Bloemfontein’s hospitality celebrated at awards

The Free State National Botanical Garden received the top prize as an outstanding local tourist attraction. Pictured are Loyd Vukeya, Estate Supervisor and Mehlolo Maphanga, Marketing Communications Officer. PHOTO: PIERCE VAN HEERDEN

Bloemfontein hotels, guesthouses and lodges were celebrated for their exceptional hospitality at the Lilizela Tourism Awards ceremony. The winners of the night varied from all over the province with Gariep Forever Resort walking away with a whopping three awards and Bloemfontein’s own Southern Sun Bloemfontein and Castello Guest House coming out tops in their own categories.

The Department of Economic, Small Business Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs (Destea) started the awards in 2013 in order to encourage entrepreneurship in the hospitality industry. Head internal auditor of South African Tourism, Radikwena Phora, explained that these businesses were crucial to the economy. “These awards are aimed at recognising businesses and service providers for their continuously upheld standards. Equally these awards are aimed at evoking the creation of new attractions and experiences to position South Africa to successfully compete in the global economy,” Phora said.

Three-time winner, Castello Guest House located in Fichardt Park, was awarded as the best four-star guest house in the province. General manager, Ilse Botha, said they are very pleased to have won once again. “We are very happy. We know that hard work pays off and I am very proud of my team because I could not have done it without them,” she stated.

Art Lover’s Guesthouse in Parys won in the five-star category and TuKha Guesthouse in Brandwag took away the three-star guesthouse prize. Uniquely Free State tourist attractions also made it with Basotho Cultural Village and Free State National Botanical Garden winning awards.

The picturesque and family friendly botanical garden boasts a wide variety of birdlife for bird lovers and medicinal plants for botany enthusiasts. “We are happy to have won again because it shows that people are happy with what we are doing, even though we have faced tough competition. We will continue to do our best to ensure that we keep on attracting tourists and support the Department of Tourism,” said Mehlolo Maphanga of the Free State National Botanical Garden. – Nomaqhawe Mtebele