Obituary: property and leisure developer Bram Beekman

2011-01-19 00:00

BRAM Beekman, the co-founder and chair of the Beekman Group, a major force in the South Coast property and leisure industry, died at the age of 66 on Saturday.

He leaves an impressive legacy in the form of the Beekman Brothers Group based in Port Shepstone, which he formed with his younger brother John.

Beekman leaves his wife of 45 years, Antoinette, two children and three grandchildren.

Born in Rotterdam in Holland in 1944, Beekman moved to South Africa with his family in 1948. They settled first in the highveld town of Ermelo and then in Orange Grove, Johannesburg, and the brothers were sent to Helpmekaar for their schooling.

Bram and John started out working for their father in his painting business and then went to work for Hyster-Africa, a forklift company.

In 1970 they decided to form their own company, Countrywide Spray and Bake, a spray-painting business and paint factory that would become Beekman Brothers Painting.

Despite their success, the Beekman brothers decided to sell this business as they felt that they were not spending enough quality time with their families.

In 1980 they moved to Durban where they entered the timeshare industry. Their first development at Banana Beach was affiliated to RCI (UK), which set the scene for the official launch in 1981 of the Beekman Brothers Group.

This was followed by six Suntide timeshare resorts, ending with Suntide Lodge at Qunu Falls.

During 1992, when the seven resorts were 90% sold out, they began to develop a points-based club, offering a unique and flexible points system, and in 1994 the Holiday Club was established in South Africa and expanded into Botswana and Zimbabwe.

The membership base is nearing 100 000 and still growing, with a staff complement of about 780.

The club has acquired investments in resorts throughout Southern Africa and developed its own quality resorts in the most popular holiday areas in the country.

As a result of its dynamic new idea the group received the Most Enrolments Award from RCI in 1993, an award it was to receive a further 13 times between 1996 and 2010.

They were awarded the Developer of the Year five times between 1998 and 2007, with both Bram and John being inducted into the RCI Hall of Fame.

The achievements of the group were soon noticed by major players in the industry.

To add more diversity and strength, the group welcomed the commercial property portfolio to its asset management division in in 2002 and later acquired a high-end residential portfolio.

More recently, the group launched the Beekman Managed Portfolio, which caters for a leisure investment opportunity that is claimed to have the potential to deliver both capital growth and rental returns.

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