Tried & Tested

Hotel check: The Maslow Johannesburg

30 May 2013 by GrahamSmith

BACKGROUND Formerly the Southern Sun Grayston hotel, the Maslow was opened by Sun International (also behind the Federal Palace in Lagos and several casinos in southern Africa) in December following 18 months’ closure for a R280 million (£20 million) makeover.

WHAT'S IT LIKE? Only the walls were retained during the renovation, and the Maslow is now a new urban brand with business travellers in mind. In practice, that means free high-speed wifi throughout the hotel (though it’s a minor annoyance constantly having to log back in every time), no ground-floor rooms, and a brasserie that’s perfect for all-day dining or a meal in the evening.

It’s a polished operation, with the Wayfarer transit lounge on the ground floor elevating it to something special. For those arriving before check-in who want a snack and a shower before going off to appointments, or who need somewhere to work before a night flight, the lounge is the perfect solution, meaning you don’t have to pay for an extra night to use the facilities. The name of the hotel comes from Abraham Maslow, the American psychologist behind the “Hierarchy of Needs” theory, with the hotel aiming to satisfy everything from a traveller’s basic requirements (food and a bed for the night) right the way up to higher aspirations such as being valued. The hotel benefits from being in established gardens with trees and rolling lawns. During spring, summer and autumn, guests can have a drink by the pool or on the heated bar patio.

WHERE IS IT? On the corner of Grayston Drive and Rivonia Road in Sandton, the upmarket shopping and commercial district. It’s easy to reach via the Gautrain from the airport (less than 30 minutes), and there’s a free return shuttle bus service from Sandton station. Depending on traffic, it can easily take an hour by car.

ROOM FACILITIES The 281 rooms (average size 32 sqm) have good desks with international plugs, and good soundproofing – only the birds’ singing seemed to penetrate it. They also come with a power shower, an espresso maker, tea facilities, a media hub and a 40-inch LCD TV. The minibars have free water, and you can fill the fridge with your own food or ask for products to come in a box so you can take unfinished items away with you. The higher floors have views out over hills; the lower rooms out to the surrounding grounds.

RESTAURANTS AND BARS There is one restaurant, the Lacuna Bistro, which has a non-challenging but tasty menu including everything from burgers and spare ribs to pasta and risotto prepared in an open kitchen, and the breakfast menu is à la carte. There is also a chef’s table with its own patio. The Lacuna bar has sliding doors that open out to the pool area. It was buzzing each evening that I was there, with a mix of residents and local office workers.

BUSINESS AND MEETING FACILTIES There is a good-size business centre and 12 ground-floor meeting rooms for eight to 20 delegates, all with natural light and access through sliding doors either to the lawns or down to the poolside decking. There is also a breakout room with coloured bean bags and technology allowing the walls to become a giant flipboard chart. The ballroom can seat 400 people for a banquet, and there’s a 50-seat auditorium.

LEISURE FACILITIES As well as the Africology spa and the outdoor heated swimming pool, there is a small gym. The hotel also organises tours everywhere from the Apartheid Museum to Soweto.

VERDICT A great new option in Johannesburg. Cleverly placed as a deluxe four-star rather than five-star to avoid any problems with corporate travel programmes, it does what it promises – satisfies the entire hierarchy of needs.

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