In this week’s #MeetLocal feature, we would like to introduce you to Elmay Bouwer, co-owner of Blackwaters River Lodge just outside of Knysna.
Visit their website at http://www.blackwaters.co.za/
What inspired you to start this business?
After some changes in my personal life in 2012 and been lecturing at University level since 1996, I moved to Knysna in December 2012. Knysna has always been in my heart and a great holiday place because of the natural heritage, the history, and the resources. I visited as a child, came here as a student, did the choo-choo, and kept on coming here for holidays, mostly visiting the golf courses and self-drives along back roads. My inspiration, I think, came from that - natural indigenous forests, estuaries, lakes, and The Heads. To me, Knysna has stood the test of time and was the most ideal place to have a business that both the domestic market but especially the international market can enjoy.
With my marketing, public relations and communication background, qualifications, and experience, I initially wanted to have a very metropolitan like feel deli / coffee shop - was not 100% ever sure about my cooking and baking skills though. But then just like that, from the air, my partner Paul Theron saw Blackwaters River Lodge. And my happiness started.
What makes your business unique?
The fact that it represents everything that inspires me in life and why I wanted a business. Our business is unique because once again, Knysna has stood the test of time - we are surrounded by natural indigenous forests, I call it the home of the Knysna Turaco (Loerie) - we see them in abundance daily and they blow our guests away with their amazing colours. Blackwaters River Lodge’s water situation is a unique natural phenomenon where freshwater meets seawater. In fact, the most extensive brackish water habitats worldwide are estuaries, where a river meets the sea. The Goukamma river that is part of our property runs all the way down to Buffalo Bay where it enters the river mouth into the sea. We are centrally situated with easy access and a 10-minute drive to the beach at Buffalo Bay beach.
So we are not just a guest house - a lot of natural experience goes with the stay.
Is there anything specific you want people to know about you / this business or something else that you would like to add?
Our business is still very young and in this very short period of existence been hammered by natural disasters - part of the business our home burnt down in the June 2017 fires, we had to rebuild. Just after opening, we suffered floods and now we are closed gain because of Covid-19. As Knysna stood the test of time, I will stand the test of time.
I am convinced that we have been and always will be the most applicable spot / place for visitors to experience Knysna from, and truly believe that you can feel #TheSpiritofKnysna on this property. A place for second and third chances in life - #ourplaceofmagic. Watch this space for new beginnings early in 2021.