First Look: Four Seasons Hotel the Westcliff Opens in Johannesburg (VIDEO)

It's a big day for South Africa, as the Four Seasons Hotel The Westcliff Johannesburg has opened its doors.

With Africa's busiest airport (OR Tambo) 14 miles away, Johannesburg is the main gateway to explore Sub-Saharan Africa and beyond – important game reserves, including Kruger National Park and Botswana’s luxury safari lodges are easily accessed, and 36 of the country’s top 100 golf courses are within an hour of the hotel. In Joburg, open air markets, funky arts districts, trendy restaurants and the new Museum of African Design are just minutes away in the Braamfontein, Maboneng and 44 Stanley districts.

And since South Africa is in the Southern Hemisphere, it's summer in Johannesburg, making this a prime time to visit. The hotel is offering a special introductory rate starting at $345 per night.

The New Look 

An eighteen-month, $56 million redevelopment of the historic Westcliff hotel included redecorating all 117 guest rooms, suites and public spaces, and the addition of new contemporary restaurants, lounges and a newly built spa complex.

Four Seasons worked with South African firms RSL Architects and Jacket Interiors on the project, which included exterior glass elevators (to take advantage of the panoramic views over the city’s treetops and of the zoo next door). 

Wining and Dining

Executive Chef Dirk Gieselmann will oversee the hotel’s new signature restaurants Flames and View. Flames Restaurant's menu is influenced by the outdoor lifestyle and local barbecue, or braai, a cross-cultural culinary tradition that is inherently South African.

Set to open in January, View references the city’s art scene and is meant to resemble an art gallery. Gieselmann, whose most recent assignment was as chef de cuisine at the famed three Michelin starred Auberge de l’Ill in France’s Alsace region, has promised regional seasonal produce will be featured on the menu.  

Additional restaurants and lounges at Four Seasons will include:

  • Cellar Door, an intimate dining venue that spotlights South Africa’s best wines for informal or sophisticated gatherings.
  • Après-Spa, a relaxed outdoor setting for light fare before and after spa treatments.
  • Westcliff Deli, the neighborhood’s new street-side café with sandwiches and salads to eat in the garden or take away.

The Spa at Four Seasons

Opening in January 2015, the newly built Spa at Four Seasons Hotel The Westcliff will have nine treatment rooms and men’s and women’s facilities including ice fountains, saunas and steam rooms. It will also have two outdoor pools – the 82-foot lap pool for quiet relaxation, and the family-friendly pool. The outdoor Après-Spa lounge completes the complex, and close to eight acres (three hectares) of landscaped gardens include winding walking paths.

Top tip: Ask for the signature Red Nomads treatment, which Spa Director Julanda Marais says is “inspired by the ancient Himba tribe known for their red-ochred skin, our Red Nomads treatment features South Africa’s own Terres d’Afrique products, including rooibos and baobab plant extracts, Kalahari melon and coconut oils, and petrified wood crystals.”

Bonus: The Spa will also feature the South African debut of French luxury skincare brand Biologique Recherche.

For business travelers, the city is the economic hub of Africa and an important center for mining, as well as the banking, media, health care and technology sectors. Even better: Local businesses have already started to book their corporate and social functions for next year at the property.

For events, the hotel has 15,683-square-feet of naturally-lit space, highlighted by the 6,620-square-foot Arcadia Ballroom, which has panoramic views and its own terrace and a pre-function space. (It can also be divided for smaller functions.) Thirteen additional rooms are available for break-out functions, or a complete suite for a conference.