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16/01/2018 14:53 SAST | Updated 16/01/2018 14:53 SAST

Inside The Extraordinary Transformation Of Cape Town's Legendary Ritz Hotel

The iconic building is open for business, but it took a lot to get there.

ADAM LETCH

It's taken over R150-million and an extraordinary team of brilliant South African designers, chefs, architects and hoteliers, but finally Cape Town's iconic Ritz Hotel is back in business.

The hotel was internationally known for its grand lobby, spacious rooms, epic views of the Atlantic and its novel revolving restaurant, but over the years neglect and waning interest in the surrounding area saw the building fall to ruin.

Today, visitors will find gleaming marble tiles, neon signage and golden palm trees. They'll eat at the revolving restaurant, now called Top Of The Ritz, where chef Adrian Cook serves up gourmet delights. They'll swim at the new pool, and sleep between decadent sheets in the plush new rooms.

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But what went into making the building what it is?

"I struggle to find kind words to describe what it looked like," says Ritz director Yolanda van Wyk.

"The building was in a bad state. So to be quite honest, we had to remove everything. Literally everything is new, from new electrics, to the water supply and the lifts. There was horrible water damage from leakage... it just goes on.

"They [were using] a gutter inside the building to [redirect] the water leaking through the roof and walls away from the services. It was a mess," she says.

But beyond the physical horrors of the building, even worse was its reputation. The building was once known as the hotel with the highest suicide rate in the whole of South Africa -- a past the hotel is keen to leave behind.

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Rooms

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Adam Letch

"It's been incredible making this dream of ours a reality. I remember the day that we had our first guests in the hotel. At that stage we were still wiping off the marble reception desk when they walked through the entrance –– and then when they were booked in, we looked at each other and said, 'We've just opened a hotel!'" van Wyk recalls.

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Bathroom

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Adam Letch

But most important to them is the fact that the local community is supporting them.

"The pool deck is beautiful, and lots of locals come to enjoy Casa [the pool-deck restaurant], and that's important to us. We want people to know that the Ritz is back."

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The Pool Deck

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Adam Letch