Mandela’s Rivonia hideout to get hotel

{ Posted on Aug 13 2013 by B-man }
Categories : Travel news

Plans to develop a boutique hotel on the site of Liliesleaf farm, which was the headquarters of the military wing of the ANC and a hideout for Nelson Mandela in the 1960s, have been announced.

Since 2001 the site in Rivonia, Johannesburg, has been looked after by a trust established to restore, preserve and maintain the historical structures, buildings and legacy of the site.

A memorandum of understanding to develop, manage and market the new hotel has been signed by Liliesleaf Trust CEO Nicholas Wolpe and Adrian Gardiner, the founder and CEO of Mantis, which manages and markets game reserves and boutique hotels in South Africa, Rwanda, England and France.

Construction is expected to commence in June with Gardiner, who is widely regarded as an international expert in the field of sensitive heritage and environmental developments, already having formulated a vision with the Liliesleaf Trust.

Gardiner said: "At the moment we are going through the process of obtaining approval of all plans. This iconic hotel will be two storeys high, with a total of 48 rooms in four blocks of 12. When the hotel opens in 2011, rates will range from R2 000 to R4 000 a room per night.

"The hotel is aimed at the business, leisure, government and political markets. Each room will be themed around the Rivonia trialists as well as Harold Wolpe and Arthur Goldreich who escaped prior to the trial."

The Rivonia trial - which saw Nelson Mandela and a number of senior ANC figures jailed - was one of the most significant in South African history. Mandela spent decades as a prisoner before he was released as the rule of the National Party collapsed.

The hotel will include conferencing facilities, a spa, a business centre, restaurant and a wine cellar.

Gardiner emphasised in an exclusive interview with Hotel & Restaurant that the development would be sensitive to the heritage of Liliesleaf and the ANC as a liberation movement and government.

He believes his group was chosen because of its success in conserving vanishing ways of life. Mantis has international marketing expertise with offices in the USA, UK and representatives all over Europe. There are also plans to open a Mantis office in India.

Liliesleaf Trust chief executive Nicholas Wolpe said: "It has always been our objective to include an iconic hotel in the Liliesleaf Legacy Project. It would be a place where people can come and not only experience the importance of Liliesleaf, but engage in constructive dialogue. We want to make it possible for people who don't have the opportunity to visit the historical site to get a sense and feel of its significance and importance.

"Exact plans have not been decided upon. These will unfold as we go along and we are not prescribing what Mantis must display as it may not suit the ambience of the hotel. This hotel is the final cog in the Liliesleaf Legacy Project. What's fantastic is that the Mantis Group shares this enthusiasm and recognizes its importance. I am extremely excited about this relationship developing and blossoming over the months and years to come."

In Nelson Mandela's autobiography Long Walk to Freedom, Mandela mentions his time spent at Liliesleaf. "I moved in under the pretext that I was a houseboy or caretaker that would live there until my master took possession."

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