The official opening of Mbano Manor Hotel is historic and iconic, as the first luxury boutique hotel conceptualized and developed by a black female Zimbabwean. State President Ed Mnangagwa is scheduled to officially open the hotel.
The launch of the USD8million Mbano Manor Hotel also forms part of the critical programme launching the National Tourism Recovery and Growth Strategy, on 6th August at the Victoria Falls.
Mbano Manor Hotel is an all-suite premium luxury hotel that was completed in early 2020. The hotel is comprised of 19 suites, including a masterpiece Forest Villa. Support services include reception, lounge, bar, back of house, kitchen and swimming pool, in a teak forest setting adjacent to Zambezi National Park.
“The official launch of the hotel as part of the National Tourism Recovery and Growth Strategy, is an absolute privilege and honour for me and my family, for which we are truly grateful” states Dr Mati Nyazema, Founder and Executive Director of Mbano Manor Hotel.
The exterior design of Mbano Manor Hotel embraces effortless countryside yet modern experience, defined by large bungalow architecture, open-flowing public areas and imposing verandas. The individual suites consist of a calming lounge area with high ceiling, a spacious king-sized bedroom, bathroom, dressing room and a private courtyard. The perfect and tranquil space in which to unwind.
The official opening of Mbano Manor Hotel signifies several iconic and historic milestones.
Firstly, it is arguably the first luxury boutique hotel development of five-star positioning, to be opened in Zimbabwe, spearheaded by a black woman, Dr Matifadza Martha Nyazema. Dr Nyazema is an award-winning tourism and hotel professional, with over 30 years of hospitality experience including involvement in global travel companies and hotel start-ups across several African countries.
“I have travelled to over 60 countries during my career, and stayed at some of the best signature hotels in the world. What you see at Mbano today is the culmination of this experience, yet engineered by an expert design and architectural team to blend with our natural environment. Attention to detail defines the Mbano experience.”
Scattered across the four-acre estate, the 19 suites are generously spaced each with an individual private entrance. “Our suites offer generous space, privacy and seclusion and effortless comfort define the Mbano experience.
Secondly, sustainable co-existence with nature was critical in the hotel development. The hotel is located within the ancient teak forest of the Zambezi National Park. Only two trees were taken down in the development, ensuring that the natural forest remains.
“The Mbano gardens are a wilderness gem, and a bird and tree sanctuary. The magnificent landscape design features indigenous trees and grasses. The natural bush dominates”, explains Dr Nyazema.
Thirdly, the boutique hotel contributes much needed new and globally competitive product into the tourism marketspace.
“We complement the existing accommodation product in and around Victoria Falls. Our aim is to open up new and additional markets for the benefit of the destination and the country”.
One key trend driving the future of luxury travel is the shift in values from the material to the experiential – rather than saving up to buy luxurious possessions, people are choosing to spend their money on experiences. Mbano Manor Hotel is positioning itself to take up this opportunity in Zimbabwe and the region.
Another milestone for Mbano Manor Hotel is that, local pension funds funded the development, over and above an initial injection of feasibility funding, provided by an international investor.
“We applaud and are grateful for the demonstration of confidence by local institutions. In particular Hippo Valley and Triangle Pension Funds, who endorsed our vision, considering this was an entrepreneurial venture”. Additional funding was also later obtained from the Standard Chartered Pension Fund, and from two Minerva Pension Funds.
The journey to deliver a world class product was not easy. “There were challenges. But we remained focused on our goal. We did not compromise on developing the hotel product that was initially envisaged.”
The hotel is located on Old Kazungula road, on the edge of town, only four kilometres from the entrance to the Victoria Falls rainforest. This means visitors will be able to enjoy the best of all worlds – a tranquil hotel setting, wildlife safaris, adventure sport, or a tour of the Victoria Falls Rain Forest and its majestic views of the world’s largest curtain of water.
Initial reaction from the travel trade has been positive. Mbano Manor hotel already appears on several global and regional tour operator product directories.
Dr Nyazema’s belief in her vision is key to her success. “My research and experience in tourism convinced me that there is a market gap in the luxury boutique product at Victoria Falls that Mbano can contribute to fill. Several people said this idea would not fly because the site is not next to the Zambezi river nor the rainforest. My global perspective said it was possible. We are actively engaging in daily sales and marketing of the hotel, despite the current global challenges. “
Dr Mati Nyazema leads the management team of the hotel, together with seasoned hotelier General Manager Jonathan Ellway.
The Covid 19 pandemic was not anticipated. Mbano Manor Hotel was barely open and had to close for several weeks for national lockdown.
To commemorate the official opening, Mbano Manor Hotel has launched a special offer of USD95 per person per night bed and breakfast, including high tea.
“It is the hand of God. The short to medium term business future will be tough. But failure is not an option. We look forward to an organised and sustainable tourism recovery programme and I am confident that our industry is capable of delivering this.” Nyazema concludes.