The Southern Sun Hotel in Rosebank, Johannesburg, has been closed to assess the extent of the damage caused by a severe hailstorm which gripped parts of the city on Monday night.
JSE-listed Southern Sun Hotels group confirmed on Tuesday that the decision to halt operations at the hotel came after the roof above the hotel’s restaurant gave in to the weight of ice and water which had built up during the hailstorm.
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The cost implications of the damage remain unclear, however, in an emailed response to Moneyweb questions, the hotel group confirmed that the assessment process had already begun.
Rosebank was one of the areas that fell victim to the destructive hailstorm which in some cases rained egg-sized ice balls onto the city’s streets, damaging vehicles, homes and businesses. Other areas that were reportedly affected included Midrand, Sunninghill, Bryanston and Braamfontein.
The hotel’s temporary closure comes just before SA’s holiday season when travel activity is normally at its peak. However, Johannesburg’s business travel-focused hotels generally see lower occupancies during December and early January.
When asked how long it expects the closure will last and if it may remain closed for the rest of the year, Southern Sun told Moneyweb: “As the evaluations are still being undertaken, we do not yet know how long the hotel will be closed.”
The severe weather event and subsequent roof collapse called for an evacuation of the premises, where fortunately no serious injuries were reported.
According to Southern Sun, all guests were relocated to close-by group-owned hotels. The group added that it will be accommodating future reservations that will be impacted by the closure at its other hotels.
“The hotel is closed for an evaluation and repair,” it said.
The group has several Southern Sun-branded hotels nearby, including locations on Katherine Street, Rivonia Road, near Sandton City and at Hyde Park. Gauteng province is home to the largest number of Southern Sun-owned hotels, with a total of 30 which are home to a total of 5 167 rooms according to the group.
Southern Sun confirmed to Moneyweb that none of its other hotels in the hail hit areas were affected.
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Labour department inspection
Meanwhile, the Department of Employment and Labour has given the group a week to furnish the department with a structural report and 60 days to attend to the damage to the hotel.
This comes after the department on Wednesday took on a countrywide inspection of Southern Sun hotels, including the now temporarily closed Rosebank hotel.
According to a statement issued by the department, the inspection exercise led by inspector general Aggy Moiloa, sought to understand the root “cause of the ceiling collapse, devise mechanisms to prevent future incidents and ensure compliance”.
“We believe that it’ll also be an opportune time to engage with the Southern Sun Hotel’s management on processes that would contribute towards improved compliance with the labour laws,” Moiloa said in a statement.
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