There is something special about St Francis Bay. Lea Jacobs recently visited the area and discovered what makes this delightful little village magical
ONE would think that a devastating fire which ripped through a small waterfront community and destroyed large numbers of homes would have a serious impact on its citizens.
However, despite the loss and devastation experienced by about 76 home owners in St Francis Bay, residents of this picturesque village in the Eastern Cape have remained positive and, by pulling together, are rebuilding both their lives and their homes.
With its small working harbour and canal development, it is easy to see why people fall in love and are reluctant to leave, regardless of the circumstances. This little seaside treasure that, interesting enough, remained relatively unknown until the news of the fire hit the mainstream media has everything one needs to enjoy a relaxed, laid-back lifestyle.
Home to some of the wealthiest people in the country, and exclusive enough to attract major foreign investment, the village has somehow managed to retain its charm. Unlike traditional holiday spots, the area — while attracting visitors during peak periods, is never swamped with overexcited hordes of holiday makers. Things may liven up during season but overall, the close-knit village atmosphere remains.
Picture postcard pretty, and just an hour's drive from Port Elizabeth, St Francis Bay is blessed with homes featuring whitewashed walls and thatched or grey-slate roofs. The shopping centres follow the same architectural designs, as does the local supermarket, which incidentally sells the most Lindt chocolate in the entire Eastern Cape.
Situated above the village, the St Francis Links Golf Estate offers sweeping views of the beautiful countryside. The signature Jack Nicklaus golf course, designed by the master himself, offers golfers a game like no other.
Rated as one of the top-10 courses in SA, St Francis Links won Golf Digest's Best New Course in the Country award and has gone on to win consecutive awards from Compleat Golfer for its five-star golfing experience.
“Golfers are challenged and rewarded by playing 18 holes that all stand alone; playing in the dunes, through the fynbos, offers visual distractions that … complement the experience. Golfers, when they play from the tees best suited to their ability, will use every club in their bag and benefit from using their imagination, as there are often a number of shot options open to them,” says Jeff Clause — PGA master professional and CEO and director of golf at the estate.
In addition to the golf course, the estate offers a whole range of other benefits including a modern gym, complete with under cover heated pool, a spa, a clubhouse and a restaurant guaranteed to tempt the most discerning palate. There are also a number of designated nature trails for the more energetic to enjoy.
Despite the range of facilities available, property on the estate remains exceptionally well-priced. Marsha Haupt Cooper, who recently opened Links Living, an agency dedicated solely to selling homes and vacant land on the development, explains: “Like so many developments in this country, St Francis Links Golf Estate bore the brunt of the major financial fallout of 2008. Vacant land in particular became a no-go area as banks rethought their lending policies on new builds. Development came to a virtual standstill as investors scrambled to sell what they could no longer afford or did not want. The result — vacant land on the estate is now selling for what many consider to be ridiculously low prices.”
She notes that this situation is not going to last forever. “There has been a dramatic increase in buyer interest in the whole of the St Francis Bay area. This is, in part, thanks to a number of external factors including the Jeffrey's Bay Wind Farm project that is already well under way.
“At this stage, there simply isn’t enough stock of existing homes for what we know is coming and those who take full advantage of the situation now are going to reap the benefits in the short, mid and long term.”
The estate comprises 567 stands and prices start at the R175,000 mark for 550m² stands. The average price for a 1,000m² stand starts at R300,000.
“We are also marketing homes on the estate and are currently in negotiations with developers to construct ‘lock up and go’ freehold homes priced between R1.3m to R1.5m, having received numerous enquiries for such a product,” says Haupt Cooper.
Homes on the estate boast a Natal farm-style architecture and include, among other things, large verandahs coupled with high-end finishes. All homes on the estate have to follow the aesthetic look of the St Francis Bay village and must feature white walls with charcoal slate or thatched roofs.
“Now is the perfect time to invest,” says Haupt Cooper. “For the first time in decades, the Eastern Cape is experiencing growth with the investment of renewable and sustainable energy sources. St Francis Links Golf Estate is the only secure gated estate within a 120km radius and is ideal for those who want to enjoy both an idyllic lifestyle and excellent security.” Price: Stands from R175,000 Contact: Links Living Marsha Haupt Cooper 081 709 6261 Office 042 294 1630