Africa: Russian billionaire to open Habitas hotel in Namibia
News has emerged from New York that Russian billionaire Rashid Sardarov has teamed up with an international accommodation chain to bring the first Habitas hotel in Africa to Namibia.
The multi-million-dollar project will be constructed on land owned by Comsar Properties, a company wholly-owned by the Russian tycoon.
A media statement from the Habitas headquarters in New York, USA, says that the global hospitality group, founded in 2014 and that is changing the way travel is experienced, will open one of its newest hotels, Habitas Namibia, about an hour’s drive from Hosea Kutako International Airport.
In the release, Habitas CEO Oliver Ripley confirmed that the project is scheduled for completion in 2019.
He further revealed that over a period of five years, they will create over 500 jobs as they expand.
Ripley said the property owned by Comsar Properties and located one hour from Windhoek’s international airport, will be one of the leading international examples in new age sustainable travel.
Ripley revealed Habitas has reached an agreement with Comsar to convert its property into a wildlife and nature conservation reserve housing a 40-room hotel, state-of-the-art spa, an education and learning centre, and an events and convention facility.
He said Habitas has pledged to invest into the ecosystem, turning the land into one of the top locations in the world for wildlife and environmental conservation.
This new development comes after weeks of the recent public backlash the Ministry of Land Reform encountered after it emerged that the Russian mogul, through his company Comsar Properties SA, had embarked on another round to amass large tracts of land for building his game estate.
Last month, the government defended its decision to grant approval to Comsar’s lease proposal which it said was necessitated by considerable economic benefits that will accrue to Namibia in certain respects.
One was that Comsar, in addition to an investment of over N$1 billion already made in Marula game reserve, will make a direct and much needed investment of over N$1 billion in tourism, nature conservation, hospitalities and other associated businesses.
The other is that the tourism sector will also benefit in that there will be a steep growth in the Russian tourism market in Namibia, and tourists coming to Namibia will inject much-needed money into the economy, and income tax and other taxes will also be paid to the state by Comsar.
Ripley said the hotel would be built using the latest sustainable technology and using renewable energy.
The guest rooms – each a custom-built private lodge constructed with minimal impact to the surrounding environment – will have outdoor and indoor showers, and private viewing decks with their own telescopes for star gazing.
The main lobby will overlook the property and will have communal gathering areas, a restaurant, fire pits, and a variety of areas to relax and lounge.
Further, he said the Habitas experience for guests and members will be focused on adventure, education and learning, including viewing and studying the surrounding wildlife, learning about local tribes, customs and history, local and international food experiences, music concerts (local and international artists) and working with on-site wellness practitioners.
“We are very happy to have chosen Namibia as our first home in Africa. We thank Comsar for its vision and support to transform a historic hunting lodge into a world-class wildlife reserve for the conservation of species. This is our first step in a long-term partnership to bring a new generation of conscious tourism to Namibia,” Ripley noted.
He said Habitas will attract new international tourists to Namibia, leading the way as pioneers of authentic responsible tourism and travel, adding that their holistic high value – low environmental – and high social impact approach, makes Habitas Namibia a unique destination with the future traveller.
He noted that their guests will experience a perfected curation of nature, wildlife, culture, community and conservation. Habitas’s ethos is focused on learning and education and its mission will be to educate people about local history, traditions and culture.
Habitas, founded in 2014, is known for its globally curated experiences that focus on bringing people together around cultural programming including wellness, food, conversation and music.
Habitas has designed and developed a flagship hotel in Tulum (Mexico), clubhouses in New York and Los Angeles, and has forthcoming projects in Bali, Malibu, Namibia and the Bahamas.
By ALBERTINA NAKALE