There were celebrations all around on 15 August 2021 as dk villas officially turned three years old! Launched in 2018, Johann de Kock runs this dynamic business and, in her downtime, his wife Petra is around to assist with their passion project. Today, they are proud to offer people incredible getaways that feel like a “home away from home” in four incredible properties located across Hout Bay and Dwarskersbos.
In honour of this birthday milestone, Johann and Petra sat down to answer a few questions about the dk villas journey. And what a journey it has been! Both Johann and Petra have 25 years-worth of experience working in the travel and tourism industry, and have lived in Hout Bay for over 24 years. Opening up holiday accommodation in their quirky seaside hometown felt like a natural move, and that’s exactly what they did! Harbour View in Hout Bay was dk villa’s very first property (while Johann and Petra had owned their Dwarskersbos location for several years, this was converted into a dk villas property at a later stage). In the following years they added The Boardwalk and Riverview, both in Hout Bay, and Skilliepark Dwarskersbos on the West Coast.
As the dk villas portfolio has expanded, important things have remained the same; Johann and Petra choose to operate it as a family business and know that it's the special, little things that make all the difference! “Here, things are done the old fashioned way,” say Johann and Petra, “We love to engage with our guests (as much or as little as they like) and we ensure there are many personal touches.” This all comes together to make a dk villas stay exceptionally memorable!
Take a look at the Q&A below with Petra and Johann to find out more about where dk villas has come from, some of the biggest achievements along the way as well as advice for anyone who is keen to follow a similar path in the hospitality industry!
1. Why did you decide to get involved in the hospitality industry?
We both have a background in the aviation/travel industry, and when we decided that it was time to seek the independence of being self employed, it was natural that we looked at opportunities and options within the overall travel sector. Launching one’s own airline is a rather expensive exercise (wildly expensive in fact), so we kept our feet solidly rooted to the ground and dk villas was born!
2. Why did you choose Hout Bay and the West Coast as locations? In your mind, what makes these places special and worth visiting?
We have lived in Hout Bay for nearly 25 years, so this is home, it is what we know. It is where we feel very comfortable in being able to offer our guests any input and information, as well as, if required, guiding first-time visitors to Cape Town to the many sights and attractions the city has to offer. Our units all contain a copy of our own specially created “dk villas Guest Guide” which is a publication that offers a handy summary of many of the options available to visitors, or those on business trips with some leisure time available to them.
As mentioned above, we had owned the unit in Dwarskersbos for quite some time before the launch of dk villas, so it was natural that this became our West Coast dk villas unit. Having said that, we love Dwarskersbos so much, that having allocated our unit to now be a part of the dk villas portfolio of luxury holiday accommodation, we acquired another unit for ourselves in the same complex! We spend many of our weekends there, savouring the luxurious tranquility of the beautiful and rugged West Coast.
3. What has been your proudest achievement over the years?
It’s not easy to define one single specific event. Looking at our growth over the past three years, we feel that just being a part of the dynamic South African Tourism market, serving both domestic and international visitors, and receiving such incredibly positive reviews and feedback is in itself an ongoing “award” that we value and treasure.
4. What is the greatest challenge you have had to overcome, and how did you manage that?
Like most elements of the economy, and almost all elements of the tourism and hospitality industry, the impact of the COVID pandemic, with its restrictions and limiting of international travel, and periodically domestic travel too, has without question been the greatest challenge we have faced. In terms of dealing with this, one has to ensure that regardless of the loss of a huge percentage of our regular market, our standards and service remain at their superlative levels. Despite lockdown and other restrictions on travel, we also ensure that we maintain our presence in the market through regular social media posts, and keeping our website active, alive and informative!
5. What advice do you have for people looking to follow a similar path and start their own business?
As Nike once said…. “Just do it !” But make sure that you do it with thought, research and planning. Opening a guest house or similar is not just a case of buying a property, putting some furniture in it, placing a few ads and crossing your fingers. It takes a tremendous amount of planning and hard work to make it “special”. It needs to be a place that will stand out in a very crowded and competitive market.
It is important to “connect” well with your guests, both on their arrival and departure – one would always want to see a happy guest return the next year on holiday, or when they are next here on business. Continuity is great! At whatever level one creates a place of accommodation, whether a tiny budget flat or a 20 bedroom luxury mansion, make it special so that your guests will always feel that whatever price level they are able to book at, they are receiving exceptional value for their money.
Most of all, enjoy being a part of the travel and tourism market. It is one of the greatest industries in the world to be a part of!
It’s been an exciting three years and things look set to go from strength to strength! In honour of dk villas celebrations, why not celebrate your next birthday in one of these beautiful locations? Take a look at the accommodation options and start planning your next visit!