The international attention on Cape Town as one of the world’s “must” destinations has highlighted a desperate shortage of first-class meeting and function venues in the city. Large trade shows and conferences with thousands of delegates are already well catered for, but Michael Pownall, general manager for Taj Cape Town recognised the city’s urgent need for a grand venue that is equipped to host up to 400 of the most discerning clientele – be it for business or private purposes.
“The Reserve at Taj Cape Town occupies one of the city’s most iconic buildings and is set to become Cape Town’s pre-eminent venue for meetings, conferences and events,” comments Mr Pownall. “Housed in the original African Banking Corporation Building, which was constructed in 1894 and later becoming the renaissance-styled branch of Standard Bank in the 1920s, the Reserve at Taj Cape Town stands proud in the historical precinct near Company Gardens and the Houses of Parliament, and exudes a sense of style and grandeur that is impossible to replicate in modern times.
“Over the last century and beyond, this historic building has been woven into the culture and business interests of Cape Town’s industrial elite, and now with the investment and vision of the Taj Group, we are proud to present this legacy as the city’s most iconic venue for banquets and business functions,” adds Mr Pownall.
In line with the development of the Taj Cape Town in the Board of Executors building – previously Temple Chambers – and SA Reserve Bank headquarters; the extensive renovation to the Reserve at Taj Cape Town needed to be sensitive in preserving the heritage of this landmark building. “The challenge when refurbishing these heritage properties was to incorporate the latest technology and modern conveniences without detracting from the charm and character of yesteryear,” adds Mr Pownall.
The entrance to The Reserve at Taj Cape Town is conveniently located next door to the hotel on St George’s pedestrian walkway. The colossal bronze doors open to an elegant champagne bar which is perfect for guest registration or a classic reception of cocktails and canapés.
In the original banking hall, a total of 330m² on the ground floor allows The Reserve at Taj Cape Town to host up to 400 guests in a lavish cocktail party, or up to 230 seated guests at a glamorous banquet. The venue can be optimised for corporate events to cater for up to 300 cinema seated delegates, or up to 200 delegates seated in a school room format. Furthermore, the banking hall can be sub-divided into three separate spaces of either 80m² or 200m² to cater for smaller parties or different streams of delegates.
There are two exceptional spaces within The Reserve at Taj Cape Town that echo the building’s illustrious past particularly well. “The Chairman’s Office, with its original teak panelling and period fireplace, has been witness to various captains of industry over the years and now renders service as either an opulent break away room or an elegant cigar lounge, “ comments Mr Williams, director of sales and marketing for Taj Cape Town.
“But perhaps the most unique function venue in Cape Town can be found in what was once the expansive walk-in vault on the basement level. Home to a wrap-around 17 000 bottle wine cellar, this 120m² subterranean venue lends itself as a multi-function space where the only limits are within the host’s creativity.
“Having a luxury hotel of Taj Cape Town’s standard located next door to an event venue of such grandeur is the ultimate statement in style for banquet guests and conference delegates who are staying with us,” explains Mr Williams. “The proximity between the two allowed us to excavate a discreet service tunnel for our staff between the hotel kitchens and the venue, ensuring we offer the same impeccable level of service and attention to detail to our function guests that has become synonymous with Taj Cape Town.”
The Reserve at Taj Cape Town has already hosted two exclusive events; H.E. President Jacob Zuma and fellow cabinet ministers attended the inaugural event, and the venue also hosted the renowned Inter Hotel Challenge at the end of March. “The status of our first two successful events clearly illustrates the high standards of excellence we have set ourselves in the objective to become renowned as Cape Town’s ultimate choice for Meetings and Functions,” remarks Mr Williams.