The Table Bay Hotel at the V&A Waterfront celebrated its 25th anniversary on Monday May 30, with guests and local celebrities who have frequented the space over the years.
The hotel, by Sun International, was officially opened by former president Nelson Mandela on May 30, 1997.
Former CEO and chairman of Sun International, Peter Bacon, said he remembered the opening day well. “We were honoured to have President Nelson Mandela perform the official opening ceremony, which marked the culmination of a lengthy, and at times, quite challenging collaboration between the Waterfront Company, Sun International and a professional team drawn locally and from around the world.”
The hotel has since become a part of the V&A Waterfront’s fabric, according to the CEO of Sun International, Anthony Leeming. “Right from the start, we saw the potential in establishing a world-class hotel in the heart of what we recognised would be a rapidly evolving tourism destination. Today we are envied for having the best address in Cape Town.”
He said The Table Bay was the third oldest property in the Sun International group. “We are proud of the place The Table Bay holds in our group and for tourism in South Africa.”
The location also got the blessing of former Sun International CEO, Sol Kerzner. The hotel and resort developer was adamant that the The Table Bay Hotel had to be built at an angle, facing Table Mountain head-on.
V&A Waterfront CEO, David Green, congratulated the hotel on their 25th anniversary. “It took vision and foresight of the founders to create the hotel in the first place and to develop it into one of the iconic hotels of Cape Town and South Africa, winning awards and hosting dignitaries and international superstar guests, with excellence.”
The hotel was closed for the first time in 25 years in 2020 when the Covid-19 pandemic hit. Like many businesses in the hospitality industry, the hotel was hit hard by the lockdown.
However, The Table Bay Hotel’s general manager, Joanne Selby, said despite the temporary closure, they were committed to retain as many of the staff as possible. “It’s so heartening to celebrate our silver anniversary with them.”
This year, international travel has picked up from the USA, the UK and Europe, with a significant increase in business from other African countries, said Ms Selby.
Cape Town Tourism CEO, Enver Duminy, said with a history that runs in tandem to our modern era of tourism in Cape Town, The Table Bay Hotel is an iconic presence within Africa’s most-visited attraction, the V&A Waterfront.
“This prestigious hotel’s decades of welcoming visitors and hosting events have contributed to our success as a global destination over the years, with invaluable skills development for locals who have gained experience at the venue. We anticipate that our shared enthusiasm for world-class hospitality will continue to attract visitors to The Table Bay Hotel and Cape Town.”
The City of Cape Town’s mayoral committee member for economic growth, James Vos, also congratulated the hotel. “In its 25 years, The Table Bay Hotel has exemplified the high standards, diversity and innovation of tourism and hospitality in Cape Town.”
Notable past guests are commemorated with a plaque at the base of a bronze statue of Oscar, the Cape fur seal who was a regular visitor to Jetty 2 outside the hotel where he developed an unlikely friendship with a fisherman who would share part of his daily catch with Oscar.
Oscar has become the mascot of The Table Bay, and he is honoured with a statue, as well as in the logo of the hotel.
Celebrity guests who have stayed at the hotel include kings and queens such as King Harold and Queen Sonja of Norway, Mohammed V1 King of Morocco and Prince Albert of Monaco. Among the heads of state to visit were former President Mandela, French President Jacques Chirac and American President Barack Obama – first as a senator, and thereafter when he became president, and even Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Michael Jackson, Michael Schumacher, Sir Tom Jones, Morgan Freeman, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Robert de Niro, Steve Tyler, Snoop Dog, Vanilla Ice and Robbie Williams are among the hotel’s many famous guests.
Most recently, South Africa’s own Miss Universe, Zozibini Tunzi, joined this stellar list of celebrities and is now honoured with her own plaque of fame at Oscar’s statue.
The Table Bay had also become a venue for the Miss South Africa pageant, which it hosted for the past two years.
Sports stars have also visited. In 2010, the entire Manchester United team were guests, and the hotel even hosted England’s riotous Barmy Army who famously drank the bar dry while celebrating the English cricket team’s win over South Africa in 2016.
Former Western Province and Springbok rugby player Corné Krige, who also attended the event, said he proposed to his wife at The Table Bay Hotel 21 years ago – the same year Western Province won the Currie Cup under his captaincy.
The hotel further celebrated its milestone anniversary with wine dating back to 1994 when the development of the hotel first started, and from 1997 when the hotel opened.
There were performances from the Gugulethu Choir, and South Africa music legend PJ Powers, who is also a regular visitor of the hotel.