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Fancourt Country Club History

Opened as a golf resort and luxury hotel in 1990, Fancourt was to fall into liquidation in 1992 as a result of the fallout from the Masterbond banking failure. The liquidators decided to continue to operate while prospective buyers were sought. While there was considerable interest from both local and overseas consortiums in this prestigious development, Fancourt Hotel and Country Club Estate was destined to be purchased by Dr and Mrs Plattner, their offer being accepted two months prior to the democratic elections in South Africa in 1994.

Road engineer Henry Fancourt White built the original family home Blanco House after Sir John Montagu, Colonial Secretary of the Cape Colony at the time, brought him to South Africa from Australia to build the Montagu Pass over the Outeniqua Mountains.

The pass was opened in 1848, but it was only 11 years later that White decided to settle in the village of Blanco, which had come into existence when the pass was being built. After the death of both Henry White and his wife, the property was sold and renamed Homewood by one of the owners – the name it was to retain for 24 years. The old home was subsequently named Fancourt in 1903, in memory of Henry Fancourt White, when it reverted to the White family through Henry’s son, Ernest Montagu (named after Sir John Montagu). Ernest, who was nine years old when his father died, was to die tragically from mushroom poisoning in his beloved home.

Fancourt had two owners who treated it with love and care after the death of Ernest (Monty) White. Then followed 30 years during which time the property fell into disrepair. More recent history tells us of the superb restoration of the estate carried out by world-famous brain surgeon Dr Roland Krynauw, and less happily its liquidation in 1992 under developer André Pieterse’s ownership. Fancourt was in liquidation for 18 months, but continued to be operational while potential buyers were sought. Dr Hasso and Mrs Sabine Plattner visited the resort in January 1994, and after this first visit decided to purchase the property, although it would be another eight months before the sale was finalised, due to complications associated with the sale out of liquidation.

At the time of the purchase, the property consisted of a 100-bedroom hotel, the Henry Fancourt White bar and restaurant, the clubhouse housing the reception area, members’ bar, lounge and the Grill Room restaurant; a driving range and golf academy building; 45 lodges, 15 of which were completed and a number of which were in various stages of completion; some sold and some not. The staff complement had dwindled to 196. The immediate requirements were to implement plans to restore confidence in the resort, especially as far as the unfinished real estate was concerned, and to establish the parameters for the completion of projected facilities.

The strategy plan made provision for the completion of building work in progress with the unfinished lodges and new facilities taking precedence. To facilitate this we closed the hotel for a period of three months to allow the building to advance without interference and to minimise inconvenience to members. At the same time, an intensive programme of staff development and training was introduced.

“Following the 18-month holding patterns during liquidation the sudden activity and the acknowledgement of our moving ahead made for a truly exciting period. Contractors, architects, security and staff were re-appointed and Fancourt was suddenly a hive of activity once again,” says Ingrid Diesel.

The completion of the 30 unfinished lodges and the subsequent transfer of ownership to anxious members was a major coup for the new owners. The Health & Beauty and Leisure Centres were completed simultaneously. The Health & Beauty pavilion, consisting of an indoor heated Roman Bath, a fully equipped gymnasium and several beauty treatment areas, also provided the opportunity to develop an extra restaurant overlooking the first tee of the Outeniqua Course. The Leisure Centre houses a cinema, conference area, squash court and a spacious halfway house for the Montagu Course. To add sparkle to the area a brand new outdoor pool was built.

A major addition to the facilities at this time was the Conference Centre, which would encourage increased hotel occupancy. The exceptional banqueting kitchen is regarded as one of the finest conference kitchens in South Africa, while the state-of-the-art video conferencing facility, sound system and lighting matched any previously seen in the country.

Less obvious to the visitor and even to the members were the new caddie shack, the golf cart barn and the personnel building, which boasted a modern staff canteen and staff offices as well as the hotel laundry. At this time a refurbishment of the interior of the Manor House rooms and the Garden Suites was undertaken with the stylish décor drawing attention to Sabine Plattner’s excellent taste, while the landscaping within the gates of the estate reflected her considerable love of flowers and gardens.

In the meantime, a reputable hospitality training company was retained to implement standards in the hotel. The three months of closure allowed for an intensive development of service levels necessary to achieve the owners’ goal of attaining the ‘number one resort’ accolade. This period also provided the perfect opportunity to introduce the staff to a culture of belonging to a family – The Fancourt Family – which has been at the heart of developments over the past 10 years.

Development continued unabated and the hotel was re-opened with two important amenities being added in 1996 and 1997 to further enhance Fancourt’s reputation as one of the most multi-faceted resorts in Africa. Hasso Plattner hit the opening drive on the new Outeniqua Course on 27 March 1997 when nine holes were added to the existing 27-hole Montagu Course, resulting in Fancourt boasting two exceptional 18-hole courses.

Meanwhile, plans to open a teaching facility with developing and beginner golfers in mind took root when a fine four-hole golf academy was opened in May 1998.

Such remarkable developments gave confidence to potential property buyers and a boom in sales resultedin demand exceeding supply. To cater for this ever-increasing interest in residential properties, construction of a new thatched-design residential village was implemented in 1996. Service roads and infrastructure complete, the owners embarked on what at the time appeared to be a risky decision to build over 50 residential homes, prior to any sales being concluded, in order to minimise disruption to the comfort of existing residents.
2020 World Golf Awards – Africa’s Best Golf Hotel
World Golf Awards – South Africa’s Best Golf Hotel
2019 World Golf Awards – Africa’s Best Golf Hotel
World Travel Awards – South Africa’s Leading Resort
2018 Best International Golf Resort 2018 by Golf Digest ; IAGTO’S Golf Resort of the Year Award 2018
2017 South Africa’s Best Golf Hotel 2017 By World Golf Awards
2016 Global winner of Luxury Golf Resorts and Country Winner Luxury Garden Resort by World Luxury Hotels at the end of 2016.
2015 Fancourt selected as a member of the 200 prestigious Leading Hotels of the World
The Ernie Els Foundation and Fancourt Foundation amalgamated to form the Ernie Els & Fancourt Foundation (EEFF).
2014 Fancourt celebrates 21rst Anniversary
Monet’s Opens and the Spa is given a make-over with a Roman theme.
World Boutique Hotel Award – Manor House – Africa’s Best Romantic Retreat
The Links is re-certified in the Audubon Co-operative Sanctuary Program for Golf Courses
2013 The Links is ranked No. 1 in South Africa by Golf Digest SA
Fancourt receives World Luxury Travel Award
Fancourt Restaurants receive Diamond Award from Diner’s Club International for its Wine List
La Cantina rated Best Hotel Restaurant in the CXPress Garden Route Culinary Awards
2012 The Links is re-certified in the Audubon Co-operative Sanctuary Program for Golf Courses
Fancourt Wine List receives a Diamond Award from Diner’s Club International
2011 The Links was ranked in Top 100 golf courses by Golf Digest as the Top course in Africa
Fancourt was listed on CNNGo as world’s Top 10 Golf Resorts
2010 The Links was ranked No. 1 in South Africa by Golf Digest
The Links achieved Audubon Co-operative Sanctuary status, only one of two courses in South Africa
The Manor House at Fancourt, a national landmark opens after extensive refurbishments as an all-suite boutique hotel.
2009 The Links hosts The European Tour of the Berenberg Bank Master Seniors
2008 For the first time Fancourt hosts the annual Sunshine Tour Dimension Data Pro Am Tournament
2007 The Links hosts the 2010 Gary Player Invitational for three years (2008 – 2010)
2006 Dr Hasso and Sabine Plattner receive honorary citizenship to the historical town of George in the Southern Cape
2005 Fancourt rated as Africa’s leading Golf Resort in the World Travel Awards for the 5th consecutive year
Fancourt hosted former South African president Nelson Mandela and the 46664 Concert
Fancourt hosted the SA Open
Fancourt hosted the Women’s World Cup
2004 Fancourt received the Golf Resort of the Year Award from IAGTO (International Association of Golf Tour Operators)
2003 Fancourt hosted the esteemed President’s Cup Golf Tournament
2002 Fancourt is awarded Africa’s Leading Golf Resort by World Travel Awards
2001 Fancourt Spring Ball rated “5th Social Function in the World” by Gold, an international Condé Nast magazine
2000 The Links was opened in November 2000.
Fancourt hosts the very first George Child Welfare Spring Ball
1999 Fancourt hosts Commonwealth Heads of Government during a November retreat
Formation of the Fancourt Foundation, dedicated to children and to education in the George area
1998 Fancourt’s world class Golf Academy opens
1997 Fancourt’s Outeniqua and Montagu parklands 18-hole golf courses open
1996 Fancourt commences with real estate development on the 600 hectare estate
Fancourt’s SV Morning Glory 80ft yacht wins Cape to Rio Race out of a fleet of 54 yachts
1995 Fancourt commenced with the construction of the pavilion that today houses the Roman Bath Spa and Morning Glory, the Conference centre, the outdoor pool and pool-side cafe, and 42 lodges.
1994 Dr Hasso and Sabine Plattner purchased Fancourt and started an XXI (2)1 year extraordinary journey