South Africa’s first R2 billion (€99 million) Club Med Tinley eco-resort, complete with a beach and Big Five bush experience, will place the country firmly on the world tourism map as the French operator braces to market the holiday destination to 50 million people globally.
This is the vision Club Med President Henri Giscard d'Estaing shared at the signing of the contract with Collins Residential Consortium CEO, Murray Collins, for the development of the new 32-hectare resort in Tinley Manor on KwaZulu Natal’s North Coast on Tuesday.
As the first of its kind in the country, the all-inclusive resort is poised to create more than 800 direct jobs and an additional 1 500 job opportunities in the region.
Club Med Tinley will feature a surf-lifestyle concept for healthy beach holidays, shaped by art and local culture and guests will have the chance to embark on a safari experience to discover the wildlife of Africa.
The resort will comprise 342 premium rooms, 64 exclusive collection spaces, a 500-delegate capacity conference centre and an 80-room bush lodge in a Big Five Game Reserve in Zululand, a 3,5-hour drive from the beach site. Just nine hectares of the 32-hectare beach site will be developed, while the balance of the land, currently a moribund cane farm, will be rehabilitated to restore coastal wetlands, dunes and forests, giving guests direct access to pristine beaches. The site is a 30-minute drive from King Shaka International Airport and 45 minutes from Durban.
“What we will do here will be exemplary – what we did in Cancún, Bali and in Mauritius 50 years ago when there was no tourism there, we put those locations on the global tourism map. Not only will we do that here but we will do something different, at the heart of Zulu culture and the environment we have here, and the willingness to protect it,” said Giscard d'Estaing.
“Every week, we are offered opportunities around the world but we are very strict – it must be among the most beautiful places in the world, and there are strict criteria of accessibility. There is a good international airport here in Durban and we will see how we can increase the number of flights coming from different parts of the world to create easier access to the families who will have the unique opportunity of discovering the marvellous beaches and the bush on the North Coast.”
Supported by South African debt funders and equity partners, Club Med Tinley represents an investment exceeding R2 billion under the enterprise of Tinley Leisure (Pty) Ltd.
Giscard d'Estaing said Club Med would market the resort to around 50 million people in 18 languages on its online channels.
“We are very confident in the ability to attract them. What we already know is there is great interest from our clients. Last year we had 1.3 million clients around the world, loyal clients, and they are very picky. They know, where Club Med goes, they will go.
“Since its creation in 1950, Club Med has been a pioneer in discovering new exceptional destinations. With this new project, together with our partner the Collins Residential Consortium, we aim to create value for the local communities and contribute to the international prestige of the beautiful province of KwaZulu Natal," Giscard d'Estaing added.
Collins Residential has a track record, spanning four generations, in conceptualising and developing residential estates, creating communities where places, people, and purpose seamlessly intertwine. Collins said the development was the first of its size to be built in South Africa in more than 30 years, since the construction of Sun City, and that it was also a unique eco-development that would re-establish local wetlands, coastal dunes and forests, while creating jobs for the local impoverished community.
“Together with esteemed visionary equity partners made up of private investors and companies with roots in South Africa, The Collins Residential Consortium’s ground-breaking venture into the Club Med resort reflects our dedication to enhancing the tourism landscape in Southern Africa, serving as a driving force for regional growth,” Collins said.
KwaZulu Natal Premier Nomusa Dube-Ncube welcomed the development saying it would enhance the province’s array of attractions and further stimulate economic growth to confront poverty and inequality in the region.
Club Med has committed to eco-certifying the construction of all its new resorts with BREEAM (Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method) or its local equivalent. In South Africa it aims to achieve a Green Building Council of SA four-star rating for the development.
Club Med Tinley’s operations will adhere to the international Green Globe sustainable tourism certification that focuses on four factors: sustainable management, economic/social, cultural heritage, and the environment. The tourism operator is also collaborating with non-profit organisation Agrisud to foster the growth and development of local businesses within the resort's supply chain to drive inclusive growth within the community and nurture sustainable livelihoods.
Construction is expected to start in early 2024 and the resort is scheduled to open its doors in July 2026.