The Mount View Restaurant, a once proud venue with a commanding view over the Outeniqua mountains is, at present, a shell of its former self.
Vandals and thieves had a field day. Since the last function held on 28 December 2011, the equipment and furniture has been carried off. The huge glass sliding doors have been removed and stolen, along with the windows. The place now stands forlornly empty, with broken toilets and the beautiful thatched roof is slightly tattered after baboons raided the place.
The fairytale wedding of Nicole Moolman to Christopher Rimbault was held in December last year when a marquee, surrounded by dozens of lights, showed guests the way to an expansive deck, offering breathtaking views over CapeNature's Outeniqua Reserve.
The railway line currently passes the Mount View Restaurant and the Powervan stops there for travellers to have a picnic. Exactly how thieves got access to the property is not known. At one time there was a security guard but it was difficult to maintain a permanent security presence.
Distraught at this setback, owner Bennie Hoepfner has decided to bury his plans for creating a resort with a myriad of attractions in an eco-tourism resort. "I wanted to do something for George," said Bennie. When his construction team converted the concrete reservoir into a huge venue - suitable for large weddings and seminars - he had a vision of creating a destination for lovers of the outdoors.
He realised that hikers, bird-watchers and fynbos-lovers could enjoy the trails and that the setting would accommodate adventure and thrill seekers, who could then be offered diverse activities. To truly make it a tourist destination he sought to get investors for a water theme park, a dam, as well as a hops feature, a technopark and bush survival park.
"But although everybody agreed that this could truly be a world-class eco-resort, nobody ever came to the party when it came to facilitating or financing such a venture," said Hoepfner this week. Endless negotiations with the local authorities including CapeNature, the Department of Public Works, Spoornet, Transnet, the local municipalities and other would-be investors came to naught. Even Allan Winde Western Cape Minister for Economic Development and Tourism had expressed enthusiasm for such a development.
When the lease with Spoornet for the old reservoir recently expired, Bennie did not bother to renew it. Finding it painful to talk about losing the venue, he said his losses are hard to calculate, but are in the region of R5-million. "It represents eight years of my life to get it established and further develop the expansion plans." Bennie is now focusing on business interests elsewhere.
*Vandale en diewe het sistematies die toerusting, meublement sowel as die skuifdeure en vensterrame weggedra. Wat nou oorbly van die pragtige Mount View Restaurant is net 'n leë dop. Nadat hy sy hart en siel in die ontwikkeling van 'n toerisme-oord met toerisme aantreklikhede gesit het, is eienaar Bennie Hoefner genoodsaak om sy ideale af skryf.
By Pauline Lourens