Clicquot bar,” enthuses Du Plessis, emphasising that CASA and the pool terrace is a space for both locals and hotels guests. “How do you create a buzz in a hotel? It’s the locals. Local residents are essential for creating the soul of a hotel, and we can’t wait to welcome them to The Ritz.”
This grand dame of the Atlantic Seaboard has certainly seen a lot since the doors first opened in 1971. Now, after a multi-million-rand revamp, this icon of the Mother City is once again ready to take its rightful place on the roster of world-class South African hotels. Hello Cape Town, The Ritz is back and she’s ready to play!
The Ritz re-opens on 15 December 2017.