“One and only” Kerzner Hotel takes shape at Cape Town

Construction work on the Kerzner One and Only R1 billion Waterfront hotel and urban resort, on which work began in June last year, is now 45% and the focus is now moving from the concrete structure to the “vast number” of finishing trades, the co-ordination of which will be an extremely challenging task, says a spokesman for the architects, Dennis Fabian Berman Architects. The anticipated completion date is June 2009.

The project has recently been highly praised by a visiting UK architect, who wishes to remain anonymous, but who predicted that it was likely to end up being recognised as one of the two best hotels worldwide.

Seldom before, said the architect, had he seen a project which so brilliantly respects and harmonises with its site - a site which, he added, is “near perfect” for a development of this kind.

The three main components of the One And Only project are:

1. A nine storey tower containing 92 suites. This is divided into three segments that are anchored by corner towers containing the lift cores. The structure is crescent-shaped and follows the curve of Dock Road and the marina itself, which it overlooks, but its position close to the Aquarium at the northern end of the marina’s built environment enables it to make the most of the iconic views of the east face of Table Mountain.

All the public spaces and guestrooms will, in fact, face onto this Cape Town landmark - and the guestrooms will have full length glazed doors and windows leading out onto balconies to help guests further enjoy the view, while in the entrance and lounge areas an 8m high glass façade will “celebrate” and open up vistas of the mountain.

Access to the parking basement is limited to the valet parking attendants who will park guests cars.

2. A spa resort island. This will be linked by a pedestrian bridge to the hotel. This complex, said Fabian, will be “an oasis of tranquillity” in a sea setting and will have a densely planted landscape that will enhance the privacy and peace of the area.

The spa itself, Fabian promised, will be of a truly international standard providing hair and beauty salons, treatment and massage rooms, relaxation precincts, a yoga pavilion, saunas and vitality pools for a wet therapeutic experience, as well as other facilities.

3. A second island, in the midst of the marina and also linked by a bridge to the mainland (via the spa island). For this Fabian Berman have designed eleven double storey villas containing suites which vary in size from 70m2 to 250m2. These 40 guest suites, all close to the water’s edge, will have the use of a large, very long, naturally shaped swimming pool which, in the Kerzner tradition, will be served by a beachcomber type restaurant. Fabian said that his design here would give the precinct “an urban residential feel with an old world charm”.

Cape architects have said that strong plus factors in the Fabian designed complex are two features:

· The very impressive triple volume lobby area in the hotel. This is designed in an elliptical shape and is flanked by an “action bar”, an all day dining tapas restaurant and an international Nobu restaurant.

This area, in turn, leads into a banqueting hall and a business centre with conference facilities.

· Three magnificent double storey penthouses on the top two floors of the tower blocks. Kerzner has already told the press that these could sell in excess of R100 million per apartment, (one has already found a buyer at R116 million). The price is not as over the top as it sounds: these apartments have between 816m2 and 943m2 of floor space and are possibly the largest penthouses ever erected in the Greater Cape Town area. They will be lavishly finished. From the penthouses occupants will be able to enjoy views of two World Heritage Sites, Table Mountain and Robben Island. Once again edge-to-edge glass doors, in this case capable of being folded back, will enable residents to make the most of the Table Mountain views.

Kerzner’s brief to Dennis Fabian was apparently to “respect” the site and the dominant design traditions which have been seen in the V & A Waterfront. Fabian and his team have responded to this challenge by incorporating in the hotel design classical features such as double columns, gentle arches and classically spaced and proportioned windows and apertures. By limiting the scale and height of the tower blocks here to tie in with those of its predecessors in the marina precinct and by cladding the lower levels in natural stone (the same stone quarried here in the Victorian era and used not only the breakwater but on many of the buildings), the design has further harmonised with the traditions of the V & A Waterfront.

Recently Dennis Fabian said that more than 30 consulting firms, many from “other parts of the globe”, have been involved in the One And Only development and he is confident that it will, as predicted, come to be seen as one of the top hotels, spas and urban resorts in the world today. The schedule for the complex should ensure that the hotel comes on stream by August 2009.