Weathering the storms of global recessions and pandemics, all while making bold investments with an eye on the future, is part of the thrill of the hospitality industry for veteran hotelier Neil Markovitz, CEO of leading hotel operator Newmark Hotels & Reserves.
That long-term vision and the courage to make bold decisions is what saw Newmark’s growth thrive during the Covid-19 pandemic. While the travel restrictions proved a death knell for many businesses in the hospitality and tourism industries, Markovitz and the Newmark team saw opportunity amid the adversity.
While working under enormous pressure to protect jobs and the business, Markovitz kept a keen eye on opportunities for the future: “With the turmoil in the tourism industry, we found that there was suddenly significant interest from independent hotels wanting to be part of a collection of like-minded properties. We stepped up to the plate and took the risk to grow, when most were simply trying to survive,” commented Markovitz.
It was a prescient move, well-timed to take advantage of the post-Covid travel surge. Before the pandemic, Newmark owned and managed 15 properties, largely focused on South Africa. In just a few short years that has grown to include 23 hotels, lodges and resorts spread across South Africa, East Africa and the Indian Ocean, with further destinations in the pipeline.
Despite the pandemic, 2021 was something of a stand-out year for Markovitz and his team at Newmark, with new and refurbished properties opening in key destinations across South Africa.
In August Newmark launched the 206-room Catalyst Apartment Hotel in Sandton, Johannesburg, aimed at both a discerning corporate market as well as leisure travellers stopping off en route to Newmark’s game reserves and safari lodges in Mpumalanga and Limpopo.
In October 2021 the iconic Winchester Hotel, ideally located on Cape Town’s Atlantic Seaboard, joined the group after a R90-million upgrade and refurbishment. Just a month later Newmark unveiled The Rockefeller Apartment Hotel; an impressive 395-room new-build hotel set within Cape Town’s dynamic Foreshore commercial hub.
Newmark has also expanded confidently into the Indian Ocean, with a striking refurbishment of La Maison D’Été. This boutique seafront hotel became a member of the company just ahead of the pandemic and is located in Flacq, on the east coast of Mauritius. The small luxury property reopened in November 2022 after being reimagined by acclaimed design studio Fox Browne Creative. That same month the group acquired a second property on the island; the 35-room Mystik Lifestyle Hotel at Mont Choisy.
With a bold strategy to diversify in the leisure travel space, December 2022 saw the opening of the 11 000-hectare Qwabi Private Game Reserve by Newmark located in Limpopo Province. Letamo Lodge with 58 keys opened first while the ultra luxurious Babohi Lodge with 25 keys offering superlative service including fine dining opens in May of this year.
The most recent property to join Newmark is Mbulwa Country Manor in Sabie, Mpumalanga, which is set on 38 hectares of parkland and forest. This hillside estate offers 18 rooms and suites, which are currently being redesigned by Fox Browne Creative to reopen in late-2023.
Newmark is also building a presence in the scenic Cape Winelands, and from April 2023 will take over the management of the historic Hazendal Wine Estate near Stellenbosch. Newmark will manage the accommodation offering, which currently includes the 5-bedroom Homestead and from late-2023, Hazendal begins an exciting new chapter with the opening of the luxurious 34-room Hazendal Hotel & Spa.
Cognisant of the vital intra-African travel market, Newmark welcomes its first West African property this year, taking over the management of Lakowe Lakes Golf and Country Estate in Nigeria. Located near the country’s commercial hub of Lagos, this dynamic new property development offers a green oasis that is a welcome respite from the bustling streets of Lagos.
Newmark will take responsibility for all hospitality offerings on this sprawling estate, including the privately-owned villas, The Cottages and The Corporate Lodge. Newmark’s experienced team will further manage the array of sports and leisure offerings. This includes the Lakowe Lakes Golf Course, an 18-hole par-72 championship course considered the finest in West Africa, the Revivo Sports Centre, fishing facilities, cycling and hiking trails, as well as an outdoor event space situated on a 2000-sqm island.
Looking towards 2024, Newmark is currently redeveloping the Apostle Battery, a World War II defence station situated on the slopes of Table Mountain above Cape Town’s exclusive seaside suburb of Llandudno. The collaborative project between Newmark, South African National Parks and ILIOS Travel sees the historic property – enjoying panoramic sea and mountain views – reopen with a 22-suite Afri-chic lodge, a destination spa, a 100-seater restaurant dubbed The Officer’s Mess, and a curated museum that recounts the story of the all-women naval crew who operated the battery during World War 2.
Newmark’s drive for growth does not forget the basic principle and promise that the company lives by, that the group’s guests will Experience Authentic in every property, true to the space itself, its environment and its people.
To view the full Newmark Hotels & Reserves’ portfolio, visit www.newmarkhotels.com.