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R27m lodge for Platfontein

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The farmhouse was left vandalised and in a derelict state, where it was overgrown with weeds and the roof had caved in

Picture: Danie van der Lith

THE PLATFONTEIN farmhouse that was left to rack and ruin is expected to be up and running as a lodge and conference centre before the end of the year following a
R27 million revamp.

The national Department of Tourism funded the construction, which is complete and only finishing touches still need to be done.

The lodge will be under the stewardship of International Convention Solutions (ICS), on behalf of the Platfontein Communal Property Association (CPA).

The managing director of ICS, Clarissa Carstens, stated that the 12-bed facility should be operational by the end of October.

“The lodge will be of a four star grading standard and will be equipped with wi-fi. We have signed a 15-year lease where we will rent out the premises in our private capacity and pay a portion of income generated to the CPA. The conference centre will be able to accommodate 500 people,” said Carstens.

The lodge, which is situated on the Platfontein farm owned by the !Xun and Khwe communities, was placed under investigation after it was rocked by allegations in 2016 that senior members of the CPA were involved in the disappearance of R3.5 million that was meant for the facility.

The money paid over by provincial government in 2008 to upgrade the farmhouse – to include a lodge, restaurant, bar, tea garden, cultural village and arts and crafts centre – never went where it was intended.

The farmhouse was left vandalised and in a derelict state, where it was overgrown with weeds and the roof had caved in.

Livestock and game that was donated to turn the facility into a tourist attraction also disappeared from the farm.

In 2013, the Minister of Tourism had indicated that R9.5 million had been allocated to the Northern Cape Platfontein lodge project to convert the farmhouse into a 10-bed safari lodge, improve fencing and create a picnic camp and reception area.

The provincial Department of Finance, Economic Affairs and Tourism yesterday referred media enquiries to the national Department of Tourism, who in turn referred the enquiry to Working for the Tourism Team, where no contact details could be traced.

According to an inside source, ICS was chosen as the service provider after an expression of interest was advertised.

“A tourism management company had to be appointed as the Platfontein community do not have the business know-how to operate a hospitality facility. The aim is to share skills, mentor and ultimately hand over the facility to the community. In terms of the contract, staff will have to be employed from the local community.”

He stated that based on the experience of ICS, in managing the Mittah Seperepere Convention Centre, they were selected as the best candidate.

“The service provider will have to pay for their own expenses such as water and lights and they will have to bring in their finances. They will rent the premises from the CPA and will not be paid by the Department of Tourism.”

He indicated that they were still finalising the contract as well as the terms of agreement between ICS and the CPA, including the profit sharing contract.

“The contractor will be able to give input on how the facility should look. Construction is complete and the lodge should open its doors before the end of the year.”

He added that a hunters and game lodge, game drives and hunting facilities would be incorporated as part of the tourist attraction.

“The project aims to benefit the community.”