The prestigious Saxon Hotel, Villas and Spa in Johannesburg’s Sandhurst neighbourhood has unveiled the new 400 sq.m Nelson Mandela Platinum Suite, during the centenary year of the late president and philanthropist. The stylish new suite is a fitting tribute to the statesman who was closely connected with Saxon owners, The Steyn family, as well as being a regular hotel guest. Mandela also completed his bestselling autobiography Long Walk to Freedom at the Saxon following his release from prison.
Johannesburg artist Dean Simon, whose pencil sketches adorn the walls of the Saxon including several well-known pieces of the late former president, was tasked with the complete redesign and renovation of the existing Nelson Mandela Suite. Taking inspiration from Madiba’s Xhosa* heritage, Simon has created a striking new suite featuring bespoke pieces of art and furniture, with an authentically African look and feel taking the guest on a journey through Mandela’s life, from his days as a young militant through to a wiser and more mature statesman.
In keeping with the distinctly African theme, dark wood features heavily along with animal skin rugs, authentic cooper lamps and geometric African patterns running through the soft furnishings. The architraves and doors feature traditional carving with images of crocodiles, lizards and birds: symbols of protection and good luck.
The suite features a number of notable pieces of original artwork:
- Located in the entrance hallway is a piece which, from a distance, looks like a traditional portrait of Nelson Mandela but, as you move closer, the face fragments into a series of words used to describe the former president including Madiba, Rolihlahla and Mandela
- The passage way features an eye-catching statue of a bound figure by Dean Simon entitled ‘27 Years’, made entirely from washers, representing Mandela’s incarceration and eventual freedom 27 years later
- There are two screens commissioned by Dean Simon that divide the lounge and dining area, created from flat vertical cut steel strips that form the face of Nelson Mandela. The face is only visible from certain angles at different times of day, depending on the light, creating the feeling that the former leader’s presence is in the room
- In a nod to Mandela’s early years, there are three vintage photographs taken from the archives in the entrance that depict different aspects of traditional Xhosa life entitled The Wise Chief, The Warrior and Mother and Child, portraying what life would have been like for the young Mandela before he left for the city
On launching the new Nelson Mandela Platinum Suite, Managing Director George Cohen comments; “It has always been an honour for us at the Saxon to have had this connection with Madiba, and we are delighted to be able to acknowledge this with the design of the new Mandela Suite.”
The Nelson Mandela Platinum Suite starts from R34000 (approximately £1,964).
The launch of the new-look Nelson Mandela Platinum Suite is part of an ongoing renovation programme throughout the Saxon, which included the new Saxon Spa in 2016, the hotel suites in 2017 as well as Grei Restaurant in 2018. The renovations will continue into next year.