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conference room
the rotunda
rotunda history

the rotunda history
History of the Rotunda

The history of the Rotunda, now part of the renowned The Bay Hotel in Cape Town’s Camps Bay, dates back to 1901 when Camps Bay’s unofficial mayor, James Riddell Farquhar, had a vision to turn Camps Bay from a mere residential area into a holiday resort. It was Farquhar who planted the row of palm trees along the beachfront in order to make Camps Bay look like a “Little Brighton”. His Camps Bay makeover gave birth to The Rotunda. It was established as a concert hall with a pavilion that served as a ballroom, a theatre, a roller-skating rink, an exhibition hall and a venue for church services.

By the 1950’s, the Satz Brothers owned the Rotunda, but planned to demolish it in order to build a 7-storey block of flats on the beachfront. Residents were up in arms and protested that this development would not only mean that magnificent Florentine architecture would be destroyed but that the view over the bay would be completely blocked. As a result, a 3-storey height restriction for all buildings was enforced in the area. The older part of the Rotunda Hotel was declared a national monument in 1974.

Subsequently, at the residents’ request, the site was rezoned and expropriated by the Cape Town City Council so that the original building could be saved from demolition. The newer section of the Rotunda (built in the 1950’s by S.A. Breweries) was torn down and the older section became part of The Bay Hotel.

Saving the Rotunda was one of the best things to happen to Camps Bay as it led to the implementation of

  | upgraded sporting facilities
  | a popular shopping complex
  | a beautifully landscaped parking lot
  | the up-market Theatre on the Bay - formerly the
    Camps Bay power station
  | a conference facility

But most importantly, the Rotunda’s salvation led to the construction of a new five-star hotel that is recognized as one of the most prestigious hotels in Cape Town - The Bay Hotel.



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