South Africa - KwaZulu-Natal - Uthukela DC

Spectaular farm and lodge in the Drakensberg region

Why you might like to own Antbear Lodge and Farm
introduction
If you’ve ever dreamt of dropping out of the rat-race and living in paradise and being your own boss, then Antbear Lodge and ticks all the boxes. It’s a lifestyle business where the bulk of your living costs are paid for. Any salary taken is effectively disposable income.
The lodge allows for an idyllic country living lifestyle and if kept as is already runs profitably on its own with a management team in place. However, Read More
if you would like to optimise these returns and become more hands on with the running of the business then profit margins will increase substantially. Although already a great business, the occupancy levels are still low enough to scale significantly using the existing room infrastructure. And there are also easy opportunities to expand on the existing room infrastructure without the need to expand on the lodge infrastructure which has already happened. Antbear Lodge has a great reputation and rating. The location is prime and perfect for offering a base for the huge range of tourist attractions offered in the Kwazulu Natal Midlands as well as the Drakensberg and the lodge offers exceptional views to boot.
This property consists of an agricultural property bundled together with a hospitality business as a going concern and the movable assets of farm and lodge.
Reasons for sale
My wife and I are moving into the next stage of our lives. We both have a newly discovered passion for travel which we would like to realise before we are too old to do that. While shorter trips have been possible leaving the lodge in the capable hands of our staff, to travel the world for a number of years is not an option. So while we are not in a desperate situation to urgently sell we are also chopping at the bit to explore the world. We have loved living here and the Antbear has been exceptionally good to us and it is with pride that we pass on this legacy to someone new.
What personality would suit this business well
Before you jump into buying our lodge, make sure that it is the kind of venture that you want to throw yourself into. Part of your motivation needs be the desire to provide guests with a relaxing and enjoyable environment, a people’s personality. If you are a person that thrives on living outside the repetitive 9 to 5 hours and you love the thought of never having to commute, and being free to do things yourself how you like to do them, then owning Antbear Lodge is exactly right for you. You will need the following skills and knowledge although we do have comprehensive standard operating procedures in place, staff that are competent, and we are willing to discuss a handover/training period as part of the sale agreement.
• How the tourism industry works with trade channels and commission structures
• Rates and pricing
• Marketing the lodge
• Book keeping and business management
• Human resources and staff management
• Management of reservations, food and beverage
• Maintenance
• Hosting
• Owner: Andrew James Attwood Id 6408115032087
• Physical address: Antbear lodge, Fernhurst Farm, Estcourt, 3310
• Contact number: 073 612 6964
• Web: www.antbear.co.za
• Email: andrew@antbear.co.za
The ethos of Antbear Lodge
What makes Antbear Lodge different is that we are offering accommodation in a luxury cave. Glass doors open onto a wooden deck with hammock chairs and a spectacular view. Its an upmarket eco experience and the cave is comfortable, and cosy with features like a jacuzzi spa bath, fireplace and even has rock art on the walls of the cave.
We also provide a private dining experience where we setup a table on the deck of your cave and you dine by candle light under the stars.
This is one of those smaller, owner run establishments with 15 suites. Sustainability plays a huge role in the ethos of this lodge and we have tried to do as much as we can ourselves. This starts with the eco structures and goes right through to making the furniture ourselves, huge mosaics, organic vegetable garden and we even make our own bread, jams, cheese and yogurt.
We also offer a labyrinth, walking trails and horse trails on the property.
Antbear lodge services the tourism accommodation niche, serves as a destination wedding or celebration venue, and is perfect for retreat events.
Property details of the Antbear Lodge
Location on google maps
https://www.google.com/maps/place/Antbear+Lodge/@-29.1449378,29.8159868,418m/data=!3m1!1e3!4m5!3m4!1s0x0:0xb5afb007e99a9a1e!8m2!3d-29.1346556!4d29.8050977
General
The value of the property has grown substantially over the last 20 years through the development of this asset which has been financed through the cashflow of the business. What started as a ruin some nineteen years ago has now become a successful lodge with significant supporting infrastructure that has be built from the cash flow of the business. You, as the buyer can expect you will receive a healthy return on your investment of this property. Especially if you continue to scale it further.
The property consists of:
• Antbear Lodge with the main lodge, 19 en-suite bedrooms, 3 en-suite staff accommodation units, a manager flat, chapel, airfield and hanger space. (total 23 accommodation units)
• Total of 33 bedrooms and 31 bathrooms for the entire property.
• Additionally a 600 square meter turn of the century historic building built from cut stone is the farm house which we use it as owner accommodation and our home.
• Next to the farmhouse there are 2 self-catering garden cottages which if required could be let out to a tenant on a permanent basis or could be used as an extra income for your hospitality business. Currently both are kept for our family from Germany who visit us regularly.
• Extensive gardens and sheds and workshop also exist.
• The farm offers good quality grazing. 210 ha can either be leased out at approximately R80 000 p/a or you could establish your own beef herd of up to 120 head of cattle. We currently do neither as we don’t need the extra income but have been successful with both options in the past.
• Fruit orchid/trees that consist of lemons, limes, oranges, grapefruit, nartjies, various peaches, kumquats, various plums, apples, pears, apricots, pomegranate, various grapes, various berries, granadillas, loquats, chinese guavas & figs which we use for the lodge and own use.
• A 2500 square meter lodge vegetable garden that includes a 100sq meter under shade cloth that supplies organic vegetables for the lodge with a second vegetable garden at home for our own use.
• Thatch – During the months of May, June and July thatch grass can be cut on the farm. We have used this for our own building, reducing costs significantly and currently have 10 cubic meters of thatch stored. Thatch is valuable and is most definitely an easy saleable resource should you want to leverage this income opportunity.
• Wattle – Approximately 10 ha of wattle trees grow on the property. We currently use them to generate our own supply of firewood. Wattle being an invader species need to be controlled and by creating an unlimited source of great quality firewood is hugely beneficial to the lodge.
• Poplar trees grow in the valley and are excellent roofing material for building that does not need to be treated as insects do not attack poplar
• A number of large red river gum, poplar, pine and cedar trees grow on the property and if desired they could be cut down and used to produce timber. We have chosen to rather keep the trees instead of cutting them down.
• Spring water. The main spring delivers on average 6000 litres of spring water per day.
• Stone – there is a good supply of stone on the property should you need stone for building or other purposes.
• Shale – used to surface the road and is freely available from the quarry
• Erf Number: ptn 4 Glendoone no 15358 sg number154/1979
• Erf Size: 229,8 ha
The lodge has grown to what we consider an optimal size operating with 15 en-suite bedrooms. There are an additional 5 ensuite rooms which we can also include into the accommodation offering if for example we host a wedding and need that bit extra accommodation but generally we operate solely using the 15 units which makes for a more comfortable lifestyle. If you would like to expand your business to be larger then there is a lot of opportunity. It makes little difference costwise whether you have 15 or 20 rooms in terms of management. However, with 15 there less cleaning effort needed especially when the lodge is not busy.
Each of the bedrooms has an own entrance. The buildings are covered with thatch and although each is different in size the accommodation options are mostly very generous. Most bathrooms are fitted with separate showers and jacuzzi spa baths. Three rooms have an upstairs loft ideal for couples with children too young to have an own separate room.
Water heating for the most part is done through gas geysers which is part of the process to convert to lodge to get off the grid. We currently do not suffer much in the way of load shedding but with the direction electricity costs are going getting off the grid does make sense.
Lodge
The lodge is artistic in style and offers a reception area, office, 6 store rooms, laundry, kitchen with adjoining scullery, recycling area, 2 lounges, 2 toilets, staff toilet, a wine cellar, a small bar, a dining room and a covered deck that can be enclosed with canvas walls and extends the size of the lodge for larger functions. There is maximum seating capacity for 110 persons using the balcony extension. The lodge itself can seat a maximum of 70 persons. The lodge features authentic and inspiring woodwork throughout, hand-crafted on the property by ourselves. The furniture and finishing’s are artistic, big, and bold. We have created huge mosaics, stained glass windows and even wooden hinges. All of this in a sustainable environment. The size of the lodge is approx. 900 square meters.
Chapel
A 270 degree glass windowed view with seating capacity for max 110 guests. It’s a thatched building with stunning artistic mosaicking on the back wall. The chapel is a multi function building which can be reconfigured into a function venue to be used for conferences, meetings, functions, retreats or events. There is an adjoining kitchen and bathroom attached to the chapel making it easy for catering for events etc.
Parking
carports for 8 cars at lodge, carports for 2 cars at private home. Unlimited uncovered parking. All secured inside electric fence.
Security
The lodge is situated in a limited or crime free area. As a preventative precaution the lodge has a electric gate and is surrounded by an electric fence.
Staff quarters
There are 3 en-suite staff accommodation units which share a staff kitchen. Additionally, there are 2 manager flats that have en-suite bedrooms and own kitchen/lounge and have balconies. Water is heated using solar and also substituted by a very efficient donkey boiler for the 3 en-suite staff accommodation units that helps to keep staff accommodation costs down.
Owner accommodation
Beautiful old farm house with high ceilings and Oregon pine flooring built from cut stone about 1890 so is a historically protected building. The building is approx. 600 square meters and has 4 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, lounge Kitchen, pantry and an adjoining building which we currently use as a laundry and store room but could easily be converted into a granny flat. The master bedrooms bathroom also contains a small sauna for 2 persons.
A garden cottage with 2 self catering units, one with 1 bedroom the other with 2 bedrooms. Total 300square meters.
Workshop and Sheds
800 square meters of shed, store rooms and workshop.
Horse tack room and round pen
A small tack room near to the round pen is used to store saddles and other horse tack. The round pen is used for training horses and saddling them for outrides with guests
Old Dairy
An ruined structure that used to operate as a milking parlour some 60 years ago is currently being repaired and converted into 3 self-catering units. Our idea is to rent these out on a fixed monthly basis otherwise we could also use them to access the Airbnb market. The development process is expected to be complete in the next 12 months and is being financed through the cashflow of the business.
Water sources and infrastructure
We get our water supply from a natural spring which is stored in a 600 000 litre underground cistern. Additional water can be filled into the tanks from 2 farm dams and was built due to the drought in 2015. While it might seem as hugely excessive capacity this water reservoir proved to be a saviour in the 2015 drought which was the driest period measured in the last 100 years. Water is pumped from the 1 dam using solar and the other has an electrical point at the pump. The stored water supply would also be of enormous value if there ever was a fire that needed to be fought
Airstrip & hanger
A 750meter grass airstrip allows for fly in guests. An iron hanger of size 12m x 25m is next to the airstrip. Options exist to lengthen the runway to 950 m should that need arise.
Location & distance from town
We have lived here for the last 20 years. Its ultra-safe and crime free
• There are a number of very good schools in the Natal Midlands. Treverton College is just 25 mins drive from Antbear Lodge.
• 25 min from nearest bus stop (Midway Caltex on N3)
• 30 min from nearest railway station (Estcourt) and the Shosholaza Meyl stops here.
• 1 hour drive from Pietermaritzburg airport with regular scheduled flights to OR Tambo.
• 2.5 hour drive from Durban King Shaka International Airport.
• 4.5 hours drive from Johannesburg Oliver Tambo International Airport

The location of the lodge is off the beaten track however both Estcourt and Mooi River are accessible within 25km. This creates an enormous selling point creating great opportunities for customers looking for retreats, weddings and tourism. We service both the domestic and international market for tourists and the domestic market for weddings and retreats.
Spectacular panoramic views of White Mountain and Drakensberg. On a clear day you can see 140km even making out specific peaks of the Amphitheatre.

Business Information
Valuation
• Property Value R25m ie 230 ha + 4100 sqm of buildings
• Farm movable assets R2m
• Business value = R3.5 million includes movable assets of lodge
• Goodwill consists of return guests, marketing capital already existing, forward bookings, STO contracts, trade database, customer database
• Deposits taken for forward bookings value would depend on when this value is meausured and ranges between R80 000 and R300 000.
• Forward bookings pipeline depends on when this value is taken but would be in the range of R300 000 – R600 000
Total = R30 Million


Expected future revenue projection
Marketing through the trade channels is a slow process of return taking between 2 and 3 years to develop into business. The last 2 years has seen significant investment by us into this sector and that businsses will start to come through in the current year and following year. We have attended the SAT Nordic Roadshow in 2018 and 2017 and the SAT Dutch Road Show in 2018. This should bring an increase of 15-20% of international tourism booking through dutch and Nordic trade channels. Additionally efforts made at the Tourism Indaba and WTMA will add to this.
An renewed investment into marketing the lodge as a wedding venue is already paying off with the 3rd wedding booked for 2019. Ideally we would like to have 10 weddings per year as the turnover from a single wedding almost covers the fix costs for that month.
The replacement cost of the buildings
It is still much cheaper to buy existing buildings than to build a similar size new lodge. Second hand buildings in South Africa is generally on average one third cheaper than similar size new buildings. According to Stats SA building costs in Kwazulu Natal are R11500 per square meter. To rebuild the lodge would be somewhere I the range of R65m. The valuation we have calculated for the buildings is at an average R5000 / square meter. External valuartion is availabel
Sale price per building should the property be subdivided and sold off
An option that we have started to pursue is to subdivide the property into 6 smaller units and sell each individually. This is a longer process and while it will by far deliver the best returns we would rather start to travel sooner. You could decide to continue with this process or not.
Staff
Staff complement are exceptional, work well together and rise to every occasion. While those employed from the local community arrived with limited skills they have fitted in perfectly at the lodge and perform their duties well and have taken on skills that we require to run the lodge and farm. There is limited control needed and mostly staff can just be left to get on with things. The lodge manager is exceptional who is liked by both guests and staff alike. Our chef is excellent and keeps food costs within an expected range while keeping our guests inspired. There is an excellent relationship with the local community who see the jobs provided by Antbear Lodge to be of considerable benefit to the community and the working conditions at the Lodge are good
Total of 10 permanent staff with a staff bill of approx. R50 000 p/m. Bonuses are paid end Jan and are calculated as an equal lump sum paid to each employee having worked for a full year. Less than a year is calculated proportionally. Bonuses are only paid on performance of business
o 1 reservationist @ R4500 p/m
o 4 housekeepers @ R20/h
o 2 gardeners @ 20/h
o 1 maintenance person @ R20/h
o 2 kitchen assistants @ R20/h
o Owner R6500 p/m set to be just below paye tax thresh hold
Skills that we have developed in our staff in addition to what is normal within the hospitality industry include natural horsemanship, farrier horse care, welding, carpentry, plumbing, electrical, appliance repair, refrigeration, natural building, organic gardening, milking, mechanical motor repairs, fire fighting and firebreaks, fencing, tractor driving, hydraulics, animal care.
Unique selling points of the lodge
Aspects of Antbear Lodge that make us different and give us an extra marketing edge
• We offer a luxury cave for accommodation with glass doors that open onto a wood deck with hammock chairs and a spectacular view
• Furniture is custom built and artistic. It stands out and is one of the features that is continually commented on by guests.
• We offer pet friendly options
• We have a chapel making Antbear Lodge an ideal wedding venue with accommodation, reception and ceremony. Chapel is easily reconfigured into a function room offering multi use of the space for events like conferences.
• We have a high degree of self sufficiency including making own bread, cheese, vegetable garden, eggs, sheep, own milk etc. The ECO and sustainable principals make this an easy sell
• Airstrip allows for fly in guests.
• Program to monitor water usage, WiFi Data usage, gas usage
• Eco structures
• Project to convert from Eskom to solar power currently at the stage of eliminating all electric geysers. Application to TIP for funding and analysis of power usage. Quotes for solar installations
• Gender and sexual discrimination policies
• Employment Equity Policy
• SOPs in place
• Fair working conditions
• OHS policy and OHS act displayed
• Antbear policies and procedures displayed and also translated into IsiZulu
Seasonality
Like all tourism business there are peak seasons and low seasons. For the Drakensberg peak seasons are over the December holidays, Easter long weekend and other long weekends during the year. For these timeframes the telephone rings off the hook. Low season is the months May, June and September. Antbear Lodge has a clear plan to mitigate this by offering weddings which for the most part create full occupancy when they are hosted as well as extra turnover. By concentrating of foreign tourism, the issue of weekend bookings get mitigated as they travel every day of the week. To boost attractiveness, we offer pet friendly options, retreats and activities on site.
Business plans and business documentation
There is a comprehensive operational plan in place which documents the process for reservations. Also, financial history is documented.
An extremely tax efficient structure is in place where both your own lifestyle is covered through the business costs and additionally profits are made. This structure needs to be explained in detail. Money is taken through credit card facilities that the lodge already has in place with good commission agreements of just over 2%.
The lodge is zoned as agricultural with a business licence from Mtchezi Municipality to operate accommodation and functions. There are opportunities for farming or leasing out of the grazing land however we only do this in a limited capacity ourselves. We also have our 10 horses and offer horse trails and its very comfortable to know that we have lots of excess grazing for the horses regardless of drought situations
Tools in place for tracking food costs in a very easy and simple fashion. Expenses are tracked and broken down such that we have a good handle on fixed and variable costs that are available in real time.
Market Segments
• Domestic tourism - Couples and families mostly from Durban and Gauteng that are looking for a getaway. That Antbear is both child friendly and pet friendly adds an extra boost to this sector. The bulk of this is through direct bookings.
• International tourism – Some through direct bookings but for the most part this is through relationships and contracts developed with the trade channels.
• Weddings – A particularly lucrative market segment although we have tried not to become solely a wedding destination to maintain diversity of the available market.
• Retreats – A less lucrative market segment where there is often single occupancy but adds a extra boost during low periods like May and September where the rooms would otherwise stand empty.
Market segments that have proved difficult for us to penetrate have been corporate getaways, conferences, business persons travelling in the region like reps, and government business for officials working in the region.
Expansion & growth opportunities
Easy expansion opportunities to create another 3 rooms by creating internal walls and bathrooms in an existing storage area. The existing utility infrastructure can be used for water, power and waste water. There are options to create another 4 luxury caves that would be 100% private (invisible) from each other. More if total privacy is not considered necessary. The lodge infrastructure is already sized such that it can cope with this expansion. 3 new self-catering cottages are already under construction and the stage of completion will be dependent on how long it takes to sell the lodge. Even expanding by another 10 rooms there would be no need to extend the communal lodge facilities as they already are big enough to cope with that expansion.
The nature of the business profitability with its relationship to variable costs and occupancy can be demonstrated. Calculation of food costs, variable costs and fixed costs as per excel models show just how much potential can still be achieved.
Legal issues
The property is 229,8 Ha.
There are no land claims and there is no history of anyone ever living on the property and there are no grave sites on the farm.
• Business licence to operate a hospitality business on premises (Umtchezi Municipality)
• Current Liquor Licence. Renewal for 2020 already applied for.
• Buildings, contents and vehicle insurance through B&B Sure. Public Liability insurance R50 million through B&B sure. Business interruption through B&B Sure
• Registration with Local CTO Drakensberg Experience
• Tax Compliance Certificate
• Registered for UIF, PAYE
• Employment contracts
• Qualified first aider
The land is zoned as agricultural which is a huge benefit for your rates payments. Currently around R600 per month.
Access to own water through 2 dams and an own natural spring
Road access through Fernhurst Farm and secondary access through the Rise farm (road is in poor condition).
Competition
There is insignificant competition nearby. The nearest Lodge is Blue Haze which services a more local market and the rep market staying in Estcourt and some limited tourism. Rates are slightly lower than that of Antbear but does not really offer a similar product to Antbear. The Nearest lodge offering a similar sustainable tourism product is Three Tree Hill Lodge which is 90km from us. And Rates are more than double that of Antbear. Other established accommodation products within a 30km radius of Antbear include Cleopatra Mountain Farmhouse, Silver Hill Lodge, White Mountain Lodge, Hartford House, Sycamore Avenue, Lords of the Manor, Giants Castle Camp, Zulu Waters Private Reserve.
Reviews of Antbear Lodge
• Tripadvisor 4.5 out of 5
• Booking.com 8.8 out of 10
• Hotels.com 9 out of 10
• SA Venues rated excellent
• Google Reviews 4.7 out of 5
• Facebook 4.8 out of 5
• Holiday Check 6 out of 6
Attractions at the lodge
• Horse trails
• Walking trails
• Fishing
• Labyrinth
• Hot air ballooning
• Slack packing trail

Attractions in the area
The highlight tourist attractions near to Antbear include Giants Castle Nature Reserve (Drakensberg hiking), Midlands Meander and Kamberg Nature Reserve (superb bushman rock art). A detailed list of attractions is available at http://antbear.co.za/attractions/


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Property Details
Property Reference:PS1457110
Owner / Vendor username:AndrewA (#147)
Property Type:Commercial Property
Property subtype:Agricultural
Location/Address:Antbear Lodge, kwazulu natal, South Africa
Swap Value Range:1,500,285 - 1,350,257
Built size:4,100 m2
Number of rooms:30
Build year:2000
Purchase year:0
Ground ownership:Privately Owned
State of the property:Good
 while some of the buildings are getting older the property in a a general good state of repair. 3 b
Swap country:United Kingdom
Rental Data

Property rented out:No
Vacant property:No
Rental type:
Property Your self:Full Time

Community fee per year :

Property tax per year :

South Africa KwaZulu-Natal Uthukela DC

Swap country: United Kingdom


1,500,285 - 1,350,257
  • Commercial Property

  • Agricultural

  • 30 rooms

  • 4,100 m2

Desired Property

The owner of the above property is looking to swap with a property with the below profile(s).

United Kingdom

Property of similar value or swap with cash amount to make up the difference

I am open for most reasonable discussions for a swap in either germany or uk

Downgrade Swap
This swapper wants to receive cash for a smaller/less valued property

Max. cash needed: 0

Swap Value Range

1,350,257 - 1,350,257

  • Residential Property
  • Apartment/Condo
  • United Kingdom