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from DANIEL JONES in Victoria Falls
VICTORIA FALLS, (CAJ News) – IT might not enjoy the same global majesty possessed by one of the seven Natural Wonders of the World that is a stone’s throw away.
However, the famed story of tourism and hospitality would be incomplete without the mention of the Ilala Lodge Hotel.
The elegant 73-room facility is an icon in its own right.
It was the first in Victoria Falls to embrace green tourism concept, which has culminated in it spearheading several environmental-friendly activities.
The endorsement of the concept led to the formation of the Ilala Lodge Hotel Green Team, a committee driven to bring about meaningful solutions for more environmentally conscious practices.
Environmental-friendly activities include city and rainforest clean-ups, community events, fundraisers for local charities and aiding the Pristine Victoria Falls Society – a new community programme to make Victoria Falls the cleanest city in Africa.
The environment motto: “Reduce, reuse and recycle” is embedded in the hotel.
Ilala is a family business run by the Browns family which owns Spencer’s Creek, founded in 1970.
Ilala was the Brown’s first establishment in 1991. The Palm River Hotel also in Victoria Falls but not yet open is the groups’ second hotel.
The former began as a boutique hotel with 16 rooms. It was expanded to 32 rooms in 1994.
In 2015, it unveiled its new deluxe wing bringing it to a total of 56 rooms.
Further developments were in 2018 with the expansion of the deluxe wing, growing the hotel to a total of 73 rooms made up of standard and deluxe rooms and suites.
In 2019, Ilala unveiled its most luxurious suite, the Strathearn Suite, named after the hotel founder, Strathearn Brown.
Fashioned with modern and sophisticated décor, the suite is complete with a lounge, kitchen, ensuite bathroom and private balcony where guests can relax in a large spa bath while enjoying world-class views of the spray rising above the mighty Victoria Falls.
The suite can also be transformed into a spacious family villa known as the ‘Strathearn Family Suite’ through inter-leading doors with an executive suite and deluxe room.
In March 2019, a new plunge pool was added, providing guests with the option of two swimming pools to relax during their stay.
An elegant poolside lounge was also completed and decorated with hand-crafted furniture and wall prints representing palms and foliage.
Ilala’s idyllic location on the edge of the Rainforest makes it easy for guests to soak in the splendor of the top tourist destination, with a rare feel of the light showers from the Victoria Falls.
It also offers cruises on the Zambezi River.
The hotel’s award-winning restaurant is famous for its gourmet cuisine and al-fresco dining under the starry African skies.
The hotel is celebrating three decades of operation in the hotel industry this year.
An event to celebrate the milestone was held recently.
Regional partners including travel agents, destination management companies and industry partners, locally, and from South Africa and Botswana attended.
Jim Brown, the hotel owner, commended partners, clients and staff for remaining loyal especially during COVID-19.
“We thank all our partners. Our most important cog in the machinery of a successful hotel is the staff,” he said in an interview with CAJ News Africa.
“Hospitality is a people business but the staff and management are by far the most essential ingredient in making for prosperous hotel,” Brown added.
Some staff have been with the hotel since its inception.
Brown attributed the hotel’s accomplishments to remaining relevant, adaptable and flexible while applying persistence and perseverance.
He said in the last 18 months, the hotel has adapted to face COVID-19 travel restrictions by shifting focus to human resource development.
This enabled staff members to diversify their skill sets and learn new trades within the hospitality industry.
Ilala is a key player in the growth and development of Victoria Falls community.
Its staff are involved in multiple corporate social responsibility projects led by the Ilala Lodge Hotel Green Team, established in 2019.
The Green Team has implemented a sustainable waste management initiative presented to the Greenline Africa Trust and the Victoria Falls Recycling Project.
The hotel is known for being involved in multiple corporate social responsibility projects, under the Ilala Cares initiatives.
It also supports sport, raises funds for Greenline Africa Trust and water for elephants, Victoria Falls Primary School Golf Day and sponsored walks.
Ilala Lodge Hotel is one of the tourism players recently awarded the ‘Environmentally Stewardship and Social Impact Award’ by the Environmental Management Agency and Corporate Social Responsibility Network Zimbabwe.
It has been awarded the TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence Hall of Fame 2019 and was recognised in the 2021 TripAdvisor Traveller’s Choice awards.
– CAJ News