Facilities To Write Home About
When it comes to comparing retirement villages and the leisure facilities they offer, the extent of the world-class offerings available at Somerset West’s Helderberg Village are unmatched. The list is long and impressive and includes an award-winning 9-hole golf course; four swimming pools (one heated), two bowling greens; two tennis courts, a croquet lawn and three sizeable function venues. But equally impressive is the team managed by the Clubhouse and Facilities Manager Hannelien Bruwer, who keeps every area in pristine condition for the active villagers.
According to Bruwer, her team is responsible for the Clubhouse, which can host 180 people for lunch, Kilberry Terrace and Talani Terrace which can accommodate 100 guests each, all of the sports facilities, as well as 10 societies and sports clubs.
“These responsibilities include maintenance of the facilities, coordination of all activities at the venues and acting as secretary for the various sports clubs,” says Bruwer.
“The swimming pools, one of which is heated and used daily for training and water aerobics, are managed separately,” says Bruwer.
The library with over 14 000 books, almost 2000 DVD’s as well as magazines, audio CD’s, puzzles and games in stock, is the largest club at Helderberg Village. Coordinating the three volunteer residents, each sacrificing their own time to be assigned to specific tasks, certainly keeps Bruwer busy too.
“All households are automatically members of the library. We do not charge membership fees and the funds needed to run the Library are raised via our 300 Club, movie evenings, book sales and raffles,” says Bruwer.
Bruwer has been at Helderberg Village since 2013 after she was motivated to apply for a position at the estate because of her passion for working with older people, but it seems that the secret to successfully managing such a vast portfolio lies in another one of Bruwer’s passions – extreme organisation.
“Our biggest secret for managing such a busy calendar with so many activities, is to have a diary that is coded and categorised to the hilt. Then, as a team, we also have daily check-in and check-out meetings which ensures that all office staff are aware of the timelines, roles and responsibilities for every upcoming event.
“Challenges are a part of life, but having a team that is competent, service-focused and well-trained, makes the long hours that can sometimes go with events, easier. Our team is also greatly supported by the other departments on the estate and we have no hesitation in seeking their involvement when necessary,” says Bruwer.
Hard work and challenges aside, what are the most rewarding aspects of the job, we wondered.
“The Club Office is responsible for all the social activities at Helderberg Village and it is enormously gratifying to be involved in the fun part of the villager’s lives. This can be anything from arranging concerts and birthday parties, outings to the theatre, anniversary celebrations etcetera,” says Bruwer.
Being responsible for such quality facilities in one of the Western Cape’s most picturesque settings is a privilege, says Bruwer, but if she had to choose one favourite venue, it would be Kilberry Terrace.
“The view from Kilberry Terrace is stunning and it is very often used by villagers when hosting anything from a memorial service, to a birthday or 50th wedding anniversary. It has a fully equipped kitchen, wonderful audio-visual equipment and is large enough to accommodate at least 100 people,” says Bruwer.
And like any good clubhouse, the one at Helderberg Village is very much the heart and soul of the community. Used as a halfway house for the golf club, the Clubhouse is also host to Sunday lunches, Friday afternoon Happy Hours and makes the perfect, quick meeting-place for a midweek lunch or tea.
“Our office often hosts concerts at the Clubhouse which are well attended and from time to time, even include big names like the Cape Town Opera singers or Andrew Young who is an international saxophonist,” says Bruwer.
While it’s a jam-packed and fulfilling role, Bruwer still manages to find time to lead a balanced life by making time for family, gym and walks on the beach.