By Norma Tsopo
RUSAPE – Lying on the bank of Rusape River along the Harare-Mutare highway – Crocodile Motel was symbolically named after the river’s leviathans and motorists it was primarily meant to serve.
But, except its name almost everything has changed since its establishment in the 1970s.
There is absolutely no risk of running into crocodiles and its continued classification as a motel is debatable.
Its architecture, particularly the cottages, may still point to it being a traditional motel but beyond this – and notwithstanding its roadside location and claim to being a motel in the name, this is now essentially a two-star hotel.
Maintaining the term motel in its name may just as well be costing it business from international travelers going by the stereotypical perceptions of these roadside accommodations.
Experiencing its luxury, one would definitely feel the place is wrongly branded and seriously under marketed.
This is however in no way a condemnation of motels. They can be very fine facilities and considering that their ratings are conducted against the same standards that hotels are rated can be just as fine.
The bottom line is that there are clear distinctions between hotels and motels. And international travelers will not check into either without a sense of expectation for either – these are clearly two distinct establishments.
A motel is a form of a hotel but presenting the later as the former would be undercutting it.
Distinguishing a motel from a hotel is, as a general rule of thumb tied to the former being a roadside establishment with the latter being a city institution.
The word motel was first used in 1925, and was a combination of ‘motor and hotel’. Its sole purpose was to offer ‘some amenities’ of a hotel.
Hotel, as a word, was in use since 1765. It came from a French word which meant a ‘townhouse’. It was established for a broader scope of lodgings, meals, meetings and others.
The stereotype of a motel is now that it is an old-fashioned service provider for the wayfarer and offers transient hospitality services for the wary traveler. They are generally deemed not meant for long-term stay.
If this is a universally defined definition of a motel, as an internet search of differences between hotels and motels seem to suggest then Crocodile Motel is no motel at all.
It is well too classy to be such.
It is high-end and has capacity to allow for stays stretching days to weeks even. It offers way more than bedding and a place to shower as do typical motels.
Offering an exquisite restaurant, a top-class bar, executive lounge, fully complimented with equally impressive deluxe, executive and standard rooms as well vacation sports like horse riding, sports areas including a swimming pool, a beautiful garden, conference facilities and a business centre all fully covered with high speed Wi-Fi – this is certainly not aimed at offering convenience for travelers but leisurely rest to business travelers and holidaymakers.
All these are hallmarks of a hotel and are the hub of meetings, incentives conferences and events in Rusape.
A bold declaration of being a hotel could perhaps even offer Crocodile Motel more opportunities particularly to the international traveler as brands are everything.
The surprise of checking into a two-star hotel facility where one expected a minimalist hospitality services was a big bonus to my experience.
Although it lies near a busy highway its rooms have impressive sound proofing that allows for peaceful sleep.
It has a full bouquet of rooms from standard through to executive to deluxe rooms. While some of the rooms are on the small side the brilliant use of lighting and mirrors makes them appear a lot bigger.
The rooms have all the homely comforts of coffee makers, satellite television and Wi-Fi among others.
Seating as it is, on the entry to the eastern Highlands for travelers from Harare the Crocodile Motel has an executive lounge for travelers to relax in as they make their way through.
Its dining experience is also exquisite with a short turn-around time for its diverse a’ la carte menu of mainly English, French and African cuisine.
The motel also has an executive bar with an impressive range of wines and soothing atmosphere to allow for tradition bar stool seating and nicely set lounge suits away from the bar for those who may want to have a more private seating arrangement.
There is also the option to retreat into the well-kept garden which has become a popular wedding venue.
As adults enjoy their drinks there is a great outdoor play centre with swings, slides and a beach volleyball pitch as well as a swimming pool with impressive on-site change-rooms.
This place offers a complete package and one has the feeling that it is priced below its value. And so much better for any traveler.