Kevin Pietersen’s Game Viewing Lodge adjoining Kruger Park first underlying listing for AltVest, CTSE’s disruptive newcomer

Former England cricket captain Kevin Pietersen’s transformation from athlete to entrepreneur takes another step this month when 50% of his Umganu Lodge will become available to retail investors in the first underlying listing of the CTSE’s newcomer AltVest. In this podcast, Pietersen tells BizNews editor Alec Hogg the story of how he came to own the R35m lodge and why he sees the team at disruptive AltVest as kindred spirits.

On the Umganu Lodge

Our family wanted a home in South Africa. We love the bush. I do a lot of conservation work in South Africa with some pretty amazing people. We work hand in hand with South African National Parks, so we would do quite a bit of work in the Kruger. My wife came across the opportunity to purchase land on the banks of the Sabie River in the Kruger. This was 2015 or 2016 and we jumped at the opportunity. We were on the lookout for something. I am a Durban boy, but we love wildlife and wanted to bring our kids up with animals. So, we were desperate to get our hands on it. Luckily, we managed to secure the piece of land and then fulfill a lifelong ambition of building a house in Africa. We have done a couple of projects in the UK. My wife loves property and we wanted to do it uniquely South African in the bush; with thatch and all the trimmings, everything you can put into something that is pretty luxurious in the bush. We doubled our hand and off we went. We got hold of a pretty cool project and completed it just before Covid-19. It has been our family home ever since. We have huge sentimental value. It is something we will keep in the family forever. It’s a beautiful place. The pictures and video don’t do it justice.

On the Leopard Creek Country Club

Leopard Creek is an amazing place. I’m a member and play all my golf at Leopard Creek. I absolutely love the place. It is off the charts, it’s beautiful. Mr Rupert has done something beyond what you can imagine. I am very lucky that I get to spend a lot of time there. But yeah, just that ability to be on the Sabie River, the most densely populated river for leopard anywhere in the world. We have a beautiful corridor right next to the main suite, which is a gully line from the Sabie River up into the back. There are no fences into the Kruger. The stuff that comes by, the stuff we’ve seen just lying in bed is pretty special. So, we are very happy where we are located and incredibly proud of the job we’ve done getting what we’ve got. It is not a hotel, it’s a stand-alone villa where you and your buddies or you and your family and friends can go and spend a week or 10 days there. That is why it’s been so good during Covid-19 because, in the hotel industry – a place like the one I am sitting at in India now – there are people all along the corridor. You are having breakfast with different people whereas in a stand-alone villa, you set your own rules, you live by them and enjoy them.

On service delivery at the Umganu Lodge

It is fully serviced and you can self-cater. South Africans like self-catering but for our international guests, the chef comes in and it’s fully catered. They do not need to lift a finger; breakfast, lunch, dinner, game drives, drinking, swimming pools heated to whatever temperature you want them to be heated to. There are two pools, all the bells and whistles: fibre, Wi-Fi, the lot. So, it’s a pretty cool joint.

On selling shares in Umganu Lodge through AltVest

I like the people and their vision. I have been a pretty disruptive character and innovative in my career. I have wanted to push the bar out; I like expansion and exploring new things. So, for me to partner with AltVest through the model they are working towards, came as an opportunity for expansion. I don’t just want to tread water. I want to be able to build a brand, build a portfolio and grow the business. I could easily have said I’ll sit there and just rest on the occupancy that we’ve got. However, when you bring in a partner like AltVest and you bring a community, you can start to see real-life numbers. Hopefully, we’ll see a huge increase in the number of nights it’s booked for, through the community, through people who are starting to become aware of Umganu. For us, it was a win and it will be exciting to see what progress and expansion does happen.

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