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(23 August 1935 – 21 March 2020) was a South African accountant and business magnate. He founded both of South Africa's largest hotel groups, the Southern Sun Hotel Group and Sun International. He was also the Founder, Chairman, and CEO of Kerzner International. Com (Hons) (Accounting) from the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg and qualified as a Chartered Accountant, In 1962, he purchased the Astra Hotel in Durban. His career spanned more than 45 years in the resort industry. Following the success of that property, Kerzner built South Africa's first five-star graded hotel in Umhlanga, a village north of Durban – he opened this resort in December 1964 which he named the Beverly Hills Hotel.
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Following the Beverly Hills, Kerzner built the 450-room Elangeni Hotel (now renamed Southern Sun Elangeni & Maharani), overlooking Durban's beachfront and, in 1969, in partnership with South African Breweries, he established the chain of Southern Sun Hotels, which by 1983 operated 30 luxury hotels with more than 7,000 rooms. In 1975, Kerzner opened his first hotel outside South Africa on the Indian Ocean Island of Mauritius, which he named Le Saint Géran. In 1979 Kerzner developed Sun City, the most ambitious resort project in Africa.
Over a period of ten years he built four hotels, a man-made lake, two Gary Player designed championship golf courses and entertainment center with an indoor 6,000-seat multi-purpose arena at which he presented many superstars including Frank Sinatra, Liza Minnelli, Queen and Shirley Bassey. The arena was also the venue of many World Title fights promoted by Bob Arum. In 1985, Kerzner's Sun City, South Africa resort was the topic of anti-Apartheid rock album titled Sun City by a group of rock musicians calling themselves Artists United Against Apartheid.
In 1994, following the first multiracial elections in South Africa, Kerzner was asked by incoming President Nelson Mandela to arrange the VIP function at the Presidential Inauguration, which was attended by approximately a thousand people, including many of the world's leaders and heads of state. In 1996, Kerzner opened the hugely successful Mohegan Sun casino in Uncasville, Connecticut in the United States and in 2000 opened the second phase of the project including a 1,200-room hotel through a joint venture with the Mohegan Tribe of Connecticut called Trading Cove Associates. TCA relinquished its management of the resort in 2002 but Kerzner through his company received a 5% dividend on the gross revenue generated by Mohegan Sun until 2014. The property is one of the largest gambling and entertainment complexes in the United States. As a result of the success of the Sun City resort with its Gary Player Country Club golf course (ranked number 1 in South Africa) he got involved in international hotel, leisure and gambling resorts; most notably for his role as the developer behind the well-known Atlantis Resort in the Bahamas.
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In that capacity in late 1994, Kerzner made his first major acquisition outside Africa through the purchase of the Paradise Island Resort in The Bahamas. This 1,150-room resort was in bankruptcy at the time. After acquiring the resort, Kerzner launched a major re-development and expansion program which transformed Paradise Island into a 2,300-room resort that included one of the world's largest man-made marine habitats and the Caribbean's biggest casino.
In 2002, Kerzner launched One&Only Resorts which currently operates eight properties in The Bahamas, Mexico, Mauritius, The Maldives, South Africa, Dubai and Hayman Island. New projects by the firm are also planned for China, Montenegro, and Saudi Arabia. In early 2007, Kerzner expanded Atlantis, Paradise Island with 2 new hotels; The Cove, and The Reef, which added 1,100 new rooms to the property.
This expansion which was overseen by Alan Leibman, which included 21 retail outlets and new restaurants by celebrity chefs Jean-Georges Vongerichten, Nobu Matsuhisa and Bobby Flay. Kerzner extended the Atlantis brand globally with the development of Atlantis, The Palm, Dubai, with 1,500-room, water-themed resort opened in late-September 2008 on The Palm Jumeirah – a multibillion-dollar leisure and residential development in Dubai.
In September 2009, the "Mazagan Beach Resort" a luxury hotel in El Jadida, Morocco, was inaugurated by Kerzner himself accompanied by show business many celebrities. In October 2013, Kerzner announced that he was building a new Atlantis hotel at Sanya, Hainan Island in China with China's Fosun International. The 62-hectare resort has 1,300 rooms and a water park like the other Atlantis hotels.
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The project is reported to have cost $1.63 billion. In 1984, Kerzner made a deal with Leslie Young, the Minister of Finance for Bophutatswana, that any investments by his company, Sun International, that had the effect of advertising apartheid abroad, would be tax-deductible. Sun International paid next to no money for taxes in South Africa due to tax breaks. In 1987, an agreement between Young and Kerzner stated that 90% of taxes from entertainers in Bophutatswana would go back to Sun International, with any entertainer making more than R26,000 having to pay half their income to Bophutatswana. In 1990, Kerzner was found to have paid R5 million to the Transkei Chief George Matanzima for gaming licenses, R2 million of which was said to be a bribe. In 1997, Alan Greenblo was banned from publishing a biography on Kerzner, Kerzner - Unauthorized. While Kerzner wanted sections of the book to be cut out, Witwatersrand Judge Monas Flemming banned it outright. Sections of the book were published in Noseweek the same year.
He left behind his wife, Vanessa Kerzner, and two children Tai and Kailin. Sol Kerzner's daughter, Andrea, is the founder and CEO of Lalela, a charity dedicated to bringing the arts to at-risk youth in South Africa.