When it comes to luxury long and short stay accommodation in the Midlands, The Living Collective offers something truly unique. We caught up with their founder, Wendy Nwankwo, to find out more about their accommodation.
The Midlands is full of wonderful places to stay, but nothing long term. This is where The Living Collective comes in. Wendy Nwankwo was born and bred in Pietermaritzburg and, after graduating with a Masters of Business Administration from the University of KwaZulu-Natal, she made the move to Durban for work. Wendy worked as a consultant, which required her to travel regularly, spending a lot of time in hotels and bed and breakfasts while away on business trips. “I would take pictures of spaces everywhere I went to appreciate the art and craft of décor in different hotels. This brought a new love for traveling and really enjoying new spaces and experiences.” Wendy and her husband started travelling religiously, for fun, and would bring back souvenirs from their travels as reminders of the different places they had visited.
In 2016, Wendy and her family decided to move back to Pietermaritzburg due to her mother’s health deteriorating and to be closer to family. They started looking for plots, and found their favourite one in the Hilton area, where they started building their home. They had sold their home in Durban in order to move and now needed somewhere to stay in Pietermaritzburg while their house was being built – and this is where the problem came!
“We looked for accommodation for a family of four and there was no option for a short-term lease or furnished apartment or home, as we only needed a three-month rental. This resulted in a six week stay in a hotel room for a family of four, which as you can imagine was a highly unpleasant experience,” says Wendy. This gave Wendy the idea of creating accommodation that offered the same luxury of a hotel, but was geared towards families and longer term stays. “We therefore built investment properties and used them to create what we couldn’t get when we relocated. So in two years, The Living Collective was born.”
Currently, The Living Collective comprises of five homes in Hilton and 24 apartments in Pietermaritzburg. “We have a majority of local travellers due to the fact that we are strategically positioned next to four of the most popular schools in Hilton and Pietermaritzburg. Our homes in Hilton are one kilometre from Hilton College, about eight kilometres from St Anne’s Diocesan College for Girls. In Pietermaritzburg, we are around 250m from Maritzburg Boys College and 100m from Pietermaritzburg Girls Wish School. The apartments are also 2.3 km from the start of the popular Comrades Marathon so we also get to host people from around the world in attendance to the marathon.”
When it came to furnishing the homes and apartments, Wendy’s travel inspiration played a huge role. She wanted guests to feel comfortable while still being surrounded by luxury and modern finishes. “Our homes are in Hilton and our apartments in PMB, so it was important to incorporate the surroundings when deciding on the furnishings and creating scenery that will enable people to connect and create memories in our spaces. Hence, our enclosed patios and long tables and benches are great for connecting during a meal or just chilling with pizzas and wine.”
The homes and apartments are available for both long and short stays, and Wendy says that they have a good mix of both. “We enjoy both our long-term and short-stay clients. TLC also prides itself with 70% return clients which is absolutely fantastic for the brand.” The Living Collective has received guests from all over South Africa and from overseas, with the furthest guests coming from America, New Zealand, India, the UK and Australia. In addition to offering accommodation, The Living Collective also has a fleet of vehicles, from luxury Range Rovers to the perfect family SUV, making it easy for guests to enjoy the Midlands when they visit. Their homes and cars are gorgeous, and they’ve had many guests ask to buy them.
With the success of The Living Collective, Wendy is looking to add more locations and accommodation to the portfolio. After the COVID-19 pandemic and the lockdown’s impact on the tourism industry, she hopes to see more locals exploring South Africa. With gorgeous places to stay such as those available from The Living Collective, we can’t see why anybody wouldn’t want to support local tourism!