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Hyatt to operate former Hilton Cape Town hotel

Deal seen as a positive development, despite ongoing uncertainty around Covid-19.
The old Hilton Hotel in Buitengracht Street in the Cape Town CBD is set to come back to life under the Hyatt Regency brand. Image: Supplied

Millat Properties has secured Hyatt Hotels Corporation – the New York Stock Exchange-listed hospitality group – to take over management of its old Hilton hotel in the Mother City’s city centre.

This will be the US group’s first foray into the Cape Town tourism market.

The international hotel operator management deal, which was announced by Hyatt and Millat on Wednesday, will see the former Hilton property being refurbished and reopening in December as the Hyatt Regency Cape Town.

Millat Properties, which is part of Johannesburg-based Millat Investments group that’s controlled by the Farooqui family, did not reveal how much it plans to invest in the revamp of the 137-room hotel.

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However, the deal with Hyatt Hotels represents a positive development for SA’s hard-hit tourism and hospitality industry in the face of the Covid-19 pandemic and related international travel restrictions.

Following the country going into various Covid-19 lockdown levels since late March, most hotels were forced to close for more than three months, which led to Hilton opting out of its management agreement with Millat in July for the Cape Town property.

Several of SA’s landmark five-star hotels, such as the Mount Nelson in Cape Town and Fairmont Zimbali Resort in Ballito, remain closed, while others like Sun International’s Table Bay Hotel will only reopen later this month.

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“We’re delighted to work with Millat Properties to bring the Hyatt Regency brand to Cape Town,” Ludwig Bouldoukian, Hyatt’s regional vice president of development for the Middle East and Africa, said in a statement.

“As a premier destination, Cape Town has been a top goal for us to have a Hyatt hotel, and we believe there is meaningful potential for further growth in South Africa. Hyatt Regency Cape Town is a key element of our strategy to grow thoughtfully in markets where we know our guests are traveling,” he added.

Hyatt’s last SA hotel – the Hyatt Regency Johannesburg next to Investec Property Fund’s Firs shopping complex in Rosebank – opened more than two decades ago.

The Chicago-based group has a comparatively small presence in SA and the African market compared with its much larger US-based competitors Hilton Hotels and Marriot International.

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Its property in Cape Town – South Africa’s most popular international tourist city destination – will bring the total number of Hyatt hotels across Africa to eight.

“It is a delight to team up with the Hyatt Regency brand, [which] is synonymous with a first-class travel experience,” said Hamza Farooqui, CEO of Millat Properties.

“Millat will extensively refurbish the hotel – prior to reopening – using renowned international interior designers, LW Design. Knowing Hyatt and Millat share equally high standards around the guest experience, we are delighted to bring the Hyatt Regency brand to life in this iconic location [Buitengracht Street, near the historic Bo-Kaap district],” he noted.

Commenting on the announcement, Tourism Minister Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane, said: “The news of a Hyatt-branded property opening within the City of Cape Town is a welcome addition to the tourism sector and is a positive indicator reflecting the travel industry’s road to recovery.

She added: “Hyatt Regency Cape Town will be the perfect addition to the hospitality sector in this historic city.”

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