In just one year, Serengeti Estates has metamorphosed from a tired and ailing development to a bustling hub of activity.
There was a time, says Louise Cilliers (marketing manager to the developer), when Serengeti residents would drive into the northern gate, and drive around a traffic circle and along a boulevard that was nowhere near completion – even though the estate had been operational for quite some time. Fast forward to today, and that same boulevard is surrounded by beautifully landscaped gardens that dazzle residents and visitors alike.
So, what’s changed? Quite simply, developer David Nagle entered the picture with a vision and a goal: to return the love and passion that had obviously leaked out of Serengeti over time, and in so doing, give residents an assurance of a return on investment – an assurance that had been notably missing as momentum at the estate ground to a halt, and sales stagnated.
Nagle determined that the best way to do this was by creating a ‘wow’ factor that couldn’t be ignored. Just one month after he took the reins he achieved this goal with the launch of The Whistling Thorns Apartments, Serengeti’s first luxury apartment development. At the time, freehold homes were the only option for would-be residents at the estate, recalls Serengeti’s Aesthetics Manager, Yvonne Perregil, but, clearly, there was an appetite for other forms of accommodation. ‘Around 800 people responded to the electronic invitation to the launch, which was sent to residents only,’ she says, adding that R140 million’s worth of sales was made that night. Today, the first phase of the development is entirely sold out – a notable feat, given that this investment was made by people who were, by all appearances, lamenting their initial purchase at the estate – and the second phase is soon to be introduced.
One of the factors that adds to The Whistling Thorns’s attractiveness is its location on the Whistling Thorns Golf Course. This, too, is another of Nagle’s innovations. It replaces the former nine-hole course with a par-3, 18-hole option. This makes it ideal for the growing number of golfers who love the game, but cannot invest four hours in a round. Its accessibility also makes it popular with families and parents playing with kids, providing the kind of lifestyle experience that is fast becoming Serengeti’s hallmark.
The success of The Whistling Thorns was matched when Nagle’s team launched The Signature Residences, Serengeti’s village of three- and four-bedroom clusters, in June this year. Overlooking the estate’s signature Jack Nicklaus championship golf course (which has played host to two SA Opens), the clusters have broadened Serengeti’s appeal, making it an enticing option for young families seeking a secure environment, or retirees seeking lock-up-and-go convenience.
That’s just the beginning, however. Working closely with the homeowners association’s board of directors, Nagle’s next move concentrates on creating a host of amenities and facilities that provide an aspirational lifestyle for the people living here. Importantly, these are based not on his perception of what they would like, nor on current trends, but on research conducted among residents. This is what makes him a true visionary, comments Mark Renwick, CEO of the Serengeti Golf Club, because it means that his plans are in constant flux, changing according to residents’ input. It’s also what will ensure that Serengeti leaves a legacy of sustainability, a home where everything has been carefully considered and engineered to help residents get the most out of life, maintains Serengeti Estates board member Natalie Stockenstrom.
Chief among these facilities is the Mozzafiato. Styled as a culinary meander, it invites residents to sample artisanal treats, from gelato to charcuterie, as they make their way towards an Italian eatery, complete with a dedicated area for kids. This piazza isn’t just about gourmet treats, however: residents are also able to place their orders for pantry staples and essentials, to be delivered that day.
The developers are also planning a hotel and spa, as well as a commercial facility with meeting and conference rooms, plus tennis courts, pools and children’s playgrounds – everything residents could desire to turn their address into a place that makes their lifestyle wishes a reality. ‘The key, though, is that we’re offering a range of different experiences. The diversity of the estate ensures that there really is something for everyone. Serengeti isn’t just about golf – there’s a range of family-friendly activities, great facilities for those who wish to keep fit, and various dining options for foodlovers,’ Renwick comments.
This is what is most noticeable about the change in Serengeti, Renwick concludes: ‘It now exudes an irresistible energy. The reason for this is clear. Just as he did at The Houghton and Eye of Africa, Nagle has turned Serengeti into an estate that’s more than a great place to live. It’s also an outstanding investment, as shown by revived sales and climbing property values.’