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Khayelitsha hoteliers roll out the red carpet

Khayelitsha entrepreneur, Annette Skaap is the driving force behind the new The Spade Hotel which opens its doors today. Picture: Tracey Adams.

Khayelitsha entrepreneur, Annette Skaap is the driving force behind the new The Spade Hotel which opens its doors today. Picture: Tracey Adams.

Published Dec 5, 2021

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The Spade Boutique Hotel and Spa in the heart of Khayelitsha, is expected to receive a four star grading following the finalisation of the process by the Grading Council, making it a first in a township.

Today’s (SUN) official opening is the culmination of months of preparations and the hoteliers remain upbeat despite the international travel ban.

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Among the dignitaries expected to attend are Premier Alan Winde and deputy mayor, Eddie Andrews.

Hotel owners, Bulelani, popularly known as “Ace Mabheka” and his wife, Annette Skaap, are not unfamiliar with charting new ground.

They have built a string of lifestyle and entertainment business ventures in the fast growing township.

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A luxury suite at The Spade Hotel. Picture: Tracey Adams/African News Agency (ANA)

The idea for a hotel was inspired by Annette's travel experiences to countries such as Bali, Singapore, Dubai, Namibia, Botswana and Mozambique while she was still in the aviation industry.

Skaap is an entrepreneur, a digital content creator with a large social media following, a wife and a mother.

Born in Kwa-Langa and raised in Khayelitsha, Skaap started her business venture with the development of rental properties in Khayelitsha in 2014.

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With urban migration, Skaap saw a need to provide rental apartments and properties for accommodation.

“We are pleased to introduce our new business expansion with the development of our first luxury hotel.

“This project has been in the making since 2018 but was derailed by the global Covid-19 pandemic,” said Annette.

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She promised that guests, both local and international, would be offered an “incredible” experience.

Skaap said the current travel ban was of great concern as they were looking forward to welcoming international guests.

The primary focus would now be on domestic guests who would be “treated to very high standards”, she said.

The hotel features 13 suites, luxurious en-suite bathrooms, air conditioning, unlimited wi-fi access, an in-house gym, a Spa, a heated outdoor swimming pool, restaurant and bar, and business services facilities as well as complimentary shuttle services.

“Our suites and luxury rooms have the backdrop of the Table Mountain, Cape Winelands and Helderberg Mountains,” said Skaap.

The couple’s entrepreneurial journey started in 2007 when Bulelani launched a lifestyle and entertainment spot in Khayelitsha, the Groova Lounge, known as Kwa-Ace.

Over 14 years the business portfolio has grown in leaps and bounds, creating jobs for people to better themselves and provide for their families and attracting local and international guests.

“The idea for Groova Lounge was inspired by a lack of clubs in the townships and a few places of entertainment such as Yellow Door, Maphindi and Mzoli’s.

“I wanted to make it easy for people within Khayelitsha to enjoy themselves in their backyards without worrying about costs, accessibility and safety.

“I was inspired by the clubs in town and their operational mechanism and wondered why I couldn’t have this ambiance, flair and style in the township.

“Plus, as a young man I wanted to create something stable to support my family and put bread and butter on the table,” said Skaap.

However, there were bumps on the road with compliance and objections from the community.

“Zoning didn’t allow for what we were trying out and neighbours often complained about noise.

“We were shut down by law enforcement every other week until we worked something out with the community.

“We hired staff from the community and it was a beneficial exchange for both parties.

“It was the community that helped us formalise the business through forums and committees that advocated for the business to proceed,” she said.

In 2010, when South Africa was preparing to host the Fifa World Cup, the business was expanded to include Groova Park, offering an African cuisine experience.

Then followed ePakini, an open space entertainment area where the popular South African braai, known as Tshisa Inyama is offered.

“We already had a market and had cemented ourselves within the market.

“We could only sell meat and people brought their own take away beverages and camped outside our space.

“As a business opportunity I wished we could be licensed so we could maximise on the entire experience.

“There are a variety of offerings at ePakini Small businesses all piggy backed off each other,” said Bulelani.

The Kwa-Ace brand now spots Kwa-Ace Lounge (formerly Groova Lounge), Kwa-Ace Kitchen (formerly Groova Park) and the Spade Boutique Hotel & Spa with the Lounge alone employing over 100 people on either permanent, temporary or contractual basis.

"We have recently affiliated with Cape Town Tourism, and the hotel is also affiliated with Federated Hospitality Association of South Africa (Fedhasa).

“We are looking forward to building beneficial relationships,” said Bulelani

A few days ago the couple also welcomed an new addition to the family.

“I am a very happy man. Unfortunately, due to cultural beliefs, I will not be able to share the name,” said Bulelani.

For booking enquiries, see www.thespaceboutiquehotel.co.za

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