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Ernie Els has signed a deal with Kuwait Stock Exchange-listed IFA Hotels & Resorts to create a golf course and associated facilities at the R10 billion Zimbali Lakes development on the KwaZulu-Natal North Coast.

Zimbali Lakes will include an Ernie Els Signature Golf Course, Els Performance Golf Academy, Ernie Els Suites, an apartment development linked to the golf academy for around 200 students, and a Big Easy Bar & Grill. This combination of facilities is the first such set-up by Ernie and his award-winning design firm on the African continent and is expected to boost golf tourism to South Africa.

“We are excited to partner with Zimbali Lakes and IFA Hotels & Resorts as we share like-minded ambitions and values,” commented Ernie. “What we’re creating here is going to be very special indeed. This is a perfect opportunity for us due to Zimbali Lakes’ location, close to the King Shaka International Airport, and also with some of the best schools in South Africa in close proximity.”

Speaking of the wider virtues of this area, Ernie went on to say, “Ballito has more gated communities per square metre than any other area in South Africa, which boasts many high-end properties that others around the world would love to call home. Club Med choosing to develop just north of Ballito indicates that this will now become an international destination, and with that comes huge international investment opportunities and exposure.”

Ernie also announced that he will set-up a home at Zimbali Lakes. “Many people will know that my primary home is in Florida, however my family will always call South Africa home,” he commented. “Being able to spend time in a quality location such as this, where security, privacy, and lifestyle come first, is not too hard a decision. Also, the mild weather conditions on the north coast during the winter months will be perfect to spend time with my family and friends here.”

Wayne Krambeck, senior vice-president of operations at Zimbali Lakes, added, “Ernie building at the estate is one of the most exciting aspects of our relationship with him. He knows this is one of the hottest property markets in South Africa at the moment.”

Werner Burger, CEO of IFA Hotels & Resorts South Africa, said the deal marks a turning point for the golf tourism industry in the country and the continent. “We are pleased to announce our partnership with the Ernie Els Group. This collaboration will strengthen our position in the market and enable us to provide enhanced lifestyle solutions and services to our residents, visitors to the region and to South Africa as a whole. By combining our expertise and resources, we will drive innovation, customer satisfaction, and business growth.”

“We believe this will be a great fit that will benefit everyone,” commented Ernie. “Around 20 years ago, I had initial discussions with Mr Burger about doing a project together so I was pleased when he approached me about the opportunity at Zimbali Lakes. We believe this will probably be one of the last golf course residential developments to be constructed in South Africa.”