BY MTHANDAZO NYONI IN VICTORIA FALLS
FINANCIAL services group, Old Mutual Zimbabwe Limited opened the US$24,6 million Palm River Hotel here yesterday, as part of its portfolio diversification strategy.
The four-star facility, a world-class real estate gem on the shores of the Zambezi River, is a partnership between Old Mutual and Spencer Creek, an established tourism firm with significant interests in the industry, according to Old Mutual chairman, Kumbirai Katsande.
The hotel boasts 73 rooms that include a presidential and honeymoon suites, in addition to private villas.
It is strategically located at a point upstream of the waterfall where on a clear day, guests can view the spray that juts into the air from Victoria Falls, and hear the thunder that roars as millions of litres of water plunge into the globally-acclaimed landmark.
The hotel is targeting to create 200 employment opportunities for locals, and generate US$6 million for the country annually.
Katsande said Zimbabwe’s tourism sector, which suffered the worst pandemic-induced knocks since COVID-19 and exploded in 2019, grounding global travel, was ripe for investment.
“The tourism industry is ripe for more investment, as it is a good source of hard currency which can be injected to boost economic activities across the country,” he said.
“This sector also in a way showcases what Zimbabwe has to offer to the international world.
“Old Mutual Palm River Hotel — a spectacular state-of-the-art leisure centre is a magnificent asset done to international standards, and really deserving of this official opening occasion.
“The project is a US$24,6 million investment done through a partnership between Old Mutual and Spencer Creek, a hotel operator that runs another luxurious hotel here in Victoria Falls.
“Old Mutual partnered with a number of pension fund clients to co-invest in the project.”
The Old Mutual boss added that the firm’s aim was to support the communities it serves.
“We have demonstrated this commitment to build Zimbabwe for over 100 years through projects that contribute to the growth of the economy,” he said.
“Some of the recent projects we are most proud of include green energy projects among them solar and hydro energy plants, infrastructure to support agriculture and mining centres and investments in projects and ventures across the sectors of our economy.”
Officially opening the hotel, Victoria Falls mayor Somveli Dhlamini commended the project for creating employment opportunities for the locals.
“With this new establishment prospects of visitors coming to Victoria Falls to access the facility are strong as the project cements our ambitions to be a preferred destination,” he said.
As a way to woo investors to Victoria Falls, Dhlamini said the authority was offering serviced land and a 24-month tax holiday to facilitate smooth implementation.
The hotel will open to the public on December 1, 2021.
For over 100 years in Zimbabwe, Old Mutual has committed to play a leading role in the development of businesses, the local economy, and communities across the country.