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Issue 13
Africa Travel> Issue 13
UPDATED: March 10, 2015
A Heart of Gold
Johannesburg's mining town past gets a modern twist
By Jo Kromberg

Gold Reef City Tsogo Sun Casinoand Hotel has an impressive entrance

It's late Sunday afternoon in an unseasonably sweltering February. The Highveld light is bleak and simmers with the heat. So it is with considerable relief that we finally reach the amazing sanctuary that is the Gold Reef City Tsogo Sun Casino and Hotel.

From the moment you walk into the hotel, you are surrounded by the architecture, décor and intricate detail of a colonial Victorian mining hotel of yore. The entire concept of Gold Reef City is to recreate as authentically as possible the buildings and ambience of the gold rush in Johannesburg during the 1800s.

The 4-star casino hotel fits into this theme perfectly and the bedrooms relay the ambience of the time very well. Steeped in the grandeur of a bygone era, we are almost transported back to a time when service and hospitality were paramount and elegance was the order of the day.

Fun water rides

The 38 rooms provide a few options - choose from a selection of en-suite room options such as Standard Rooms, Junior Suites or Junior Family Suites, each of which is fitted with air-conditioning, DSTV, mini bar, tea and coffee station, electronic safe and other facilities that enhance your comfort. Huge four-poster beds, Victorian baths, elaborate and opulent marble, dark, ornate wooden furniture, striped wall paper and chandeliers – no effort has been spared to welcome you in plush, authentic surroundings. For guests who may have added requirements, smoking and wheelchair-accessible rooms can also be arranged on request. And I will be very remiss if I don't mention the professionalism and friendliness of the staff – from room service, maintenance and management, every person you encounter here will help you with a genuine smile.

As you stroll through the hotel and the complex, you are sure to marvel at every turn. Take advantage of excellent services and facilities such as free Wi-Fi, childcare facilities, shops such as Navigara, and dining options such as Ocean Basket, Boston BBQ and Pavilion Coffee House as well as conferencing facilities to cater to your business needs. The hotel is currently undergoing a multi-million rand refurbishment and it will be even more spectacular once completed in September this year.

We have dinner at one of the hotel's chain seafood restaurants and decide to have an early night. The bed is gargantuan with pure linen and black-out curtains, ensuring a very good night's sleep.

Early Johannesburg architecture

After a great full English buffet breakfast the next morning, our guide Jacob fetches us with a golf cart for a very exclusive and extraordinary tour of the theme park. The Gold Reef city theme park is closed to the public on Mondays and Tuesdays so we obtain special permission to gain access before being given a special guided tour. The place is fascinating. Located just 8 kilometers from the centre of Johannesburg the world famous yet uniquely South African Gold Reef City is known as the place where Johannesburgers comes to play and relax. The city was formally established in 1886 with the discovery of gold and the Witwatersrand reef. After the discovery, the population of the city exploded, and Johannesburg became the largest city in South Africa. Today, it is a centre for learning and entertainment for all of Africa. Gold Reef City succeeds very well in capturing this period of time in the city's rich history by providing a history lesson you will actually enjoy.

Learn how Johannesburg came to be, how gold was discovered on the reef, descend 75 meters underground plus witness the magnificent glow of a live gold pour

There is a theatre in art-deco style, restaurants galore and adrenaline junkies can terrify themselves on rides like the Anaconda, Jozi Express, Tower of Terror and Miner's Revenge - plus they have plenty of rides for those a little less brave. Pet animals in the Animal Farmyard even includes an alpaca! That evening we have dinner in the hotel's restaurant. I highly recommend the succulent fall-of-the-bone lamb shank as well as the lamb cutlets.

Gold Reef City is a true adventure and an absolute must-do while in Johannesburg so add it to your bucket list!

Travel back in time

Getting there:

Air China has regular flights to Johannesburg. From OR Tambo airport, Gold Reef City is about a 20-minute drive.


Go to http://www.goldreefcity.co.za/Pages/default.aspx for contact details and information.  

Gold Reef cocktails

Photos by Jody Marais and Francisco Little

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