Even the Sun King has to bow to the rain gods
Sol Kerzner once turned a platteland valley into a giant wave pool. Now he is saving every drop he can at a new development designed to save water in drought-ravaged Cape Town.
Next week the “Sun King” launches Kerzner Estate, an upmarket residential project next to his private residence overlooking Hout Bay. And instead of volcano bridges and artificial waves, Kerzner is punting sustainable living as the realities of climate change hit home.
The estate’s 48 planned homes incorporate grey water and rain-harvesting features and will be surrounded by drought-friendly fynbos. On sale for between R20-million and R38-million, each one is designed by a top architect and buyers, who buy the concept home “all-in”, will have the option of sharing Kerzner’s own hospitality services, such as security and home maintenance. buyers
Kerzner, who has teamed up with daughter Andrea for his most “personal” project, told the Sunday Times he was shocked by the water crisis: “Certainly it is very scary. To me it is almost impossible to imagine that something like this could occur.
“I think it is something that is obviously being addressed, but hopefully it doesn’t cause too much pain and suffering,” he said during a tour of the site.
Now 82, Kerzner is sentimental about some of his biggest hotel achievements, such as the Sun City complex in the Pilanesberg — where golfer Gary Player famously threw elephant dung at Kerzner when he first outlined the scope of the project.
While distant neighbours in Hout Bay will be thankful not to see any giant water slide towering out of Kerzner’s latest development, the notoriously pernickety hotelier has nevertheless left his mark on the project, even to the extent of insisting on a specific size of toilet seat.
“I’ve seen an entire wall moved 100mm,” said Ross Levin, who is marketing the development on behalf of Seeff Property. “The amount of detail and thought that goes into each and every consideration — I’ve never seen it.”
Kerzner’s career is not without controversy. Some international musicians refused to perform at Sun
City due to his business ties with homeland leaders Lucas Mangope and George Matanzima. On the home front, his lavish New Year’s Eve fireworks displays did not appeal to everyone in the Hout Bay valley.
But Kerzner is more frequently associated with commercial success, as well as his frank no-nonsense style. He has been quick to welcome the rise of Cyril Ramaphosa: “Hopefully it will not be too long before he becomes president,” he told the Sunday Times.
“There’s a whole new confidence in the country and a hope that politically South Africa will move in the right direction.”
Although Kerzner values his privacy, his Hout Bay residence has featured prominently in the news over the years, not least because of some glitzy events with A-league guest lists.
In business, Kerzner may have been ahead of his time, but in one respect he still lags far behind. Levin said working with him required some adjustments: “We had to learn to quote everything in feet .” He does not do the metric system.
WATER-WISE DESIGN An artist’s impression of how one of the houses in Kerzner Estate will look, outside and inside.