Klip Power Station
Vaal Triangle History
Almost immediately problems arose with Rand Water, the 2 star grading was lost and the hotel closed on Saturday 23rd 1983. Rand Water’s ruling was that the hotel would have to be built no closer than 100 metres from the river. This would then mean the scrapping of the entire project, with a much smaller hotel being developed around the existing structure. The adjacent townhouses and chalets would go ahead and the project would be worth R40 million.
By March 1984, work was proceeding in earnest and the original hotel was stripped to a bare shell, with two storeys being added. Sun International ran the hotel until, having failed to secure a gambling licence, they sold it to Sir John Sherry, founder of listed Jasco Holdings in 1998. His vision was to create a riverfront getaway along the banks of the Vaal River with every conceivable convenience. He spent almost R50 million upgrading the hotel but the envisaged visitors didn’t flock to the venue and standards dropped dramatically until in 2003, the hotel was liquidated and put up for auction.
The hotel was finally sold on auction to businessman Mac van der Merwe. What he bought would have given even the most hardened businessman sleepless nights. The entire venue was in a state of total disrepair and photos taken at the time have since caused a sensation wherever they have been shown. Infrastructure that at first glance seemed operational, turned out to be useless. Of the 104 airconditioners in the hotel, only 4 worked! Not being a man to do things by half measure, van der Merwe enlisted family and friends and work began in January 2004 on revamping the entire hotel and grounds. As in 1983/4, the entire hotel was reduced to a shell with everything being removed and rebuilt. Millions of Rands worth of old equipment, furniture and fittings were donated to local charities. A decision was made to support only local businesses and charities, as well as hire local staff wherever possible. The entire hotel and grounds were rebuilt and completely renovated in three months and the hotel was officially opened on 12th March 2004 amid great fanfare. The 4 star grading which Sun International had achieved in the 1980’s had long since expired and the new owners set about pursuing the evocative but elusive 5 star grading needed to attract the lucrative conferencing market. Remarkably this was achieved in the first year with a score of over 92% and rising to an even more impressive 96% in its second year.
Today, the Riviera on Vaal Hotel stands majestic and proud, fully restored and worthy of its hard fought 5 star status. And if you have never been fortunate enough to pay the hotel a visit, put it on your list of things to do.
Like Mr Schlesinger, it will take your breath away.