Plett: Luxury holidays just got more convenient

2014-04-06 14:01

This Easter, wealthy South Africans who will ­holiday in the polo-playing town of Plettenberg Bay will be a mere hop, skip and a flight away from the seaside hub.

Plettenberg Bay on the Garden Route is one of the country’s megawealthy seaside ­destinations with patrons who spare no expense for opulent holiday and residential homes.

Now the area’s luxury establishments have spotted a gap in the market. Realising that the mink and manure set is willing to fork out thousands of rands, the establishments are shuttling them to and from the country’s capital cities in style.

Last Friday, the Plettenberg Bay Airport was reopened for commercial use as a new pricy air route between Plett, Cape Town and Joburg.

The new flights?–?operated by CemAir?–?appear to be in ­demand, mainly because the 95km drive to the commercially serviced George Airport is considered by some as “inconvenient”. One-way air tickets will cost R1?500 from Plettenberg Bay to Cape Town and R1?800 from Plettenberg Bay to Joburg.

Bitou Municipality Mayor Memory Booysen said CemAir approached the municipality seven weeks ago and the ­terminal was subsequently given a fresh lick of paint.

The municipality says the SA Civil Aviation Authority sent two inspectors to assess the airport’s readiness to offer the exclusive service.

CemAir said: “This jewel of the Garden Route is appreciated by South African holiday-makers and international guests alike, with the long drive to George Airport resulting in unnecessary inconvenience.”

The five-star Kurland Hotel and Polo Estate, with horse ­stables and four polo fields in a nearby forested valley, has jumped on the mile-high gravy train, offering “Easter ­Extravagance Fly-In” packages starting at just under R10 000 per person sharing for the month of April.

This includes flights, two nights’ accommodation and a ­bottle of champagne on arrival at Plett airport.

A night at the hotel usually costs R 4?750 per person sharing per night for one of the poshest suites during the high season.

The hotel’s owner, Peter Behr, said there was “a great ­demand” for quick transport of wealthy guests to the region.

The packages have only just gone on offer, so it’s too early to tell just how big the demand really is and how many of Kurland’s prospective guests will choose to avoid the schlep of an hour-long journey between George and Plett.

The airport is close to the Robberg Peninsula just outside Plett and guests who choose to fly in will be transferred to the hotel in its pearl-coloured Hyundai Prada that seats five passengers.

“We hope to provide the perfect holiday experience through our new packages with CemAir. It will enable guests to enjoy luxurious accommodation and fine cuisine within the surrounding areas,” Behr said.

Just last weekend, glamour was the order of the day when Kurland hosted an SA Ferrari Club breakfast and a long line of red superluxury cars were parked in the hotel’s driveway.

The hotel’s head chef, Leon Coetzee, has shared a kitchen with celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay and is renowned for his organic cherry tomato sauce.

CemAir operates 10 Beech 1900 twin turboprop aircraft on domestic and international routes. The company introduced transfers to the KwaZulu-Natal resort town of Margate in ­November.

Nervous flyers may be a little concerned by a few incidents in the company’s past. In 2008, two CemAir planes crashed, killing everyone on board.

In May 2008, a CemAir jet crashed in Sudan shortly after takeoff. Two top-ranking government officials died in the crash and Sudan declared three days of national mourning.

The Sudan Tribune reported at the time: “The two engines of the plane failed, hence there was nothing the pilot could do. The crashed plane was provided by CemAir, a South African company, and operated by Flex Air in Kenya.”

In September that year, a CemAir plane chartered for emergency aid work in the Democratic Republic of Congo crashed into mountains in bad weather. The flight was captained by 23-year-old Rudi Knoetze from Johannesburg.

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