On Wednesday February 19 concierges from top Rosebank hotels, including 54 on Bath, Hyatt Regency, Southern Sun Rosebank, new startup Home from Home serviced apartments, Melrose’s Peech Hotel, plus information officers from the Rosebank Mall as well as representatives from the Gauteng Tourism Authority, joined us for the first In Your Pocket Concierge Neighbourhood Walk of 2020, the third in our Rosebank series.
This followed on from our debut walk in October which explored the Keyes Art Mile area and our November Rosebank Concierge Walk that visited the many art galleries, bars and restaurants clustered around the popular Park Corner in Parkwood. The point of these walks is to explore Joburg neighbourhoods as cultural destinations.
We started this walk series for hotels to tackle two issues which we believe are an obstacle to tourism growth in Joburg – lack of knowledge about the destination, and fear (Joburg has a mean reputation). Added to that most hotel staff commute in to neighbourhoods for work and are not familiar with their surroundings.
We believe the only way to change a visitor’s experience is to make the frontline of tourism representatives – feel welcome in the neighbourhoods in which they work. We want their contact to shift visitor perception – to make people recommend Joburg as a destination, return or extend their stay. So far more than 60 people have joined us on our Rosebank walks – supported by the visionary Rosebank Management District with whom we have been working since February 2019 – having launched our first neighbourhood mini-guide publication with them. In March we launch an independent Sandton walk series for hotels with same aims in mind.
For this In Your Pocket Neighbourhood Concierge Walk in Rosebank we took a tour through the three interlinked malls in Rosebank’s shopping precinct, taking in some of the lesser-known and unique attractions that can be enjoyed beyond the usual high street shops.
The Concierge Neighbourhood Walk series is part of our ongoing dedication to helping local concierges to share and promote the many great experiences that Joburg has to offer, by connecting them with the interesting people and unique places located within the immediate surrounds of their hotels.
Celebrating local brands in Rosebank’s malls
Our walk started at Fournos, one of Joburg’s longest established local café and bakery brands. Known for its dedication to supporting local suppliers and serving preservative and additive-free deli cuisine, Fournos is an always-popular neighbourhood hangout.
Fournos marketing manager Fiona Peake welcomed our tour with a brief introduction to the Fournos brand and what they do best, before we tucked into coffee and croissants plus a delicious scoop of Fournos homemade gelato for the road.
After finishing up our gelatos it was time to set off to FotoZA, Joburg’s only dedicated photography gallery. Located on the lower level of Rosebank Mall (opposite the Bath Avenue mall entrance and next to Cinema Nouveau), FotoZA presents a new photography exhibition every month. The gallery adjoins Kameraz, one of Joburg’s top photography shops and also hosts regular photography workshops and talks led by local photographers and photojournalists.
Following an introduction to the gallery from FotoZA representatives Christine and Kyla our guests explored the latest exhibition, a heart-warming display of documentary-style wedding photography, before being treated to a photoshoot by one of Kameraz’s resident photographers.
Selfies captured and Instagram stories updated it was time to move on to our next stop, the colourful Rosebank Art and Craft Market. Situated next to the Rosebank Mall entrance on Cradock Avenue, many concierges on the tour admitted that they had not realised that the market’s ground floor level entrance displays barely a fraction of what is on offer downstairs where there are more than 120 market traders. For most of the guests on our tour, this was the first time they had been downstairs to explore one of South Africa’s best craft markets.
The Rosebank Art and Craft Market is Joburg’s biggest and one of the most extensive in the country. Here you can shop for the broadest array of African crafts from across the continent from fabrics, beadwork, wood sculptures and tribal masks to weaving and basketry, metalwork, ceramics and stone masonry.
The concierges and representatives from Gauteng Tourism were delighted at the opportunity to meet the makers at the market and discover a huge selection of souvenirs and gifts on sale. As one concierge from a nearby hotel remarked; “I had guests this week from the US who wanted to buy traditional African masks, this market would be perfect for them. I will definitely be coming back later to get to know all the traders more and what they sell!”.
Continuing our exploration of the many entrepreneurs and independent stores located within Rosebank’s interlinked malls we then moved on to The Zone @ Rosebank where we met top South African fashion designer Thula Sindi. A designer to the stars, Thula Sindi’s Rosebank boutique is a glittering destination for picking up one-of-kind formal wear. It’s also a small showcase for his new Africa Rise store in Sandton City, promoting African fashion design and accessories from designers based across the continent.
Highlighting the importance of supporting local brands and the unique values that they have to visitors to South Africa, Thula Sindi regaled our star-struck walkers with a brief talk through his career in fashion, explaining how through establishing his own label he has helped support and grow the international profile of South African fashion.
From here we continued our walk, taking in the last of Rosebank’s three malls The Firs and making a pit stop along the way to admire the new graffiti murals which have recently cropped up around The Zone’s open-air pedestrianised area, created by top local artist Falko One.
The final destination of our walk was nightlife destination Katzy’s and Rosebank’s oldest steakhouse The Grillhouse inside the small boutique mall The Firs, and the group’s new venture The Kitchen Grill which leads out onto the newly revamped The Firs piazza. The Grillhouse is especially popular with visiting business travellers and our group was treated to a walk through all of the various private dining areas and special services, such as wine cellar visits and transport from the hotel, that the restaurant can offer.
The walk finished on a festive note, with four of the concierges walking away with vouchers donated by the Kitchen Grill in our prize draw! We hope this encourages return visits. Experience is everything.
Our next Concierge Neighbourhood Walk takes place in March 2020 in Sandton and is open to concierge staff working Sandton Central hotels.
If your hotel would like to participate please contact email@example.com.
What the concierges said – some feedback from the day
“I would most definitely recommend the Neighbourhood Concierge Walks because you get to learn a lot about what is in the neigbourhood you work in. Most of the time we are just focused on going and coming back from work. I’m highly impressed by the experience I had today because I learnt a lot and discovered new places.” – Front desk Home from Home serviced apartments
“It was very insightful, I gained more knowledge on what Rosebank has to offer. These walks enable us and our colleagues to gain more insight on what Rosebank has to offer to guests, and to ourselves ” – Front desk 54 on Bath
“I learned about a lot of new places I didn’t know, such as the photo gallery and that the market has a great underground section and I got to see for myself some of the places that I often recommend like The Grillhouse. I would definitely recommend these walks – everyone needs to experience this to be able to sell the area better to out guests” – Front desk Southern Sun Rosebank
“Everything felt completely new to me especially the Rosebank Art and Craft Market. I also loved the versatility of the FotoZA Gallery and the authenticity of Katzy’s. This walk is a gem!” – Gauteng Tourism Authority