The Palace of the Lost City celebrates 30 magnificent years | The Planner

The Palace of the Lost City is set in a remote and dusty region of the North West Province – an unusual choice for a 5-star hotel, but also a perfect one for bringing to life its mythical origins of a forgotten African kingdom. This year, the luxurious attraction turns 30, a milestone that has been celebrated with a refurbishment to refresh its décor and furnishings, while a pampering spa and salon has been added to the property.

Brett Hoppé, the general manager, says, “The opening of The Palace was a glittering affair that was attended by many celebrities who were big names at the time including Bo Derrick, Jean Michel Jarre who performed that night, Jerry Hall and Joan Collins, Hugh Masekela and Johnny Clegg and Savuka.

“Since then, the list has grown to include many illustrious names such as Sting, Pavarotti, Wesley Snipes, Stevie Wonder, Arnold Schwarzenegger and many more. But it is equally important to note that many of these international stars returned multiple times and some, like Witney Houston, Michael Jackson and Bobby Brown, came incognito to simply holiday at The Palace.

“And, of course, the list of golf legends who have visited is too innumerable to mention.”

The Palace fun facts
  • The Palace is set on a 62-acre property surrounded by 25 hectares of exotic jungle and waterscapes and set within the greater Sun City resort. Nearby attractions include the Valley of Waves (opened in 1996) and the 55 000-hectare Pilanesberg National Park.
  • The Lost City cost R830-million to build and was completed in a record 28 months. To give some idea of the scale of the job, consider these numbers: 750 000 cubic meters of earth had to be moved, 85 000 cubic meters of rock was blasted, 30-million bricks were needed, 85 000 cubic meters of concrete as poured and 150 000 meters of piping was installed.
  • The construction process required almost 15 000 custom-made pieces of pre-cast for the fascades, 12 km of air-conditioning, 500 km of electric wiring and 3 300 tons of steel reinforcing rods measuring 2 900 kg and 75 000 meters of electrical conduit for the 6 500 light fittings.

  • The royal entrance chamber dome ceiling is 25m in height and 16m in diameter. The evocative African landscape painted on the underside of the dome was produced by nine artists (painted lying on their backs as Michelangelo did for the Sistine Chapel in Rome) and took nearly 5 000 hours to complete.
  • The Palm Tree in the royal entrance chamber was once real and has been preserved.
  • The total area of murals at The Palace covers 3 400 square metres, while the total painted area is a staggering 425 000 square metres.

  • The huge chandelier in the Crystal Court is made up of 10 000 pieces of rock crystal from the Czech Republic.
  • Nearly every item in The Palace was custom-made and 85% of all materials were sourced within southern Africa. This was the first time that hand-carved furniture was used throughout the public areas and guestrooms of a hotel, while all timber doors to the bedrooms were hand-carved.
  • The atrium houses a life-size bronze sculpture of Shawu, a large bull elephant who lived at the Kruger National Park, created by South African sculptor Danie de Jager. Shawu’s left tusk was the longest on record in the region, and one of the sixth longest ever recorded in Africa, and he towers 4.5m above the ground. He is one of the most photographed animal sculptures in the world.

  • Each of the fabrics and carpets were designed and created exclusively for The Palace. The tapestries in the Royal Entrance Chamber, behind the concierge and the reception desk, took two years to weave.
  • The Lost City gardens cover 25 hectares and cost of R25-million to create in 1992. Today they enjoy Botanical Garden status, with nine different eco-systems (such as tropical rain forest and indigenous landscapes) and more than1.2-million plants, trees, shrubs and ground covers.

  • Water flowing from The Palace to The Cascades covers 7 740sqm and comprises three swimming pools (The Palace, the Queen’s Baths and The Cascades pool), 12 waterfalls and cataracts and 1 050m of low weirs. Water is circulated by 45 pumps at 8 314 cubic meters per hour.
  • At the time of its construction in 1996, the Valley of Waves was one of the largest combinations of water and waterpark features ever built in a single project. The Roaring Lagoon regularly creates ideal surfing waves which move away from the dam wall at 35km per hour to subside onto a sandy beach, 120m away.

Sun City fun 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.
  • The Sun City resort revolutionised the approach to gaming in South Africa, as it was the first to offer value-for-money entertainment amid luxurious surrounding and to give away significant cash prizes such as its million rand jackpots.
  • The inaugural golf classic, held on the Gary Player 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, and renamed the Nedbank Golf Challenge in 1995.
  • The original Entertainment Centre (now Sun Central) was built at a cost of R30-million and inaugurated on 24 July 1981 by Frank Sinatra.

Celebrity guests
Adam Sandler
Aishwarya Rai
Akshay Kumar
Alex Taylor
Alfre Woodard
Amanda Coetzer
Amir Khan
Amitabh Bachchan
Amy Kleinhans
Andre Rieu
Andrew Young
Angelique Kidjo
Anna Kournikova
Anna Vissi
Anthony Delon
AR Rahman
Arnold Schwarzenegger
Astrid Herrera
Barlie Swart
Basetsana Makgalemele
Beach Boys
Bernalie Daniels
Bernhard Langer
Beverly Peele
Beverly Johnson
Billy Dee Williams
Black Eye Peas & Fergie
Blair Underwood
Bles Bridges
Bo Derek
Bobbie Eakes
Bobby Brown
Bobby Eaves
Boncana Maica
Brenda Fassie
Bridget Nielsen
Bruce Fordyce
Bryan Adams
Carlos Franco
Carol Alt
Charl Cood
Charlize Theron
Chicktay Brothers
ChonChita Martinez
Chris de Burgh
Chris Hubank
Chris Isaaks
Chris Rock
Chris Tucker
Christopher Lee
Cindy Crawford
Claire Johnson
Cliff Richards
Colin Farrell
Colin Montgomery
Collective Soul
Constantino Rocca
Corey Pavin
Counting Crows
Dame Kiri Te Kanawa
Dana Winner
Daniel Davidz
Danny Clover
Darren Clarke
David Copperfield
David Frost
David Gates and Bread
David Hasselhoff
David James – Elliot
David Vlok
Deborah Shelton
Dennis Quaid
Denzel Washington
Deon Coetzee
Desmond Tutu (Achbishop)
Doreen Morris
Dr M Mahathir
Dr Nina Simone
Drew Barrymore
Eddie Grant
Eddie Levert
Eddy Grant
El Divo
El Gore
Elizabeth Hurley
Elton John
Embeth Davitz
Emma Sams
Enrique Iglesias
Eric Benét
Eric Miyani
Ernie Els
Ernie Hudson
Ernie Smith
Fanie de Villiers
Ferdinand Rabie
Fezile Mpela
Forest Whittaker
Francois Pienaar
Gary Player
Gayle King
George Benson
Gerald Levert
Gina Tolleson
Gladys Knight
Glenda Reymond
Gloria Estefan
Grace Jones
Gray Hofmeyr
Hannah Botha
Henry Cele
His and Her Majesty King and Queen of Malaysia – Tuanku Jaafar
Hootie & the Blowfish
Hrithik Roshan
Hugh Grant
Hugh Masekela
Hunter Tylo
Ian Woosnam
India Arie
Ivana Trump
Jackie Chan
Jackie Mason
Jackson Browne
Jacob Zuma
Jacqui Mofokeng
James Small
Jason Donovan
Jean Michel Jarre
Jean-Claude Van Damme
Jeff Dunham
Jeff Trachta
Jennifer Jones
Jeremy Mansfield
Jermaine Jackson
Jerry Hall
Jerry Springer
Jim Furyk
Jim Torrance
Joan Collins
Joanne Strauss
Joe Cocker
Joe Diescho
Joel Stranksy
Joey Rasdien
John Denver
John Huston
John Legend
Johnny Chochrane
Johnny Clegg & Savuka
Jonah Lomu
Jose Borain
José María Olazábal
Josh Groban
Julia and Eric Morley
Julio Iglesias
Justin Bonello
Kabir Bedi
Karisma Kapoor
Keith Floyd
Kelly Rowland
Kenny Latimore
Kerishnie Naicker
Kim Alexis
Kimberly Elise
King of Chaos
Kofi Anan
Kylie Minoque
Lee Westwood
Leleti Khumalo
Leo Sayer
Leon Schuster
Leonardo Di Caprio
Letta Mbuli & Caiphus Semenya
Linda Evangelista
Lisa – Marie Presley
Lisa-Marie Presley
Louis Farrakhan
Louis Gossett Junior
Luciano Pavarotti
Makroko Kroko
Malcolm-Jamal Warner
Man Power
Manu Padayachee
Marc Brooks
Marc Perrow
Marcos Hernandez
Maria and Timothy Shriiver
Mariah Carey
Mariasela Alvarez
Mark O’merara
Mary J Blige
Mary Joe Fernandez
Mats Wilander
Meat Loaf
Michael Bublé
Michael Caine
Michael Campbell
Michael Douglas
Michael Flatley
Michael Jackson
Michael Mclean
Michael Mole
Michael Winner
Miguel Angel Jiminez
Mike and The Mechanics
Million Dollar Golfers
Miriam Makeba
Monica Seles
Moody Blues
Morgan Freeman
Morris Chestnut
Mr Sipho Mabuse
Ms Rochelle Mtirara
Naas Botha
Naomi Campbell
Natalie Cole
Nelson Mandela Former President of South Africa
Nick Bester
Nick Faldo
Nick Price
Nicole Scherzinger
Nina Simone
Olga Barabanshikova
Oprah Winfrey
Paris Hilton
Parish Rawal
Patricia Lewis
Patrizio Buanne
Patty LaBelle
Paul Phume
Peabo Bryson
Peggy-Sue Khumalo
Pete Sampras
Peter Sullivan
Pieter Dirk Uys
Popo Molefe
Premier Popo Molefe
President Thabo Mbeki
Prince Al Waleed
Prince Edward & Princess Sophie
Princess Khumalo
Priscilla Presley
Priyanka Chopra
Quincy Jones
R Kelly
Rajit Kapur
Raveena Tandon
Ray Cooper
Reeva Forman
Regina King
Richard Branson
Richard Marx
Richard Steinmetz
Ricky Hatton
Ringo Madlingozi
Robert Guillaume
Roberta Flack
Robin Leach
Robyn Poole
Ronan Keating
Sam Waterston
Sanjay Dutt
Sarah Brightman
Selma Hayek
Shari Belafonte
Sharleen Surtie–Richards
Sheik Juffali and Christine Estrada
Shirley MacLaine
Sidney Sheldon
Sipho Mabuse
Sir Bob Geldorf
Sir Tom Jones
Sol Kerzner
Sonu Nigam
Spice Girls
Spin Doctors
Steve Hofmeyr
Steve Jones
Steve Stricker
Steve Tshwete
Stevie Wonder
Sunil Chetty
Sunjay Dutt
Sushmita Sen
Sydney Poitier
Tanya Fourie
Terry Cruz
Thabo Mbeki
The Andrew Strong Band
The Commitments
The Eagles
The Gypsy Kings
Thomas Bjorn
Three Sopranos
Tina Turner
Tom Jones
Tom Lehman
Tony Leon
Tony Pirie
Tracey Chapman
Tyler Perry
Ushi Glass
Vanessa Mae
Vijay Singh
Vivian Ventura
Vivica A. Fox
Wally Badarou
Welcome Msomi
Wesley Snipes
Wet Wet Wet
Whitney Houston
Yvone Chaka Chaka
Zinzi Mandela – Holingwane
ZZ Top