What makes a winning residential estate?

New World Wealth reports that 40% of SA’s wealthiest citizens are buying property in luxury gated developments. HomeFront reveals how top-notch estates continually evolve to ensure they stay ahead of their game.

WORDS: Debbie Hathway PHOTOS: Supplied

Published in Business Day HomeFront 24 January 2020

Residential estates are becoming more and more popular internationally, and SA ranks second only to the US for the number of such developments. SA is a global pioneer in residential and developments, reports New World Wealth, with annual research revealing a move away from traditional golf estates towards lifestyle and retirement estates.



Multi-award-winning Val de Vie, between Paarl and Franschhoek, is rated the top estate in SA. It has positioned itself as a wellness estate in line with global health and wellbeing trends. “Just as in sport, it is much harder to stay on top than to get to the top,” says Val de Vie group marketing director Ryk Neethling. “We’ve managed to improve our offering every year over the past seven years. Our excellent security brings peace of mind, which is crucial for wellness, and our farms will produce food for our restaurants and residents. The sports and medical facilities are world class and our strong community is a key factor in pursuing a long, healthy life.”

After the recent drought, the estate now has its own water plant. “We use a fraction of what we used before,” says Neethling. “All our irrigation systems have been upgraded and we can pinpoint exactly when we lose water anywhere on the estate. These are large investments but they make a big difference.”

Security at Val de Vie is upgraded on an ongoing basis. “This is a daily focus for us. We have multiple layers of security and are very proud that there has never been a breach of the security perimeter,” he says.

Besides prestigious schools in Paarl, Franschhoek and Stellenbosch close by, one of the residents is bringing the Bali Green School concept to the estate. The school is being built right outside our gate and is set to open in January 2021. We are getting enquiries from all over the world from people who want to live here and have their kids attend. It’s very exciting,” says Neethling.



Local investors are leading the international trend towards buying in a secure estate that is linked to premium educational facilities. Sitari Country Estate near Somerset West has a Curro school that caters for children from the age of three months through to Grade 12.

“A new upmarket shopping centre also contributes to convenience,” says Claudius Combrinck, executive director of property sales for Sitari Country Estate.

Security remains the top consideration when choosing to live in an estate rather than in a traditional residential suburb, and Sitari keeps working at improving its standards in this regard.

Combrinck says the Amdec Group will develop more homes and communal facilities within Sitari this year, given that lifestyle and recreation also rank high among the draw cards of secure lifestyle estates.



At Steyn City near Broadacres in Midrand, Steyn City School offers world-class education to pupils from Grade 000 to high school. In addition, a beautiful commercial park as well as formal and casual dining facilities allow homeowners to enjoy the ultimate live/work/play lifestyle. Prices of homes and apartments range from R2m to R40m. Steyn City is the primary residence for most of its buyers but a handful of investors have bought their properties for older children who are studying in Gauteng while they live elsewhere in the country.

This development is positioned as an exceptional lifestyle resort incorporating nearly 810ha of landscaped parklands. The developers have considered every conceivable lifestyle amenity to accommodate a wide range of interests and pursuits. Everything from golf and horse riding to outdoor gyms and yoga mats are offered. There are also tennis courts, children’s play nodes, an indoor aquatic centre, a mountain-bike trail and more than 40km of promenade for walking, jogging and cycling.



The Arabella Country Estate near Hermanus is one of the most scenic lifestyle estates in the country. With homes priced from R3m to R15m, it spans 113ha with 1.6km lagoon frontage. The estate is also home to an award-winning spa and a Peter Matkovich-designed 18-hole golf course with a clubhouse.

“The state-of-the-art security system has just been upgraded,” adds Johann Larney of RE/MAX Town and Country. “With so much to offer, Arabella is seeing an increase in young professionals and families settling here permanently.”

Fibre optic cabling ensuring high-speed connectivity available to homeowners who subscribe to the service – a plus for those who work from home. “We are 110km from Cape Town. With mobile offices and home-based businesses on the rise, Arabella has become a nice alternative,” says estate manager Dirk Uys.

Residents and visitors now have access to the Bot River Lagoon for non-motorised boating activities and fishing, and a new lookout deck built at the water’s edge is the perfect spot for lunch and sundowners.



Fancourt in George is set on 613ha – that’s three times the size of Monaco. The estate is divided into seven residential areas, each with their own architectural theme, and prices range from R3m to R50m.

“The most recent addition is Noem Noem, an area of 45 vacant stands with only nine opportunities left,” says Stephen Murray, Pam Golding Properties area manager in George. “Noem Noem is inspired by the country living character of Links Ridge and the modern style of Montagu Ridge.”

Fancourt is 7km away from George Airport, which offers flights to and from Cape Town, Johannesburg and Durban. Hospitality facilities at the estate include the Manor House Boutique Hotel, Fancourt Luxury Hotel & Spa and a hair salon.

Golfers will relish the three championship courses designed by Gary Player, a branch of The Pro Shop and comprehensive practice facilities as well as qualified PGA specialists.



On KwaZulu-Natal’s North Coast, Zimbali boasts an impressive natural environment with beach frontage and forest surrounds. Prices range from R5m to R75m.

The development has evolved to incorporate residential lifestyle estate characteristics and create one of the most successful mixed-use resorts in SA. It is well established as a highly popular vacation destination and offers large homes as well as smaller, lock-up and go units.

“While the primary residence component has grown over the years, an element of ‘semigration’ persists, with the necessity for business-related travels requiring a level of comfort so that family left behind are assured of a safe estate lifestyle,” says Sascha Bausch, Pam Golding Properties sales specialist in Zimbali.

There has also been a shift in the age of buyers investing in Zimbali. According to a 2019 Lightstone report, 62% of them are below the age of 49.

Recent major refurbishments to facilities include heated pools, comprehensive children’s play areas, a putt-putt course, flood-lit tennis courts, squash courts and a state-of-the-art gym. In addition, the estate opened up some dams for catch-and-release fishing and improved its existing nature trails to promote walking, running and cycling.

New World Wealth notes ongoing countrywide trends among developers creating small neighbourhoods within estates. Parks, birdlife, walks and trails are rising in popularity, whereas many lifestyle and golf estates have started to add luxury apartments to their offerings.


Top 10 residential estates in SA for 2019

This is how New World Wealth ranks SA’s top estates (in alphabetical order):

Arabella Country Estate, near Hermanus in the Cape Overberg

Atlantic Beach Estate, in Melkbosstrand outside Cape Town

Fancourt, in George on the Garden Route

Pezula Private Estate, in Knysna on the Garden Route

Simbithi Eco-Estate, in Ballito near Durban

Steenberg, in Cape Town

Steyn City, in Midrand

Val de Vie, between Paarl and Franschhoek in the Cape Winelands

Whale Rock Ridge, in Plettenberg Bay

Zimbali, next to Ballito near Durban

The top estates per category include:

In SA: Val de Vie

In Gauteng: Steyn City

In the Western Cape: Val de Vie

On the Garden Route: Fancourt

In KwaZulu-Natal: Zimbali

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