On the slopes of the Helderberg Mountain in Somerset West, the prestigious Erinvale Country Estate and Golf Club, which will be celebrating 25 successful years in 2020, was one of the first residential golf estates in South Africa. To find out what the ingredients are for this success, we chat to Kerstin Dinklage, ErinvaleHOA trustee responsible for marketing and communication.
Comprising 419 properties in a low-density estate, a world-class golf course, two tennis courts, a boules court and multiple walking, hiking and running trails, and located close to Cape Town, Stellenbosch, the Winelands and beaches, Erinvaleoffers a safe and peaceful country lifestyle with the convenience of city amenities and leisure activities.
The management structure
The HOA employs a team of four people to run the day-to-day management of the estate, the tasks being operations, facilities, environment, security, accounting, administration, reception and liaisons management.
When the last estate manager retired, this role was split across the team, with the executive officer now handling the accounting and overall management, and an operations manager attending to the day-to-day operations, the facilities and management of the outsourced security. The management team are all long-standing employees with a minimum of 15 years with the association. This good staff retention, says Dinklage, ‘is due to good working conditions and relationships. We offer training, promote from within, and ensure that staff are part of trustee meetings and office management decisions. Our staff are proud to be part of Erinvale.’
The current board of trustees has a full complement of seven members as allowed by the constitution, each with their own portfolio. Trustees are elected for a two-year term, and the Erinvale board has a good mix, with two members in office since 2011, one new member in 2014, 2015, and 2016, and two new members in 2018. This keeps the board fresh without losing the knowledge, experience and historical input from longer-standing members.
‘The trustees have a very hands-on role; we have a good and very knowledgeable team who are committed and prepared to invest a lot of time on their portfolios. All seven of us meet once a month, but other meetings take place between relevant members and staff when required.’
Much of Erinvale’s success, Dinklage emphasises, is due to long-serving HOA staff and trustees, granting continuity and sustainable management.
Moving with the times
Erinvale’s board and HOA acknowledge that the world is constantly changing, so the rules may need to change too, in order to conform to current lifestyle requirements.
As a mature estate, all homes are built, and unlike other estates, Erinvale allows individual style of the buildings, which creates the unique look. However, there are architectural guidelines that were written 25 years ago. Erinvale has revisited these guidelines to accommodate requests for renovations and updates. Each application is reviewed by the architectural committee and the architects to ensure that the aesthetics of the estate are not compromised, while allowing for contemporary trends and a move towards sustainability.
The estate encourages, but does not enforce, adherence to the Green Building Council guidelines for renovations. Solar panels and water tanks are recommended but must be hidden from view.
One immediate impression is the pristine beauty of the estate. In contrast to the manicured golf course, Erinvale has its own fynbos reserve at the top of the estate with sensibly integrated walking trails for the residents. ‘These areas are classified as a critical biodiversity area (B1) as part of the greater Cape Floristic Region. A lot of attention and effort is going into this recreational asset to protect and maintain the biodiversity in our estate.’
Investing in the future
As an estate, the move towards sustainability in public areas is constantly ongoing. ‘Apart from location, property owners and investors have a number-one priority: security and a peace-of-mind lifestyle of really feeling safe! This is what Erinvale offers to a great extent. We can freely go for a walk at any time, our kids can play outside and we do not have the need of extra security at each property.’
Erinvale continuously looks at keeping security to the highest standard. The perimeter fencing and cameras have already been upgraded, and the estate is presently enhancing all security measures to the latest technology available, implementing biometric hand scan access, and a comprehensive guest management system. ‘Our committee has investigated over four years to decide on the best solutions available for our estate.’
In 2016 Erinvale was also one of the first estates in the region to implement fibre to the home (FTTH), providing up to 100Mbps internet speed to every property in the estate. ‘We have a great mix of residents here at Erinvale and we need to cater for all sorts of different requirements and needs. The families with kids want to be able to stream, surf and play simultaneously, the working-from-home professionals require stable internet connectivity for video conferencing, and the ‘Swallows’ from Europe like to watch streamed European TV.
Communication is key
In the past, HOA communication was done via newsletters and email, but building a community requires more interaction. Erinvale is now implementing a new tailored community app, Spotlight Social, which was designed by two Erinvale residents.
The app gives push notifications for emergencies, updates on roadworks, repairs, news and events. It can be tailored to the community needs, and offers separate platforms for various interest groups, and – of course – golfers, where they can engage, chat and share photos, news and events. ‘Via the app we are able to encourage a multi-way communication among our residents; no matter if you are on site or spending half of the time somewhere else in the world, you can stay connected with your community.’
This app is a game changer and could become a modern version of traditional portals.
Erinvale is part of the greater community, supporting local charities and schools in the area. Estate residents are a happy, forward-thinking group, and the HOA, trustees and employees work as a team, ensuring the ongoing success of this luxury estate.