It’s the worst-kept ‘secret’ on the KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) North Coast, but the long-awaited Club Med Tinley beach resort development is set to kick off soon, with Umhlanga-based property developer and investor Collins Residential leading the R1.6 billion project.
Bosses from Club Med, Collins and other partners are scheduled to host a signing event in Durban this week, with invites having gone out. However, Collins Residential’s founding director Murray Collins did not want to confirm any details to Moneyweb ahead of the formal announcement.
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French-headquartered global holiday resorts group Club Med is set to operate the new, luxury mega-resort in the beach town of Tinley Manor, which is about 17km north of Ballito and falls within the iLembe District Municipality.
The resort is anticipated to boast over 400 rooms and suites and most of the ‘all-inclusive’ facilities that Club Med is known for internationally.
While the official price tag is yet to be revealed by the developers, an investment amount of R1.6 billion is cited in a Trade and Investment KwaZulu-Natal (TIKZN) annual report.
Moneyweb understands that provincial government officials have been pushing for the project to be featured at the annual SA Investment Conference, but the developers have been holding back until it’s a done deal.
A beachfront site of around 30ha, which was purchased by Collins from Tongaat Hulett and is still under sugarcane, is where Club Med’s first resort in Southern Africa will be built. The hotel chain’s only other resorts in continental Africa are in Morocco, Tunisia and Senegal.
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The group, however, also has resorts on the Indian Ocean islands of Mauritius and Seychelles, among some 69 beach and skiing resorts globally.
Club Med – which is now owned by Chinese group Fosun, based out of Hong Kong – has been eyeing a beach resort on KZN’s northern coastline for over 15 years.
This writer first reported on the group’s interest in KZN back in 2007, in an article published in The Mercury, which highlighted Club Med’s moves to try to set up a resort in SA ahead of the 2010 Fifa World Cup.
The group has reportedly looked at several sites in KZN over the years – even the Isimangaliso Wetland Park, a UN World Heritage site. However, nothing materialised at the time, due to environmental, planning and investment challenges.
Post the World Cup, however, Tongaat Hulett (before its financial woes) had been working with provincial officials to unlock beach resort tourism on the North Coast, with several opportunities identified on undeveloped sugarcane land.
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One of these is a site at Tinley Manor, where Tongaat Hulett went as far as ‘doing the legwork’ in terms of getting international property services group JLL to package a resort development concept to market to international hotel groups and investors. This was reported in Business Day back in June 2018, when Tongaat Hulett confirmed that Club Med was one of four international resort operators it was talking to at the time.
The site that Collins Residential has secured for the new Club Med development on the North Coast is at Tinley Manor.
While Collins is not commenting until the official announcement, a cursory Google search for ‘club med tinley manor’ pulls up a link to the official Club Med website. The link is not fully active yet (likely pending the announcement), but on Google it says in a blurb “Club Med™ Tinley Manor – New resort coming soon” and “Discover our future first South African beach and bush resort in KwaZulu-Natal”.
Murray Collins also hinted at his group’s involvement in the development in an interview on The Property Pod on Moneyweb back in November 2021.
Asked about the group’s investor confidence in KZN post the riots, he said: “Absolutely … Yes, we are [confident]. As you know, we are investors in the North Coast, but also all over Africa and abroad. We really are positive and passionate about the North Coast…”
Collins added (at the time): “It is no surprise that Club Med then took so long to choose a site, and they chose the Natal North Coast to develop the new Club Med that hopefully will come on stream within the next two years.”
Collins’s family is behind The Collins Group, which has developed a massive industrial property portfolio in SA. In a story published back in November 2018, Moneyweb reported about the group’s history, and its R7.8 billion industrial property portfolio (at the time) being sold as part of a cash and shares deal to JSE-listed Tradehold in 2017.
Coincidently, Tradehold changed its name this year to Collins Property Group Limited. While the listed company is not linked to Collins Residential, Murray Collins’s brother Kenneth is a director on the board of Collins Property Group, which is still chaired by billionaire Christo Wiese.
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The 2018 Moneyweb report also noted that Murray Collins and Collins Residential were involved in the Royal Shaka Property Group, together with sugar baron and (now former) soccer boss Patrick Sokhela. The group is also mentioned as a partner in the Club Med development in TIKZN’s 2021/2022 annual report.
While Collins is tight-lipped (for now) on Club Med Tinley, the development (and some interesting details) is featured on the website of Royal Shaka Property Group in the “current projects” section.
“As a flagship resort, this is a transformational project both in terms of its impact on the tourism sector, as well as its impact on the socio-economic environment in which it will operate… the KwaZulu-Natal North Coast,” it says.
“The Club Med Resort concept raises the bar, setting a standard that will see the resort positioned as the leading international beach resort in South Africa,” adds the website.
“The development concept is based on a 342 keys 4-Trident [4-Star] resort, with a further 64 branded suites for sale. The resort will incorporate all the extensive leisure facilities required by Club Med and will host families, as well as couples and conference groups,” it notes.
Club Med Tinley represents a major investment and is expected to boost international tourism to KZN and South Africa.
Cobus Oelofse, CEO of the iLembe Chamber of Commerce, Industry & Tourism, says there has been renewed investment interest in the KZN North Coast over the past year.
“What is exciting is that we are getting more diverse investment interest in the region from a development perspective. It is moving from the residential and estate boom to other industries, including manufacturing and mega resort development,” he notes.
“For example, Austrian packaging and recycling group ALPLA recently announced that it will be investing E60 million [around R1.2 billion] in a new plant near Ballito. This represents the group’s entry into the African recycling market,” he adds.
“Should some of the speculated resort developments come to fruition, it will bring further diversity to the North Coast’s world-class offering, resulting in more foreign tourists to KZN, boosting traffic to King Shaka International Airport and hopefully see more international airlines flying directly here,” says Oelofse.
Listen to Tourism Business Council of South Africa CEO Tshifhiwa Tshivhengwa speaking about tourism investment on The Property Pod (or read the transcript):
You can also listen to this podcast on iono.fm here.