New suite of major attractions, revamped convention facilities opened

On a hot December day in 1979, Sun International turned every notion of leisure and entertainment in South Africa on its head with the launch of Sun City. Rising from the dusty African bush, what has now become an icon of South African tourism instantly captured the hearts and imaginations of entertainment-starved South Africans.

Visitors were awed by the lush green paradise set in a craggy North West backdrop. For the first time, South Africans were exposed to the previously forbidden delights of showgirls and risqué topless Extravaganza dancers, performances by A-list international stars like Queen and Frank Sinatra, and the exhilaration and glamour of gambling.

Dubbed the ‘pleasure palace’ soon after its opening, over time the popular Sun City Hotel was joined by further development at The Cabanas, The Cascades, The Vacation Club and the ultra-luxurious 5-star fantasy – The Palace of the Lost City. Entertainment attractions expanded to include the massive man-made lake at Waterworld large enough for water sports, The Valley of The Waves and the world-famous Gary Player Golf Course that continues to attract the world’s top golfers at the annual Nedbank Golf Challenge.

After just a year, Sun City had attracted more than 300,000 visitors to the Extravaganza and theatre shows alone, and had secured more international visitors to the Pilansberg in 12 months than had visited the entire country in the same period.

36 years later, after a five-year R1-billion refurb, Sun City has set its sights on growing its popularity still further, and increasing its share of the growing conventions business in South Africa.

Michael Farr, Group General Manager for Brand and Communications, says: “Sun City has remained popular since its opening, but we felt it needed a complete overhaul and took the decision to invest over a billion Rand to do just that. We’ve put this investment into making the resort even more attractive to families, gamblers, convention visitors and a host of new, niche-tourists such as adrenalin-seekers, eco-tourists and millennials.

“We are confident that with this massive refurb and upgrade, Sun City will not only retain its status as South Africa’s favourite leisure destination, but will also recapture its place as the premier convention venue in the country.”

In addition to the new elegantly styled rooms and refreshed decor at The Cabanas and the self-catering Sun Vacation Club apartments, visitors will find:

  • A brand new Entertainment Centre boasting a suite of new family experiences, as well as a South African Hall of Fame honouring South Africa’s outstanding sportspeople and performing artists. The original Entertainment Centre was built at a cost of R30-million and inaugurated on 24 July 1981 by Frank Sinatra.
  • The new, highly flexible Sun Park indoor events area and outdoor space, capable of hosting a range of lifestyle events, music festivals and corporate launches.
  • An exciting 24-hour Las Vegas-styled party zone at the Soho Hotel (formerly the Sun City Hotel), with night clubs, burlesque clubs and restaurants. The glamorous new 190-seat Legends restaurant boasts a stage for live entertainment while the open-plan layout gives diners an interactive experience of the chefs in action. The Sun City Casino was the first in South Africa to introduce the concept of million Rand jackpots.
  • The Luma Bar and the new Bocado Mediterranean restaurant at The Cascades, which replaces the Santorini restaurant. The Cascades Hotel was constructed in 1984 at a cost of R50-million. Today, its lush botanical gardens cover an area of 55,000 sqm. The waterscape covers 7,740 sqm and includes three swimming pools, 12 waterfalls and cataracts and 1,050 m of low weirs. Water is circulated at 8,314 cubic meters per hour by 45 pumps.
  • A sophisticated new VIP gaming experience at The Palace Villa and Salon and an upgraded breakfast buffet. The popular Grill Room has also been upgraded with a new lakeside terrace. A stylish new spa will be completed by 2017. During the construction in 1992, nearly everything in The Palace was custom-made, and 85% of all requirements were sourced within Southern Africa. This includes the 8m-high doors at the entrance.
  • A fresh new look at the Cabanas as well as a new restaurant and upgrades to the children’s play areas and the pool bar.
  • Adrenalin seekers will love Adrenalin Extreme, the new adventure hub, while the entire family can enjoy the two brand new rides at the Valley of the Waves water park. Adventure hub comprises of a range of outdoor activities including Drift Trikes, Hovercrafts, the Accelerator and the Grizzly 4×4 Quad Challenge. For those who would prefer to observe the action, the new Brew Monkey microbrewery-themed gastro pub and the Food Factory fresh food eatery is just the place to do this.
  • More action packed watersports at The Watersports and Recreation Hub. The venue now offers the new Kazooma Raceway and Rock Venture Golf with its thrilling Grand-Prix-styled racing go-karts and an adventure golf course that will appeal to all ages.
  • And last, but by no means least, our “smaller visitors” will also be pleased with the colourful refurbishment at Kamp Kwena, where they can continue to have hours of fun.

Farr says: “Sun City remains the jewel in Sun International’s crown, setting the benchmark for leisure and business travel. Creating lasting memories for our guests is a core part of Sun International’s DNA and this is especially true of Sun City.”


Issued by Corporate Image on behalf of Sun International.


Sun City facts

  • Construction on the original Sun City resort began on 15 July 1978. The fast-tracked project was completed at a cost of R30-million in a record-setting 16 months.
  • Sun City is encircled by four concentric rings of an extinct volcanic crater, 150 km in circumference. It is one of only two such alkaline craters in the world (the other being in Russia).
  • The inaugural golf classic, held on the Gary Player Championship Golf Course the day after the complex opened, carried a prize of R1 000 000 which was won by Gary Player himself. The inaugural Million Dollar Golf Challenge was held in 1981, becoming the Nedbank Golf Challenge in 1995. In 2016 the tournament made its debut as part of the European Tour, with a field of 72 players and a purse of over R120-million.
  • The recreational Waterworld lake is 750 m long with a capacity of 1 300 000 cubic meters and a depth of 16 m.
  • The Lost City, which opened in December 1992, was built at a cost of R830-million and was completed in a record 28 months. Construction required 30-million bricks, 85,000 cubic meters of poured concrete, 50,000 sqm of carpeting, 5,650 sqm of marble and 3,400 sqm of murals.
  • The Lost City gardens cover 25 hectares and were constructed at a cost of R25-million. More than 1.2-million plants, trees, shrubs and ground covers from some 3,200 species were laid out in nine different eco-systems. Three quarters of the plants are indigenous to southern Africa, and others were sourced from countries such as Madagascar and the Comoros. The surface of the artificial lakes and pools covers 70,500 sqm.
  • The magnificent gardens at the resort are an attraction on their own and have been accorded Botanical Garden status, varying from tropical rain forest to indigenous landscapes.
  • At the time of its construction, the Valley of Waves was one of the largest combinations of water and waterpark features ever built in a single project. The Roaring Lagoon wave pool contains 8-million litres of water and creates two-metre high swells which are ideal for surfing.