Cape Town Lately’s Gareth Duncan chats to experienced hospitality professional Desmond O’Connor, who is the General Manager of the new Raddison Blu hotel in Cape Town.
Tell us about your background?
I started off my hospitality career in 1990 at Sandton Sun. It’s a career that has spanned over the past 27 years in the South African hospitality industry. Prior to joining The Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group’s Radisson Blu in Port Elizabeth in 2014, I gained major experience in the art of hospitality in various roles, completing a term of four years at the Three Cities Group as well as a spell as the General Manager of Mandela Rhodes Place. My past three years at the Radisson Blu in Port Elizabeth was spent on growing and establishing the hotel, and increasing revenues and profitability. I also headed up the Commercial Focus Group for the region during this period.
In 2016, I was approached by the VP for Rezidor, Africa and Indian Ocean Islands and offered the opportunity to be the opening GM for the new Radisson Blu Hotel & Residence in Cape Town. It comprises 214 Hotel bedrooms, 158 Apartments and various food & beverage outlets including several meeting spaces. This mixed use development will be the first of its kind within the Rezidor fold in South Africa and is pipped to open early 2017. I love the hotel industry purely for the fact that it gives him joy to see the creation of memorable experiences for people.
What motivated you to take on the challenge of opening the Radisson Blu Hotel and Residence in Cape Town?
This was a great new challenge for me in career. Having been in Port Elizabeth at the Radisson Blu property for the past three years and my residence being in Cape Town, it was a great opportunity to come home again.
You come with a wealth of experience. How do you hope to use this to offer great service at the new establishment?
The team at the Radisson Blu Hotel & Residence is very guest centric. Our ethos is to make “every moment matter” and thus ensuring that the service is paramount on our daily operation. It is what will set us apart from other Hotels.
You have worked at a wide range of venues and accommodation. What makes the new Radisson Blu Hotel a unique venue on a national landscape?
The combination of a hotel and the residential component is a relatively new concept to the City… and South Africa for that matter. In most cases, the hotel portion within this type of building is made up of a rental pool that consists of apartments, which in turn forms the hotel. In this case, there is a pure hotel component consist of 214 hotel rooms and then a residential component consisting out of apartments.
What highlights can guests look forward to, especially locals?
The Radisson Blu Hotel & Residence will be open to all local visitors, whether from Cape Town or the rest of the country. This would be from our main restaurant, Stratus Room, and our Sea Street Food, Bar & Lounge with its main entrance in the trendy corner of Loop and Riebeek Streets, to Ghibli Pool Bat & Terrace that offers a fresh and unique type of oasis in the middle of the city.
The hotel offers a superb selection of F&B outlets, state of the art meeting and function facilities, a superb pool deck with a heated pool and a large and well-equipped fitness centre.
We will be offering a wide variety of F&B related events in the year leading up to and including the year end festive season.
You’ve worked extensively in Gauteng, Port Elizabeth and Cape Town. What makes the Mother City unique from a tourist perspective?
Cape Town as a destination offers a wide variety of both natural, historical and cultural actives and points of interest. Not only do you have sprawling beaches but also mountains surround the city. Coupled to this is the cosmopolitan influences and you have a world class city that offers, great food and wine with service to match.
What do you feel are the best kept secret things to do in Cape Town?
The little food markets that pop up everywhere. One example is the one on a Wednesday evening at Noordhoek Farm Village.
What are your future goals?
In the short term, I plan to ensure that the Radisson Blu Hotel & Residence becomes a business success and to be one of the most sought after accommodation establishment in the Mother City. In the long term, I hope to open a few more hotels in the Rezidor Portfolio.
More bout Radisson Blu
Radisson Blu is one of the world’s leading hotel brands with nearly 300 hotels in operation in 69 countries and territories. Radisson Blu’s vibrant, contemporary and engaging hospitality is characterized by a unique Yes I Can!SM service philosophy, and all of its first class hotels offer a range of signature features that are empathetic to the challenges of modern travel, including the 100% Satisfaction Guarantee. Distinguished the world over as the brand with Hotels Designed to Say YES!SM, Radisson Blu offers a vivid visual celebration of leading-edge style where the delight is in the detail. Radisson Blu hotels are located in prime locations in major cities, airport gateways and leisure destinations across the world.
Radisson Blu is a part of Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group, which also includes Quorvus Collection, Radisson, Radisson RED, Park Plaza, Park Inn by Radisson and Country Inns & Suites By CarlsonSM. For reservations and more information visit, www.radissonblu.com. Connect with Radisson Blu on social media: @RadissonBlu on Twitter and Instagram and Facebook.com/RadissonBlu.