Roy Bowles Construction is nominated for international award on Shamwari Game Reserve renovation project

Eastern Cape-based construction firm Roy Bowles Construction, has been selected as one of the top 5 African contractors nominated for an award in the Leisure Development Category of the International Property Awards. The Awards are world-renowned and celebrate high levels of achievement in architecture, development and interior design in projects across the world and the winner will be announced in May 2021. The project has already won the top spot for Best Hotel Interior (Africa) which was awarded to K/M2K Architecture & Interior Design.

The R200 million Shamwari Private Game Reserve renovation project was successfully completed in December 2020 and involved construction of a new wildlife rehabilitation centre, new staff accommodation and extensive renovations to several lodges and camps around the reserve.

Shamwari Private Game Reserve is one of the largest private game reserves in the country, located in Paterson, Eastern Cape. It stretches for more than 25 000ha and is home to the Big 5 and a large array of animal, bird and plant species that offer a wild back-to-nature experience for visitors. Under new management and a $25 million investment, the reserve has gone through extensive renovations to elevate it as one of the top five-star safari bucket lists.

“A major challenge with the project was the location and nature of the site. Being situated within a remote game reserve meant that getting materials to the site would be a big challenge. For example, the nearest centre where we sourced most of our material was 70km away, and delivery trucks could not drive through the reserve because it is a protected area. A lot of forward planning had to be done in the procurement of materials to ensure that items were delivered on time to avoid over stocking materials on site” said Roy Bowles, the CEO of Roy Bowles Construction.

To mitigate the impact of site works on the natural environment, the company constructed a temporary road for exclusive use by contractors and members of the professional team to gain access to the site. Delivery trucks were also not allowed into the reserve, but materials were loaded onto front end loaders at the reserve entrance then carted to the site.

Outlining how the company managed to complete a project worthy on an international award on time and schedule, Roy explained, “We had a very tight schedule to construct a fully operational 5-star lodge literally located in the bush, balancing the tight schedule with the high quality standards required of an internationally renowned wildlife reserve. To achieve this, we centred our strategy on the people involved and recruited highly skilled individuals in every department, starting from general labourers right up to top management. We ensured that every person knew exactly what was expected of them daily. In addition, ongoing quality control checks and weekly meetings helped us to discuss potential bottlenecks approaching and come up with ideas to resolve them before they occurred. This was extremely beneficial and helped us stick to the schedule.”

The project started in May 2018 with work involving completion of 2 separate lodges, each with 9 guest rooms, a reception, bar, kitchen and dining area, a retail centre, children’s’ club and boma. The work on both lodges was completed in only 4 months.

By September 2018, the second phase of the project was started, which involved construction of the reserve’s staff accommodation and the reserve’s flagship lodge, Long Lee Manor. This was the largest and most intricate part of the project involving extensive demolitions of existing structures to create way for new buildings. Understandably so, the construction of Long Lee Manor was characterised by almost weekly variations to the design, which the construction team had to contend with without time extensions granted. By February 2019, staff offices, 12 one-bedroom studios, 3 large two-bedroom flats, a welcome centre had been completed for staff accommodation. The Long Lee Manor guest house was completed in April 2020 and included dining and kitchen areas, administration offices, additional staff accommodation, a concrete swimming pool, bar, spa, fitness centre, games room, 17 guest rooms and a conference centre.

The most interesting part of the project started in May 2020 which involved construction of a tent camp in a remote part of the reserve. The works required consideration of the delicate natural environment to minimize the construction footprint on site. Concrete bases were installed and steel substructure added onto which tent structures were fixed. This involved many specialist subcontractors that had to be managed effectively to complete the project within the allocated timeframes. Upon completion, 9 villas were built, each with its own plunge pool, spa, dining area, kitchen, reception, bar and staff accommodation.

While acknowledging that the company’s nomination for an international award was a big achievement, Roy added that the biggest reward was satisfaction of being part of a sustainable and lasting legacy project that will benefit the community for years to come. “Work opportunities in these communities are few and far between so we were happy to be able to provide these communities with employment. The workforce was made up of members from the Paterson, Grahamstown and Alicedale communities. We also sub-contracted local SMMEs for most of the work done on the project. The reserve itself is also an oasis providing employment for the local community.”

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