The University of Mpumalanga (UMP) officially opened the Tfokomala Hotel and Conference Centre: a Boutique Hotel with a purpose, during a well-attended event on 7 April 2022.
The hotel, situated on the Mbombela campus, has been envisioned as a hotel with a purpose for teaching and learning. It is wholly owned by the university and its purpose aligns beautifully with UMP’s vision of being an African University leading in creating opportunities for sustainable development through innovation.
Speaking at the event, University of Mpumalanga Vice-Chancellor, Professor Thoko Mayekiso expressed how UMP, as a comprehensive institution, understands that its academic project must combine both the creation and transfer of knowledge and skills and the development of students as independent, critical thinkers with a passion for knowledge and its application.
“The opening of the hotel is an excellent reflection of what UMP truly stands for as a 21st Century African University. We aim to produce graduates who are resourceful, responsive and responsible, and have sound discipline knowledge; graduates who are innovative and entrepreneurial, confident, and effective communicators; they are ethically and socially aware change agents and highly adaptable,” she said.
Professor Mayekiso added that the establishment of this facility is in line with UMP’s vision of being an African University leading in creating opportunities for sustainable development through innovation.
“The hotel focuses on learning by doing for students to gain hands-on experience in operational roles in the restaurant, kitchen, and all other hotel divisions,” she added.
“Our goal, therefore, is to create iconic infrastructure and state-of-the-art facilities that provide a multifaceted environment – inspiring both social and intellectual exchange in an atmosphere that is unconventional, original and creative.
We aim to create social spaces for crucial conversations with both internal and external stakeholders. Thereby creating a modern, stimulating, and inspiring environment that promotes and rewards academic excellence whilst fostering an entrepreneurial spirit, creativity, and innovation,” she further said.
“Our energy is directed towards encouraging students and staff to do what they love, to strive to make a dent on the universe, to sell dreams not products, to create great experiences, to focus and to master the art of identifying new opportunities.”
Gateway to the Lowveld
The four-star boutique hotel offers world-class accommodation, fine dining, and wellness programmes. This includes 25 luxurious and modern rooms, complemented by excellent service and an upmarket conference facility that can accommodate up to 150 delegates.
Hotel and Catering Services director, Mr Tenson Nkosana said the hotel forms part of the gateway to the famous Kruger National Park, the Sudwala Caves, the Panorama Route, and many other local attractions and places of interest in the Lowveld.
“It is truly an oasis of tranquillity, luxury, and comfort – a great place to stay for business and leisure travellers from across the globe. We are working with tour operators who will assist us in taking our visitors to tourist attractions around the province. Most of our employees are highly qualified and some even come from highly respected hotels across the world.”
Representing the Hospitality and Tourism Building, Head of School of Hospitality and Tourism Management, Professor July Sibanyoni explained that the Tfokomala Hotel and the Hospitality and Tourism Building are equipped with iconic and state-of-the-art teaching and learning facilities, which will ensure that UMP produces world-class students who can compete locally and internationally.
The Hospitality and Tourism Building comprises an auditorium with a seating capacity of 200, four lecture rooms with seating capacities ranging from 33 to 109, a training kitchen with 60 workstations, a pastry kitchen with eight workstations, a demo kitchen with 68 seats, a wine cellar, and a postgraduate lab and a computer lab with 38 computers.
“These kinds of facilities play a major role. Our students are placed to work at the hotel as part of the work-integrated learning (WIL) programme and practical orientation. The integration of theory and practice is one of the fundamental principles in the professional training and education of hospitality students,” said Professor Sibanyoni.
He further said the ultra-modern facilities will provide an opportunity for students to be creative and will also enhance their intellectual and collaborative skills in an ethical and inclusive environment.
“It will provide facilities conducive for teaching and learning – from undergraduate to postgraduate level – and produce innovative, educational, leadership and research opportunities for students, staff, the industry, and the community.”
Officially opening the two buildings, Vice-Chancellor, Professor Mayekiso was joined by the first student to graduate towards her Masters at UMP, Confidence Ndlovu, chairman of the Council, Professor David Mabunda as well as Professor Refilwe Phaswana-Mafuya from University of Johannesburg (UJ).
The event concluded with guests taking a tour of the Tfokomala Hotel and Conference Centre and the Hospitality and Tourism Building.
Opening the Hospitaliy and Tourism Building, UMP Vice-Chancellor, Prof Thoko Mayekiso with Prof Refilwe Phaswana-Mafuya from UJ.
Director of the Hotel and Catering Services, Mr Tenson Nkosana says the hotel is the gateway to the Lowveld.
Head of School of Hospitality and Tourism Management, Professor July Sibanyoni gave a virtual tour of the Hospitality and Tourism Building.
Tfokomala Hotel and Conference Centre, Vice-Chancellor Prof Mayekiso and the Chairman of Council, Prof David Mabunda.