Djinn Palace in Plettenberg Bay is a popular villa. Picture: Greg Cox.
Djinn Palace in Plettenberg Bay is a popular villa. Picture: Greg Cox.

The private villa boom: Why everyone is flocking to SA

By Clinton Moodley Time of article published Feb 18, 2021

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Homeowners who turned their properties into uber-luxury private villas boasting bespoke amenities like spa facilities, home cinemas and infinity pools are now reaping the benefits.

Travel experts reveal that bookings for private villas in South Africa have sky-rocketed during the pandemic with some private villas fully booked for the next year.

While travel bans and Covid-19 restrictions are some reasons for travellers' scepticism to venture abroad, travel experts believe that privacy and unique offerings also play a factor in the private villa resurgence.

Helen Untiedt, the co-founder and curator of Perfect Hideaways, a private villa rental company, said since South Africa lifted travel lockdown restrictions for domestic and international travellers, the demand for private villas soared.

"Travellers are yearning for an escape somewhere where they can enjoy privacy and soak in some of the best views and experiences the destination has to offer.

“Some prefer private homes overlooking the beach while others enjoy the countryside or any secluded place that is away from people and makes them feel safe," she said.

As many people are working remotely, many travellers, some from the US, UK, Germany and Sweden, are opting to spend their days in a luxury villa.

"We've seen an uptick in long term rentals where guests stay for a month or two in their chosen villa. As most of them are working remotely, a strong wi-fi connection is one of their requirements.

"We've seen a rise in our Christmas 2021 bookings with guests opting to stay in a few villas across South Africa to immerse themselves in the bush, beach, city and country lifestyle," she said.

Therese Botha, the owner of Icon Villas, said the South African villa market has been buoyant for the past 20 years, especially in the Western Cape and at safari lodges.

The perks of booking private villas

Botha said privacy was one of the factors that influenced people to book private villa stays.

"They want to be secluded from others during the pandemic. Our guests often request that there should be little or no interaction with staff. If they require staff, they want all Covid regulations observed," she said.

Untiedt said travellers were wary of Covid-19 and prefer to travel with their family.

"Travellers are craving their own space away from the hustle and bustle that one experiences at other accommodation. They do not want to share spaces with a large group of people. Their own villa offers privacy and they get to travel with people who they know and feel safe with," she said.

Post pandemic

Untiedt foresees a bigger boom in villa rentals post-pandemic. She said beach houses were going to rise in demand. Botha said the private rentals market is likely to rebound faster than traditional hotels due to the privacy and safety benefits it offers travellers during Covid-19.

"The demand for private experiences, including private accommodation options, will likely increase. Pricing is likely not going to be as much of a consideration compared to booking privacy and flexibility.

“The demand for family time will only increase. The trend of flexible work locations due to the value of the rand will also see more international visitors working remotely from SA," she said.

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