Sun City’s newest high-end development nears completion

SUN POWERED Sun City’s recent grid-tied solar installation feed includes Lefika as solar energy can be directed across resort as needed

Photo by Creamer Media's Natasha Odendaal

SUN POWERED Sun City’s recent grid-tied solar installation feed includes Lefika as solar energy can be directed across resort as needed

Photo by Creamer Media's Natasha Odendaal

27th October 2023

By: Natasha Odendaal

Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor


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Sun International’s R295-million Lefika Villas development is 85% complete and fully booked one year after breaking ground on the expansion at its iconic Sun City resort, in the North West.

The Lefika project marks the first five-star-plus timeshare on offer at the Sun Vacation Club (SVC) and is the group’s first significant expansion at the resort since the establishment of the Aviary in 2004.

The Lefika Villas comprise 48 double-storey three-bedroom and 10 freestanding double-storey four-bedroom villas, all en suite, as well as an exclusive recreational area with a resort pool, a family restaurant and a children’s play area.

With construction nearing completion – all ten of the four-bedroom villas and 65% of the three-bedroom Villas will be available from November, while the remaining villas will be completed by mid-December – every villa is already fully booked for Christmas and New Year.

“The development could not have come at a more opportune moment. With the Nedbank Golf Challenge starting on November 6 and the end-of-year holidays fast approaching, we are facing unprecedented demand,” said Sun City Resort GM Brett Hoppe during a media tour of the site earlier this month.

The luxury development, which forms the first phase of a larger development envisaged for the SVC, exceeded expectations and surpassed sales predictions.

“By September this year, 11 months after our sod-turning, our entire four-bedroom stock had been sold and the pace of sales for the three-bedroom villas is also tracking way above expectation. Reservations opened on October 5 and that same day, we received reservations from 22% of our members.

“More than 50% of the four-bedroom villas were also booked for the next 12 months,” explains SVC group GM Janita Donaldson, noting that existing members accounted for 40% of Lefika Villas sales, with new members signing up for the first time accounting for the balance of the sales.

Lefika, which means stone in the local SeTswana language and is located adjacent to the stone-walled Itlholanoga heritage site, was designed with as little intrusion of the surrounding natural landscape as possible, with all the units arranged to accommodate existing natural features, topography and views.

A team of 15 architects and designers from Boogertman + Partners and Boogertman Interiors Turnkey spent the past 18 months designing and supervising construction, as well as procuring furniture and fixtures for the building, landscape and the interiors.

“We have also focused on highlighting the crafts and cultural heritage from the North West province. The natural environment was used as a driving factor in all decisions and influenced the colour and material palette, from the external natural stone walls to the interior art, soft furnishings, cutlery and crockery, creating a unique and truly contextual aesthetic,” said Boogertman + Partners Architectural team manager Lila Gouws, who hiked the site together with landscape architect Mariska Els for two days to gain an understanding of its ‘sense of place’.

Very site-specific natural materials were used in the design and procurement process, including natural stone from the site for the walls, concrete tables, dark wood to emulate bark of the trees, blown glass, timber beads, felt and jute in the interiors.

All villas have a closed combustion fireplace, an outdoor entertainment deck with braai and entertainment area, while the four-bedroom villas each boast their own private plunge pool and a fire pit, Hoppe noted.

Two of the three-bedroom villas have been designed for the mobility impaired, custom-made to be wheelchair-friendly, with grab handles and height of basins adapted and emergency buttons installed within the villas to call should assistance be required.

Numerous green design principles have been implemented in the building of Lefika Villas to achieve optimal interior comfort and energy efficiency, including the orientation of the villas, which, together with thick stone walls, thermal insulation to underside floors and on top of roof slabs, along with large overhangs, create the ideal thermal mass.

Water saving sanitary fittings with energy efficient cold start taps, heat pumps for effective water heating and the use of light-emitting diode lightings all contribute to the energy efficiency of the villas.

Further, as part of water conservation efforts, wastewater from Lefika ablution and bathroom facilities will be treated using the resort’s wastewater treatment plant, and will be recycled into grey water and used for irrigation all around Lefika Villas.

“In this way, we will achieve a significant saving on freshwater that would otherwise have to be used for irrigation. Currently, the resort treats about two-millions litres of water which is reused for irrigating gardens and the two golf courses,” said Sun City Resort sustainability manager Lwazi Mswelanto.

Waste at Lefika is also collected and sorted at the resort’s waste recovery yard, with all recyclable waste recycled and food waste processed into compost using the Biobin technology.

In addition, Sun City’s recent grid-tied solar installation feed includes Lefika as solar energy can be directed across the resort as needed.

The R16-million, grid-tied, 1.4 MW installed capacity system, with 2 584, 550 W monocrystalline solar photovoltaic modules, was installed on the roof of Sun City’s conference and entertainment centre earlier this year to reduce the resort’s reliance on South Africa’s electricity grid.

The system, providing 10% to 15% of Sun City’s electricity needs, has delivered above expectations, even though peak production will only be reached in mid-December, said Hoppe during a media tour of the rooftop plant.

Initially, R3.2-million in yearly net savings was projected; however, data acquired from the plant’s intelligent consumption dashboard, operated by installer Tsebo Energy Solutions, shows that 413 871 kWh in energy savings was achieved over the past two months, equating to savings of more than R1-million, considering both energy and demand reductions, explained Tsebo Facilities Solutions CEO Aubrey McElnea.

A further 209 panels are ready to be installed, bringing installed capacity to just under 1.6 MW.

Following this, Sun City is working on a large-scale project that will take the resort off the national grid entirely, while adding about 20% to 30% in excess of its electricity requirements.

“We are deep into the evaluation phase of that particular project and we will have the evaluation phase completed by the end of December,” Hoppe explained, highlighting the North West province where the resort is based is the second most productive in terms of solar capacity in the country after the Northern Cape.

Tsebo Energy Solutions senior operations engineer TM Lesetla said that the installed plant, equipped with 12 newly installed 112 kW inverters tied into Sun City’s internal electrical network, will displace an equivalent of 2 367 571 kWh yield a year, with the highest levels of energy production expected in nine out of the 12 months.

The installation of the solar plant created 23 job opportunities for individuals from the local community, who were employed on a contract basis for a period of four months to remove about 12 600 m2 of tiles and install more than 2 500 solar modules on the conference facility’s roof.

During the construction of the Lefika Villas, meanwhile, 100% South African suppliers and 95% South African products were used, with 13 local fine artists’ work used across the reception and villas.

There were 1 168 contractors on site during construction and 30% local spend was maintained by using about 50 subcontractors, service providers and local labour.

Materials used for the first phase include 2.2-million bricks, 4 200 m³ concrete and 370 t of steel.

Edited by Martin Zhuwakinyu
Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor




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