Namibia Country Lodges has announced that it will unbundle its lodges and other holdings. This announcement closes an era during which the lodge group forged a strong international reputation, and was instrumental in bringing thousands of tourists to Namibia.
According to Willem de Wet, the group's shareholders decided to focus on other business interests. The various entities are being sold individually, and negotiations are ongoing.
In addition to Twyfelfontein Country Lodge, Solitaire Country Lodge, Opuwo Country Hotel, Namushasha Country Lodge and Tsumkwe Country Hotel, the group will also divest itself of its general stores, the Solitaire bakery, service stations, hunting concessions and aircraft refuelling points. The group has also been involved in operations in the community-based tourism sector.
As the lodges are being sold as going concerns, and lodge staff will remain in place, the group said operation of the lodges is expected to be unaffected in the immediate future. "As the lodges are being operated as going concerns, debtors and creditors are unaffected, guests are being received and marketing of the properties continues," Willem de Wet said.
Auob Lodge, which is located on the property of one of the owners, Johan de Beer, will continue to be operated as it is indefinitely but the group's head office in Windhoek will be shut down and the staff retrenched.
Asked about the possibility of the sale of the group as a single entity, he noted: "The global tourism industry has been affected by poor economic conditions. We sought individuals and groups to take over the operation as one entity, but did not receive strong interest. Once we made the sale of individual properties possible, we received strong interest and good offers."
According to both shareholders, negotiations on the several properties are at an advanced stage and negotiations on other properties are ongoing.
"We will make announcements when sales occur so that the public, and business partnerships we have developed and nurtured, will be kept up to date on developments," De Wet continued.
Johan de Beer will continue in his existing, diversified businesses while Willem de Wet will look for new business ventures.
De Beer regrets leaving the tourism industry as it has been his passion to identify opportunities and develop the properties to the point where they were able to open their doors to guests. He highlighted Twyfelfontein Country Lodge, which was built in difficult terrain and which now stands within the core area of a World Heritage Site.
De Beer said, "For me, every place is more than just a place. Mr De Wet, my staff and I sweated to build the group to what it has become. This is a difficult time for all of us, but we have to move on now."