Globally renowned for the annual Oyster Festival and as an idyllic coastal resort where you can mellow at colourful street cafes, enjoying the local activities, Knysna on the Garden Route is attracting an increasing number of entrepreneurs running very successful businesses in the town, says Ling Dobson, Pam Golding Properties area principal.

“While offering the best of outdoor relaxation and spectacular scenery, this is no sleepy village. On the contrary, in recent years we’ve noted a growing trend towards enterprising entrepreneurs uprooting themselves from stressful city life to launch businesses here. Visitors are surprised at the vibrancy and energy of our business sector – Knysna is home to three highly successful yacht building companies, numerous handcrafted furniture manufacturers, as well as the manufacturers of quality products which include caravans, leading brand heated towelling rails, an internationally successful company which repairs antique watches and clocks, a website design company which has won numerous awards, a superb chocolateur and variety of top restaurants,” says Dobson.
One of the town’s most well known residents – and who is now following an entrepreneurial career path after retiring from the political arena - is Eleanore Bouw-Spies, former Executive Mayor of Knysna Municipality from 2007-2011, who has joined Pam Golding Properties as a real estate agent. Previously portfolio councillor for infrastructure and integrated human settlements, she made her mark in one of the fastest growing and financially sound towns in the country. After the municipality received various accolades for housing she delivered a paper to the Chartered Institute of Housing Conference in London in 2008, and over the years has been involved in a variety of leadership positions and community projects and endeavours.

Increase in international tourists since World CupSays Dobson: “While Knysna is internationally known, since the 2010 Soccer World Cup and the exposure gained, the town has been elevated higher on the world stage and is seeing a definite increase in overseas tourists from France, Italy, USA and the Scandinavian countries. One hotel on Thesen Islands harbour town reports they are experiencing a marked increase in French, German and American tourists.

She says from a residential property perspective sales are gradually rising, with general interest in the marketplace growing as banks have begun easing their lending criteria to some degree. In addition, with the economic slow-down, house prices have rationalised and become more accessible. An interesting trend we have noticed is increasing interest among buyers seeking homes with energy saving features and similarly, it is positive to see that property developers are taking heed of ‘green’ initiatives in regard to new-builds. As a result we note a growing number of homes in the luxury market that are conforming to this discipline and offering properties that offer added value over and above that of being situated on the prestigious estates in the area.

This includes an exceptional home in the upmarket Pezula Estate, marketed by Pam Golding Properties for R15.9 million, which has been cleverly designed in order to maximise the exceptional views, and with chalet style rooms connected by glassed walkways. The architect, Cecilia Botha, has made the best possible use of natural sunlight and views, with the pool, boma and entertainment area on the north side of the house so that the owners can entertain comfortably even when the south-wester or south-easter winds blow. The hot water supply for the house is provided by a heat pump which replaces the electric element, and saves up to 70 percent of the electricity cost. The ducted air conditioning system also uses a heat pump system to heat or cool the air.

In Simola Country Estate PGP are marketing ‘Ridge House’, priced at R15 million and designed to optimise on the southern views across the hills, Salt River and the Heads in the distance, as well as the northern views to the forests and mountains. Designed by renowned architect Paul Oosthuizen, who lives on the Garden Route and has designed a variety of properties in Southern Africa, Europe and America, the northern aspect of the house allows for the sun to penetrate deep into the living areas, providing natural light and warmth.

Hugging the ridgeline to minimise its visual impact on the horizon and minimise wind, the entire house is equipped with hydraulic under floor heating. A system of water filled pipes weave through the house to maintain a comfortable temperature, with heat generated by a centralised solar heat pump that transfers ambient heat into stored water at an economical rate. There is also a solar collector backup to this system, further economising energy usage. Cast iron, wood burning stoves can be used in very cold spells, while there is an ‘easy to use’ gas fireplace in the main bedroom suite. In addition, sewage is collected in an on-site, underground system that converts the effluent into clean, re-usable water which is then used to irrigate the indigenous garden.

In addition to these properties, PGP Knysna is marketing a 32 hectare farm in one of the most secluded and beautiful locations in the area. Situated behind ancient wooded dunes, bordered on two sides by almost two kilometres of the unspoilt Goukamma River, which winds down to the beaches of Buffalo Bay, the farm is currently used to breed world-class miniature horses. While most of the farm is arable, it is laid out for paddocks and hay-making. It includes two quaint cottages overlooking the river and a four bedroom (all en suite) main house comprising 430sqm. There are barns, a workshop and simple stables, however the intrinsic value of this property lies in its exceptional location, scenic surrounds, total privacy and security – as it cannot be seen from the road. This property is priced at R22 million.

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