FAITH, DEDICATION AND FAMILY CAN BUILD A LONG-LASTING BUSINESS

You’d be amazed at how much history our town holds and how long most businesses have been operating. One popular business, in particular, has been a local legacy for the past few decades.

Meet the Berkeley family. Peter and his lovely wife, Margie, are the proud owners of the famous The Waterberry Coffee Shoppe and Dolphin Holiday Resort situated along Dolphin Crescent. The business prides itself upon family involvement. Under the guidance of Peter and Margie, their three daughters, Haley, Shelly, and Bronwyn, along with Bronwyn’s husband, Francois, all have their roles to play in the business. Bronwyn and Francois manage Dolphin Holiday Resort, Haley manages The Waterberry, and Shelly manages the finances for both. The family involvement doesn’t stop there – even the grandchildren have helped out during busier times!

The family’s legacy began at La Mouette Caravan Park in Blythedale back in 1990. After Visiting La Mouette from Gauteng for a “holiday by the sea”, the family decided they wanted to live the coastal lifestyle. An offer was made and La Mouette Caravan Park was their new home. Within the first five months, Peter had 500 shrubs planted, an irrigation system installed, a borehole put down, and painting done. His dedication paid off, and La Mouette soon became the top caravan park in South Africa.

Peter and Margie often visited our little town. After seeing Dolphin Holiday Resort’s state, he knew it needed some TLC. In 1995, Peter obtained the property of 160 sites. With lots of construction, reducing the number of sites, planting trees, building a new recreation hall serving tea and fresh scones twice a day, and refurbishing the cottages and ablution blocks, the entire resort was upgraded. They now have 100 sites, 12 cottages, four ablution blocks, two laundries and two recreation halls. Two years later, Bronwyn and Francois, her then fiancé, joined the business.

The property extended from the resort into the forest all the way round to where The Waterberry now sits. Back then, the forest area was used as a dumping ground where squatters built makeshift shacks. Over the following three years, the forest was cleared of waste material and alien vegetation, and a fence was erected. Dolphin Holiday Resort began to look like what Peter and Margie had originally envisaged, thereby bringing more visitors to the resort and area. Those improvements and Peter and Margie’s dedication to the resort brought about an improved rating of four stars by the Tourism Grading Council of South Africa. It is a constant job to keep the resort in tip-top condition!

Back then, Ballito’s tourism and the demand for property and holiday rentals were picking up. Peter had a dream of owning a coffee shop, a quiet space for him and his friends to enjoy a cappuccino. He remembers being told that opening a coffee shop might not be a great idea as it wouldn’t do well in Ballito. Oh, how wrong they were!

Nestled amongst the forest, perched on the pond’s edge, was the wooden building constructed by the Berkeleys. The Waterberry Coffee Shoppe first opened its doors in May 2003. Customers were flocking to their coffee shop! They never realised how popular their little paradise had become. Two weeks later, they needed to close for a few days to take stock of what they had created.

After their first December season, in January, the huge waterberry tree came crashing down onto the deck and through the roof of the coffee shop! Luckily, this happened right after closing time, so nobody was hurt and none of the equipment was damaged. Funnily enough, they were looking at redesigning the deck, and this accident gave them the nudge they needed.

Through a lovely decade of creating homemade food and a sense of peace in the forestry paradise, a tragic night in June 2013 sparked a massive change for the Berkeley family. I vividly remember the residents in my road standing outside, some walking down to The Waterberry Coffee Shoppe to see the commotion, but we could tell she was up in flames. From that night on, not only did the Berkeleys mourn, but so did the community.

Everyone was waiting in anticipation to see if they would fix her up and open their doors again. The family turned to God for faith and guidance. After gathering the family and sitting down to figure out their plan of action, not knowing if they were going to rebuild and start anew, the day arrived that awoke the inspiration to begin the journey again. In February 2014, the groundwork for the new The Waterberry was underway, creating the modern look we have grown to love today. Not even two years later, the family was awakened by a phone call saying there was another fire. Thankfully, it was a small one. After clearing it up, they returned to business as usual.

Apart from the coffee shoppe and caravan park, the Berkeley family is full of success and entrepreneurship. Peter and Margie’s three daughters, Haley, Shelly and Bronwyn, all have amazing kids, a total of nine grandchildren! Haley has four sons: Joshua has returned home from working on the yachts overseas but is ready to leave again, Daniel is still working on the yachts in Europe, and Matthew and Luke are still in school. Shelly has two daughters: Candice is a Speech and Language Pathologist here in Salt Rock and her sister, Kaylyn, is in her second year at Stellenbosch University. Bronwyn and Francois have three daughters: Micaela runs her own thriving cake business, Buttercream Bakery, here in Ballito, Jade is also a successful business owner of Cherry & Willow soy wax candles, and their youngest daughter, Maddison, is homeschooled. What an amazing family!

“Legacy is not leaving something for people. It’s leaving something in people.” – Peter Strople

Although the Berkeley family has been through it all over the last 28 years, they have provided many memorable holidays to their guests and served delicious meals made with love (and we can’t forget the decadent cheesecakes!). The next time you stay at Dolphin Holiday Resort or visit The Waterberry Coffee Shoppe and walk through the enchanting forest, think about how much time, dedication, faith, love and passion went into the space. It takes a lot, but a strong family can conquer anything.

032 946 2797 | info@thewaterberry.co.za | www.thewaterberry.