A trend among those seeking to escape the stresses of big city life has created growing interest in the guesthouse market, as buyers relocating look to acquire an establishment that provides a steady income as well as a desirable residence and lifestyle, says Ling Dobson, Pam Golding Properties area principal who also represents Pam Golding Lodges & Guesthouses (PGLAG) in the region. While operating nationally PGLAG has dedicated offices in Knysna, Somerset West, Port Elizabeth and Durban.

“In this regard the prime tourism destination of Knysna on the scenic Garden Route has high appeal for both South African and international buyers as, apart from the quiet months of August and September, there is always some kind of exciting activity. The town also has good infrastructure, including schools and hospitals and is renowned for its whale watching, oysters, spectacular forest and lagoon. As a result, even through the economic slowdown the area continues to show growth in the tourism sector,” she says.
Peter Bruil, managing director of PGLAG, makes the observation that demand from overseas buyers seems to be on the increase. “Europeans are realising that the economic crisis in their part of the world is far from over - with drastic government spend cuts looming, resulting in a loss of purchase power for many.  South Africa, with its firm, positive real growth proves to be still fresh in people’s minds after the successful Soccer World Cup, which has demonstrated to the world what a beautiful place this country is.  As a result, we are reaping the benefits of this event, coupled with our stable economy,” he says. 

That Knysna is a sought after hospitality location is borne out by recent transactions conducted by PGLAG which include an immaculate 13-room guesthouse overlooking the lagoon which sold for R7.5 million, as well as an appealing guesthouse which sold for just under R3 million to a buyer from Gauteng who purchased the establishment without having actually been on site.

Says Dobson: “Situated off the N2 between Knysna and Plettenberg Bay, the latter guesthouse comprises a central lodge with restaurant, lounge, games room and a few additional bedrooms and five cabins all built with timber, as well as a large swimming pool, attractive wooden walkways, an owner’s wooden house and staff quarters.
“The owner recently purchased another guesthouse in Knysna through PGLAG and wished to relocate. The purchaser saw the guesthouse on our website and after numerous phone calls and detailed information provided on the establishment, concluded the sale. While the buyer did send a family member to view the property once 90 percent of the paperwork was completed, the client personally only viewed the property on site after the transaction was concluded.

“Over the past 18 months we’ve noticed a surge in enquiries off our website – particularly regarding guesthouses, and from as far afield as France. Currently there are many people looking for the right, well-priced establishment in Knysna.” Dobson says such a purchase will enable the buyer to reside there while making a good living, without having made an excessive outlay on the initial investment. And if a guesthouse is well run, it will always be one of the most successful establishments and as a result will be attractive to buyers.

She adds: “I believe that a successful guesthouse in the medium category should have 9-13 bedrooms en suite and be in the upper 5-Star category. It is usually the owners themselves who set the guesthouse apart – their service and attention to detail and any special offers they provide over and above the norm. Generally these top guesthouses are well marketed and represented on the Internet – another critical factor in their success. In addition, we are fortunate locally as the Knysna Tourist Association provides a very professional service to assist guesthouse owners in publicising their establishments.”

Issued by Gaye de Villiers

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