Karoo: on wedding destination map

Posted On Wednesday, 08 December 2010 02:00 Published by
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With a direct annual expenditure of a phenomenal R27 billion, spread over 186 000 weddings annually, the wedding industry in South Africa is not to be underestimated

As such it can provide a significant boost for the local economies hosting such events, says Wayne Rubidge, Pam Golding Properties area principal in the Karoo.

“Businesses and entrepreneurs benefiting from wedding events include, among others, wedding planners, beauty therapists, hairstylists, caterers, decorators, designers, florists, jewellers,  videographers and gift, hiring and transport companies.  Traditionally, popular wedding areas such as the Western Cape have approximately 200 venues catering for small, intimate weddings or renewal of vows with a few family members and friends to full blown celebrations with over 100 international guests. For foreigners, South Africa remains popular and affordable for lavish weddings and they tend to travel mainly from the UK and other European countries such as Germany and Sweden.

“However, this overseas sector remains a small component of the South African wedding venue industry. While the local wedding venue market has also been somewhat affected by the global recession - with wedding budgets being adjusted - it seems apparent that for the vast majority of people, getting married is not considered a luxury that can be eliminated, but rather one which can be reduced to some degree. As a result of this ongoing trend, Pam Golding Properties now offers a unique category of property, Function Venues, as an option for interested purchasers.”
Rubidge says that the global trend to smaller, more exclusive weddings which are held in a country environment offers increased potential for new areas – including South Africa, with the Karoo and its picturesque, romantic settings, and affordable properties offering numerous opportunities.
“Increasingly, wedding planners are looking for lesser-known, out of the way destinations and the myriad of towns and farms that comprise the Karoo as a region are well positioned to capitalise on this popular, fast-growing trend. Towns such as Nieu Bethesda, Graaff-Reinet, Prince Albert and Aberdeen are centrally located and accessible from many major centres. The Karoo offers a bouquet of desirable destinations, providing property investors with a new opportunity offering venues for bridal couples who want a unique, personal wedding with a luxurious, classic and almost antique feel - on a Karoo country estate.”

He says those investing in a property as a wedding or special event venue need to be able to tell their clients what makes that particular venue special, for example, it could be the historical significance of the property, coupled with the scenic appeal of the setting. The magnificent Karoo churches with their great acoustics - such as the grand Dutch Reformed Church of Graaff-Reinet, or the ornate stone building of the Anglican Church, are popular for wedding ceremonies, while the functions take place at venues around town and on farms where guests can relax and enjoy the ambience and surroundings. When couples look for a place to hold their wedding or reception they also look at the backdrop offered by the venue.

A sound option currently available on the market, and which would enable the purchaser to diversify into the upmarket boutique wedding industry, is a well located wildlife and game farm accessible from many of the towns around Graaff Reinet. This 3000ha farm has conference facilities located in a wild olive tree forest set against the backdrop of the mountains close to the Camdeboo National Park. The conferencing facilities are complete, with fully equipped kitchens and seven chalets plus a manor house and appealing Karoo stone outbuildings such as barns and shearing sheds. This game farm estate is fully stocked and makes an ideal wedding venue destination, and is marketed exclusively through Pam Golding Properties for R18 million.

In Prince Albert opportunities exist for a dedicated wedding venue and options include an exclusive 27ha estate on seven title deeds priced at R21million. The grand manor house has extravagant living and entertainment areas while included on the estate is a 4-star guesthouse and 10 hours (daily) lei water provided from the village fountain.  Another option in Prince Albert is a recently built, double volume, multi-purpose agricultural shed of 288sqm with views of the Karoo, which could easily be converted to offer an exciting wedding venue alternative. This property is on the market for R900 000.

Adds Rubidge: “While towns like Graaff-Reinet and Prince Albert hold enormous appeal, smaller destinations such as the picturesque village of Nieu Bethesda are equally popular for alternate or intimate weddings, with most of the wedding receptions taking place on the magnificent mountain farms in the area. About seven kilometres from the village of Nieu Bethesda is a 3000ha sheep and game farm in a magnificent setting with great Karoo architecture – making it highly suited to dual use as a wedding or special event venue. This property is on the market for R13.25 million through Pam Golding Properties.”

“The Karoo has considerable value to offer – take for instance a classic Karoo Hotel located in Steynsberg and priced under R1 million; a spacious Victorian Karoo mansion in Aberdeen for R890 000; and a 300ha small Karoo farm with a stone barn, kraals, and old watermill for R1.8 million and situated in Graaff-Reinet. Alternative wedding destinations include remote desert venues on farmstays (ie converted farm buildings) mostly in the wide open spaces of the Northern Cape. For the intrepid property investor an opportunity exists with a large rambling building called the Annex, located adjacent to the hotel in Vanwyksvlei in the Northern Cape, where the building shell can easily be converted to a large wedding venue. This property is marketed by Pam Golding properties for R48 850.

“Interest in Karoo weddings has grown to such an extent that the recently unveiled Boschberg Lifestyle Estate - situated in a 900ha nature reserve on the edge of Somerset East in the Eastern Cape - and which  will be launched to the market in March 2011 via Pam Golding Properties, will now include a dedicated node within the development for weddings,” says Rubidge.

Publisher: eProp
Source: PGP

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