Media Release: Garden Route Coastal Resorts Perform Exceptionally Well Over the Festive Season
For Immediate Release 12 January 2022
The 2020 festive season was very bleak for most of South Africa and other countries. Tight lockdown restrictions, which included the beaches being closed, as well as longer curfews and a ban on the sale of alcohol, placed a damper on everyone’s holiday spirit. In 2020, people had no choice but to cancel their holiday plans. However, the recent festive season was a stark contrast compared to a year ago because restrictions were almost completely lifted. Holiday-goers flocked in their thousands to the Garden Route.
Like many other resorts, Garden Route District Municipality’s (GRDM) coastal resorts benefited from this. Victoria Bay and Swartvlei Caravan Parks reported a bumper holiday season, which started with a visit from the Berg-en Toerklub (BTK) from Stellenbosch University in early December. The group started their journey at Swartvlei Caravan Park, stayed there for one night and then hiked to Victoria Bay Caravan Park along the coast. There they enjoyed another braai, swimming and a well-deserved night’s rest.
As for the rest of the season, Marelize Claassen, Resort Manager, reported that Victoria Bay was at full capacity since early December. According to her, bookings are now decreasing slowly.
Swartvlei bookings increased from 12 December and reached capacity between 18 December 2021 and 2 January 2022. Holidaymakers are now heading home to tackle the new year.
It was a very busy season, and it was as if people waited two years to have this holiday – Marelize Claassen
On behalf of GRDM and its coastal resorts, the Municipality would like to thank everyone for their ongoing support and looks forward to seeing return visitors throughout the year.
Media Release: “We are two weeks ahead of schedule” – upgrades at Calitzdorp Spa
For immediate release 30 June 2021
After almost a month of hard work, the Garden Route District Municipality (GRDM) owned Calitzdorp Spa is gradually transforming into a new magical mountain retreat, reclaiming its rightful space in the magnificent mountain vistas of the Klein Karoo. Construction work, which was planned to be executed a number of phases, is currently well on track. “We are at least two weeks ahead of schedule,” Medron Bussack, Acting Manager for Calitzdorp Spa.
The roofs of the swimming pool chalets and mountain chalets have already been repaired. As of now, the reception area and main building’s roofs are being replaced with new steel-based, light roof thatch tiles. The contractors also replaced the roofs’ hip and ridge flashings with treated timber battens and related accessories. Amongst the work done has been a new face of the resorts Roman bath. Being one of the most popular tourist attractions of the Spa, the ‘mineral-rich hot spring bath’ is known for its healing and curative properties. The windows in the Roman bathing room were also replaced.
The next phases will commence as soon as funding becomes available in the new financial year, beginning on 1 July 2021. These phases will mainly focus on more repairs and upgrades of the mountain chalets, as well as the ablution facilities at the four (4) camping sites and the four (4) pool lapas.
With the construction works currently underway, the GRDM wants to assure the public that the resort is still in full operation and looks forward to welcoming visitors to the resort!
Media Release: GRDM’s Calitzdorp Spa receives a facelift with new roofs
For Immediate Release 20 May 2021
Garden Route District Municipality’s (GRDM) Calitzdorp Spa is getting a facelift. New steel-based, lightweight roofs will replace the current roofing at the resort. Work commenced on Monday, 17 May 2021 and seeks to replace fascias, hip and ridge flashings, treated timber battens and related accessories. The service provider, Shivacon (Pty), was appointed through a tender process to install the roofs after the tender was advertised on 10 September 2020.
According to Mario Appels, Superintendent at GRDM, the first phase of the project includes the reception area, main building and the mountain chalets and is envisaged to be completed by end June. “The second phase of the project will commence as funding becomes available in the new financial year starting from 1 July 2021,” he said. This phase will include the upgrading of twenty (20) swimming pool chalets, four (4) ablution facilities at the camping sites and four (4) pool lapas.
With the construction works in full swing and other upgrading projects in the pipeline, the Municipality looks forward to welcome visitors to the resort!
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Media Release: GRDM Executive Mayor and stakeholders unveil symbolic benches at Victoria Bay
For immediate release 20 March 2021
Thursday, 18 March 2021, marked a historic day for Victoria Bay situated in George, with the unveiling of two symbolised benches, following a ribbon-cutting ceremony by Executive Mayor of Garden Route District Municipality (GRDM), Alderman Memory Booysen, at the beach.
The song named “Victoriabaai” sang by Lucas Maree, the late well-known South African artist, inspired Andre Groenewald, a community member from George, to approach GRDM to allow symbolised benches at Victoria that would provide an opportunity for all people to fill their minds with hope. According to Groenewald, “Victoriabaai” is, as far is he knows, the only song singing the praises of Victoria Bay, hence, the funding made available by GRDM to unveil these benches. The area where the benches are placed is an ideal setting for members of the public, including tourists, to view the picturesque waves of the Victoria Bay beach. He said: “At Victoria Bay you see something positive in every negative thing. Even the horrific pandemic has positive consequences if you look at how people value each other again, how we value health workers again and how you no longer take even small things for granted,” he added.
The stainless steel plates placed on the benches were funded by GRDM and it showcase quotes of the late president of the Republic of South Africa, Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela, together with extracts of the song “Victoriabaai”. The benches were donated by community members Andre Groenewald and Neil Schalkwyk, with Hennie Weideman and René Janse van Vuuren (sister of the late Lucas Maree), who also contributed to a successful event.
During his keynote address, Mayor Memory Booysen said: “This is the beginning of the partnership and relationship with all relatives and families that are connected with what will be unveiling here today. This is the beginning of that partnership with the Garden Route District Municipality. And, as co-property owners of Victoria Bay this is the time that we should discuss the way forward of Victoria Bay. If we put our minds together we can enhance the beauty of what you created here”. Mayor Booysen furthermore emphasised that in the world we are in today, our aim is to bring hope to the people and to the needy. He highlighted: “The significance of today is to bring hope to the family who were left behind, because the memories are written on these benches. And, the memories of the individuals are the memories that will give us the power and strength, and for all the relatives and friends to move forward as one unit”.
Mr Passmore Dongi, Acting Manager for Properties Development and Planning, as well as programme director of the event, highlighted and said that he hopes these benches will define what a bench is in the Garden Route context. Adding to this he explained: “…before there were chairs, or even tables, there were benches, but the bench we are concerned with here is a very particular type of bench, ‘the public bench’. It is a sign of friendship and a sign of welcome, but also a place capable of welcome and generosity; and this is what this bench is going to do to Victoria Bay”.
Councillors and officials from GRDM, including Executive Deputy Mayor, Ald Rosina Ruiters who welcomed all present, Municipal Manager, Monde Stratu, members of the public and family members of the late Lucas Maree, attended and participated in this historic occasion. The event van organised by the Properties Development and Planning Section of Garden Route District Municipality.
Feature photograph: Executive Mayor, Ald Memory Booysen cutting the ribbon during the ceremony with (fltr) Executive Deputy Mayor, Ald Rosina Ruiters and Community Members Neil Skalkwyk and Andre Groenewald.
Media Release: Temporary closure of all Garden Route District Municipality Resorts
For Immediate Release 23 March 2020
After careful consideration, and under the advisement of public health experts regarding the current risk of COVID-19 (Coronavirus) spread, Garden Route District Municipality (GRDM) has decided to temporarily close all its resorts, namely: Calitzdorp Spa, De Hoek Mountain Resort, Swartvlei Caravan Park and Victoria Bay Caravan Park. This will be effective from Tuesday, 24 March 2020 until further notice.
The District has made this decision so as to safeguard the health and safety of guests, resort employees and community members.
GRDM looks forward to re-opening at the earliest opportunity and will keep the public informed when the resorts will re-open again.
Herman Pieters | Senior Communicator
Garden Route District Municipality
Garden Route District Municipality (GRDM) has noted with discontent, that factually incorrect reporting has been circulating in the media space over the past few weeks. Facts have been twisted through promoting a narrative put forward that the district municipality’s leadership has been hiding information that was uncovered/discovered “by chance” or through “investigation”. We wish to place it on record that all information on matters relating to the proposed developments of both municipal resorts have been shared with Council, the public and [the] media.
To imply that the district has not followed due process, or even made a decision to appoint a service provider to develop resorts without following a public participation process is deceitful and part of a narrative which hampers the districts growth, its prospects and reputation.
The purpose of the existence of the municipality is to serve the interests of our communities. The media exists in the same spirit and belief; given that the interests are the same, the GRDM believes it will only serve well to give factual news to the very communities we all want to see prosper.
Response to article about a 50-year lease to German firm
An article published on the 14th of June 2019 by the Cape Times, titled “Outrage as families’ land claim loses out to 50-year lease to a German firm,” is misleading.
On our records, there was never a formal dispute of ownership recorded or any land-claim matter relating to both resorts. The Municipality only became aware of these disputes from the affected families who registered their objections during the Public Participation process, relating to Calitzdorp Spa. Consequently, the municipality sought clarities from the Chief Land Claims Office. The letter from the Office of the Regional Chief Land Claims Commissioner, dated 28 May 2019 on this matter, dictates that the claims were lodged by the Prins family before 31 December 1998. The letter from the Regional Chief Land Claims Commissioner further indicates that the matter is still under investigation.
To date, there is no signed Lease Agreement with Len24 Gmbh or any other company. No award has been made to Len24 Gmbh on the management and operation of Calitzdorp Spa and De Hoek Mountain Resort as reported by Cape Times. Furthermore, the municipality refutes claims that no due processes were followed to this point in time.
During April 2019, a public notice was advertised in the Group Editors newspaper. This notice was presented in terms of the:
Local Government: Municipal Finance Management Act (No 56 of 2003);
Municipal Asset Transfer Regulations (R878 of 2008);
Promotion of Administrative Justice Act (No 3 of 2000); and
Local Government: Municipal Systems Act (No 32 of 2000)
The notice read that the Council of Garden Route District Municipality in terms of Resolution H.2, intends to enter into a long-term lease agreement (50 years) with LEN24 Gmbh to manage and operate De Hoek Mountain Resort and Calitzdorp Spa.
Furthermore, the notice emphasised the municipality’s prospect to enter into a lease agreement with a successful tenderer. This was the intent and should be seen as the cornerstone of a key social-entrepreneurial venture, which could have an immense positive socio-economic impact on the region.
The pieces of legislation stated above outlines what processes ought to be followed by the municipality in pursuing a transaction of this nature. This has indeed been strictly followed.
The above processes have been informed to Council, who have been aware of the municipality’s visit to Indonesia. A report was tabled to the GRDM Council about the trip. Moreover, the trip to Indonesia was made public by the municipality to inform communities of the initiative which was being embarked on. Reports that this trip was concealed are fictitious!
This conference was in line with the municipality’s vision of responding to a constitutional mandate as enunciated in the objects of Local Government that of, “promoting social and economic development”.
Additionally, it aimed at addressing one of the municipality’s Strategic Objectives which reads: “Growing an inclusive District Municipality”. This conference was the way in which the district municipality could exercise one of its functions – to unlock economic opportunities within the district through attracting domestic and foreign direct investment to the region. During the Conference, all municipalities in the region were provided with a platform to outline their packaged investment opportunities to prospective investors.
Objectives of the conference
The overarching objective of the conference was to attract national (including local) and international investors to the Garden Route region and to showcase the investment potential and opportunities that exist within the area that included:
providing an overview of the National, Provincial and Regional economic development trajectories to investors;
showcasing investment/business success stories as case studies;
pursuing business development and fostering relations with prospective investors;
facilitating investment by pre-identifying and providing customized information packages to prospective investors regarding opportunities;
providing one-on-one sessions between municipalities/businesses and potential investors;
ensuring that measures are in place for a smooth and efficient planning process. This can help generate investment outcomes (ease of doing business, investment readiness, etc.); and
providing a platform where incentives can be shared with investors.
GRDM is committed to positioning itself as a destination of choice for national and international investment and has embarked on various initiatives to realise this objective. It is for this reason enunciated below that the two resorts were among the properties identified for possible investment opportunities.
Non-Profitable Municipal Resorts
The Municipality has been making huge losses for more than a decade in order to sustain operations on both establishments (Calitzdorp Spa and De Hoek Mountain Resort). Resources currently being used to keep these resorts running could be channelled to other service delivery projects which could have a greater socio-economic impact on our region.
If the current status quo is not addressed this might results in the closure of the resorts and the loss of jobs. It is some of these reasons that GRDM became proactive to engage in the processes outlined above. The envisaged partnership (which is still being discussed), if successful, will results in the boost of the local economy, creation of many jobs in excess of 1000 and bring massive upgrades to the infrastructure in those communities.
Notice is hereby given in terms of the Local Government: Municipal Finance Management Act (No 56 of 2003), read with the Municipal Asset Transfer Regulations (R878 of 2008), the Promotion of Administrative Justice Act (No 3 of 2000) as well as the Local Government: Municipal Systems Act (No 32 of 2000) that the Council of the Garden Route District Municipality in terms of Resolution H.2 intends to enter into a long-term lease agreement (50 years) with LEN24 (Pty) Ltd to manage and operate De Hoek Mountain Resort and Calitzdorp Spa. The lease agreement is the cornerstone of a key social-entrepreneurial venture which will have an immense socio economic and environmental impact on the region. The lease will attract a multi-million rand investment into the local economy, boosting job creation and reducing unemployment, investment in relevant and quality skills development which increases employee earnings, an investment in green technology at the resorts including solar energy and water desalination plants which will be integrated with municipal pipelines, thus bringing water security to the Kannaland Municipality. The district will attract fiscal revenues from tourism and hospitality generated from the resorts.
The resorts will be developed to include Uber Chalets, Luxury Chalets, Deluxe Chalets, Golf Course, Restaurant, Clinic, Staff/Management Chalets, Kids Playground, Virtual Reality Arcade, New Parking Area for Guests and, Resort Golf Carts and Busses, Water Management and Desalination plant, Railway System and Trains for Kids and Adults to view resort attractions, Beauty and Health Spa Building and Facilities, Walkways to chalets, New Roads for access to Chalets, Bird Sanctuary, Create a Lake, re-introduction of ecologically friendly flora and fauna and future developments to enhance the resort as required
The Applicant will also be responsible for all the costs involved. The property is, in terms of the provisions of section 14 of the Local Government: Municipal Finance Management Act, 2003 (Act 56 of 2003) not required for the purposes of providing minimum basic municipal services.
Any comments and/or objections to the proposed long-term lease, with your reasons for such objection(s), must be submitted in writing and addressed to: TheMunicipal Manager, Garden Route District Municipality, P O Box 12, George, 6530, by no later than Monday, 20 May 2019.
Any comments and/or objections which are received after the abovementioned closing date, may possibly not be taken into consideration. In terms of section 21(4) of the Systems Act, notice is hereby given that people who cannot write, may approach the Economic Development Department during office hours, where a member of staff will assist them in converting their comments or objections in writing.
Any enquiries may be directed to Mr L Menze, Planning & Economic Development, at telephone number (044) 803 1398 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.