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South African Boutique Hotel Once a Power Station

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The business center at the Turbine Boutique Hotel and Spa. (Photo by Stan Schnitzer.)

One of my industry friends was recently in South Africa. I will be posting an article about his experience at the solar-powered Kambaku Safari Lodge very soon. While on his trip he also got to visit the highly unusual Turbine Boutique Hotel and Spa. The property is a fascinating example of adaptive reuse. What is now a five-star hotel and spa was once an old power station. All the old machinery which was used in the power station has been restored and forms an integral part of the hotel’s aesthetics. The original wood boiler, four electricity generators and much of the equipment have been fully restored and blend in with the hotel’s décor themes. Each bedroom has been individually decorated and is themed and named to reflect the rich cultural, historical and geographic diversity of Knysna, the hotel’s location. The hotel offers guests a choice of 17 standard rooms, six luxury rooms, a honeymoon suite, and two self-contained suites adjacent to the hotel.

The history of the property can be found here but the power station had its heyday in the mid-20th century. The current power station site, which now hosts the Turbine Boutique Hotel & Spa and Island Café, was built in 1939/1940. The last day of operation of the power station was June 26, 2001. A museum concept never materialized and the site was sold to the current hotel owner and operators, Geoff Engel and Dandre Lerm, in September 2007. Rezoning, approvals and building of the site took almost three years and the full operation commenced on August 12, 2010.

Be sure to check out the hotel’s website. I guarantee you won’t have to look too hard to find remnants of the old power station.

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