Island of Mozambique tourism operator wins responsible tourism award
Known as the “Great Lady of Africa”, the Hotel Polana in Maputo is undergoing a major remodelling and will reopen in May with a new face. Work in the Polana Mar (Polana Sea), next to the gardens and the swimming pool, has been ongoing since June of last year and represents an investment of US$4 million (about EUR 3.7 million) by the Serena Hotels group, owner of the Polana Hotel since 2013 and whose main shareholder is the Aga Khan Fund for Economic Development.
The new Polana is being unveiled at the Tourism Exchange of Lisbon (BTL), which started yesterday and runs until March 19, underlining the fact that Portuguese visitors comprise the majority of guests at the Maputo hotel, where the country’s president, Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, likes to stay on his visits to Mozambique.
Work at the Polana is not taking place on the main building, whose facade was renovated in 2011, but in the Polana Mar unit next to the gardens, which is being enlarged from 55 to 66 rooms, and differentiated in its style of decoration. In addition to personalized butler services, the Polana Mar will also have a ‘Kids Club’ to entertain younger ‘customers’.
“The Polana is much more than a hotel. It is a 95-year-old institution through which many kings, queens and presidents have passed, as well as other public figures. Some call it ‘a state within the state’, and Samora Machel even called the Polana ‘the mirror of the nation’,” General Director Miguel Afonso dos Santos said at the Lisbon tourism fair.
The director stressed that any work on the hotel was critical and drew great attention because of “the emotional relationship that the hotel awakens in people. Everyone thinks it is a little bit theirs in some way; there are lots of people who have learned to swim in the Polana pool”.
In addition to the Polana Mar renovation, the group is investing US$5 million (EUR 4.7 million) in the construction of six 170-square-metre ocean view villas, bringing the group’s overall new investment in the Polana to US$9 million.
“Mozambique at this moment generates mixed feelings. It is a country where there is no longer talk of conflict, and where much is happening,” Miguel Afonso dos Santos emphasizes, drawing attention to the tourism potential of a country “with 2,700 kilometers of coast, a people with a unique smile – and new lessons in humility every day”.
By Conceição AntunesSource: Expresso
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