Areas and Places

Tony Stern: pioneering mind & property developer

Tony Steyn
Tony Stern – a pioneer in the property industry.

 

Last year, Cape Town experienced an 8.9% year-on-year increase in the total number of arrivals to Cape Town International Airport. This increase took the annual figure up to a record high of 4 684 368, according to Airports Company South Africa. While the Cape’s popularity can be attributed to a wealth of attractions, from the Winelands to the Mother City, one of its greatest draw cards is no doubt the Camps Bay region.

One of the many individuals who has been captivated by this coastline’s dramatic contrast between ocean and mountain peaks is avid businessman and property developer, Tony Stern. No stranger to the luxury tourism market – as the designer and former owner of Botswana’s Zambezi Queen floating boutique hotel – Stern, 20 years ago, recognised the need for outstanding accommodation to match the area’s exclusivity.

Comments Tony Stern: “Given the region’s incomparable lifestyle offering, coupled with its popularity amongst visitors, I decided to start purchasing properties with the intention of renovating and rebuilding them to let on a long-term basis. At the same point in time, however, international fashion photographers, film teams and the tourism industry pinpointed Cape Town as a go-to destination and with this, I identified a unique gap in the market for short-term rentals.”

It was at this stage that his vision of providing an alternative to a five-star hotel in the form of self-catering properties was born, and in 1997 that it became a reality when he founded The Blue Views Collection – a pioneer in the luxury self-catering accommodation industry.

This collection, less than two decades later, comprises 29 villas and apartments in proximity to the Bakoven beaches and the Camps Bay beachfront, including one- to seven-bedroom properties and South Beach which offers guests a selection of 19 sea-facing suites. Uniquely, Blue Views owns all the properties and does not represent any other properties that are not part of the collection.

Stern continues: “Over the years, these exclusive, private self-catering accommodation options have grown from strength to strength and have become an extremely popular choice amongst internationals and locals. The demand for this style of accommodation has, in fact, been so great that we decided to open another 10 five-star, sea-facing suites as an extension of the nine existing South Beach apartments, before the end of 2016. The property, which is internationally recognised and has received a noteworthy award from TripAdvisor, offers five-star touches including a concierge service seven days a week, daily housekeeping, as well three swimming pools, a pool bar, bicycles and an in-house gym.”

According to Cape Town Tourism’s official statistics, self-catering accommodation made up 10% of the accommodation type utilised by guests during peak season, from October 2015 to March 2016. Compared to the percentage of guests that stayed at other accommodation choices such as hotels, Airbnb facilities and bed and breakfasts, the demand for self-catering accommodation was recorded at a healthy level, as is indicated in the below table.

Breakdown of guests’ choice of accommodation type in Cape Town during high season, from October 2015 to March 2016:

Breakdown of guests’ choice of accommodation type in Cape Town during high season, from October 2015 to March 2016

Having set a new standard in terms of self-catering accommodation, it is without surprise that the collection of Blue Views properties has seen success from day one and has attracted a diverse cross-section of upmarket clients from across the world.

When it comes to the development of property, the value of reliable business partnerships is highlighted by Stern as an integral part of a brand’s success. He comments: “Amongst other partners, we have had a special relationship with Greg Wright Architects for many years and this has remained strong during the development of the second phase of South Beach.”

Comments Greg Wright at Greg Wright Architects: “Working with Tony is always a collaborative design experience where the rules of the typical client-architect relationship do not apply. He’s always looking for innovative creative solutions that raise the bar, to create new lifestyle experiences for his projects.”

Given the price of property that has skyrocketed over the years in Camps Bay and surrounding areas, Stern suggests that those who wish to follow in his footsteps, explore opportunities further out from the Atlantic Seaboard. He comments: “It would make most financial sense to do so, in my opinion, especially for those who are new to the industry and would like a chance to test the market.”

Stern’s experience in the business world also includes having fulfilled the role of Managing Director at ADDIS – manufacturers of plastic houseware, followed by Managing Director at Paramount Travel. He now focusses his energy on maintaining the excellence that visitors from around the world have come to know and expect at Blue Views and South Beach.