12 Things You Didn’t Know About South African Business Magnate Sol Kerzner
South African business magnate Sol Kerzner has had a profound influence on the tourism industries of South Africa, Mauritius, the Maldives, Dubai, Morocco and the Bahamas through his world-class resorts and hotels.
Described as South Africa’s Donald Trump, but so far without ambitions to lead any nation, his controversial nature and ability to successfully develop resort masterpieces globally has ensured his place in the spotlight throughout the years.
Estimated to have a net worth of $400 million, he has been married numerous times and was recognised by the Queen of Britain.
The 81-year-old is the innovative property developer of the Atlantis Resort in the Bahamas and Dubai, as well as South Africa’s Sun City, which included four hotels, a man-made lake, two golf courses, an entertainment center, over 1 million hand-planted trees, a casino, two golf courses, and numerous water rides and attractions.
We take a closer look at 12 things you may not know about legendary hotel and resort developer, Sol Kerzner.
Beginnings in the city of gold
Born in Johannesburg in 1935, Sol was the youngest of four children from a family of Jewish Lithuanian immigrants in South Africa. He worked hard and after qualifying as an accountant he began to build his empire from the ground up.
Bought his first hotel in 1960
The man now known as the ‘Sun King’ bought his first hotel in 1960, The Palace Hotel in Durban, finding success with that property. He then went on to build South Africa’s first five star graded hotel in Umhlanga, opening the Beverly Hills Hotel in December 1964.
Put South Africa on the tourist map
Kerzner helped put South Africa on the tourist map, developing some of the country’s top hotel brands — Southern Sun and Sun International. He developed Sun City and The Palace of the Lost City into globally recognised brands.
American Gaming Hall of Fame
Kerzner was the first non-American to be inducted into the U.S. Gaming Hall of Fame, thanks to his efforts to build some of the most incredible casino and gaming resorts in the world, including the Mohegan Sun gaming resort in Connecticut, which was then one of the two largest gaming and entertainment resorts in the United States.
Married four times
Kerzner’s love life has been rocky and constantly evolving, and as a result he has been married four times. His first wife was Maureen Adler, with which he had three children, before two more children with Shirley Bestbier. His third wife was Miss World 1974, Anneline Kriel, and in 2000 he married his fourth wife, model Heather Murphy, but they divorced 11 years later.
Tragedy struck in 2006
In October 2006, tragedy struck, as Kerzner’s son, Howard ‘Butch’ Kerzner, was involved in a helicopter crash in Puerto Plata in the Dominican Republic. He died due to injuries sustained from the accident, and his father, who was grooming Butch to take over the company, was crushed by his passing.
Atlantis Resorts in the Bahamas and Dubai
In 1994, Kerzner purchased the bankrupt Paradise Island Resort in The Bahamas, turning to into a success by expanding it into a 2,300-room resort and casino that included the world’s largest man-made marine habitat and the largest casino entertainment centre in the Caribbean. Kerzner then built the Atlantis The Palm in Dubai as a water-themed resort at the cost of around $1.5 billion.
Spent $20 million on hotel launch party
Kerzner’s launch parties are legendary, and the one he threw for the launch of the Dubai Atlantis Resort fit that mould. After investing $1.5 billion in the project, he spent a further $20 million to launch the resort, with the party was shown live on CNN and Sky Broadcast.
Sold Kerzner International in 2014
In 2014 Kerzner sold his family interests in Kerzner International Holdings to Investment Corporation of Dubai. He founded the company 22 years ago after moving from South Africa to London, but decided it was time to sell a brand that has become globally iconic.
Heart attack in 1989
In 1989 the high octane and stressful life that Kerzner was living caught up with him, and he suffered a heart attack. Thankfully, he made a full recovery, after giving up his 60-cigarettes-a-day habit, and his health has been fairly good ever since.
The South African businessman received an honorary knighthood from Queen Elizabeth in 2010 after being nominated by the Bahamas government as the country’s largest employer.
Kerzner International’s first American property
In recent news the Dubai-based resort operator and developer which still bears the founder’s name, Kerzner International Holdings, expects to manage its first Atlantis property on the island of O’ahu, Hawaii.
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