Along the Riverside…

Filed in Gauteng, Meetings & Events, Places to Stay by on July 21, 2013
The Vaal River meandering slowly past the Riverside Sun Resort

The Vaal River meandering slowly past the Riverside Sun Resort

A walk through the lush landscaped gardens, across verdant green lawns and into the dappled shade of poplar and weeping willow trees, takes you to the lapping waters on the river’s edge. The Riverside Sun Resort is situated on the banks of the Vaal River, just a few kilometres from Vanderbijlpark and an easy 40 minutes drive form Johannesburg. After a couple of busy days in central Gauteng, South Africa’s premier business region, it was a treat to follow the unfurling ribbons of tarmac into the countryside – it is this proximity to the city that makes the Riverside Sun Resort an ideal destination for both business and leisure.

Arriving at the hotel walking through the lobby, turning the revolving door to the gardens is like walking into another world. Images of oasis and escapism just enter the mind and fill the soul. The interiors are stylish and tranquil with spectacular views over the hotel’s landscaped gardens and the river. As the overall winner of the 2012 Imvelo Awards for Responsible Tourism, it goes without saying that the Riverside Sun Resort ticks all the boxes from an environmental and community point of view. Evidence of this can be seen by the water-wise entrance garden, recycling bins at the porte-cochere and energy efficient lighting – and this is before you’ve moved past the reception area. Guests can rest assured that every environmental detail has been taken care of by the ever vigilant ‘Green Peas’ team.

The hotel’s superb location and its expansive lawns and spectacular setting on the Vaal River makes it an ideal venue for a wedding or other special function as well as for conferencing and team-building. Even their conference guests are able to get involved in ‘green’ initiatives, with tree planting opportunities and a number of unique ‘Conferencing with Meaning’ team-building options. As general manager Herman Muller says, “the Riverside’s ethos is creating opportunities for, and involving and empowering our communities, and we delight in involving our teams, guests and communities in a variety of activities that ‘give back’ “, protects and align with conservation not only of plants and trees but also utilities. Our guests supports our communities whether through procurement or active engagement.

These teambuilding activities vary from a Cycle Adventure that sees delegates participate in a building bicycles, after which the bicycles are donated to the neediest children in the chosen rural school; a Build it Up challenge where the reward for completing teambuilding challenges is the material required to build a book shelf, toy box etc depending on the age of children at the selected school as well as a Plant a Tree challenge.

Both conference and leisure guests are spoilt for choice with the unrivalled sporting and leisure activities on offer. These include sundowner cruises on the VaalRiver as well as beach-style volley ball. Weekends and school holidays see the Riverside transform form a slickly operated corporate hotel to a welcoming haven for families with jumping castles and a myriad of kids activities, including the River Rascals club.

This is an exciting kids programme for kids aged four to 14, and incorporates nature activities, environmental awareness, creative sessions and visits to the farmyard, complete with a shy bunny and a very cocky rooster.

Breakfasts are a treat, just make sure you leave yourself enough time to enjoy the extensive buffet and ‘must have’ double omelette.  Fortified for the day, there are a number of activities in the region within an hour’s drive to keep you busy.  We opted for visiting the small vibey town of Parys, located within the Vredefort Dome Area, a World Heritage Site. The town is well known for its arts and craft shops, art galleries, antique shops as well as traditional restaurants and coffee shops… the perfect place to enjoy a cappuccino and slice of chocolate cake while taking refuge from an afternoon storm.

Other options near Parys are a visit to the Bon-Af berry farm where, between November and April, you can pick berries straight from the bush. Also in the area are three beer breweries and a mampoer distillery!

Closer to the Riverside is the Emfuleni Golf Estate, Emfuleni Day Spa, Vaal Mall (for those who cannot resist a bit of retail therapy) and of course the VaalRiver. Birdlife South Africa also recently launched the Vaal Birding Route and Riverside Sun is the perfect place to stay whilst driving to all the birding sites. The VaalRiver offers a number of great birding areas a range of aquatic species can be found including the Black and Goliath Heron, African Snipe, Whiskered Tern and African Black Duck.

And after a great day out, there’s nothing like coming back to a glass of something icy at the Le Bourbon Bar or from the bar around the Swimming Pool, and dinner at the Riverview Restaurant before retiring for the night to your well appointed and very relaxing room.

Riverside’s environmental initiatives in a nutshell

Heritage

Gold Status Heritage member

The Riverside Sun Resort is a proud to have retained their Gold Heritage Rating by showing a vast improvement in their water and energy consumptions.

Being situated on the VaalRiver, they have recognised that it is imperative that they manage the impacts they have with regards to water in their natural environment and as such have developed and implemented a rigorous water management policy which includes management and use of water resources.

These include actively reducing water usage by the removal of invasive trees; the redesign of some gardens to rockeries; planting more indigenous trees; the replacement of galvanised piping with copper pipes throughout the hotel and the implementation of ‘contractor’s compliance’ for all contractors working on site.

ImveloLogo - new reduced (2)

Overall Imvelo Winner for 2012

Their commitment to efficient and appropriate energy use across their operations includes the effective management of consumptions through measurement and conservation by incorporating best practice technology available.  85% of all lights on the property now run on energy efficient bulbs, energy efficient equipment is used where possible and high electricity usage appliances such as tumble driers and ovens have been switched to gas.

Timers have been installed on the fountains and irrigation to save both electricity and water and storm water drains are marked and signs erected so as to avoid contamination.  Staff awareness and training is something the Resort is committed to which can be seen by the enthusiasm shown by all for their various environmental and community initiatives.

View from the gardens

Heading up towards the hotel from the gardens

Words & pics – Tessa Buhrmann

 

www.tsogosunhotels.com/riverside-sun

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