Cape Town to gain unique boutique retreat that pays homage to it's historic roots
THE Apostle Battery, a World War II defence station which falls within the SANParks managed Table Mountain National Park, is set to be revitalised and re-imagined in a joint collaboration between NEWMARK Hotels & Reserves and ILIOS Travel.
The historic military battery on the mountains above the seaside enclave of Llandudno, Cape Town, is to become a unique retreat hotel following the announcement by SANparks and NEWMARK Hotels & Reserves that the site will be re-developed into a premier hospitality destination consisting of luxury accommodation, eateries, a spa, retail offerings, a museum, and interactive experiences. NEWMARK Hotels & Reserves and ILIOS Travel have been granted the tender to redevelop the battery site, with a 40-year concession.
Mike Vroom, Executive Director for NEWMARK, Africa region, explains the plans for this important Cape heritage location:
“The Apostle Battery currently features three separate, developed but dilapidated or derelict areas that were part of the original naval defences. At these locations we will be creating two boutique military-styled mountain lodges - each with their own private guest areas. In total the two lodges will feature 21 separate suites which will be designed with a contemporary take on lightweight canvas military structures. Each luxury suite will boast their own private plunge pool with unrivalled views over Llandudno and the Atlantic Ocean.”
“To be built from light gauge steel and canvas, the design of the lodges and suites – which has been conceptualised by renowned designers Chris and Debra Fox of FoxBrowne Creative - is contemporary and luxurious while complementing the original style of the military structures on the site. The interior style of the lodges will be masculine and functional, featuring understated luxurious elements made up of the finest locally made South African furniture and crafts.”
The Mountain Lodge is centred around the three original gun sites known as the Apostle Battery, originally constructed in 1940 as an important part of South Africa's naval defense system. In addition to the three gun battery’s the existing buildings at the Apostle Battery, all constructed between 1939 and 1945, include a guardroom, workshop, quartermaster sergeant’s room, mess halls, soldiers dormitories, a radio room, generator room, storeroom and ammunition room.
“These structures and buildings will be incorporated in various ways into the new Apostle Battery site,” says Vroom. “Most of the original footings will be used, and where alien trees are to be felled, this timber will be utilised in the architectural finishes of the new structures.”
Vroom goes on to explain that, in addition to the Mountain Lodge, once completed the Apostle Battery site will feature a family friendly 100-seater restaurant called The Officers Mess, which will be open to the public, as well as the Cannon Bar, a 50-seater tapas bar with exceptional sunset views over the Atlantic. There will also be a Provisions Store - a small deli offering picnic hampers to enjoy on site - as well as a craft centre showcasing and retailing a curated selection of the finest locally made fynbos arts, crafts and beauty products.
The Rejuvenation Destination Spa will feature private treatment rooms, salt and steam chambers, an eco plunge pool with sundeck, and a state-of-the-art gym. These facilities will be available to be enjoyed by lodge guests, as well as day spa visitors.
According to Vroom the historic battery guns on site form an integral part of the development and that the heritage of the site remains key to the entire project.
“The gun emplacements are some of the last remaining extant breech loading artillery guns in the world. Of the 27 still in existence, 12 of these are to be found in South Africa, and 9 of those in Cape Town – with 3 at the Apostle Battery site. Unfortunately, the guns are currently in a state of considerable disrepair, however as part of the re-development of the Apostle Battery we will be working with experts in their respective fields to restore these important pieces of history to their former glory, and they will form part of The Battery Museum - an interactive military museum showcasing historical artefacts sourced from the site. This museum will be open to the public, and there will be a museum shop on site retailing a collection of the finest historical literature.”
“We also plan to develop a unique virtual reality experience that will be created on the original firing platforms,” advises Vroom. “Other interactive and immersive experiences on offer will be The Transformer House – a workshop showcasing all of the sustainable practises that will be employed on site, such as alternative energy, recycling, water treatment and waste management. There will be guided historical walks, overnight mountain hikes, as well as The Battery Experience – a rustic watch tower sleepover set high in the mountains.”
Vroom explains that the Apostle Battery was operated by women during World War II and as such holds significance in the history of women’s emancipation and their fight for equality, both locally and internationally. “In keeping with this, and as a tribute to the women who operated this site, we plan to employ mainly female staff who will be sourced from the local surrounding communities as part of our job creation and social upliftment focus.”
“We very much look forward to collaborating with Mohamed Baba of ILIOS Travel and to be working closely with SANParks on this notable development,” says Neil Markovitz, CEO of NEWMARK. “Our team of experts will be working closely with SANParks together with a highly experienced consultant team of historians, ecologists, environmentalists, architects and interior designers to bring to life this unique first-of-its-kind offering. There is truly nothing else like it in South Africa, and the location alone, standing as it does on this phenomenal site with unrivalled views, promises a memorable experience in an iconic setting.”
The sensitive development and renovation of the Apostle Battery military site will take approximately three years to complete, with 2025 pinned for the opening of the still to be named small luxury retreat hotel.