By Norma Tsopo
MUTARE – What perplexed me upon arrival at Christmas Pass Hotel is why it is not more highly regarded. Discovering such a significant historic heritage on this luxury hotel’s stairway was a humbling experience.
It stands on exact spot where pioneers camped upon arrival in Mutare on Christmas day in 1890 – making it the eastern border city’s most significant historical site.
It was these pioneers who determined the establishment of a city in the mountainous region that has become the economic hub of Manicaland province.
The hotel may look rather antiquated in its impressive Victorian-style architecture but it may need to be kept that way considering that it directly supplanted the structures that were set up by pioneers between 1891 and 1907.
To seal its undeniable status is a plaque at the beginning of the staircase to the reception that proudly announces that it was unveiled by Lord Malvern – Sir Godfrey Huggins in 1952, as Southern Rhodesia (Zimbabwe’s colonial name) Prime Minister in commemoration of the pioneers.
Lord Malvern led the country from 1933 to 1956 and, at 7 829 days, he holds Britain and Commonwealth record for the longest continuously serving Prime Minister.
If not for its historical significance, the hotel’s name should on its own make it attract tourists.
The world famous Christmas Pass road architectural splendor is named after this place and not the other way round.
Set in a mountainous landscape of the Christmas Pass hills the hotel has for years been hidden from view from a forest overgrowth which has now been replaced with a stunning garden that is fast making it a photographer’s paradise.
With the stunning Christmas Pass road running by the hotel gate the hotel is very accessible and has stunning therapeutic panoramic views with the some of the rooms’ private balconies offer spectacular vantage points in viewing sunrises.
Even within itself, the plush garden and pool offer breathtaking eye-candy.
Although the furniture point to an earlier time of classic furnishing to complement its previous two-star rating the currently unrated hotel has not let up on its room’s homely comforts – ably aided by its eager to please affectionate staff’s etiquette.
With 17 rooms which include two executive suites, four double rooms and 11 standard rooms the hotel is perfect for leisure travelers. The beds are cushy, their linen snug and scream class.
The hotel however offers conference facilities that can host diverse gatherings from weddings, seminars, business meetings at the hotel’s special occasion venue or out in the gardens with professional banqueting teams on hand to attend to details.
But overall, the hotel has its biggest strength in medium sized groups for ordinary conferencing facilities which it complements effectively with its fine dining experiences.
Offering a sumptuous `a la carte menu, the hotel’s restaurant is a huge stand out against other facilities that often seem overwhelmed by huge conference groups that seem to dominate their bookings.
This has given the restaurant the distinction of being one of the most sought after eateries in the city and for drive-through clients as it has an impressive turn-around time of 25 to 25 minutes while visitors either take a stroll in the garden or relax by the pool side.
The picturesque pool side has become a favourite party venue for locals with powerful music system and all the braai amenities.
With secure parking, free Wi-Fi, safe keeping and other amenities for guests – the hotel is a great escape from the routine of the home environment.