Riviera on Vaal Hotel & Country Club
The site where the Hotel has stood since 1929 was a popular venue for water sports and relaxation throughout the 1920′s and 30′s, with a “kiosk” (actually a majestic single storey house, featuring a wide staircase leading onto a deep, cool “stoep”) doing brisk trade from the early 1920′s with the fun seekers who enjoyed boating, water polo, swimmingand various other activities in this idyllic spot.In the late 20′s an American by the name of Mr. Schlesinger, who had made his money in cinemas and movies (he made 43 of them between 1916 and 1922), visited the site and proclaimed it one of the most beautiful he had ever seen. He proceeded to build the “ultra modern” Riviera Hotel which featured a bathroom for every room, a luxury unheard of at the time.
The hotel was a popular leisure destination in the years before and after the Second World War. From the 1960′s, the hotel’s popularity declined. A “highlight” of a rather dubious nature was the disastrous floods of early 1975, when most of the low-lying areas of Vereeniging were completely submerged, including most of the hotel grounds and the entire adjacent golf course.
The Behr family owned the hotel from January 1970. They took over a very dilapidated hotel and a complete face-lift followed with the hotel once again regaining its popularity. Mrs. Cynthia Behr was renowned for her strictness and spectacular buffets and soon people were coming from far and wide, a highlight being Sundays’ dinner and movie evening which was always full in the pre- television days.
In the late 70′s and early 80′s, casino fever hit South Africa, with Sun City starting what was to become a billion dollar industry all over South Africa. In August 1981, the news exploded through the Vaal Triangle that the Riviera Hotel and a few hectares of adjacent land had been sold and that a giant hotel complex costing more than R15 million would be developed on the site. The complex would be called Aqua City and would be a fun park for the whole family.
Almost immediately problems with Rand Water arose, the 2 star grading was lost and the hotel closed on Saturday 23rd 1983. Rand Water’s ruling was that the hotel would have to be built no closer than 100 metres from the river.
By March 1984, work was proceeding in earnest and the original hotel was stripped to a bare shell, with two storeys being added. Sun International ran the hotel until, having failed to secure a gambling licence, they sold it to Sir John Sherry, founder of listed Jasco Holdings in 1998. Unfortunately the envisaged visitors didn’t flock to the venue and standards dropped dramatically until in 2003, the hotel was liquidated and put up for auction.
The hotel was finally sold on auction to businessman Mac van der Merwe in November 2003. The entire hotel and grounds were rebuilt and completely renovated in three months and the hotel was officially opened on 12th March 2004 amid great fanfare.
All the Portfolio’s destinations have a Zorgvliet Spa on the premises. Zorgvliet Spauses the latest spa products and guarantees a relaxing and rejuvenating experience for all its visitors. A range of treatments and packages have been designed to lure you back for more pampering sessions.The group further established itself as a force in the local travel and tourism market by acquiring a major share in the PH King George in George and the Sure Zorgvliet Travel agency in 2004. Sure Zorgvliet Travel´s well qualified travel consultants ensure that your travelling arrangements run efficiently.
“The highest reward for management is still when a visitor bestows a ´wow, that is great´ upon them,” says Mac van der Merwe. Zorgvliet Portfolio prides itself in always striving to deliver special experiences for special people.
Today, the Riviera on Vaal Hotel stands majestic and proud. This beautiful site has seen much development and change over the years.