Montclair Hotel and Casino – the gateway to the Eastern Highlands’ finest

By Norma Tsopo

Mt Nyangani may have given Nyanga its fame. It may be the bigger tourism brand – and Nyanga the host.

But here is the paradox. The mountain – in all truth, freaks up most travellers, even locals. On the other hand, they love Nyanga to bits.

The mystic cloak that Mt Inyangani has over the mysterious disappearances of tourists has been keeping visitors from its embrace for a while now. This has however not stopped thousands of tourists from flocking to Nyanga each year.

The mountain stands at a majestic 2 593 metres – the highest point in Zimbabwe, offering a challenging climb and spectacular views of the outlying country side. Would be visitors are concerned over their safety.

Traditional folklore tell of another world existing within the mountain. Legend says one who disrespects   the ethos of the mountain are taken to the mystic world of the mountain people, never to return – unless proper traditional rites are carried out to appease the offence.

Many have disappeared without trace and no ritual has succeeded to bring them back.

But Nyanga’s climate is pure magic. Holiday makers have equated it with that of Cape Town. And the analogy does not end there – these are the only two places in Africa where trout fish farming are currently a success.

And there is no place to experience and enjoy this weather than Montclair Hotel and Casino. Located in the scenic Nyanga area, the environment in itself is relaxing and enjoyable.

The sprawling roadside hotel is the largest in Nyanga with 85 exquisitely furnished rooms. It is difficult to not find a room that suits one’s personal preferences as it has a wide range of rooms from family rooms to standard and executive suites. They are all comfortable clean and cosy.

It hosts more travellers to the region than any other spot – with each one of them leaving satisfied that they would have been to a world-class tourism spot.

The hotel is strategically positioned as a gateway to some of the finest attractions in the exquisite Eastern Highlands.

It is a few kilometres from Zimbabwe’s tallest waterfall – Mtarazi which is Africa’s second tallest. The skywalk and zip line are a recent addition to its glamour creating a huge buzz across the globe.

The drop-dead gorgeous Pungwe gorge also beacons only 44 km from the hotel.

The hotel is also stone’s throw from Nyanga National Park and its stunning wildlife. Nyangombe falls are to the western part of the national park and the beautiful Nyamuziwa cascading falls are also close by with Rhodes Museum  also just next to the park’s offices.

There are a lot more activities in the area that include fly-fishing further up in Gairezi River and a trout hatchery is also just around the corner.

The nearby Claremont Golf Club may be a separate entity to the hotel, but because of its proximity to the Hotel and Casino there has been a default association of the two facilities which Montclair Hotel and Casino has taken in its stride and forged a close working relationship with the owners of the golf facility Claremont Orchards. It is therefore involved in the day to day running of the Club House and Golf Course, being the catering tenant as well as facilitating golf tournaments for individuals and visiting clubs alike.

There are walking and horse riding trails for guests who would love to venture out but not too far from the hotel.

For those who would want to stay indoors the hotel also operates a casino on site with everything from roulette, poker, black jack to slot machines.

The restaurants services are exceptional. There is the main restaurant that is ideal for bigger groups and Topside Restaurant which is better suited for families, couples and individuals although both of them offer buffet and a la carte meals.

Montclair Hotel and Casino has two bars – Top Bar which mainly serves Casino delegates and also hosts weekly parties with its in-house DJ, and Crusader Bar which serves all other guests and provides a warm and relaxed atmosphere. A wide variety of cocktails and beverages are on offer in both bars.

Being such a cold place it has the first of many fireplaces just close to the reception for guests’ convenience. They also have electric blankets and heated mattresses which add to the air conditioners which are real life savers in the resort.

All the rooms have all the homey comforts like tea making gadgets and accessories. Irons are available on request where one does not wish to hire their services for the chores.

The hotel offers beautiful swimming pools for adults and for kids with a water fountain in the middle.

To add to the outdoor activities there are tennis, basketball and volleyball courts as well as playgrounds to make the hotel perfect for sport lovers and children.

Its conferencing facilities are diverse and can accommodate a wide range of groups. Their occupancy will vary by arrangement between u-shape to cinema – Nyangani (160 to 350), Conifer (60 to 120), Dannakay (60 to 120), Board room (30) and Marque (from 200 people).

With all these asserts, the hotel is a popular venue for big music concerts with internationally acclaimed afro-jazz crooner Oliver ‘Tuku’ Mtukudzi warming up guests with an annual winter show that has been running for several years now.

Top Zimdancehall artist Winky D perfoming at Montclair Hotel and Casino

It offers enticing wedding packages for those who would like to enter marriage in the comforts of a three-star hotel in one of the world’s top holiday destinations.