A mere three hours from Cape Town and 90 minutes from the Garden Route, Prince Albert, an exceptionally beautiful Karoo town set against the backdrop of the Swartberg Mountains of the Western Cape, has over the years established itself as a leading country town.
“With its beautiful architecture and large smallholdings all within walking distance from the CBD which is located in the town’s main street, Prince Albert is considered a prime country destination which offers a luxurious but rural lifestyle”, says Wayne Rubidge, Pam Golding Properties manager for the Karoo region.
“The abundance of water in the area allows for a genuine agricultural village where produce, people and animals provide a rural setting that many urban people dream about. Prince Albert is leading the Karoo’s buoyant property market and is a very desirable rural top end property investment destination. The town’s stability and positive future has received many positive reports in the media and continues to attract substantial investment into the various categories of property on offer.”
Pam Golding Properties agent in the area, Eric Ahrens, recently sold an exceptional guesthouse which includes a historic Cape Dutch house and nine accommodation suites, breakfast room, owner’s accommodation, three swimming pools, sauna and steam room for R11.5 million including VAT. This is the highest price achieved for a property in the town itself, with the previous top price being R6.5 million.
Currently Pam Golding Properties has a boutique range of properties for sale in the town, with top end properties including a mixed residential and commercial property on the market for R8.995 million, and an appealing five hectare smallholding with a historic homestead at R8.6 million (which is described below). In the Prince Albert Valley, an area which is highly sought after, a 1 200ha wine farm with approximately eight hectares planted to a variety of cultivars is on the market for R12 million and includes a historic 1882 homestead and a guest house. Also on the market is a 113 ha wine farm with fully equipped wine cellar and related equipment available for R 10.75 million. Guest houses in the town include a seven bedroom, nine bathroom establishment with exceptional occupancy levels available at R 9.3 million, among other high calibre properties.
Rubidge says while the town’s economy has benefitted from its popularity among visitors and investors alike, there has been until now little mention of the wide range of agricultural properties and smallholdings that surround the town. This is changing and the burgeoning agricultural market is set to grow substantially and likely to attract many more investors who are looking for more space and therefore, larger properties, and who wish to become involved in the wide range of farming activities and produce grown in the area.
“Its traditional livestock farming sector is where, like most places in the Karoo, some of the world’s best quality lamb, mutton and wool is produced. There is also a wide selection of game farms. Prince Albert has established itself as a premium olive growing location with large commercial olive plantations as well as boutique and lifestyle olive farms. Added to this are the sought after wine farms in the beautiful Prince Albert Valley to the east of the town. Some of the most sought after foods such as figs, stone fruits and cheese are produced in Prince Albert”.
“What sets the district apart from many others in the Karoo that are also home to premium agricultural estates is perhaps its thriving growing tourism segment which opens the doors for many of these luxury farming estates to embrace the country hospitality market.”
One such exclusive estate is located 35 km from the town. Set against the Swartberg Nature Reserve and 1600 ha in size, accommodation is provided in numerous elegantly decorated buildings, the most notable of which are two immaculately restored and preserved Victorian homesteads. Each has been sensitively modernised and upgraded, while still retaining their respective heritage footprints.
These two exquisite homes have been furnished and decorated to an exacting standard, and each enjoys expansive living and entertainment areas with superb flow to terraces and verandas and private swimming pools. Bedrooms and bathrooms are opulent and tasteful, while additional accommodation is provided in five executive cottages with one or two bedroom configurations, each with its own kitchen, fully stocked and equipped to the highest standards.
Says Ahrens: “These self-catering units enjoy high levels of occupancy from a discerning clientele who enjoy and appreciate a luxurious get-away destination offering absolute privacy and total relaxation. Leisure activities include birding, hiking, cycling, stargazing or sheer indulgent relaxation of any kind. Furthermore, the estate could easily be developed further into a retreat or wellness centre.”
Agricultural activities are numerous, and include 16 000 olive trees over 25 irrigated hectares, with cultivars suited to the Karoo climate. The estate has its own imported olive press and associated cellar equipment, and a boutique range of products in addition to the olive oil are produced under the estate’s own label. There are approximately seven hectares of grazing from lucerne pastures and winter crops, fruit trees include peach, pomegranate, lemon, apple pear and guava, and there are a number of table grape vines.
The estate enjoys an abundance of water supplied from the Groot Rivier source in the mountains above the property, with the water stored in seven dams, while the water reticulation system has been completely restored and refreshed and includes gravity trenches. Electricity is supplied via two independent 80KW sources and agricultural and related equipment is stored in one of two restored barns. The second barn has been adapted to provide temporary labourers’ accommodation as may be required.
Says Ahrens: “Offering a ‘world in one’, this estate is on the market as a going concern priced at R60 million and is VAT registered.”
Located on five hectares closer to town and in the smallholding category is a historic home that underwent a masterful restoration and refurbishment some years ago, with the end result one of understated elegance and style. Marketed through Pam Golding Properties at R8.6 million, the vast open plan living, dining and kitchen area lies beneath exposed thatch, and the space opens through multiple French doors to enormous covered verandas on both the north and east sides of the house.
The views are spectacular, with the property’s prime land stretching away to the valley and mountains beyond. The main home has a lavish master suite, and there is an additional bedroom which is currently used as a study. A separate guest suite with private access is elegantly appointed and enjoys its own private covered veranda overlooking the immaculate garden. The property includes a single garage and laundry with water filters provided for. In addition it has lavish riparian rights in the form of leiwater (mountain water) and two registered boreholes, while a timber deck provides a quiet space for reflection beside the private dam. Adds Ahrens: “The irrigation lands and agricultural shed are currently leased by a local farmer which renders the home itself an ideal lock up and go asset.”