Location and convenience are the prime motivators for city hotel selection in business tourism. This pearl of wisdom occurred to me when checking into the City Lodge Midrand. By Des Langkilde.
Before setting off on my business trip to attend The Hotel Show Africa, I searched the web for hotels positioned as close as possible to Gallagher Convention Centre in Johannesburg, South Africa. And City Lodge Hotel Group’s website provided the answer – Town Lodge Midrand.
With a wide range of accommodation options to choose from, the Group’s hotel brands Fairview, Courtyard, City Lodge, Town Lodge, and Road Lodge, are clearly displayed with each brand featuring its hotel locations by city with rates (there’s a significant saving for booking online compared to walk-in rates). Note though, that you have to select Midrand and not Johannesburg from the ‘Choose Hotels by City’ booking drop-down menu.
As my flight was scheduled for a late Sunday evening departure to Johannesburg, being able to simultaneously book a night at City Lodge Hotel at OR Tambo International Airport was certainly convenient as the hotel is a short walk from the arrivals concourse along the parking block opposite the airport.
After a sumptuous breakfast on Monday morning (their buffet spread is a sight to behold), I checked out and set off for the Gautrain station, which again is a short walk from the hotel along the airport concourse.
Gautrain is an 80-kilometre mass rapid transit railway system in Gauteng, which links Johannesburg, Pretoria, and Ekhuruleni to the airport. The trains run from 05:15 am to 09:20 pm and depart every 10-15 minutes during peak hours. After recharging my Gautrain Gold Card, I caught the Sandton bound train, jumped off at Marlboro station, and boarded the Pretoria bound train which I disembarked at Midrand – the next station along the route. The entire trip took under 30 minutes, which is amazing when compared to two hours that the same trip would have taken to navigate through Jo’burg’s traffic congestion by taxi.
I then caught the Noordwyk bound Gautrain bus from Midrand station using my Gold Card (cash is not accepted on these buses) and jumped off at the 2nd stop along Old Pretoria Road, almost opposite the Gallagher Convention Centre.
After a tiring day attending presentations at the Vision Conference, which formed part of the Hotel Show Africa, I summoned an Uber ride to my hotel. Thankfully, Town Lodge Midrand is only a 6-minute drive away and I was relieved to be allocated a smoking room on check-in.
The rooms at Town Lodge are somewhat smaller compared to City Lodge rooms, but I found mine to be comfortable with all of the requisite needs of a business traveller catered for, including complimentary WiFi and a writing desk. With 118 rooms in the hotel, my room just happened to one of the two rooms designed to meet the special needs of the physically disabled, which was rather convenient as they’re positioned on the ground floor close to the reception, sundowner bar, and dining room. There’s even a vending machine for snacks and beverages just down the passageway.
I was curious about the linen change card provided in the room, so after another typically sumptuous breakfast the following morning I met the hotel General Manager, Shelley Steel for a coffee and chat sitting around the pool deck. Steel tells me that she’s been with the City Lodge Group for 20 years, so when she says that guests appreciate eco-friendly initiatives and tend to opt for re-using the same linen to save water, she made me embarrassed as I’d forgotten to place the card on my bed.
My perception that Town Lodges are frequented by business travellers was confirmed when Ms. Steel said that their occupancy is 80% during weekdays. “Our weekend occupancy is somewhat lower but with the Kyalami motor racing track being close by and the new Mall of Africa being built near Midrand, we are seeing an increase in leisure tourists.”
I asked why Town Lodge is rated 2-Star by the TGCSA when the rooms and amenities are clearly 3-Star. “We had a total refurb done between 2014 to 2016, and although Town Lodge does meet 3-Star criteria, the Group management decided to stay with the lower rating to better differentiate between the brands,” said Steel.
Before heading off to attend another grueling day at Gallagher, I popped into my room to ensure that my conscience would sleep better that night.
For more information visit www.clhg.com