South African-based hotel and casino group, Peermont Hotels Casinos and Resorts, is currently completing the pre-opening development phase of Umodzi Park, which incorporates Malawi’s first five-star hotel, the President Walmont, the Bingu Wa Mutharika International Convention Centre (BICC), and the Presidential Villas, in the capital, Lilongwe.
Peermont concluded a management contract agreement with Umodzi Holdings in October 2014, and is completing the final fit-out and interior design finishes, infusing local Malawian influences with a distinctly continental African flair. The entrance to the Umodzi Park business precinct features 2 500 secure parking bays and leads to the statuesque double volume and twin buildings of the Bingu Wa Mutharika International Convention Centre (BICC).
Facilities of the BICC include the Lilongwe Auditorium, which seats 1 500 delegates and is accessed by a large volume foyer, which can accommodate the same number of guests. The Heron, Ibis, Pelican, Sparrowhawk and Sandpiper conference rooms can be combined, or used individually, to cater for up to 70 delegates each, and are perfect for company meetings or plenary sessions.
Njobvu (Elephant), Mbidzi (Zebra) and Mvuu (Hippo) are banqueting halls which can be used individually to house 200 delegates, or combined to cater for more than 1 000 guests.
A further four multi-functional venues, Mphasa, Mbuna, Chambo and Usipa offer varying configurations, that each cater for 15 people, in an executive boardroom set-up, or up to 60 people in cinema-style set-up. There is also an exclusive VIP boardroom, lounge and holding room, Mafumu, meaning royalty that has a separate entrance and a dedicated lift, providing an unparalleled level of safety and security.
The International Convention Centre also features the Mseko Bistro which will serve speciality coffees and light snacks, sandwiches and salads. Both buildings of the BICC open out onto Malawi Square, a large paved outdoor exhibition and event area featuring the sun of the Malawi flag etched into the vast paved brickwork expanse.
Then, overlooking the vast Malawi Square is The President Walmont Hotel, the first-ever five-star hotel in Malawi. It has a large reception area, beautiful lobby bar, relaxing lounge and is home to the signature Wild Orchid Restaurant, with its elegant indoor seating and outdoor pool deck terrace offering an international breakfast buffet and an à la carte lunch and dinner menu.
The hotel’s lobby lounge and bar is open throughout the day offering a selection of light snacks and hot and cold beverages. The hotel also houses a spa and wellness centre, a curio shop, hair salon, meeting rooms and the “afropolitan” Afroma Terrace Bar, where chilled music soothes and sundowners are served in the bar, or at the outdoor lounge that overlooks the entire precinct.
The President Walmont Hotel comprises 130 rooms and suites, with 60 classic king rooms, 60 classic twin rooms, a special assistance room and 10 presidential suites, all with air-conditioning, 40-inch TV’s with local satellite channels, a writing desk, international plugs, Wi-Fi, a mini bar that is stocked on request, and a tea and coffee station. Additionally, there are 14 presidential villas in a secure estate – a short drive from Umodzi Park – that offer the ultimate in privacy and security and serve as a great option for discerning international government delegations, long-stay guests and royalty. The Villas offer a private clubhouse and relaxation and sporting facilities.
The BICC has been operating in a limited capacity since November 2014 to service the needs of the local and regional community, and Peermont expected the finalisation of the interior design fit-out to be completed by mid-March 2015. Thereafter, the BICC will operate at optimum standards and capacities.
The President Walmont Hotel will be open for sale to the general public from 1 May 2015 after a period of soft trading to test and check all facilities and standards. Website bookings have opened on the Peermont website www.peermont.com as has Peermont Central Voice Reservations on +27 (0)11 928 1928. A substantial Malawi local recruitment drive has ensured that essential management and staffing positions have been filled, and Neal Sewnarain, an experienced hotel manager, was appointed as the general manager for Umodzi Park in October 2014 to oversee the pre-opening phase.
“We were very proud to be awarded this prestigious management contract, and Peermont is confident that the Umodzi Park Hotel, Convention Centre and Presidential Villas, under our management, will provide customers with a world-class business experience – and will definitely complement our existing range of market-leading hotels and convention centres. “We also want to pay tribute to the professional dealings of the Umodzi Board,” said Anthony Puttergill, group chief executive officer at Peermont.
Mr Puttergill said: “As a company that successfully operates many multi-faceted hotels and convention resorts in South Africa and Botswana, including the renowned Emperors Palace and The Grand Palm brands, we believe that the Malawi development will be in good company and benefit from the existing business networks we have built up, as well as our adherence to strict operating standards. “Our sales and marketing teams are hard at work to position this wonderful business park correctly in the global business community.”