Sébastien Bax de Keating, Managing Director at Horizon Properties, always had the intuition that he would, one day, realise people’s dreams of owning exceptional homes in idyllic places. He tells us how his various past life experiences have been put to use for his clients, and tells us a little more about what lies ahead…
1. Tell us more about your career so far...
I did a lot of “temp” jobs during my teenage years, and even more so during university… Those experiences really reinforced my passion for working with people. I also had the opportunity to work in amazing settings such as luxurious restaurants, hotels and historical villas, especially in Cape Town’s upmarket neighbourhoods.
After 4 years at the University of Cape Town, I returned to Mauritius, with a variety of work experience and an economics diploma in hand, which finally led me, after a few management jobs, to founding HORIZON in 2008 with my cousin, Harold Mayer. The business-focused mainly on tourism and hospitality services, aimed at providing rental and property management solutions to owners of high-end waterfront villas and apartments... For about ten years, the business operated almost exclusively this way.
Being very curious, I naturally started learning about property sales, legalities and project management. At the same time, I was meeting more and more clients, who encouraged me in this direction and nurtured my passion for design and architecture. The idea of adding Property Development Services to the Horizon offering was born! We launched Manta Cove, a waterfront RES located in la Preneuse in 2016, followed shortly by the WaterClub at La Balise.
2. Why did you choose this profession?
It’s a nice memory actually. Since I was a little boy, I’ve always liked playing in construction sites and collecting materials to make things. It is something I shared with my grandfather who was building houses at the time. Over time, I developed a love for design, building and architecture, and following my Grandfather, developed an entrepreneurial spirit.
Conceptualising and putting real estate projects together requires multiple skills: technical, organisational, financial, marketing and sales... but mostly, it’s being able to manage conflict between various stakeholders and to be able to lead your teams to work well together.
3. Why do you want to focus on real estate development?
Horizon’s ambition is to develop successful projects, aesthetically but also responsible to their environments. The idea is that our projects naturally embrace their locality and beautify them. People should say, ”wow, that’s an amazing project!”
Through Manta Cove, our first real estate project (co-developed with 2Futures), we began building our reputation as high-end developers. The WaterClub, our first solo project, will soon be built and delivered early 2021 and will be our second with 22 units, this time under the PDS scheme.
4. What is your added value in this very competitive environment?
● Our core property management strength acquired over the years - this gives our owners the peace of mind they need when buying property abroad.
● Our local identity. We’re Mauritian, and like to be close to “what’s happening on the ground” and learn to adapt to changing circumstances and I’d like to think that we bring a local flair to our projects.
● We’re “peoples” persons. I like to maintain very personal relationships with our buyers and collaborators. My clients and associates often become my friends! In fact, property development has brought so many amazing people into my life, which I am very thankful for and can’t see how I’d do without.
● Our attention to detail. We spend a lot of time on our sites and get meticulous about the details and finishes. This pays off in the result to the client.
Finally, and probably the most important: Our curiosity to learn and a passion for real estate.
5. Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
I see our offering becoming more diversified but remaining within the high-end bracket. Ideally, we’ll start investing ourselves into greener and more sustainable projects, with alternative materials and technologies, and away from the “bling-bling” you sometimes see.
People want different lifestyles, slower, peaceful community living, and away from it all. We’ll try and do our part in contributing to this idea of tomorrow’s urbanism by offering places suited to more natural/responsible lifestyles – a return to simplicity.
I guess we’ll remain a small team, and work on small and medium-size projects, which we can attend to personally and do well.