Former president Nelson Mandela’s first home in Houghton, Johannesburg, has been refurbished, transformed, and re-envisioned as an iconic hospitality experience set to attract world leaders and people who aspire to the inspiration of this global icon.
Renamed the Sanctuary Mandela, this unique hotel features nine rooms accommodating up to 18 guests, retreat spaces for reflection, and a personal connection to the private life of Madiba. It is the only former residence of Madiba accessible to the public not as a museum but as a venue for an intimate stay with the memories of the global icon.
The renewal of this property is specially designed to fashion a space for tranquillity, heritage, and mindful experiences. This space will allow guests to immerse themselves in the legacy of Madiba and draw inspiration from Madiba’s soul, to commune together for the common good of resolving international matters, and, lastly, to be inspired by this iconic global leader’s hospitable nature and spirit of service to the people.
Taking into consideration that the residence is of historical value, the building has been restored but has retained the surviving internal and external heritage fabric as far as possible. The landscaping and artworks that fill the space are geared to evoke memories of Nelson Mandela, with elements left intact to represent the original building.
Here is how the original building has been kept to be a part of this new building:
- Bricks were salvaged from the original home during demolition and reused in the building of the reception desk.
- The boardroom and pool still have the original foundation.
- A structure beam was left exposed where Mandela’s office used to be.
- The front façade and entrance including all window frames have been restored and used to keep the aesthetics of the main building original.
- At what is now called the pond of reflection; the grass has been planted to allow one to immerse and travel to the Eastern Cape where Madiba was born, and flowers carefully cultivated in his honour namely: the Nelson Mandela Rose and the Strelitzia ‘Mandela’s’ Gold.
The Sanctuary Mandela will not have a set itinerary, however, the team will gladly walk guests around the property and on the routes that Madiba frequently strolled. The team wants to encourage guests to also explore and tour the Nelson Mandela Foundation amongst other activities in the area. With this, personalised tours of the Centre of Memory will be arranged.
The development is a partnership between the Nelson Mandela Foundation, which owns the property, and Motsamayi Tourism Group (previously known as Thebe Tourism Group), which is the administrative and marketing partner for the management of this extraordinary hospitality experience.
Sello Hatang, CEO of the Foundation, believes that this is an important step in testing a model for the sustainability of heritage sites related to the life and work of Nelson Mandela.
‘Madiba dreamed of a just and peaceful world in which societies prosper. He lived to make a difference in the lives of everyone; his leadership was about service to the people. We hope to attract global leaders and other visitors to stay at Sanctuary Mandela to reflect and draw inspiration from the spirit of Madiba,’ he says.
‘We announced plans to begin the construction of this project on the centenary of his birth on the 18th of July 2018 and, since then, have made great progress. We are now ready to show this special tourism experience to the global community,’ he adds.
President Nelson Mandela lived at this property pre-and during his presidency. As the very first democratically elected President of South Africa, Mandela is regarded as the Father of a Democratic South Africa.
Motsamayi Tourism Group (MTG) was, until recently, part of the Thebe Investments stable – a company established by Nelson Mandela and some of his friends, including Walter Sisulu, Beyers Naude, and Dr. Enos Mabuza – for the sole purpose of fostering real economic transformation in South Africa. The company continues to drive transformation in the tourism sector, an industry which Madiba himself declared is a key economic sector that can be used to change the economic disadvantage of all Africans. A few months ago, CEO Jerry Mabena and the MTG management team took ownership of the business alongside funding partner Future Growth and will be undergoing a rebrand over the next few weeks. The relevance for MTG to manage the property was uncanny due to the link to Madiba being a founding father of the organisation, which still abides by the same values.
‘We strive to preserve his memory, values, and principles. And, with this product, we want to ensure that his memory as a global icon lives long, and his values and principles are instilled – or at least evoked – in leaders from around the world in order to usher the world into a future where all of us – regardless of race or gender – are equal and live in harmony with one another and with the environment – especially in a post-pandemic world,’ says Jerry Mabena, CEO of Motsamayi Tourism Group.
‘The pandemic has forced everyone and, more importantly, many people in positions of leadership, to think differently about the world we live in. In essence, it has forced us to take a reflective and introspective observation of our roles in the world. And now, more than ever, at a time when the world requires an equal distribution of vaccines in order to protect lives and livelihoods, President Nelson Mandela’s ideals of equality and the eradication of poverty are needed most. Hence the imminent opening of the Sanctuary Mandela comes at a very important time in our lives as human beings,’ he adds.
Guests will be able to book their stay at this hotel from 1 July 2021 for stays from 1 August 2021.