CityPress - - News - BIÉNNE HUIS­MAN bi­enne.huis­man@city­press.co.za

ubai ty­coon Ah­san Has­san Darvesh has snapped up the posh sea-fac­ing Am­bas­sador Ho­tel in Bantry Bay, which he plans to par­tially de­mol­ish to make way for a bling new block that his com­pany plans to sell for a com­bined R750 mil­lion.

Darvesh fell in love with the ho­tel when he stayed there while study­ing to­wards a de­gree in fi­nance at the Univer­sity of Cape Town two years ago. His fam­ily busi­ness bought the place for an undis­closed sum af­ter two years of ne­go­ti­a­tions with its for­mer owner.

The new residential de­vel­op­ment for the ul­tra­rich, called Au­rum, will con­sist of 23 lux­ury apart­ments with wooden decks and pri­vate swimming pools.

Some will have kitchens with im­ported fit­tings by top de­sign houses Ar­mani and Fendi.

The de­vel­op­ment will span two blocks on ei­ther side of Vic­to­ria Road in the wealthy play­ground sub­urb of Bantry Bay.

Be­hind the new pro­ject is Mid­dle East-based fam­ily busi­ness Darvesh, which has in­ter­ests in tech­nol­ogy and trad­ing, and a re­ported global turnover of more than $1 bil­lion (R12.6 bil­lion).

“At the time, I stayed at this ho­tel for two months. The peo­ple were so cour­te­ous. It re­ally felt like a home,” Ah­san Darvesh told a ball­gown- and bow tie-clad crowd at the ho­tel’s for­mer Koi Res­tau­rant on Thurs­day evening.

A-lis­ters on the guest list in­cluded re­cently re­tired Vo­da­com chief op­er­at­ing of­fi­cer of in­ter­na­tional busi­ness Romeo Ku­malo, Viglietti Mo­tors chief ex­ec­u­tive Mervyn Ea­gles and Ital­ian ex­foot­baller Ni­cola Cari­cola, the for­mer boyfriend of lo­cal model Tanya Fourie. At the launch, guests sipped on non­al­co­holic pink mo­ji­tos and snacked on braised lamb as can­dles flick­ered and waves crashed on rocks be­low.

Sean Penn and his ex-fiancée, Char­l­ize Theron, hosted the wrap party of his film The Last Face at the pop­u­lar sushi res­tau­rant last year. But now, the Am­bas­sador Ho­tel and Koi are shut­ting up shop.

“Cape Town is one of the most beau­ti­ful cities in the world. It has beau­ti­ful peo­ple and beau­ti­ful build­ings. We want to add to that,” said Darvesh.

The jet set have to pre­pare them­selves for a lot of bling in the new de­vel­op­ment.

“Peo­ple say that less is more. I don’t nec­es­sar­ily agree. Lux­ury is im­por­tant; it ap­peals to all of us.”

In 2008, Darvesh an­nounced plans to col­lab­o­rate with Ivana Trump – ex-wife of mav­er­ick US pres­i­den­tial can­di­date Don­ald – on posh prop­erty deals, in­clud­ing the Le Diamond Ivana Trump tow­ers at the Dubai Wa­ter­front. This pro­ject fell through and now they’re turn­ing to South Africa in­stead.

Darvesh’s fa­ther, Has­san Miya Su­laiman Darvesh, chair­per­son of the fam­ily busi­ness, was also at the Cape Town launch. He opened the evening with a quote by for­mer US pres­i­dent Abra­ham Lin­coln: “The best way to pre­dict the fu­ture is to cre­ate it your­self.”

Darvesh de­scribes Bantry Bay as “strate­gi­cally si­t­u­ated ... with ex­cel­lent wind shel­ter from the Cape Town south­easter and spec­tac­u­lar views over the At­lantic Ocean”, a sub­urb which is “the place of choice for af­flu­ent prop­erty in­vestors, lo­cal and for­eign alike”.

The wealthy con­tin­gent from Dubai seemed un­per­turbed that Bantry Bay was cloaked in com­plete dark­ness due to load shed­ding on Thurs­day evening.

Af­ter the launch, the Darvesh fam­ily cel­e­brated their new busi­ness ven­ture at Café Chic in Gar­dens, the res­tau­rant of no­to­ri­ous Ir­ish chef Con­rad Gal­lagher.

Mean­while, the Am­bas­sador Ho­tel’s pre­vi­ous owner, Mark Ber­lus­coni, looked sad. “It was with a very, very heavy heart that I agreed to sell.”

A no­tice at the ho­tel says: “Please note that Koi res­tau­rant and bar is no longer in op­er­a­tion ... We would like to thank you for your loyal pa­tron­age and sup­port. The Am­bas­sador has been a spe­cial place.”

The fi­nal bed night for guests will be at the end of Novem­ber.

Well-heeled prop­erty in­vestors will be able to buy Au­rum apart­ments off plan from Oc­to­ber.

Price tags are ex­pected to run into the tens of mil­lions.

Ah­san Has­san Darvesh

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