Prosper Ndlovu in Victoria Falls
ZIMBABWEAN women should gain inspiration from aggressive entrepreneurs like Dr Matifadza Nyazema who has fought hard to establish one of the country’s top locally-owned hospitality facilities in the resort town of Victoria Falls.

The official opening of the Mbano Manor Hotel here yesterday by President Mnangagwa was historic and iconic, as the unique luxury boutique hotel was conceptualised and developed by a black female Zimbabwean.

The launch of the US$8 million facility was part of the critical programme by the President in launching the National Tourism Recovery and Growth Strategy.

The new hotel is an all-suite premium luxury property that was completed early this year and comprises of 19 suites, including a masterpiece forest villa.

The uniqueness of the investment lies in the sustainable co-existence of the hotel with nature. The hotel is located within the ancient teak forest of the Zambezi National Park and only two trees were taken down in its development, ensuring that the natural forest remains intact.

Its exterior design embraces the effortless countryside yet modern taste defined by large bungalow architecture, open flowing public areas and imposing verandas.

“This indeed is the most magnificent place I have ever been. Most importantly we are both in the bush as well as in the first world,” said President Mnangagwa amid applause from the gathering, as he officially opened the business after leading a ministerial delegation on a tour of the unique facility.

“Women of Zimbabwe have raised the bar above. It is pleasing that this mammoth investment was put together by a local company, Matizimunda Investments.

“I commend the admirable high standard of workmanship and products that are on show on this facility. This will undoubtedly help attract the target market and clientele for the hotel.”

The President described the facility as “elegant” saying it was gratifying that Dr Nyazema in her design sought to maximise investment that is socially and enviromentally friendly. But who is Dr Nyazema and what inspires her?

She is an award winning and tourism and hotel professional, with over 30 years of hospitality experience including involvement in global travel companies and hotel start-ups across several countries.

“I have travelled to over 60 countries during my career and stayed at some of the best signature hotels in the world.

“What you see as Mbano Hotel today is the culmination of this experience, yet engineered by an expert design and architecturial team to blend with our natural environment. Attention to detail defines the Mbano experience,” said the eloquent and bold Dr Nyazema. “We complement the existing accommodation product in and around Victoria Falls. Our aim is to open up new and additional markets for the benefit of the destination and the country.”

One of the trends driving the future of luxury travel is the shift in values from the material to the experiential.

“Rather than saving up to buy luxurious possessions, people are choosing to spend their money on experience. Mbano Manor is positioning itself to take up this opportunity in Zimbabwe and the region,” said Dr Nyazema, who is a devoted Christian and is married to Professor Norman Nyazema

Another milestone for the hotel is that local pension funds funded its development, over and above the initial injection of feasibility funding that was provided by an international investor. “We applaud and are grateful for the demonstration of confidence by local institutions. In particular, Hippo Valley and Triangle Pension Funds, who endorsed our vision considering this was an entrpreneurial venture,” she said.

“Additional funding was also later obtained from the Standard Chartered Pension fund, and from two Minerva pension funds.”

Dr Nyazema said the journey to deliver a world class product was not easy and she and her family faced many challenges but remained focused on their goal. Belief in her vision was key to her success. “We didn’t compromise on developing the hotel product that was initially envisaged. My research and experience in tourism convinced me that there is a market gap in the luxury boutique product at Victoria Falls that Mbano can fill. Several people said this idea would not fly because the site is not next to the Zambezi River nor the Rainforest. My global perspective said it was possible,” she said.

Dr Nyazema paid tribute to her family and their small staff complement for the support towards realising the vision as well as Governement for assisting in making key breakthroughs.