It’s hot, it’s bold, and as it continues to attract more multibillion-rand residential and retail property developments – and more ultra-wealthy international investors – Umhlanga is increasingly looking like South Africa’s own Dubai.
The recently-launched Oceans Umhlanga project, for example, will take its place among more than a dozen other glittering high-rise developments in the town, where high-net-worth individuals (HNWIs) from around the world are currently snapping up super-luxury apartments and penthouses.
“Many billions of rands have been poured into these developments over the past 20 years, says Charmaine Powell, sales manager for Chas Everitt International in Umhlanga, “and also into the Gateway Theatre of Shopping, which is the biggest mall in the southern hemisphere; our world-class hotels and resorts such as Umhlanga Sands, Cabana Beach, the Beverley Hills and the internationally-acclaimed Oyster Box, and the New Town Centre as well as massive beachfront and infrastructure upgrades.”
There’s also more development on the cards. The multimillion-rand Pearl Walk designer boutique mall is set to open in November and the Oceans Umhlanga developers recently announced that the town will be home to the first Radisson Blu hotel in KZN – a striking 16-storey ‘Dubai-style’ building that will link directly to another new mall housing international super-brands such as Armani, Burberry, Versace, Boss Orange and Paul Smith.
Other attractions for an increasingly cosmopolitan mix of high-end holidaymakers, Powell says, include the warm sea, great weather year-round and proximity to top-class golf courses, Big Five game reserves and the Drakensberg and St Lucia world heritage sites.
“However like Dubai, Umhlanga is now not only a global luxury leisure destination. Through our affiliation with Leading Real Estate Companies of the World© (LeadingRE), we know that it is also very much about big business and high finance, and perfectly located in that regard. It is close to the new King Shaka international airport and Dube Tradeport and just north of SA’s biggest sea port in Durban, which is currently also undergoing a multibillion-Rand expansion to handle more container ships as well as cruise liners.”
The Umhlanga Ridge commercial and business node, she notes, is in fact already the new financial heart of KwaZulu-Natal, where all the top regional companies in the ITC, pharmacy, shipping, logistics and import/export sectors have their headquarters and where the regional offices of many national corporations and professional groups are also located. This has led to Umhlanga also being called ‘Sandton by the Sea’.
“And this is increasingly reflected in the property buyer profile of the Umhlanga/ La Lucia area. Through Leading RE, we are receiving a large number of enquiries for the luxury apartments and homes here from overseas as well as SA millionaires who run multinational businesses. Umhlanga is extremely well-placed, for example, for those who need to travel between their multiple commercial or industrial interests in any of the Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA) countries, including Australia, India, Indonesia, Kenya, Malaysia, Mauritius, Mozambique, Singapore, Tanzania, Thailand and the UAE, and it is currently attracting investors from all those countries.”
Powell says top choices for such buyers include penthouse apartments such as the R24m one recently sold by Chas Everitt International in the Oyster Schelles development. This 477sqm apex apartment offers 180-degree sea and city views from Durban to Ballito, four ensuite bedrooms, spacious reception areas with floor-to-ceiling windows, an impressive kitchen, lavish finishes and top-notch security provisions.
“At the moment, we are also marketing a three-bedroom corner apartment in the Pearl Dawn tower for R19,5m (fully-furnished). This home offers uninterrupted ocean views that take in Umhlanga’s famous lighthouse, and an extra-large covered balcony. The highly-acclaimed Pearls of Umhlanga complex is close to the main beaches and the Gateway Theatre of Shopping but also just 10 minutes’ drive from King Shaka airport.
“Then for those who might prefer a ground-level residence, we are currently marketing a grand five-bedroom home designed by acclaimed architect Stefan Antoni for R16,9m. Set in the Hawaan Forest eco-estate, this double-storey mansion is perfect for entertaining, with spacious living areas opening on to a pool deck with hot tub and bar and a state-of-the-art kitchen. The garden is paved and landscaped and offers lovely sea views, as do the upstairs balconies leading off every bedroom.”
Other luxury options, she says, include a selection of apartments and houses for sale at prices ranging from around R10m to around R16m.