Victoria Falls Hotel creates 100 years package

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VICTORIA FALLS, Zimbabwe -- The Victoria Falls Hotel launched a yearlong centennial celebration with a 100 Glorious Years Package.

The plan is valid all year and includes two nights' stay and a range of special features.

The hotel opened in June 1904, an event that coincided with the completion of the Bulawayo-Victoria Falls railway line and the arrival of the first train. At that time, the hotel was a wood and corrugated-iron construction capable of hosting 20 guests. Its opening marked the start of formal tourism in the Victoria Falls area.

Today, the hotel is one of the most famous in Africa, having hosted kings, queens and maharajahs, and is a member of the Leading Hotels of the World.

The Victoria Falls Hotel has 180 guest rooms and suites. It has been renovated a number of times during the past 100 years, most recently in the late 1990s when a wing was added and the hotel was refurbished in an Edwardian style but with modern facilities and amenities.

These include satellite TV, new air-conditioning systems and a restaurant named Jungle Junction.

The hotel has a number of features of interest to visitors, including the Livingstone Room, a colonial-style dining and dance hall; a central courtyard fringed with mango trees; a swimming pool; and an Anglican chapel that hosts nondenominational services to this day.

Within the courtyard is a trolley, the last remaining one of the many that used to carry guests of the hotel to and from the falls along a special rail track.

The hotel's link with the railways has been consistent and constant, as most visitors during its first six decades arrived by rail. It stands adjacent to the Victoria Falls Station and overlooks the gorges of the Zambezi River below the falls, spanned by the Victoria Falls road and the 1905 rail bridge.

The hotel has always been owned by the National Railways of Zimbabwe or its predecessors, the Beira and Mashonaland Railways or the Rhodesia Railways. In 1970 it was leased to the Southern Sun Hotel Corp., forerunner of today's Zimsun Leisure Group, and in 1998, a 50% stake in the management undertaking was acquired by Meikles Africa Hotels, which also operates the Meikles Hotel in Harare and Cape Grace on Cape Town's Victoria and Alfred Waterfront. The two companies run the hotel through the Victoria Falls Hotel Partnership.

The 100 Glorious Years package offers daily breakfast, one dinner per couple, high tea, free baby-sitting, a turndown gift, laundry service, airport transfers and a historical tour of the hotel and its environs.

Rates range from $594 per night for a standard room to $1,036 for an executive gardenview suite.

Rack rates, including breakfast, taxes and service charge, range from $360 per night to $410 per night. Junior suites start at $500 per night and full suites at $700 per night. All rates are based on double occupancy. Commission is 10%.

For reservations or for more information, call Leading Hotels of the World at (800) 223-6800 or visit the Web at www.lhw.com.

To contact Destinations editor Margaret Myre, send e-mail to [email protected].

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See related article: Zambezi River: A thrill a minute.

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