Legendary hotelier Sol Kerzner passed away at his family home in Cape Town, South Africa on Saturday following a battle with cancer.
He was 84 years old.
A native of Johannesburg, South Africa, Kerzner began his decorated career in hospitality in 1962 when he purchased a small inn in Durban, South Africa called The Astra, which he quickly transformed into one of the areas most popular hotels.
Kerzner would later showcase his knack for innovation with the creation of Sun City resort in South Africa in 1979. Highlights included four hotels, two Gary Player golf courses, a man-made lake and an entertainment center with an indoor 6,000-seat arena.
In 1994, Kerzner acquired the then-bankrupt Paradise Island Resort in the Bahamas before transforming it into the now-iconic Atlantis Paradise Island. Kerzner expanded the Atlantis brand with the development of the $1.5 billion Atlantis, The Palm in Dubai, which opened in 2008.
Kerzner and his son, Butch, built their first casino resort property in the United States in 1996—The Mohegan Sun in Connecticut. The father and son duo went on to launch One&Only Resorts, establishing award-winning luxury properties all over the world.
Sol Kerzner- A mensch until the very end – RIP my friend pic.twitter.com/vLeuQbwM4f
Tragedy struck in 2006 when Butch, then CEO of Kerzner International, was killed in a helicopter accident while scouting for sites in the Dominican Republic.
“Sol believed that no matter where you come from if you put in the hours, you would succeed. He never used his circumstances or the tragedies he experienced in his life as an excuse for failure,” Kerzner’s lifelong friend, Jeff Rubenstein said in a statement. “If tragedy was a burden to Sol, hard work was the antidote and he himself always said, ‘you just gotta box on.'”
Following an epic career that spanned six decades and included more than 80 hotel and casino properties in over a dozen countries, Kerzner retired as Chairman of Kerzner International in 2014.
“Sol was someone who possessed a rare combination of creative genius, uncanny financial acuity and 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,” stated Ian Douglas, a friend and employee at Kerzner’s various companies for 20 years.
Kerzner, who is survived by his children Andrea, Beverley, Brandon and Chantal and ten grandchildren, will be laid to rest at a private funeral with only immediate family in attendance.
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