Sol Kerzner dies aged 84 after battle with cancer

Gary Player (R) shares a joke with Sun City creator Sol Kerzner as they watch from the first tee during the final round of the Nedbank Golf Challenge at the Gary Player Country Club on December 7, 2014 in Sun City, South Africa. (Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images)

The Kerzner name will long be remembered for transforming tourism and hospitality in SA.

Hotel and casino magnate Sol Kerzner died of cancer on Saturday evening aged 84 in Cape Town.

Kerzner was surrounded by his family at his home at the Leeukoppie Estate. Conflicting reports throughout Saturday claimed he was “gravely ill”, though had not yet passed away.

His close friend Ian Douglas said in a statement that Kerzner had maintained a massive business reputation but was always family-oriented.

“Sol was someone who possessed a rare combination of creative genius, uncanny financial acuity and an 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,” said Douglas.

Kerzner’s daughter Andrea also said her father always had time for the family.

“Dad taught us family values, no matter how busy he was, he always made time for us.”

Kerzner was a trained accountant who founded both of South Africa’s largest hotel groups, the Southern Sun Hotel Group and Sun International. He was also the founder, chairman and CEO of Kerzner International.

His career spanned more than 45 years in the resort industry. After he graduated from the University of the Witwatersrand, he took over the running of his family’s hotel chain.

He was married four times. His first wife was Maureen Adler; they had three children: Butch Kerzner, Andrea Kerzner, and Beverly Kerzner Mace. His second wife was Shirley Bestbier; they had two children: Brandon Kerzner and Chantal Kerzner Sweeney. She later committed suicide soon after the birth of her second child. His third wife, Miss World 1974 Anneline Kriel, ended in divorce after five years. During a lengthy period in the 1990s, he dated the model Christina Estrada, got engaged, but never married her. He married his fourth wife, model Heather Murphy in 2000; they divorced in 2011.

Kerzner’s son Howard “Butch” Kerzner died on 11 October 2006 when the helicopter he was travelling in crashed near Sosua, in the Puerto Plata province of the Dominican Republic. His daughter Andrea is the founder and CEO of Lalela, a charity dedicated to bringing the arts to at-risk youth in South Africa.

Kerzner was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award for his contributions to the industry during the International Hotel Investment Forum in March 2019.

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