Twenty years after the historic first universal elections in South Africa, the country’s largest city is experiencing its own rebirth as an important business centre and a cosmopolitan destination with a wealth of leisure opportunities, and the new Four Seasons Hotel The Westcliff Johannesburg is at the heart of it all.
“This is a really exciting time in Jo’burg – you can feel the energy and excitement,” says Sebastien Carre, who traveled the world before settling in South Africa as the Hotel’s new General Manager. “Even if you think you know the city, it’s changing so fast that it’s definitely worth another visit – and if you’ve never been here before, you are in for a very special treat.”
Indeed, the city’s renaissance is being led by a new generation of artists, designers and creative thinkers. Johannesburg now boasts two separate fashion weeks, an array of funky arts districts, and just last fall the Museum of African Design – the first of its kind on the continent – opened its doors. Founded on the gold and diamond trades, the city also remains a key centre for mining, banking, media, health care and a growing technology sector.
Four Seasons Hotel The Westcliff Johannesburg is in the middle of the action, just minutes from major business centers and tourist attractions. With stunning 240-degree views across the city’s famed green canopy and the Johannesburg Zoo right next door, the Hotel is nestled among eight acres (three hectares) of lushly landscaped gardens cascading down a hillside that is also less than 30 minutes from two major airports, including the largest and busiest in all of Africa. Thus, Four Seasons The Westcliff is ideally positioned as a gateway for international air travelers to explore the Sub Continent and beyond. Important game reserves are nearby, including Kruger National Park just five hours’ drive away, and 36 of South Africa’s top 100 golf courses are within an hour of the Hotel – some just minutes away. Open air markets, art galleries, hip restaurants and more await.
Reservations are now open for confirmed arrivals beginning December 1, 2014.
The Westcliff was originally conceived as a stately enclave for an exclusive clientele when it opened in the late 1990s. Under the guidance of Four Seasons and the vision of locally-based RSL Architects and JACKET INTERIORS, the former grande dame is getting a facelift and a new attitude in keeping with a modern African aesthetic, and reflective of the dynamic city that surrounds it.
With 117 guest rooms and suites scattered through nine low rise buildings amid beautifully landscaped gardens, terraces and fountains, the mood is almost residential; a welcoming respite from hectic business affairs and busy days exploring.
And yet the environment within is closely connected to the pulse of the city, perhaps most notably with its extensive contemporary African art collection. A carefully curated selection features paintings, prints, sculptures and mixed media by prominent artists including Helmut Starcke, Obie Oberholzer, Gawie Joubert, Saral Petrus, Diana Hyslop, Lehlogonolo Mashaba, Louis Olivier and the team of Arlene Amaler-Raviv & Dale Yudelman, among many others.
Business travelers will find everything at their fingertips, from in-room media hub, private bar and espresso machine to a 24-hour business center, round the clock laundry and multi-lingual concierge team. Honeymooners, couples and friends enjoying a getaway will love the all-new Spa complex, two swimming pools and endless opportunities for golf and shopping, while families will appreciate the fully supervised Kids for All Seasons and the surprise inclusion of a home theater in some of the Hotel’s suites.
For residents of the city’s prestigious neighborhoods known as The Parks, Four Seasons The Westcliff is destined to become a social center with its five restaurants and lounges and day access to the Spa, as well as its gorgeous venues for weddings and other social functions.
“The real difference that returning guests will notice is something they will feel rather than see, and that’s the caring, personal service for which Four Seasons is renowned all over the world,” says Christopher Rudolph, who grew up in Johannesburg, lived abroad and has now returned as the Hotel Manager at Four Seasons The Westcliff. “I have always wanted to work with Four Seasons and return to the place I call home – now at last both dreams have come true.”
Five all-new restaurants and lounges are preparing to welcome both local and international guests with an array of options to enjoy the very finest cuisine, accompanied by the best wines of South Africa and the world. The culinary team is presided over by Executive Chef Dirk Gieselmann, a native of Germany and most recently of the three Michelin star L’Auberge de L’Ill in Illhaeusern, France. Passionate about seasonality and local provenance, Chef Gieselmann is currently foraging the farms and markets of the city and surrounding countryside, acquiring the best possible ingredients on which to base his menus.
The Hotel’s showpiece restaurant will be View, conceived as a gallery of culinary art where Chef and his team will be at their most creative. A dramatic interior opens to an elegant terrace, where couples, business associates and close friends will indulge in the finest seafood and meats at lunch and dinner.
Flames will boast an expansive terrace and sunset views. As the name suggests, grilled specialties are on the menu, expertly paired with South African wines and local craft beers. Breakfast, lunch, afternoon tea and cocktails will be served in addition to dinner.
As well as the larders, the wine cellars are also being stocked now, with the country’s best regional bottles being laid down. Celebrating the marriage of the most interesting wines with the most delightful culinary creations is Cellar Door. This intimate venue will host wine tastings and other special events, and is available for private bookings for up to 20 guests.
For those on the move, Westcliff Deli is an easy drop-in spot for local residents and Hotel guests. Accessed from the front drive, it will be a great place to pick up coffee and sweets, as well as gourmet sandwiches and salads to go.
Spa goers are welcome to stay in their post-treatment robes as they lounge poolside at Après-Spa, where wines, fresh juices and light cuisine can be enjoyed at tables or on comfortable loungers. The casual atmosphere is also a great place to catch up with friends, or simply spend a quiet afternoon of relaxation in the sunshine.
Housed in a completely new building designed to the company’s exacting standards, The Spa at Four Seasons will be an oasis of pampering and well-being amid the serenity of the Hotel’s gardens. Inspired by the nature that surrounds them, nine treatment rooms – including a couple’s suite – set the stage of expert massage, skin care and body treatments. Full facilities for men and women – both Hotel guests and day visitors – including luxe change rooms, saunas and steam rooms, as well as the outdoor Après-Spa lounge.
Close to eight acres (three hectares) of landscaped gardens offer winding jogging or walking paths, and the concierge team can also provide route maps through the park next door. Back at the Hotel, a fitness center with all-new state-of-the-art equipment is open 24 hours, and an outdoor infinity lap pool complements the second swimming pool with its water feature and bubble bed.
Experienced business travelers and event planners know that when every detail counts, there’s no better partner than Four Seasons. With expert staff at the ready, guests are free to focus on the business at hand, knowing that every detail will be executed with precision.
“Four Seasons service is unmatched, resulting in an experience that can feel more like a relaxing vacation than as stressful business trip,” notes Director of Sales and Marketing David Barillot. “The Hotel is an urban resort with its destination spa, comprehensive fitness centre and dining hotspots, not to mention the many leisure opportunities in the immediate area, from safaris to the Cradle of Humankind, golf, Soweto tours, shopping and more.”
Function options include 1,457 square meters (15,683 square feet) of naturally-lit event spaces, highlighted by the 615 square meter (6,620 square foot) Arcadia Ballroom. With panoramic views and its own terrace, the room is divisible and features a pre-function space. Thirteen additional rooms offer a choice of smaller venues, or a complete suite for a conference. With the weather pleasant year-round, 842 square meters or 9063 square feet of outdoor space offers a fresh alternative for receptions, and gloriously romantic backdrops for weddings.
For honeymooners fantasizing about an African adventure, Four Seasons The Westcliff is the perfect place to begin married life before going on safari in South Africa and Botswana, or further afield at the Hotel’s sister property in the Serengeti, or perhaps jetting off to tropical bliss in Mauritius or Seychelles.
Long established with four properties in Egypt (two in Cairo, one in Alexandria, and one on the Red Sea – a resort once voted #1 in the world under the leadership of Sebastien Carre, now General Manager in Johannesburg) and more recently with the opening of a resort in Marrakech, the first of three planned locations in Morocco, Four Seasons has recently entered Sub-Saharan Africa with the 2012 opening of Four Seasons Safari Lodge Serengeti, the first of three planned properties in Tanzania. Four Seasons Hotel The Westcliff Johannesburg is the brand’s first hotel on the African Sub Continent, with resorts in the Seychelles and Mauritius completing the collection – for now.
“Africa is an important development market for Four Seasons, so travelers can look forward to news about more urban and resort locations in the future,” promises Carre.
Photos courtesy of Four Seasons Hotels & Resorts