The evening of 6 November saw the culmination of Tsogo Sun’s year of celebrations of the 50th anniversary of the group’s very first and undoubtedly most iconic hotel, the Beverly Hills in Umhlanga, KwaZulu-Natal.
In an event befitting a grande dame of the Beverly Hills’ stature, guests, all of whom had been part of the Beverly Hills’ 50 year journey, gathered to experience food, wine and entertainment seldom seen in South Africa today. Joined by the man who built the Beverly Hills five decades ago, launching his own prolific journey as a hospitality industry icon – Sol Kerzner – guests were treated to an unforgettable evening that began with a spectacular display of Moet et Chandon and ended with a theatrical parade of chefs presenting hand-crafted desserts bedecked with gold dust.
“For 50 years, the Beverly Hills has created magical memories for countless numbers of guests worldwide who return here time and time again, guests who come back to experience the unique something that sets this hotel apart. The Beverly Hills is an integral, iconic part of the fabric of the greater city of Durban and, as the very first hotel envisioned by Sol Kerzner, it was arguably the first of its generation to offer a classic five-star experience which felt like home,” said Marcel von Aulock, chief executive officer of Tsogo Sun.
As a group with a portfolio of over 90 hotels and 14 entertainment destinations, the Tsogo Sun of today is undoubtedly the leading hospitality, gaming and entertainment company in southern Africa, and the Beverly Hills is one of its most exceptional properties. The hotel’s reputation for gracious hospitality and award-winning service was showcased in grand style at the 50th anniversary event, with a performance by Platinum-selling artist Lira that began with her rendition of a song she was inspired by Sol Kerzner to perform on the evening – Frank Sinatra’s ‘My Way’. Spectacular displays of food greeted guests on arrival, including sides of gravadlax salmon and prawns displayed in ice carvings, as Tsogo Sun’s finest chefs took the opportunity to present modern variations on classical favourites, while an operatic performance by ZigZag, complete with trapeze artists suspended from the iconic building took guests by surprise, adding yet another element to an outstanding evening of exceptional experiences.
Addressing the guests who had gathered to celebrate the 50th anniversary of this spectacularly located hotel, Sol Kerzner, former chairman and chief executive officer of Southern Sun Hotels, said: “It is a great pleasure and privilege for me to have been asked to be part of the celebration of the Beverly Hills 50th anniversary. The Beverly was the first hotel that I designed, built and operated in South Africa and the opening of the hotel in December 1964 was an important moment in my career in the hospitality industry. The Beverly was a cornerstone of the Southern Sun Group, which I started in 1969 and which later became Tsogo Sun. It was also South Africa’s first new resort hotel to be awarded five stars and the property set a new standard for hotels in this country and was part of the foundation for the country’s tourism future.
The hotel has proudly maintained its five-star status for its entire 50-year history and I attribute this in large part to the dedication of the hotel management and employees who were, and remain, committed to providing an outstanding service for all guests. I look back on the exciting times we had back then – setting new standards in the industry and working with a great team to establish and maintain the reputation and status of the Beverly Hills as South Africa’s first true luxury resort hotel. Employee turnover was very low and the team learnt the importance of delivering consistently excellent service and memorable experiences for our guest. At the Beverly we always knew that ‘good enough never is’ and that the customer was everything to us. I am delighted that the Beverly remains a five-star property today and is still clearly an important part of Tsogo Sun. I wish Marcel von Aulock and his capable team every success in the future and wish the Beverly another 50 years of success and relevance to South African tourism.”
Mr Von Aulock said: “For thousands of South African and international guests, the Beverly Hills is so much more than a luxury hotel; and the outpouring of memories that have come from its loyal guests since the start of its 50th anniversary celebrations are testament to the fact. For five decades, the Beverly Hills has been a place where memories have been made. It carries an air of grace and luxury, and there’s something intangible about the hotel that strikes you the moment you enter the doors. ‘Something special’ is hard to put into words, but that’s what the Beverly Hills is. This is a hotel that is close to our hearts at Tsogo Sun. It was the first hotel to be opened by Sol Kerzner and was a core part of the group on its formation when Kerzner joined forces with South African Breweries.
“It remains as iconic to Tsogo Sun as it ever was, epitomising our brand values of passion, energy, variety, seductiveness and leaders, and holding true to our promise of creating great experiences. There’s no doubt that exceptional experiences are the hallmark of our property on the rocks in Umhlanga – and we consider it a privilege to have been part of so many wonderful memories for the people who have been our guests for the past 50 years. In celebrating this iconic hotel we pay tribute to our guests and to the special moments they have allowed us to share with them. Saluté to the Beverly Hills on her 50th anniversary!”