In a boost for the North West Province, the Tourism Grading Council of South Africa has awarded Sun City’s Conference and Exhibition Centre a five-star rating for the first time ever.
Previously, only Sun City’s tourism infrastructure received star ratings, which includes five stars for the iconic Palace of the Lost City and the Cascades hotels, four stars for the Sun City hotel, and three stars for the Cabanas.
Sun International has upgraded the popular resort multiple times over the past 44 years, with the biggest investment being £1 billion at the end of 2016. Before the onset of the pandemic, Sun City set its sights on securing a share of the growing conventions market, spending £150 million on modernising its business infrastructure.
Sun City’s business facilities now consist of 27 conference rooms, three spacious convention centres, two auditoriums, and multiple breakaway rooms. The five-star grading also includes Sun City’s Sun Park and The Greenhouse unique outdoor events venues.
Sun International CEO Anthony Leeming said, “Sun City first caught the public imagination with its casino in the late 70s, but to remain relevant, we had to focus on expanding our tourism infrastructure. Today, leisure travellers still love Sun City, and it remains the favourite resort for local and international visitors, but our business offering needed a complete overhaul to compete in this growing market. Since our upgrade, the resort generated over £220 million from conferences and events in 2022 alone. With the new 5-star grading, we are confident that Sun City can set the benchmark for business travel, just as it has done for leisure travel.”
With the repeal of all Covid regulations, and companies shifting from hybrid solutions back to hosting physical conferences, it experienced an almost immediate upturn in local conference bookings.
In 2022, the Sun City Convention Centre welcomed more than 400 conferences and 250 lifestyle and sports events, from intimate team-building sessions to large-scale corporate events, banquets, seminars, and exhibitions. While the majority of the conferences have been local, international bookings are starting to pick up for 2024.
The impact of business travel is also good news for the local community, as roughly 100 casual workers are needed for every 1000 conference delegates. Last year, They began training locals to provide additional support at big conferences and events such as the Nedbank Golf Challenge and providing them with silver spoon training for fine dining events.
Talking about the grading, Sun City’s General Manager Brett Hoppé said, “We are delighted that we achieved 5 stars with our very first business facility grading. It confirms our commitment to excellence and the quality of our offering.
“We are also pleased to note that following the grading process, the assessors had no recommendations for improvement. They also praised our management and staff for being professional and dedicated and noted their ‘attention to neatness and effectiveness and adhering to time schedules, service delivery and consistency’.”
Hoppé also stated that no other conferencing destination can boast as many exciting attractions for delegates to enjoy during their downtime, including two famous golf courses, the Valley of Waves, jet skiing and other water sports, fun activities and game drives in the Pilanesberg National Park – and not forgetting the famous Sun City Casino and nightclub.
Marnie Tait, Sun International’s National Sales Manager said, “While many people think of Sun City as a party destination, the Sun City Convention Centre is first and foremost a centre of business, but what better way to start your working day than with breakfast at dawn in a hot air balloon floating over the Pilanesberg Game Reserve? What makes Sun City extra special is that it is also a family destination. Delegates can combine business with leisure by bringing their families, safe in the knowledge that their loved ones will have a great time too.”
Tait also said that international companies often request ways to offset their carbon footprint. In 2021, a 500-strong Swedish conference requested that a tree be planted for every delegate. The staff planted 500 fruit trees at schools in local communities surrounding Sun City. The resort has since committed to planting 500 fruit trees every year.
“Memorable destination conferencing is what Sun City does best – we live up to our promise of ensuring guests love every moment that they are with us,” said Tait.