October 16, 2019

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SA billionaire Koos Bekker spent millions on an estate in the UK – take a look


Naspers chair Koos Bekker opened multi-million-pound estate The Newt in Somerset in the United Kingdom on Friday,  after six years of renovation. 

The hotel, garden and restaurant complex, a roughly three-hour drive from London, has spiralling gardens day visitors can enjoy, a spa and a cider press. 

The hotel itself features 13 suites housed in a Georgian mansion and 10 rooms in the Stable Yard’s original horse yard buildings. 

(Instagram, @thenewtinsomerset)

(Instagram, @thenewtinsomerset)

(Instagram, @thenewtinsomerset)

(Instagram, @thenewtinsomerset)

Bekker and wife Karen Roos, the former editor of Elle Decoration South Africa, acquired the 400-hectare property in 2013, the Telegraph reported.

The roughly 300-year-old property previously housed the Hobhouse family for close to two centuries, including acclaimed English garden designer Penelope Hobhouse. 

Bekker and Roos based the renovation on Babylonstoren in Franschhoek which employes roughly 250 people. 

(Instagram, @thenewtinsomerset)

(Instagram, @thenewtinsomerset)

(Instagram, @thenewtinsomerset)

(Instagram, @thenewtinsomerset)

(Facebook, The Newt in Somerset)

(Facebook, The Newt in Somerset)

French garden architect Patrice Travelle, the same garden designer used for the development of Babylonstoren, was used to design the spiralling gardens. 

In an interview with the Financial Times, Roos said she never thinks big. “I would have been happy with a little courtyard. But my husband, he is different. He thinks on scale,” Roos said.

The property is Grade II listed, which means it required additional care to be taken during construction to preserve the building’s architecture. 

(Instagram, @thenewtinsomerset)

(Instagram, @thenewtinsomerset)

(Instagram, @thenewtinsomerset)

(Instagram, @thenewtinsomerset)

Before Bekker and Roos could start construction, they also had to ensure that the roughly 2,000 endangered newts would be protected. 

In honour of the effort made to protect the small amphibian, they renamed the estate from Hadspen House to The Newt, Forbes reported. 

(Instagram, @thenewtinsomerset)

(Instagram, @thenewtinsomerset)

Today, The Newt claims to have one of England’s largest collection of apple tree cultivars with 267 cultivars planted. 

It also features the hide-and-seek woven “nest” on stilts built by South African designer Porky Hefer, which Babylonstoren also has. 

Compiled by James de Villiers. 

Taken from, Business Insider South Africa: Click here for original.

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