June 25, 2018
Harare is often described as the city that never sleeps, and there’s a good reason for that. As the capital of Zimbabwe and home to more than two million people, it has a unique buzz and excitement that keeps the city alive and alert 24/7, all year round. Recent months have seen a return to the optimistic and bubbly mood for which the citizens of this modern city have traditionally been known, and the hope that stems from recent change in Zimbabwe is the stimulant for more visitors to make its acquaintance.
Cresta Hotels has a great deal of confidence in Harare as a destination, mainly for business travellers and conference or event delegates, but also for leisure travellers who enjoy the chance to tour the city and surrounds, usually before or after visiting other Zimbabwean tourist centres such as Victoria Falls. The group operates three hotels in the capital city: Cresta Lodge, set in an attractive parkland in the city’s eastern suburbs; Cresta Oasis and Apartments, close to the commercial centre of the city and an important venue for conferences, socialising and accommodation, both short-term and long-stay; and Cresta Jameson, a central Harare landmark that this year celebrates its 60th anniversary.
Cresta Country Director for Zimbabwe, Chipo Mandela, is enthusiastic about Harare and what it offers visitors of all kinds and from all over the world.
“Harare has a reputation for being a modern city that has easy access to surrounding countries and major air hubs such as Johannesburg, Nairobi and Dubai, and which is a rewarding destination for people who want to explore a fascinating, historic, vibrant and exciting centre of business, culture, sport and so much more,” she said.
“We in Cresta are playing our part by making sure our hotels in this city are geared to growth and to hosting the travellers who will enjoy Harare today and tomorrow.”
Cresta Lodge was wholly refurbished in the past few years and had the addition of a brand new major conference and banqueting facility, Cresta Sango, all in time for the celebration this year of its 25th anniversary. Cresta Jameson is undergoing a series of upgrades of bedrooms, as well as enhancement to its main restaurant and its popular public bar. Cresta Oasis and Apartments is now the setting for a major refurbishment programme that will transform all bedrooms, suites and long-stay apartments into state-of-the-art accommodation for travellers from all over Zimbabwe and Southern Africa, who are the mainstay of its business. In the background, a major marketing programme is under way to remind visitors of the new Zimbabwean slogan, ‘Open for Business’, and what that means for anyone wanting to take advantage of the friendly, welcoming environment of Zimbabwe and its capital city.
Harare has a range of offerings for visitors, whether tourists or business people, ranging from scores of good restaurants and entertainment centres to excellent golf courses and other sporting facilities, and from environment and wildlife centres in and around the city to places of historical, cultural and general interest. A must-see place is the Mukuvisi Woodland Reserve, literally a few kilometres from the city centre and home to wildlife, birdlife and the original natural environment of the whole area. Also recommended are visits to the National Gallery of Zimbabwe, city’s Museum and the National Botanical Garden. Visitors coming in early May will have access to an annual highlight: the Harare International Festival of the Arts, a showpiece for local and international culture and entertainment from
across all the performing arts.
It has a superb commercial, industrial and residential infrastructure, in addition to well-developed support services needed by visitors. It’s a three-hour drive from the spectacular Eastern Highlands, and trips to other destinations such as Great Zimbabwe, Lake Kariba and the Matobo Hills are available either by air or road transport. The city has a great many venues for visitors to appreciate or acquire works of art, notably the soapstone sculptures for which Zimbabwe is world famous. Shopping centres and malls offer visitors opportunities for acquisitions, and trips to people’s markets, upmarket shopping venues, art galleries and other places of interest are easily arranged.
Harare has another world-class offering: one of the finest climates in the whole world. At a Highveld elevation that offers warm summers and cool winters without extremes, it has high levels of sunshine, and a healthy ambience with no worries of malaria or other tropical health problems. The people of the city are friendly and welcoming to visitors, in whom they take a genuine interest and whose presence inspires pleasure and gratitude. Cresta staff will offer help in making sure guests know where to go and what to do.
One thing’s for sure: Harare leaves its mark on visitors, almost all of whom tell the Cresta team that they look forward to coming again… and again and again. And they’re welcome – and encouraged – to do just that.
by Stan Higgins