Richard Branson To Buy South African Vineyard And Hotel

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Written by Dana Sanchez

British billionaire and investor Richard Branson is buying a South African vineyard and 22-room hotel through his luxury retreat company, Virgin Limited Edition, Decanter.com reports.

Branson said he wants to promote wine tourism in the Franschoek area, where he is buying the 96-acre Mont Rochelle Hotel & Mountain Vineyard after signing a preliminary deal, the report said.

If the sale goes through, it won’t be the first luxury tourist retreat Branson has bought in South Africa. He also owns Ulusaba, a private game reserve in the Sabi Sand Reserve bordering Kruger National Park.

Branson was the sixth-richest citizen of the U.K. in 2012 with an estimated net worth of $4.6 billion, according to the Forbes 2012 list of billionaires.

The most expensive room at Mont Rochelle Hotel & Mountain Vineyard — the Cap Classic Suite — goes for up to 9,900 rand ($938) a night, the report said. It comes with a private terrace and plunge pool.

The sales price for the 22-bedroom property has not been disclosed, the report said.

In addition to a growing portfolio of South African properties, Virgin Limited Edition has a presence elsewhere in Africa. Branson also owns a tourist property in Kenya and one in Morocco.

Mahali Mzuri — the newest member of the Virgin Limited Edition collection — is a tented safari camp with 12 luxury tents in the northern region of Kenya’s Maasai Mara ecosystem.

Kasbah Tamadot is in the foothills of the High Atlas Mountains an hour from Marrakech
with 27 bedrooms and suites.

Branson is best known as the founder of Virgin Group that consists of more than 400 companies. In 1972, he opened Virgin Records, a chain of record stores. Branson’s Virgin brand grew to include the Virgin Records music label and Virgin Atlantic airline.

“I’m thrilled to be able to announce that we are in the process of purchasing Mont Rochelle and what I’m sure will be a ‘must-visit’ winelands experience in South Africa,” Branson said, according to the report.

If the deal goes through, Branson’s Virgin Limited Edition business plans to close the hotel for refurbishment until August 2014, Decanter.com reports.