Decked in traditional red and gold, Sun City played host to revelry and reflection as they rung in the Chinese New Year, the Year of the Rabbit, considered a particularly auspicious year of peace, prosperity, and luck.
The three-day event, from 20 to 22 January in association with the SA-Chinese Community Police Cooperation Centre and Shunde Dining Entertainment Group, also marked the 25th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between South Africa and China.
The Chinese New Year theme delighted guests from the entrance to check-in, and onto thrills at the casino. Auspicious Chinese foods and teas were on offer in lobbies and at the buffets, and cash giveaways in traditional red envelopes were the order of the day, along with Year of the Rabbit gaming promotions. Golden chocolate bunnies awaited guests in their rooms, promising a sweet dose of good fortune.
Sun City General Manager Brett Hoppé expressed his “absolute delight” to host the New Year event and his excitement about the year ahead.
“The importance of the Chinese market to Sun International – both domestically and internationally – is massive. While China has been on COVID-19 lockdown, the local Chinese community has supported us immensely across all our units, so it’s a real privilege to be able to celebrate with them and say thank you. Sun City is a symbol in China, and we use that as a foothold,” he said.
The Chung Wah Dragon and Lion Dance Troupe mesmerised onlookers as they put on a fantastic display that was part puppetry, part traditional dance and part martial arts-orientated athleticism that found a willing audience at each of Sun City’s hotels.
Performed to a backdrop of beating drums and clashing cymbals, the dragon dance serves as an effective deterrent against evil spirits and a harbinger of good fortune.
The highlight of the weekend was a glittering dinner for more than 1 000 guests at the Green House at the Gary Player Country Club. The picturesque venue was filled with cheerful sentiments as the baijiu spirit flowed, and toasts and speeches honoured the rabbit and Chinese-South African relations.
Dignitaries in attendance included Xu Changbin from the All-Africa Peaceful Reunification Association of China and Yin Qi, representing the Chinese embassy in South Africa.
“In any given year for resorts and hospitality, the Chinese market is among the top five countries in the world, so their support is significant,” said Sun International’s International Sales Manager responsible for the Chinese region Mark Wang.
Wang is confident that business travel from China to South Africa will be strong in 2023, with the upcoming BRICS summit hosted in the country and many of his clients talking about blocking out entire hotels. “Leisure travel, on the other hand, will need time to pick up, as South Africa has only just begun issuing tourist visas to Chinese holidaymakers and airfares continue to be double pre-COVID-19 prices.”
During the traditional fireworks display, the gasps of amazement were almost as loud as the explosions as multi-coloured flames pirouetted across the Pilanesberg sky over the Monkey Spring Plaza. It was a fitting preamble to all the gaming action that would follow at the casino as guests tested the luck of the rabbit.
“The merrymaking at Sun City aimed to welcome a new lunar year, but also to honour and sustain the wonderful relationship between Sun International and the Chinese community that sparked over 40 years ago at the birth of the company,” Hoppé said.