THE stylish Hotel Lamunu, with its casual vibe and elegantly decorated rooms, is helping to transform Braamfontein into a leisure destination. And for this it scooped one of the city’s most coveted awards, a Halala Joburg.
Lamunu is the Sesotho word for orange and the hotel is just that – a bold orange statement in the heart of Braamfontein, conveniently located only 8.8km from the centre of Johannesburg.
The establishment, owned by South Point, won the Johannesburg Development Agency’s Halala Joburg Award in the Relaxing and Playing Joburg: the recreation destination category (HALALA AWARDS HANDED OUT (NEWS: 2012/JUNE). The awards ceremony was held on 26 June at The Forum at Turbine Hall.
|A tour of the hotel. Watch Video|
Trevor Latimer, the head of South Point’s hospitality division, says winning the Halala Joburg Award was a surprise. “It’s really been so rewarding to be acknowledged by the JDA and to have people recognise what we’re doing in Braamfontein and what we’re doing with this hotel.”
Of the category, the JDA says: “This category focuses on creative and innovative use of projects and built environment to define Joburg’s lifestyle. Essential to the project is the bold use of new or existing buildings and creating a uniquely Joburg sense of place … The quest is for spaces where the ‘Jozi entertainment’ experience is enhanced.”
Previous winners in this category were Gandhi Square, Olitzki Property Holdings in 2008; Smart Gym, Smart Gym Limited in 2009; Arts on Main, Propertuity in 2010; and Sci-Bono Discovery Centre, Gauteng Education Department in 2011.
The Halala Award is a true honour, Latimer says. In the space of two years, Hotel Lamunu has undergone incredible change. The trend is for hotels to close down, which is a knock for the hospitality sector, but Hotel Lamunu’s growth has surpassed the group’s wildest expectations in terms of occupying revenues.
As soon as you go through the glass doors into the hotel’s lobby, you are transported into a chic urban space. Decorated with dark wood panelling and an orange Lamunu sign, there are several pieces of art and hub caps. Up-cycled bucket and nguni hide chairs, and leather sofas make the lobby inviting. There is an ultra-modern restaurant and bar and other such essentials.
Situated on De Korte Street in Braamfontein, the hotel is a stone’s throw from the Neighbourgoods Market, the University of the Witwatersrand, the University of Johannesburg, Randlords, the Johannesburg Theatre Complex, Nelson Mandela Bridge, Constitution Hill, and Museum Africa.
Latimer says Hotel Lamunu opened just in time for the football World Cup in 2010. At the beginning of 2010, South Point saw an opportunity to buy the original 30-key hotel, which sits between two of its existing student accommodation buildings, and upgrade it, which would help upgrade the precinct in general.
The company subsequently spent about R60-million, taking the building back to its original concrete structure and re-developing it into a 60-key hotel.
To Latimer, it is a “a really beautiful compact oasis in the middle of Braamfontein that is vibrant, colourful and speaks to the modern-day urban traveller. So even down to our public spaces, which have an urban design edgy feel, to our bedrooms, 60 rooms all quite compact, and all studios with shower only facilities quite open plan with an orange theme running throughout.”
Today Hotel Lamunu provides an eat-sleep-meet solution in the heart of Braamfontein. With six floors each a tribute to academics and interesting graduates from the nearby Wits University, the hotel boldly illustrates a bit of the individual’s story and their academic successes. All the living areas, including the corridors, have sensor and key card activated lights.
Each room has individually controlled air conditioning, free wireless internet connectivity, flat screen television, iPod docking station, direct dial telephone, laptop safe, tea and coffee making facilities and comfortable beds. There is free parking for guests and housekeeping services. The bathrooms even have citrus scented soaps, taking the orange theme throughout.
Lamunu’s floors are a bold palette of orange, white and black that is continued throughout the establishment, even in the en-suite rooms. Each room has a unique work of art above the bed. These celebrate Joburg’s urban landscape, in a black and white photograph on canvas with a Joburg sunset brought to life by the bold use of orange.
While Hotel Lamunu attracts a mix of business and leisure guests, it aims to be the “village square” of Braamfontein – catering to students, office workers, visitors and the general Braamfontein community. The hotel has other interesting features, including a public space with trees and benches, new restaurants with a noodlebar, and an art gallery with a sandwich bar.
At its entrance is an open public space called The Grove, which has a massive TV screen for passers-by to enjoy as well as a trio of restaurants. Across from the lobby is Meet @ Lamunu. The conference rooms have all been named after noteworthy Wits graduates and the décor reflects the achievements of their namesakes.
The Natan Gamedze and Lionel Ngakane rooms have natural lighting coming from their floor to ceiling windows, and seat a maximum of eight, boardroom-style, whereas the Lee Berger room seats a maximum of 14, also boardroom-style.
Johnny Clegg room
Hotel Lamunu recently added a 120-seater conference room to its three boardrooms. Constructed at a cost of almost R1-million, the new addition is named after another Wits alumni, the celebrated South African musician, Johnny Clegg.
In March, the hotel’s general manager, Carmen Graham, said: “It’s been a long time coming since the conceptualisation of the project, which complements our existing modern and fresh conference offering. Our proximity to the corporate, arts and entertainment district of the northern Joburg CBD makes Hotel Lamunu an ideal option for meetings and team building. The addition of the Johnny Clegg room now makes this choice available to larger groups.”
It has motorised drop-down screens and permanent data projectors. The room is fitted with air-conditioning and is equipped with state-of-the-art audio visual equipment. “It is an ideal multi-purpose flexible facility,” she said.
In addition to the meeting rooms, the hotel also has a private lounge facility. At its entrance is a large wire replica of Nelson Mandela Bridge. There are also two wire-men, their hands calling for taxis, lit up with fairy lights.
South Point started its building portfolio in 2005 and has a substantial group of buildings under its belt, most of them student accommodation. Latimer says the company has brought a vibrant, new energy into a part of Braamfontein that was previously abandoned.