Kadoma: the lyrical place of learning

We might be in Florida, but this village is the Kadoma Hotel and Conference Centre, the leading estate for training courses and strategic planning in Zimbabwe. As a key component of the Rainbow Tourism Group, it is also a leisure centre, linking with the community of Kadoma renowned for its mining and textiles. Government ministries, NGOs, corporations, international concerns and sporting groups all descend upon Kadoma for conferences that can last a couple of days or a week. And recently it established specialised computer training courses that will serve the country. Its amphitheatre can seat 160, featuring state-of-the-art equipment that swiftly advances the aims of all participants, and with breakaway rooms for secretarial purposes or private discussion. With nine conference rooms, many courses can be run simultaneously. Kadoma is popular because of its geographical location – with groups or individuals coming from Harare, Bulawayo, Mutare, Gweru, Kariba or even Victoria Falls. There are also the highway visitors who drop in for a drink or for lunch. As Sekai Dhlamini, the general manager, says, it is a meeting point for the whole of Zimbabwe. Enter the world of Kadoma and it surprises you with its artistic atmosphere and spaciousness. It goes beyond the normal conference centre tucked away on the upper floors of a hotel. For the spacious setting lends itself to tranqulity and, if one is particularly active, to the realm of sport. This Rainbow property with its 147 rooms divided among villas, casitas and lodges, with nine suites including its top-of-the-range Mediterranean, has a most valuable role in Zimbabwe’s constantly developing tourism infrastructure. The rooms are all air-conditioned and equipped with satellite television and are being refurbished, together with the reception and restaurant areas as well as its conference rooms. Sekai strolls among the guests and staff with words of encouragement and appreciation. “We are like a big village,” she declares. ” Many people comment on this. We are deeply connecting with the Kadoma community and have a very good relationship with all the business leaders as well as being involved with all the activities of the town. You might say we are going from success to success as the dominant conference centre in the country. “Behind it all is good service delivery, customer care and capacity to take care of all guests with our upgrade now in the pipeline with soft furnishing of the rooms and a new look for the reception to give instant impact for our clients. The same thing is being done at the Bulawayo Rainbow and we are planning to emulate its magnificent decor. We want to see that when any of our guests walk through any Rainbow property the ambience and theme is the same. “Here at Kadoma we are especially interested in inviting corporations to share in our long-established experience. They are looking at a high profile product and we can offer them this. Leaders naturally look at the cost element and our rates are very competitive. We always say we want to be the best but at the same time make our products affordable. “Thus we adjust our prices only in line with inflation. We are not charging exorbitantly but making it affordable for the groups or the individual guests who come here. “They will find not only a conference centre but a place of leisure where peacocks roam and they can relax in our spacious gardens. It is the ideal location for strategic meetings.” Conference co-ordinator Michael Mandengu has been at Kadoma for 11 years. ” We bring the hotel to your house” is one of his favourite sayings. “It is so popular with the services we offer and this includes weddings and private parties, cocktail functions and special lunches.” Michael also emphasises the leisure aspect “after a hard day’s work” with cultural evenings that feature jazz and the traditional mbira. Within the Kadoma grounds there are a gorgeous swimming pool, volleyball and netball pitches and the hotel has its own football team that the guests themselves can play. Nearby there is a sports club with a golf course, gym, squash, cricket, tennis and bowling facilities to which the guests have access. And there is a game park 16 km from the hotel at Charama Lodge in the Muraga Wilderness that stocks elephant, giraffe, zebra, kudu, wild cats and wild dogs. A lake also offers canoeing and fishing. Tours can also be made to see the gold smelting process at the Rio Tinto mine (the largest in southern Africa), how cotton goods are manufactured at the nearby David Whitehead Textile factory, the processing of the finest cheeses at Dairibord or visiting Kadoma Fine Pepper where every type of the condiment is created. “Kadoma is a very friendly town,” says Michael. “There are no thieves here. Anyone can walk anywhere in town after hours without fear. The police do a wonderful job, patrolling around the clock. That’s the beauty of it here. We always extend a welcome to our new groups and a special feature is that we offer a cocktail function the evening before they depart.” The conferences vary from the study of HIV to domestic violence, water and sanitation, child welfare and health, team building and marketing strategies, wild life management and ministerial planning. Some-times donor nations sponsor, such as the Danish support for MS Zimbabwe which recently hosted a 110-strong partnership conference with delegates attending from all over Zimbabwe as well as the Netherlands, Zambia, Tanzania and Malawi. Tawanda Wenyika, food and beverage manager, admitted it was quite a challenge to satisfy the many groups attending Kadoma (some 280 a year) with the extra tourist business off the Harare-Bulawayo highway which the conference centre fronts. As well as steaks, the hotel provides hake and bream fillets and rainbow trout from Nyanga. Its Ranch burger – so huge that guests sometimes have a problem finishing it – and chicken wings with garlic are a big hit with the clients. “We have an array of menus and can cater for special dietary needs,” says Tawanda. “We have now introduced lamb curries and the vegetables are freshly sourced from a variety of farms in Kadoma. Garden braais, buffets and traditional foods (such as millet sadza and hunter’s stew, mopani worms and kapenta dishes served on Wednesdays and Fridays) never fail to satisfy a hungry clientele. “The hotel has a unique atmosphere. This is not your typical establishment. “We have superb gardens with the band (called Occasions) playing at the weekends and there is nothing like having a cool drink in the shade surrounded by the prettiest bird in the land.”

June 2006
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