Holiday Inn makes a comeback

Mzi Oiphant

Unlike the current generation of teenagers, we were not allowed to bring our girlfriends to our homes.

So we opted for cheap but clean hotels in town, and the first one I was exposed to was the Holiday Inn on Smal Street in central Joburg. A lot of bonding with my beloved took place there.

Check-out time in the morning was most embarrassing because every face in those queues told stories of what had happened the night before.

In the late 1990s the Holiday Inns vanished and the Formula 1s sprung up on every corner where there was a need. When I drive past the Formula 1 opposite the Southgate mall at month-end, visitors cars are parked on the pavement outside. A lot of bonding surely takes place there.

Now, after a long absence, the Holiday Inn hotels are making a comeback, and the group has invested R622million to build four hotels before 2010.

Last week I had a second bite of my teenage years as I visited the Holiday Inn Express in Woodmead - off Ben Schoeman highway between Johannesburg and Pretoria - on invitation of course.

And I realised that these hotels are now not only meant for what comes with sleeping. A clear shift has been made to also accommodate business travellers.

There are business and communication points in the reception area where one can access the Internet. There are informal meeting rooms ideal for presentations, interviews and workshops.

This segment of hotels is a far cry from luxury hotels like the Park Hyatt as they are meant for visitors who want to minimise on their expenses.

Their degree of luxury comes with comfy beds in rooms that are decorated with contemporary art, and a flat screen television set that beams more than a dozen DStv channels. Sleeping over comes with a complimentary buffet breakfast.

There's a bar downstairs where one can relax and imbibe anything from water to "turpentine".

Holiday Inn Express Woodmead is situated next to the M1 North freeway, just before the busy Allandale offramp.

Sitting on the hotel's balcony, one can see stressed drivers in traffic, and if that's not entertaining enough, you can look through your window and watch "black diamonds" teeing off at the Vodacom World of Golf just a street away.

Businesses have moved out of the Joburg CBD to the surrounding areas, and Midrand has been growing fast since the trend began.

Holiday Inn Express Woodmead is the answer for those who do business in the area.

Even those who need to take their loved ones for a night out for one reason or another are welcome at this trendy and stylish hotel.