Hospitality to bloom at beachfront

Copy of NM Dbn Beach 2

An artist's impression of the new Durban Beach Club eatery that is set to open in one of the beachfront restaurant sites that have been empty since the World Cup

Durban businessman Sadha Naidoo does not only talk tourism. He is also in the game and is upping his stakes with major multi-million-rand hospitality investments in the Durban beachfront and the Dube City precinct at Dube TradePort, near King Shaka International Airport.

Naidoo, the boss of the Calypso Group, has made his first foray into the “retail side” of the hospitality industry by securing the biggest of the vacant restaurant sites on the Durban beachfront. The new restaurant sites and kiosks have been empty for more than three years following the promenade upgrade ahead of the World Cup.

Two weeks ago his company signed the lease for the prime Dairy Beach site. It was one of several new leases signed by the eThekwini Municipality, which has been criticised several times over the years for the delays in renting out the vacant beachfront restaurants and kiosks.

Naidoo told The Mercury that his Durban Beach Club concept for the site was still being finalised, but the idea was to have a relaxed and informal daytime experience, while at night it would transform into more a formal elegant dining venue.

“We want it to operate for longer hours and enhance the Durban beachfront experience. The revamped promenade is one of our best tourism assets, but it still has a lot more potential. We will spend around R8 million on this project.

“While we have presented our proposal to the city and have won the lease, we will still be engaging with other stakeholders in the tourism industry to get their input for our final product. This project is business-driven, but we will take into consideration the input of key tourism stakeholders such as the Federated Hospitality Association of South Africa (Fedhasa),” he said.


Sadha Naidoo is the chief executive of the Calypso Group, which has secured the lease of the biggest vacant beachfront restaurant site at Dairy Beach on Durbans revamped promenade.

Naidoo added it was too late to be ready for Christmas, but the Durban Beach Club would “definitely be opened for business” in the first quarter of 2014. When it opened it would employ between 30 to 40 permanent and part-time staff.

Meanwhile, 30 kilometres north of the city, he has just opened his new restaurant, coffee shop and conference centre at Dube TradePort’s new “29 Degrees South” building within the Dube City precinct.

“That’s called Latitude and opened earlier this month. It represents an investment of about R10m. It is made up of a 250-seat conferencing facility, executive boardroom, and a 150-seat restaurant with a coffee shop and cocktail bar,” he said.

“We have positioned our new boutique hospitality products in two of the key developing tourism and economic nodes in KZN – the Durban beachfront and Dube TradePort. This is to synergise with these tourism assets, an important part of future tourism development.

“Our decision to move into Dube City so early in its development is based on the confidence we have in the project as a major new emerging economic node and airport city around King Shaka International,” said Naidoo.

He said while Latitude at Dube City was aimed at the corporate sector, the Durban Beach Club would be aimed at leisure and family markets.

Naidoo, who is also chairperson of the board of Tourism KwaZulu-Natal, started the Calypso Group in 2000 as a tourism training and events management company. It now employs about 100 people within seven subsidiaries that also includes a travel agency and property investments. The retail hospitality division, which includes Latitude and the Durban Beach Club, is the latest addition to the company.

Mike Jackson, regional chairman of Fedhasa said they welcomed the appointment of operators of the empty shell restaurants.

“The concepts all look good… we particularly like the beach club idea as it will be a day and evening operation, and this is a great start for an evening dinner trade on our beachfront. Fedhasa East Coast have been proposing this for the last three to four years. This will inject life back into the Durban beachfront, so well done to Sadha Naidoo,” he said.

“Also, well done to the city for getting the beachfront restaurants started… now let’s all work together to install more attractions, entertainment and facilities to make this a world class beach,” said Jackson.

He added that more overhead lighting was now needed to supplement the existing lights and enhance security.

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