Oa­sis for film­ing and tourism

Business Day - Home Front - - FRONT PAGE -

NAMIBIA, with its breath­tak­ing scenery, pet­ri­fied rock ridges, dolomite for­ma­tions, gran­ite kop­pies and red dunes, is the set­ting for a unique prop­erty de­vel­op­ment con­cept that com­bines an in­ter­na­tional mo­tion pic­ture desti­na­tion with a lux­ury re­sort.

Desert Star Mo­tion Pic­ture Re­sorts com­bines Namibia’s nat­u­ral beauty with epic per­ma­nent film sets taste­fully in­te­grated into the land­scape, film stu­dios and pro­duc­tion fa­cil­i­ties, his­tor­i­cal tourist at­trac­tions and a desert get­away in a cor­ner of Africa.

Few places in the world ex­ude the magic of the Namib­ian desert. With its shift­ing sands, en­chant­ing sun­sets and breath­tak­ing views, the desert has pro­vided the back­drop to in­ter­na­tional films in the past few decades. So it made sense to a group of film­mak­ers and prop­erty de­vel­op­ers to launch an ap­pro­pri­ate mix.

Ru­dolf Mark­graaff, Desert Star Hold­ings CEO, says: “The de­vel­op­ment does not just cater for the film in­dus­try.

“At each of 10 strik­ingly dif­fer­ent lo­ca­tions in Namibia Desert Star will de­velop pri­vate, free­stand­ing res­i­dences that will be mar­keted and sold in­ter­na­tion­ally through a frac­tional prop­erty own­er­ship model. Euro­pean in­vestors are look­ing for in­vest­ment op­por­tu­ni­ties out­side Europe, specif­i­cally in tan­gi­bles like com­modi­ties and real es­tate, mak­ing this the ideal time for a sus­tain­able project of this na­ture to take the in­ter­na­tional stage.

“They are choos­ing Namibia as a safe haven for high-growth, high-yield prop­erty in­vest­ments. The pos­si­ble un­peg­ging of Namibia’s currency from the South African rand in the fu­ture pro­vides ma­jor op­por­tu­ni­ties for se­ri­ous in­vestors to diversify in­ter­na­tion­ally. There is tremen­dous pos­i­tive sen­ti­ment to­wards Namibia at the mo­ment. In a time when the world econ­omy and stock mar­kets are un­sta­ble at best, the in­vest­ment op­por­tu­nity in Desert Star prop­erty de­vel­op­ments has never been more rel­e­vant, with the dis­cov­ery of vast oil re­serves and nat­u­ral gas.”

The Desert Star de­vel­op­ment is mod­elled af­ter the highly suc­cess­ful strat­egy em­ployed by the Moroc­can govern­ment that saw the trans­for­ma­tion of Ouarzatate, an in­signif­i­cant oa­sis in the Sa­hara Desert, into a bustling film and tourist city with more than 80 000 in­hab­i­tants.

Over the past decade Ouarzatate has at­tracted 42 in­ter­na­tional film pro­duc­tions and thou­sands of tourists, gen­er­at­ing more than $1,2bn in for­eign in­come for that coun­try.

Desert Star seeks to em­u­late and im­prove on the Moroc­can suc­cess story. Mas­ter­minded by Mark­graaff, who spent 12 years work­ing in the film in­dus­try in Hol­ly­wood and as a stock­bro­ker on the NYSE, Desert Star hopes to es­tab­lish it­self as the epi­cen­tre of the film in­dus­try in south­ern Africa, at­tract­ing block­busters and in­ter­na­tional film pro­duc­tions fo­cus­ing on fam­ily and epic his­tor­i­cal gen­res.

He says that five in­ter­na­tional pro­duc­tions, in­clud­ing one to be pro­duced by Steven Spiel­berg, are lined up for pro­duc­tion at Desert Star, which will have the big­gest col­lec­tion of first-cen­tury sets in the world when com­pleted.

The first of 10 des­ti­na­tions dot­ted around Namibia, Desert Star South will be lo­cated along the Orange River in the south­east­ern cor­ner of Namibia near the North­ern Cape’s Au­gra­bies National Park. Only a few hours by plane from ma­jor cities in Namibia and SA, and ser­viced by re­gional roads, Desert Star South is eas­ily ac­ces­si­ble by land and air.

Desert Star In­ter­na­tional Air­port will ser­vice spe­cial-pur­pose char­ter flights from the re­sort, as well as do­mes­tic travel, scout­ing mis­sions and avi­a­tion sports, such as bal­loon­ing and sky­div­ing.

Also, on the cards is an in­ter­na­tional air­port and a lux­ury rail­way ser­vice, as well as a rail link to the ex­ist­ing grid that con­nects with the rest of south­ern Africa’s main rail­way net­work.

The Desert Star City is the planned ad­min­is­tra­tive and com­mer­cial hub of Desert Star South. Scal­able to ac­com­mo­date up to 50 000 peo­ple, it will fea­ture world-class com­mer­cial and busi­ness fa­cil­i­ties, live-in and work-in per­ma­nent film sets such as an an­cient city fortress, a city palace and many more, and will in­clude prime res­i­den­tial lo­ca­tions to be de­vel­oped on the top of the cliff over­look­ing the basin.

Desert Star says it will bring eco­nomic pros­per­ity and job cre­ation to an un­der­de­vel­oped re­gion through its busi­ness model.

In­vestors who buy into the frac­tional ti­tle prop­er­ties will have ac­cess to Africa’s first seven-star ho­tel, a spa, restau­rants and club­house. The 18-hole Golf Course of the Stars de­signed by South African golf­ing leg­end Ernie Els will be one of Desert Star’s ma­jor at­trac­tions. Stretch­ing across hills and val­leys on the Namib­ian side of the Orange River, bor­der­ing the core re­sort de­vel­op­ment, the golf course forms part of the en­ter­tain­ment hub for guests and vis­it­ing celebri­ties. It will be de­vel­oped in har­mony with the nat­u­ral environment us­ing the lat­est sus­tain­able method­olo­gies.

Although Desert Star has ac­cess to con­ven­tional elec­tric­ity sup­plies, the project de­vel­op­ers are com­mit­ted to us­ing re­new­able en­ergy tech­nolo­gies, such as es­tab­lish­ing a 300kw so­lar and hy­dro-elec­tric plant for the project, as well as to con­trib­ute to the Namib­ian power grid via the ex­ist­ing 400kw line and sub­sta­tion that runs through the Desert Star South prop­er­ties.

The Namibia govern­ment has wel­comed Desert Star’s vi­sion for Namibia and have fa­cil­i­tated all project ap­provals, in­clud­ing town­ship es­tab­lish­ment, sub­di­vi­sions of the farms Koms­berg and Stolzen­fels, nec­es­sary con­sol­i­da­tions of cre­ated por­tions, and fi­nal clear­ance of the en­vi­ron­men­tal scop­ing re­port and en­vi­ron­men­tal im­pact study. Desert Star has re­ceived its water per­mit and the roads and ac­cess plan has been ap­proved. All these doc­u­ments are avail­able for prospec­tive in­vestors to in­spect.

Says Mark­graaff: “Desert Star goes be­yond imag­i­na­tion. We have pulled out all the stops to cre­ate a one-of-a-kind prop­erty de­vel­op­ment — a fu­sion of authen­tic African style and seven-star Hol­ly­wood glam­our, with the ad­van­tage of the un­hur­ried pace and glo­ri­ous vis­tas of the Nauk­luft Namib.”

On of­fer for prop­erty in­vestors are shares in 100 river­side lodges, of which 12 have al­ready been sold. De­signed by De­nis Moss Plan­ners and Ar­chi­tects, the de­sign­ers of Eden Is­land in the Sey­chelles, the lodges come fully fur­nished and fea­ture a river­side en­ter­tain­ment area with out­side din­ing lapa and braai, bon­fire pit, pool, jacuzzi, a jetty, out­door shower and open air bar. The lodges were de­signed for fam­ily or cor­po­rate get­away trips.

Africa is a harsh con­ti­nent but vis­i­tors find them­selves se­duced by its an­cient cul­tures and ex­otic land­scapes. De­signed in a rus­tic, yet con­tem­po­rary style us­ing glass, stone, thatch and wood, the units will be fur­nished in cane, nat­u­ral grasses and bright African fab­rics. The out­side is brought in­side into a large en­ter­tain­ment area con­sist­ing of cook­ing, din­ing and re­lax­ing spa­ces.

The Orange River is known for its white-water raft­ing, ca­noe­ing and fish­ing. Set among the wil­low and ebony trees lin­ing the banks of the river, all units are con­nected to the river by a rugged stair­way.

Lodges fea­ture a dou­blevol­ume thatched roof reach­ing to the ground, pro­vid­ing shel­ter from the Namib­ian heat. Units boast pri­vate decks ideal for bird watch­ing. The re­gion is home to the Fish Ea­gle, Mala­chite King­fisher and Go­liath Heron.

The de­sign was su­per­vised by frac­tional own­er­ship ex­pert Terry Co­la­cino to en­sure that each unit was de­signed in line with in­ter­na­tional norms.

Sizes range from 79m² for a one-bed­room Lux­ury Na­ture Suite to 159m² for a two-bed­room Wa­ter­front Chalet, 210m² for a three-bed­room, sin­gle-storey River­side Lodge, to 320m² for a dou­ble storey River­side Lodge, and 880m² for a five-bed­room Orange River Villa. Each bed­room has an en suite bath­room.

The River­side Lodge, which is sell­ing for R299 000 for four weeks, is a pop­u­lar unit. To un­der­stand the re­turns in­vestors can ex­pect, this same unit will sell for R1,6m when Desert Star launches in­ter­na­tion­ally in early 2012. The de­vel­op­ment is in the pre-launch phase and prices are ex­pected to in­crease next year.

In­vestors can own all or a por­tion of the prop­erty exclusively, while own­er­ship is taxd­e­ductible and deeded.

The prop­erty can be sold, rented, ceded or ex­changed.

Desert Star is con­clud­ing an agree­ment with RCI that will put the re­sorts among the top 200 des­ti­na­tions in RCI’S Registry Col­lec­tion port­fo­lio.

Desert Star plans to break ground in mid-2012, which means own­ers will not be able to take oc­cu­pa­tion for at least 18 months as the golf course and project in­fra­struc­ture will be built be­fore the lux­ury units. How­ever, the RCI agree­ment al­lows own­ers to use their equiv­a­lent ex­change value for any unit in the Registry Col­lec­tion with­out giv­ing up any of their owned weeks un­til their unit is com­pleted.

“We have cho­sen the frac­tional model be­cause frac­tional own­er­ship is the fastest grow­ing seg­ment of the real es­tate in­dus­try in the world, with more than 6 500 re­sorts world­wide.”

In SA there are more than 400 frac­tional re­sorts, while Namibia has only two. This will make Desert Star one of the most sought-af­ter re­sorts in the world, as in­ter­na­tional tourists are ea­ger to visit Africa.

It is in­cum­bent on the Desert Star ex­ec­u­tives to en­sure that the de­vel­op­ment is fi­nan­cially sus­tain­able. We have pur­sued as many eco­nomic driv­ers as pos­si­ble in the tourism and film­mak­ing in­dus­try to en­sure that it is much more than a re­sort,” says Mark­graaff.

“Peo­ple love movie stars and movie stars love Africa. Desert Star will utilise the star power gen­er­ated by the film in­dus­try to mar­ket the de­vel­op­ment in­ter­na­tion­ally. Pos­i­tive word of mouth by the stars who’ve had the ex­pe­ri­ence of a life­time will be har­nessed to at­tract ma­jor pro­duc­tions to use Desert Star’s fa­cil­i­ties.” Price: From R99 000 to R2,2m for four weeks Con­tact: An­drea Vi­nassa 079 089 9835 Of­fice 011 706 4736

The golf club­house.

Chalets along the river.

Orange River villa.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from South Africa

© PressReader. All rights reserved.