Land claim forces Cybele Forest Lodge and Health Spa to close shop

Rupert Jeffries, Cybele Forest Lodge and Health Spa Director has issued the following press statement which explains why establishment is closing down:

It is with regret and much sadness that we announce the closure of Cybele Forest Lodge and Health Spa – effective midday Sunday, 17th November 2013.

The land, on which Cybele is built, was the subject of a land claim by the Manzimhlophe Community, nearly 5 years ago. The land claim was verified and found to be valid by the Land Claims Commission in terms of current legislation. The South African Restitution of Land Rights Act was introduced to address the dispossession of land from historically disadvantaged persons, under the apartheid regime. This has resulted in the lodge, and 120 Hectares of forestry land, being purchased from us by the Government, on behalf of the  Community.

cybele forest lodge

What is particularly distressing, is that the Government has completely failed in their objectives towards the well-being of the Manzimhlophe Community in that we requested meetings, engagements and commitments from them in respect of a suitable and efficient hand-over of the hotel, and a further purchase of all hotel fittings and moveable assets prior to the finalisation of the sale agreement between us and the Government  almost a year ago. None of this effort yielded any result. 

Sporadic efforts on their part to find a hospitality / or strategic partner to run the lodge together with the  Community, have all faltered.

As a result of this,  and most shockingly, 45 staff and their dependents will now be deprived of their livelihoods and income. 

Some of the staff have been employed at the lodge for well over 20 years.  A wonderful, friendly, committed and experienced team.  The Community will inherit the lodge with no furniture, equipment, staff or bookings.  

This is a very unhappy ending for a well-known South African brand that has been established around the world for 34 years, and for a business that worked hard to market South Africa as a destination in combination with our lodge.

With no hotel management help anywhere in sight, or funding for the Community, the reality is that the Community will simply inherit a completely empty lodge that will become (irrevocably) derelict in a very short space of time.  The forest timber plantations, an integral feature of the character of the lodge – will not continue to stand for much longer. 

We offer our apologies to all our clients, to the travel industry who were holding bookings – and to everyone who has supported us over all these years. 

All deposits and pre-payments will, of course, be refunded immediately and in full.

Author: Muzi Mohale

Hi there, am your host and I blog about the tourism industry in South Africa. You’re also welcome to contribute your expert content on matters affecting the industry. You can reach me on muzi[at]tourismedition.com

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