Plans for a R3-billion health and wellness centre for the North Coast, which had been delayed because of red tape, are back on track.
The plans for the Thukela Lifestyle Resort, north of the Tugela River, which the developers said would be the only one of its kind in the world, have been given a boost by the premier’s office stepping in.
As a result of intervention by Frikkie Brooks, head of the secretariat to the KZN Provincial Planning Commission in Premier Zweli Mkhize’s office, the developers have been granted the all-important hospital licence for their hospitality and medical tourism development.
“We have received a licence for 200 beds as well as for 180 ‘step-down’ beds for recovering patients,” said a delighted Oriana Honeywill, who came up with the concept with her husband, Linden, and their business partner, Dr Colleen Coetzee.
“We were stymied by red tape for almost two years. It was very frustrating as we were all prepared to move on to the site last year, after announcing our plans at a world health tourism conference in Durban in 2011.
“We also lost one investor because of the delay.”
But then Honeywill contacted Brooks, who said in a letter to a Thukela shareholder that the premier’s office recognised the development as a “strategically high impact project” because of its job-creation potential – and its potential economically to transform the northern KZN region.
“Brooks was absolutely phenomenal in overcoming the obstacles we were facing and we then got the licence from the Department of Health,” Honeywill said.
She said she was expecting to turn the first sod at the site in April.
The project, which is to be a phased development over 10 years, is to employ about 67 000 people during construction and more than 5 000 once it is up and running, the developers say.
The medical aspect would cost R700 million. The rest of the development would take the bill to R3bn.
Thukela would be a one-stop health, wellness and tourism resort, Coetzee said.
Local and international specialists are to staff the resort, which is to include a state-of-the-art hospital, recovery and rehabilitation centres, hotels, fractional ownership villas, retirement accommodation, residences, as well as “top-notch” schools, shopping complexes and even a wedding chapel.
On offer would be a combination of diagnostic, treatment and preventive health care.
The rehabilitation centre is to provide for addiction, depression, stress and eating disorders. Also planned is a cookery school at which patients may learn about healthy eating.
The developers believe the resort would be beneficial to the large number of foreigners who travel to South Africa for surgery.
Thukela would offer them a post-surgery healing sanctuary where they could get check-ups and where any complications could be sorted out.
Coetzee said a lot of people from elsewhere in Africa came to South Africa for medical procedures, but there was a lack of aftercare.
Patients would be able to check in after their procedures and benefit from the same facilities as there were in an intensive care unit, and visiting doctors, as well as patients, would be able to bring their families along to enjoy a holiday.