See a show, play the slots and spend the night at GrandWest

© Nickay 2002 - 2023. All Rights Reserved.

THESE days I’m being reminded about songs I love being 30, 40 even 50 years old. It can be quite traumatic, and I have to take to my bed to recover. So it’s not too bad to recall GrandWest Casino and Entertainment World opened in December 2000; I can deal with that, unless you say that’s nearly of a quarter of a century ago so please, just don’t.

GrandWest (checks notes):

  • Is the biggest entertainment and leisure destination of its kind in South Africa
  • Is South Africa’s biggest, and Cape Town’s only, licensed casino with a wide choice of slots and tables games
  • Has Cape Town’s only indoor Olympic-sized ice rink
  • Is home to the Grand Arena, which is the biggest undercover entertainment venue in the Western Cape. It can host world-class shows, with capacity for 5 000 people seated and 7 000 standing
  • Has 2D and 3D CineCentre movie theatres
  • Has an exhibition and conferencing space
  • Offers plentiful secure parking (still only R10)

Among its many attractions, it has a nightclub, theatre and several restaurants and fast food outlets, and attracts about half a million visitors every month. It’s also home to the Grand Hotel, which recently underwent a major refurbishment, adding 68 rooms bringing the total to 103. Two new wings connect the existing hotel on the north and south corners, and the new offering includes presidential suites, ordinary suites, double and twin rooms, and inter-leading family rooms. GrandWest has always been strict about smoking so those who partake will be happy to know there are smoking rooms available.

A gym, spa and pool have been built on the ground floor of the southern wing. In addition to its private dining facilities the hotel also houses the elegant Salon Privé. 

The gym has fancy equipment but it is limited; I’m thinking it’s suitable for people who can’t start their day unless they’ve done 10km on the treadmill and lifted a few weights, so it’s a bonus for them. It sits between the enclosed heated indoor swimming pool (which has a deck outside with loungers) and the beautiful spa which smells heavenly. There too, is an outside area where guests can recline at leisure, or order lunch al fresco. The spa is open to hotel guests as well as day visitors, and you can be assured of ultimate pampering while sipping herbal tea and nibbling on complimentary biscuits and muffins.

Ⓒ Nickay 2002-2023. All rights Reserved

Since opening, the four-star hotel operated at a 99% occupancy, with its rooms booked long in advance. GrandWest general manager Mervyn Naidoo says: “For many years The Grand Hotel was the busiest hotel in the [Sun International] group. Having a 99% occupancy would be a happy problem for any hotel, but in our case it prevented us from marketing ourselves to new audiences. It also prevented locals from making a night of it when we host big events.”

It’s a wonderful indulgence to see a show, have a flutter at the tables or on the slots, tuck into a great meal with a few drinks, and then have to go no farther than the hotel where you can fall into a comfortable bed with big squishy pillows. The rooms have gone from drab to fab; Lisa Bridgeford, head of interior design at dhk Architects says: “We wanted to respect the heritage and the old maritime theme that is continued throughout GrandWest, but we also wanted to bring in crisp new colours that honour the landscape of the Western Cape region, such as deep burgundy which reflects vineyards and red wine.”

© Nickay 2002 – 2023. All Rights Reserved.

For my part, I appreciated the decent bedside reading lamps; you would be amazed and appalled at how many establishments do not take this into consideration. In fact, the whole lighting system was effective and simple to use. Who among us has not flipped multiple switches many times and still not been able to turn off the bright ceiling lights but kept on the table lamp?

For high rollers, the hotel has four signature suites which make up the luxurious presidential suite. The interiors in these suites are more opulent, while the deep gold and blue palette sets them apart from other rooms in the hotel. I mention this because all the suites were occupied at the time of my visit…

Due to a long and complicated story of which the details are not important here, we had two dinners, the first at Cape Town Fish Market, and the second at Hussar – our almost-every-time-go-to. Why? Because it’s always great, and they treat me like a high roller even if I can’t afford to gamble. Plus the wine list is good. At Fish Market, there was sushi followed by a platter of hake, calamari and a fish cake, with chips, rice and tartar sauce. Hussar served silky soft sirloin slathered with blue cheese sauce and mash on the side. I do love the table snacks there – olives, potato crisps and biltong. The service at both establishments was wonderful.

Photo by Bianca Coleman

I’ll be going back very soon, to see British comedian Jimmy Carr in Terribly Funny on Sunday, March 3. This Saturday, February 17, you can see Robin Pieters It’s a Love Thing V8 Duets in the Arena, and at Sun Exhibits is Saturday Night Fitness from 4pm to 8pm. Click here for more information about all this and more.

See Instagram @biancaleecoleman for my pics.

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