A premier holiday destination on the north coast is rapidly transforming into a bustling haven for investors
Credited for decades as the premier holiday destination on the KwaZuluNatal north coast, the once sleepy town of Ballito is rapidly shrugging off that reputation to emerge as an investors’ paradise.
The land on the top of the hillside close to the N2 national freeway has opened up for development in the past decade, wholly transforming this quiet seaside town into a bustling haven of investment, property development and commercial mania.
However, the traditional village located on the beachfront, and serviced by Compensation Beach Road as its premier transport route, has retained its genteel, holiday vibe and still offers business opportunities for investors and independent business owners looking for a less frenetic lifestyle within walking distance of the warm Indian Ocean.
Established in 1954 as a private township, Ballito is about 40km north of Durban and falls within the KwaDukuza local municipality and iLembe district municipality. The town’s name was allegedly borrowed from a glossy advertisement for Ballito hosiery made by the British St Alban’s company of the same name, while the land was originally part of the Compensation Beach sugar farm owned by Basil Townsend.
When an advert was printed in The Sunday Tribune in 1954 inviting potential investors to the north coast, land in Ballito Bay (Ballitoville) was being sold from about R800 (then £395), and within a decade the zonings for Ballitoville’s residential buildings, hotels and a caravan park had already been incorporated into the town plan known as Compensation Beach.
HBR Projects director Horst Keil says Ballito is growing at an unprecedented rate, driven largely by its prized northern location, proximity to King Shaka International Airport and Dube TradePort, along with steady demand for accommodation and retail property as more families opt to settle in the town.
“A good gauge of growth is always retail demand. The addition of the mega Ballito Junction Mall to existing offerings at Ballito Lifestyle Centre speaks volumes. Not only does the centre imply a growing retail market, but clearly the 1 500 people employed there need homes,” he says.
ComProp director Louise Gibson says the commercial property specialist company anticipates the next commercial boom in Ballito to follow the successful wave of existing and new residential estates developed in the town. Established in 2005, ComProp specialises in commercial and industrial property sales, rentals, management, marketing and maintenance covering the Ballito, north coast, Umhlanga and Zululand areas.
Among the latest developments happening in the traditional Ballito town is a luxury apartment complex located at 21 Sandra Road, and called 21 Sandra. Labelled “modern coastal living”, the advertising board says the development will include two and three-bedroom apartments within walking distance of the Ballito Ski Boat Club and the ocean.
Investors and residents will also have access to Ballito night life, laundry services, shopping and award-winning restaurants literally on their doorstep.
Many businesses are geared to appeal to holidaymakers
Coco de Mer Boutique Hotel
This Afro-Bali-styled boutique hotel boasts a fusion of interior design reflecting its location between natural forest and the Indian Ocean on the Ballito beachfront. The owner-managed establishment prides itself on close personal interaction with guests and patrons with 19 luxury suites offering views over the Indian Ocean or the forest.
Monkey Bay Backpackers Lodge
The award-winning Monkey Bay Backpackers is the closest budget lodge to the King Shaka International Airport. The hillside setting lends itself to the spirit of adventure, African style, with linked terraces on which stand the main house, dorm rooms, tree house, camping sites, bar and chill-out zones.
Dolphin Holiday Resort
This family-run resort, surrounded by sandy beaches off which dolphins frequently frolic and based in a sub-tropical forest-like setting, is a camping and log cabin-based self-catering facility offering patrons peace and tranquillity.
La Montagne Hotel Overlooking Willard Beach in Ballito, this apartment hotel belongs to the Hotel First Group and offers studios and one, two and three-bedroom apartment holiday accommodation.
Dining options beyond self-catering available in the apartments include a seafood restaurant, bar and cafe.
Crush Night Club
An upmarket nightclub, Crush Night Club operates throughout the year. Entry is strictly over-18, in line with South African alcohol laws and over-23 for the Sky Lounge facility.
Tourism industry offers opportunities
As a traditional seaside town, some of Ballito’s most obvious business opportunities are within the tourism industry. These include a wide range of options from accommodation (luxury boutique hotels to backpackers or camping) to cafes, restaurants and pubs, and independent shops selling souvenirs as well as essential holiday goods.
The dramatic growth in Ballito, specifically on land above the traditional town and close to the N2 national freeway, means there has been a growth in demand for reputable, reliable estate agents. These agencies need to be fully conversant in residential, commercial and industrial property opportunities and legislation as investors seek out the opportunities afforded when virgin land comes to the market, and the established town consequently experiences an economic boom.
While land in the traditional Ballito beach-side town area is limited, there are pockets available for redevelopment. Older properties may come to the market and offer the chance for investors to establish high-density developments – commercial, residential and/or mixed-use – on that land. The growth of the Ballito seaside accommodation scene in the 1970s and 1980s, coupled with the dramatic developments higher up the hill in the past two decades, demonstrates the appetite the town has for expansion.