Very few luxury home options come with a royal address and an authentic wildlife safari experience, but that’s exactly what Thanda Royal Residences promises.

Located in the heart of the Zulu Kingdom, Thanda Royal Residences is a private sanctuary and a one-of-a-kind living experience that is founded and offered by Swedish billionaires and philanthropists, Christin and Dan Olofsson. Making it extra special, the couple’s extended invitation to the luxury lodges are shared by the reigning King of the Zulu Nation, His Majesty King Zwelithini Goodwill kaBhekuzulu, ruler of the Zulu Kingdom.

LUXUO sits down with Pierre Delvaux, the CEO of Thanda Group (including Thanda Safari and Thanda Island), who tells us more about the aims and concept behind the beautiful Thanda Royal Residences and gives us an insight into the unique luxury living project.

LUXUO: What makes THANDA Royal Residence estate a truly iconic project rarely heard of?
Pierre Delvaux, CEO of Thanda Group: It is indeed an opportunity that very rarely comes around. First of all, it is underwritten by the Swedish billionaires, Dan and Christin Olofsson of Malmo, Sweden, who are the chairman and owner of Sigma AB in Europe. Having represented their family and observed their lifestyle for the past 15 years, the Thanda Royal Residence project was modelled around offering other discerning investors a taste of their unbelievable lifestyle. This includes a rich life quality with their family and friends, giving back through philanthropic projects in Africa to educate and empower under impoverished communities, pioneering conservation and endangered wildlife protection programmes, and basically living the life of King and Queen under the beautiful African sun.

Secondly, the King of the Zulu Nation, His Majesty King Zwelithini Goodwill kaBhekuzulu, Head of State of KwaZulu Natal, is a founding member of the project and residence owner. This is the first of its kind in Africa, as his patronage and involvement in the Royal Residence Estate, makes it a truly “royal” residential address. Thirdly, the land spanning some 14,000 ha is protected under the environmental law as a wilderness sanctuary and game reserve. This means that the real estate value is exceptional and continues to appreciate and increase each year, far more than another other piece of land in South Africa.

Fourthly, by owning a Residence within this award-winning member of the Leading Hotels of the World, you get a lifetime of rights to traverse over a vast tract of wilderness land, fully stocked with all of the Big 5 wildlife and game that is leased from the Zulu King. This means that you are not just buying a luxury residence In South Africa, but you are buying into the experience whereby buyers, their children, family and friends, can experience the rich culture of the Monarch and the Zulu nation, as well as the opportunity to appreciate the wild animals of Africa for the rest of your life. Lastly, the project is a legacy project that can be left to your children and grandchildren. The power of association of having some of the world’s wealthiest and influential philanthropists as members of this very elite and exclusive club of only 44 members in total, means that you share the pristine address with others who are giving back from their wealth, leaving a legacy whilst living the life of their dreams in a very safe, secure and beautiful environment.

How did you come up with this unique concept and in what ways are you partnering with the Royal Zulu family members?

The unique concept is really a duplication of what I have observed for the past 15 years, whilst representing and acting for the Dan and Christin Olofsson family. We are now offering this lifestyle, investment and humbling philanthropic opportunity to others who wish to live like Kings and Queens, whilst doing good by giving back and making a difference. The Royal family are members, along with Dan and Christin Olofsson and myself. I grew up on the property and have enjoyed a lifetime of association with the Zulu Monarch, and, since my adulthood, with the present reigning Zulu King. This means that he too will have one of his own palaces within the estate. Thanda also leases vast tracts of land from his Royal Trust which it manages on his behalf. This has been declared a protected reserve meaning that no one can ever change the land status nor infringe on your full title, whole ownership rights of land that are entrenched in this proclamation of protection. The Zulu nation are thus our partners, friends, neighbours as well as beneficiaries of philanthropic ventures.

What specific actions did you take in terms of wildlife conservation and environmental conservation in general (eco-friendly, specific construction materials being used, etc)?

Everything that Thanda does is centered around responsible environmental development and management. Thanda Island ( which opened late last year, is a typical example of a self-sustaining, eco-friendly and responsible tourism development within a protected marine reserve in Tanzania, East Africa. In South Africa, Thanda has been at the forefront of wildlife conservation for more than 15 years. This has included the endangered Wild Dog protection programme, the endangered Cheetah protection programme, Elephant Breeding programmes and the most important being the Rhino, especially the endangered Black Rhino protection programme. Thanda is a founder member of Project Rhino which was established by Government Parks, leading KwaZulu Natal NGO’s and land owners who own Rhino, in an effort to do something about the senseless killing of our Rhino.

Royal Residence members will enjoy the same benefits as the existing Thanda Swedish owners get to enjoy in terms of supporting our various conservation programmes. The construction footprint and development methods include the latest trends for eco-friendly residences. There are no internal fences or boundaries within the estate, and plain, non-dangerous game will be able to roam freely within the estate, giving members a unique experience of freedom under the African sky.

We understand that there are 40 magnificent villas available for sale with all the specific customizing features that can go with each of them. Can you elaborate more on this?

Thanda Royal Residences comprise 44 members or Villas in total. The Zulu King, the Olofsson family as well as my family, make up the first 3 founder members out of a total of 10 initial founder members. Having launched the project this month, we only have 4 Founder Members currently available before the first phase is sold out. Founder Members get a discounted purchase price with special benefits that other members will not have nor enjoy. Then there are 34 ordinary members who will own residences within the estate, making it a total of 44. Buyers get 3 primary choices of Villas, namely the standard 4 bedroom 350 sqm Villa, the 5 bedroom 500 sqm Villa, and then the flagship 850 sqm Villa. Each option comes with a “toolbox” of additional extras that owners can choose from in order to improve each option in terms of personal preferences. Each Villa boats state of the art luxuries and lifestyle features, expertly crafted to integrate with the lifestyle choices of discerning investors.

The land range sold along with a villa can vary in size from 1 to more than 42 hectares. What usage would you recommend to a discerning client going for 42 hectares plot of land?

The size of each plot of land is determined in order to maximize and optimize privacy, exclusivity and magnificent view. Hence, each plot size is different as the land covers deep valleys, river frontage, mountainous ridges and steep elevated views of the skyline in the distance. The plot has a pre-determined Villa footprint that has been carefully selected and chosen to ensure that the location is in the best possible place. The remaining extent of land will be natural bush. No other development is permitted and no internal fences or boundaries are permitted. This means that your Villa is truly secluded and set in a private, discreet and breathtaking location within the entire estate.

Seen from an Asian based investor perspective, what are the incentives and benefits in investing in South Africa? How secured and efficient is the buying process (legal framework and paperwork such as title deeds, fees to be disbursed, etc)?

The incentives of buying in South Africa is primarily due to the reality that Africa as a continent is rising, economically, socially and from a geo-political perspective. South Africa is considered the engine room of Sub-Saraha Africa, and with its developed and established infrastructure, robust constitution, tested legal justice system and entrenched land ownership rights for individuals. From an economic perspective, vast tracts of very fertile undeveloped land, ideal for agriculture, provides the world with future food security along with an abundance of water resources. The weather is considered amongst the best in the world in terms of the different season of the year with its ideal climate for great outdoor lifestyle living.

Having the Zulu King as a member, traversing his Royal Lands where members can view all of the naturally occurring game, including the “big 5”, means that by having the “Head of State” of our Province, coupled to an excellent national constitution, security and peace of mind are synonymous with Thanda Royal Residences. Individual land ownership rights are entrenched in the constitution and this is something that can give all investors peace of mind. The legal frame work for property ownership is thus secure, sustainable, credible and simple to understand. There are NO restrictions on foreign ownership of residential land in South Africa. Buyers will have their title deeds that they can leave to future generations by means of ownership through the Home Owners Association of 44 members.

Lastly, the capital appreciation on up market, exclusive protected land, is very attractive with annual returns outperforming most markets in the world. A team of highly competent, credible professionals of exceptional integrity will assist buyers to navigate their way through ownership structures, ideal tax planning, estate planning and money transfers.

Seen from an Asian based investor perspective, what are the incentives and benefits in investing in THANDA Royal Residence?

Asia is investing more money into Africa and Southern African than any other region. Asia’s future is interlinked with Africa, with its vase agricultural resources and potential for food security and water supply, mineral wealth, cultural wealth and a strategic partnership through membership of BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa). Asia is looking to diversify their investment portfolios, and all indicators are that massive infrastructure investment and development in Southern Africa out of Asia will bring about future prosperity and unique and impressive growth.

Do you promote THANDA Royal Residence more like an opportunistic investment or a unique family holiday destination? What would be the expected R.O.I?

Thanda Royal Residences is a unique lifestyle opportunity, where wealthy families can live their lives like Kings and Queens in South Africa, whilst also going good through combined philanthropic ventures and programmes. Secondly, there is the power of association with other global wealthy members from around the world in one discreet, unique, private residence club. The real estate returns on the land and villa are also exceptional based on the model of the existing Villa belonging to the Olofsson family that was built in 2003 on Thanda. Members also have the opportunity to place their Villas in a rental pool, which will enable them to general rental returns on their investment. The ROI will depend on what Villa choice they go for, and the participation in the rental pool. However, it is estimated that returns of about 6 – 8 % excluding land appreciation would be fair to assume.

You are now promoting and selling Phase 1: what is the plan for Phase 2?

Phase two will only be started once phase one is fully sold out. This is to minimize any disturbance to the other residences in the estate. Phase 2 will be done in two tranches depending on the level of interest. We expect that as soon as phase one starts construction early next year, interest in phase 2 will be great.

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