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The Bahamas Ministry of Tourism & Aviation is deeply saddened by the passing of Sol Kerzner. He brought an original perspective to developing his hospitality brands, and the launch of The Atlantis brought new attention and revitalization to The Bahamas, which contributed greatly to the phenomenal growth we have seen as our tourism industry has matured.
We are proud to have been the birthplace of The Atlantis concept and are pleased to have enjoyed his partnership and support for more than 25 years. Many thousands of Bahamians have been a part of the extended Atlantis team with many of them launching careers as tourism professionals in that organization.
“Sol Kerzner was a giant in the hospitality industry and we shall not see his likeness again. His vision for Atlantis reshaped our skyline here in Nassau and redefined The Bahamas vacation for many millions. He will be sorely missed,” said Minister of Tourism, Dionisio D’Aguilar.
The sincere condolences and prayers of the Ministry of Tourism and all those Bahamians who benefitted from his work go out to his family. Sol Kerzner’s impact on our nation will live on well beyond his years and for that, we remain eternally grateful.
Mr. Kerzner died on Saturday night surrounded by family members at the family home, Leeukoppie Estate in Cape Town. He had been suffering from cancer.
The son of Russian immigrants, Kerzner was born in Johannesburg in 1935. Trained in accounting, he entered the hospitality industry in 1962 when purchased the Astra, a small inn located in Durban.
His breakthrough project was the construction of the Beverley Hills in Umhlanga Rocks – the first five-star hotel in South Africa. Partnering with South African Breweries to establish Southern Sun Hotels, he operated 30 luxury hotels by 1983.
In 1975, Kerzner started with the creation of Sun City. A construction project that lasted ten years, the location was made up of four hotels, a man-made lake, two golf courses, and a 6 000-seat arena and entertainment center. The venue played host to various celebrities such as Frank Sinatra and Queen.
In 1994, Kerzner was asked by President Nelson Mandela to arrange the VIP function for his presidential inauguration.
Kerzner would later found the One&Only Resorts, which operates luxury properties in countries like the Bahamas, Mexico, the Maldives, Mauritius, Dubai, and South Africa. In 2009, he opened the One&Only Hotel at the V&A Waterfront in Cape Town.
In 2010, he was recognized in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list, with the award of the insignia Knight Commander of the Most Distinguished Order of St. Michael and St. George (KCMG).
In 2014, he exited Kerzner International and retired as chairman of the company.
Ian Douglas, friend, and employee of Kerzner, said in the wake of his death: “Sol was someone who possessed a rare combination of creative genius, uncanny financial acuity and astonishing energy, which he poured into every business he touched. Nothing he built was ever boring and he never chased the money. He only chased success. He was always trailblazing, always in pursuit of bigger, better, new, different, more exacting and exciting projects around the globe.”
Kerzner is survived by his children Andrea, Beverley, Brandon and Chantal and ten grandchildren. His eldest son, Howard ‘Butch’ Kerzner died in 2006.
He will be buried at a small, private funeral attended by only his immediate family.
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