We noticed you're blocking ads.

Keep supporting great journalism by turning off your ad blocker.

Questions about why you are seeing this? Contact us

Font Size

- Aa +

Thu 9 Oct 2008 04:00 AM

Font Size

- Aa +

A resort for all seasons

Gemma Greenwood discovers how South Africa's Fancourt Hotel can cater to the requirements of your corporate and leisure guests all year round.

Gemma Greenwood discovers how South Africa's Fancourt Hotel can cater to the requirements of your corporate and leisure guests all year round.

South Africa is a destination the Middle East's outbound market has only just started to discover. It is a diverse country offering culture, nature, top-end hotels and travel experiences, fine dining, golf, vineyards, mountains and breathtaking scenery, with plenty to keep both leisure and corporate visitors more than satisfied.

Arguably one of South Africa's most scenic locations is the Garden Route, which stretches along the southern Indian Ocean coastline from Mossel Bay in the Western Cape to the Tstisikamma Forest a few hundred kilometres eastward.

What we have to offer is wonderful weather, mountains, flora and fauna.

The Garden Route boasts a Mediterranean climate with warm summers and mild winters and is one of the richest rainfall regions in South Africa.

The coastal town that has been dubbed the ‘Gateway to the Garden Route' is George, located halfway between Cape Town and Port Elizabeth on a 10-kilometre plateau between the Outeniqua Mountains to the north and the Indian Ocean to the south.

It is not only the sixth oldest town in South Africa, hence an abundance of historical landmarks and Cape Dutch architecture, but is also home to one of the country's premier business and leisure resorts - the Fancourt Hotel and Country Club. Just minutes from George Airport, the resort is set amongst 550 hectares of landscaped countryside with the Outeniqua Mountains as a backdrop and features facilities galore, from a spa and retail outlets to vast meetings and conference facilities.

But according to general manager Andy Conn, what makes the resort unique is the four golf courses it has to offer.

"That's very rare - not only for a resort in South Africa, but for a resort anywhere in the world," he says.

All four - Montague, Outeniqua, The Links and Bramble Hill - are 18-hole Gary Player designed golf courses and all rated in the top 100 in South Africa. Other golfing facilities include a warm-up area, three golf shops and a Golf Academy with full-time teaching professionals and the only full-system Taylor Made facility in Africa. 

"But we are not just for the golf mad," says Conn. "Everyone thinks that because we have four golf courses it's all golf, golf, golf, but we are much more than just a golf resort."

For non-golfers there's the Fancourt Spa offering a wide range of treatments including those using indigenous products and practices, while there is an indoor and outdoor pool, saunas, steam rooms and a gym.

Family friendly

Fancourt welcomes children and kids'activities are planned to accommodate all ages and interests. The resort can supply cots, play stations and DVDs and runs a number of activities such as pastry making or treasure hunts. Services include arranging birthday parties, special menus, babysitting or a day out. The kids' club caters to children aged three to 10.

Outdoor pursuits on offer including walking and running, as well as fishing, cycling, and tennis. In addition, mountain biking, picnics and horse riding can be arranged.

"We also have beaches and the mountains on our doorstep," adds Conn.

Fancourt can also arrange sight-seeing trips to one of the many attractions the Garden Route has to offer, all within a 100-km radius from George - from game drives in nature reserves, a walk with elephants and whale-watching expeditions to a visit to the Cango Caves or a tour of a township.

We now need to put the Garden Route on the map.

The Middle East

Conn stresses that Fancourt is an all-year-round destination due to the mild climate the Garden Route region experiences.

Temperatures generally range from around 21C to 35C in the summer (November to March) and from 15C to 22C in the winter (April to October).

"This means that Middle East travellers who traditionally travel north to Europe or east to Asia during the summer should try coming down south to us," says Conn.

"What we have to offer is wonderful weather, mountains, flora and fauna."

Conn says Fancourt's key source markets are currently Germany, Austria, Switzerland and other European countries in the summer - many guests from these markets own properties on the golf course - and the local South African market in the winter.

With the latter, meetings, incentives, conferences and events are popular, catered to by Fancourt's dedicated conference centre, while throughout the year, golf tournaments bring in the crowds too.

"We are now looking to new source markets such as India, America and the Middle East to boost business, particularly during the winter months," says Conn.

Getting there

South African Airways operates a codeshare agreement with Emirates Airline and flies from Dubai to Johannesburg three times daily and to Cape Town daily. SAA operates several flights daily from both Johannesburg and Cape Town to George. Fancourt is just a five-minute journey by road from George Airport. SAA is part of the Star Alliance and flies to 35 destinations including 19 in Africa.

He notes that Fancourt can cater to Muslim travellers with Halal food and says that if demand from this market increased, the resort would look at dedicated Halal menus.

In addition, Fancourt boasts 10 different room types with varying configurations so that families can easily be accommodated.

Fancourt marketing director Kwakye Donkor says he is looking to the Middle East market to boost winter occupancies, which can drop to 35% compared to an average of 70-80% in the summer.

"I believe the Dubai market in particular has great potential from a leisure and meetings perspective," he explains. "There are so many big corporations setting up their headquarters in Dubai and there is a huge opportunity for us to get their business."

He stresses that like Asia, South Africa offers value-for-money when it comes to arranging corporate events.

"We can compete with destinations like Malaysia and Singpore - we are flexible with our rates, particularly during the winter," Donkor adds.

Winter rates start from as little as AED 500 (US $136) per person per night on a bed-and-breakfast basis, making it affordable for MICE groups and leisure travellers alike.

Donkor adds that the resort is "very versatile" in terms of what's on offer and could even host weddings on site. Other services worth a mention include the kids' club and a private lounge at George Airport, he notes.

"We now need to put the Garden Route on the map," says Donkor. "People [in the Middle East] know Johannesburg and Cape Town; we need to make them aware of the diverse range of experiences that are on offer at the Fancourt and across the region itself."

The sales pitch

The accommodation:150 keys spanning Manor House rooms; Executive rooms and Garden Suites and Studios. Fancourt also has access to a pool of holiday homes that are rented out making up to 300 rooms available if booked in advance.

Facilities:Four golf courses; the Fancourt Spa; hair salon; outdoor pool; delicatessen; mini cinema; billiard room; leisure centre with kids' club; tennis courts; retail outlets; a real estate showroom; six F&B outlets.

Outdoor pursuits:include fishing, tennis, running/walking trails, mountain biking, picnics and horse riding.

Conference facilities:The Conference Centre facilities include a banquet hall (350 max) and six meeting rooms.

Contact:+27 (0) 44 804 0000; email hotel@fancourt.co.za; visit www.fancourt.com

Arabian Business: why we're going behind a paywall

For all the latest travel news from the UAE and Gulf countries, follow us on Twitter and Linkedin, like us on Facebook and subscribe to our YouTube page, which is updated daily.
Real news, real analysis and real insight have real value – especially at a time like this. Unlimited access ArabianBusiness.com can be unlocked for as little as $4.75 per month. Click here for more details.