The sheer audacity of developing a five-star hotel in a dusty stretch of bush in the North West Province caught the public imagination in 1992, and 30 years on The Palace of the Lost City remains the stuff of legends.
The hotel came complete with the fable of an African kingdom lost in the mists of time.
No detail was spared to stress that it was, indeed, a place of myth and wonder. From the moment The Palace flung its impressive 8m tall doors open to reveal its bold, glamorous interiors, visitors have been awed by the hotel’s splendour.
Each of the 326 luxurious rooms and suites offer spectacular views over water and jungle. For a bird’s eye view of the entire area guests can visit the Kings Tower which, at almost 70m, is the tallest of the 10 towers at The Palace.
The hotel’s architecture and décor weaves a rich and colourful tale of Africa’s creativity, its textures, intricate designs, patterns, wildlife, and the talent of its craftsmen and women.
From the hand-painted dome ceiling in the grand entrance to mosaic artworks, golden seats upholstered with zebra-hide, and bespoke furniture in the spacious rooms, the hotel befits its royal legend. The King’s Suite alone contains 800 custom-crafted items including fabrics and carpeting.
The evocative African landscape painted on the underside of a dome ceiling at the entrance took nine artists nearly 5,000 hours to complete while hand-painted murals cover an area of 3 400 square metres. The tapestries in the Royal Entrance Chamber behind the concierge and the reception desk took two full years to weave.
In the Crystal Court a massive rock crystal chandelier that is suspended 4.2 meters above the ground and spanning spans five meters in diameter, overlooks a Bösendorfer piano once played by Liberace and Elton John.
In addition to an Olympic-sized swimming pool with an intricate mosaic ‘sun’ design, a trip down a lush tree-lined stairway leads visitors to the Royal Baths and Amphitheatre overlooking Sun City’s popular Valley of Waves.
Over the past 30 years The Palace has accommodated the rich and the famous, royalty, rock stars and ordinary South Africans. Well over 300 famous performers and heads of state have stayed at the hotel from members of the legendary band Queen to Michael Jackson and Witney Houston to name but a few.
According to general manager, Brett Hoppé: “The opening of The Palace was a glittering affair that was attended by many celebrities who were big names at the time including Bo Derrick, Jean Michel Jarre who performed that night, Jerry Hall and Joan Collins, Hugh Masekela and Johnny Clegg and Savuka.
“Since then, the list has grown to include many illustrious names such as Sting, Pavarotti, Wesley Snipes, Stevie Wonder, Arnold Schwarzenegger and many more. But it is equally important to note that many of these international stars returned multiple times and some, like Witney Houston, Michael Jackson, and Bobby Brown, came incognito to simply holiday at The Palace.
“And of course, the list of golf legends who have visited is too innumerable to mention.”
Mr Hoppé said that although it would be difficult to improve on the original structure, rooms have undergone a refurbishment to bring them up to date, and the hotel can finally boast of having a luxurious spa and salon.