After nearly a month of uncertainty, the municipality last week awarded the right to host a pop-up lounge on Grotto beach to local businessman and entrepreneur Alan de Kock.

De Kock has organised the popular Hermanus VAC for matrics over the past few years and last December operated the Kammabaai pop-up lounge. In previous years he also operated a pop-up lounge on the roof of the lifeguard building on Grotto beach.

The Kammabaai pop-up lounge elicited much public comment last year, especially from residents in the area who were opposed to a venue serving alcohol so close to a public beach and the Cliff Path.

This municipality’s decision to award the rights to De Kock follows after the initial proposal last month was won by De Vette Mossel restaurant, who subsequently withdrew from operating the pop-up lounge on Grotto to rather focus their efforts on setting up their restaurant at Prawn Flats.

Dutchies restaurant, whose owners pioneered the concept of a pop-up lounge under the milkwood trees, was disqualified during the first round after the proposal was not submitted on the official municipal form. Dutchies owner, Joke Gonggrijp, launched two appeals against her disqualification and also submitted a second proposal.

De Kock was the only other person who submitted a proposal for the second round and it is understood that he tendered a substantially higher amount than Gonggrijp. “I was informed on Thursday that my second proposal was not successful and shortly thereafter that both my appeals had failed,” said a visibly upset Gonggrijp.

“I feel very disappointed and let down after our many years of hard work and the positive feedback we received from the thousands of locals and tourists who have enjoyed our Summer Lounge.”

De Kock, who will also be hosting the sixth Hermanus Vac this December, said the opening date of his new Sundown Beach Lounge still has to be confirmed. “As a born and bred local I am proud to have been awarded the tender, and I’m looking forward to the challenge,” he said. According to De Kock, he will be offering “a summer lounge experience” along with exotic cocktails and a sushi and poke bowl bar.

In the meantime, the developers Voëlklip Camping at the De Mond site last week announced that they will not be opening the camping site this year as initially planned. However, according to Niel du Bois, founder of De Vette Mossel, they are very much on track to open this December. “Voëlklip Camping is not connected to us and it has no influence on us whether they are open or not. We are slightly ahead of schedule to open after the first week in December,” said Du Bois.

According to the De Mond developers, Pohl and Maritz (Pty) Ltd in association with Crown Grant, they have made the collective decision to officially open the camping venue in early 2019. In a statement, the developers said: “[We] have had overwhelming support and interest shown in this development and we would like to assure all future visitors to Voëlklip Camping that every care is taken in creating a one-of-a-kind, exclusive holiday destination in the Overberg district for everyone to enjoy. A memo was sent to the developers on 15 October requesting that a number of documents and plans be submitted.

“The municipality consists of various departments and sub-departments that need to comment on the applications and this process has affected the pace at which construction on Voëlklip Camping is concluded. Permission has been granted to refurbish the ablution blocks which were left derelict until recently, but permission has not yet been granted to provide services such as electricity and running water to these buildings. It is a slow but thorough process and the developers are at all times mindful of the procedures to be followed. A collective decision was made not to rush the process.

“Pohl and Maritz (Pty) Ltd expect to have all final approvals within the next fortnight, but after careful calculation and projections, the timeline will not allow for all structures and services at Voëlklip Camping to be ready for public use by the original set date of 1 December 2018. Therefore, a decision was made to postpone the official launch of Voëlklip Camping until early 2019. As soon as the municipality approves all plans, work will commence on building and developing the caravan camping site to the standards expected from a luxury camping site. All prospective clients that have secured spaces for the upcoming December holiday will be fully reimbursed and have also been offered a free stay in 2019,” they said in a statement.

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