Cresta Maun Celebrates It’s First Anniversary

The decision to open a new Cresta hotel in Maun last year has delighted a great many people. Tourists, for a start, now have an upmarket transit point on their way in and out of the Okavango Delta, with the hotel just 15 minutes from Maun’s international airport. Now late arrivals or early departures are no problem, because they can relax in luxury accommodation and enjoy fine food by the banks of the Thamalakane River.

Local businesses and government workers are delighted too, because its conference facilities give the delegates both the sophistication and seclusion that they need, whether it’s for a full-scale conference or a high-powered executive strategy session.

maun accommodation

The riverside location 10km from central Maun is ideal, close enough for convenience but far enough away to ensure peace and tranquillity. The building is divided into two, with the main part housing the reception, restaurant, swimming pool and gym, and the conference centre designed as a separate, self-contained venue. The conference room fitted with state-of-the-art audio-visual equipment can be configured in various layouts and can seat up to 250 delegates. The adjoining boardroom can seat up to 30 people, with Wi-Fi available

Mokwena Morulane, the Managing Director for Cresta Hotels, says this stylish new hotel is fast becoming a popular choice for conferences, business breakaways and for weddings, because of its great location, excellent service and the large number of bedrooms.

maun hotels

General manager Ferdinand Sebinyane joined the hotel last October, four months after it opened, and says it’s now establishing itself as an important business and transit hub. Maun is the gateway to the Okavango Delta but it’s not a destination in its own right, he says, and what the town needed was a business hub and an upmarket transit point for tourists.

Ferdinand was previously the general manager at Cresta’s other hotel in Maun, Riley’s. “The market was growing and we felt we needed to increase our footprint in terms of rooms, but instead of expanding Riley’s it was better to have another property which is more contemporary and has all the bells and whistles compared to the historic Riley’s,” he says. “We are modern and contemporary in design with the latest technologies, so Cresta Maun targets a more upmarket segment compared to Rileys in price and what we provide in terms of services.”

Running the Cresta Maun is more of a challenge because it’s larger, with 83 rooms, and still needs to put its name on the map. “The challenge for any new property is trying to build the brand and solidify your place, so we are busy working hard to put ourselves out there,” Ferdinand says.

hotels in maun

Bookings aren’t coming in as quickly as forecasted because the target was set very high for the first year, but with peak season hitting the region now, occupancy rates are climbing. Some international travel agencies are coming on board, and South African travel agents recently enjoyed its hospitality on a fam trip, which should see Cresta Maun added to their itinerary options in 2019.

Ferdinand isn’t worried. “It’s natural for any new property to start slowly – the general rule of thumb is three years to build a footprint and have strong occupancy, so it’s safe to say we are on the right track.”

One area where the hotel has done exceptionally well is on the culinary front, already boasting a reputation as the best place to dine in town thanks to chef Prosper Qhubani Sithole. Meals are served either in the restaurant or at tables spilling out onto the terrace, with a buffet and an a la carte selection.

Although many of the guests are in transit, the hotel has an Activities Desk that can put together packages to fill their spare time. Options include a delicious taste of the Delta’s wildlife on land or mokoro safaris, or shorter river cruises, embarking right in front of the hotel.

cresta maun

The room configuration features a presidential suite, five junior suites, a paraplegic room and 76 standard rooms, all air-conditioned and with satellite TV. “All the rooms are river-facing and there are amazing views from any room in the hotel,” says Ferdinand.

Ferdinand says one of the most rewarding aspects of running the new hotel is how it has created excellent employment opportunities for young people in Maun, where job prospects are otherwise pretty limited. Most of the staff are locals, which has meant training up a large contingent of enthusiastic but previously inexperienced workers.

“When we first opened we tapped into various hotels in our group to bring in people with the Cresta background and philosophy, and then we employed from the local area. We employ for passion and train for skills, so most of the guys were quite young and had never had any hospitality training so they were diamonds in the rough,” he says. “We have trained them in skills we require, and it’s worked wonderfully for us, because our guest feedback shows our service is rated very highly.”

accommodation maun

Ferdinand says the ability to give these bright youngsters a promising future is a highlight, but the downside is that other companies keep poaching them. “The other hotels and lodges know our people are very well-trained and that the service they provide is really good, so they come in and take our young guys and we have to train up more. So, we’ve already become a bit of a training institution.”

Most youngsters in the area who fancy a career in hospitality aspire to work for the luxury lodges scattered throughout the Delta, so for them, Cresta Maun is providing a wonderful stepping stone to gain skills that will open up a lifetime of career opportunities.

By Lesley Stones