Sol Kerzner, who died in Cape Town last week at the age of 84, was a flamboyant, vulgar and mercurial hotel and casino tycoon who started SA's two biggest hotel groups, Southern Sun and Sun International, which owned all but three of the country's five-star hotels.

He set the tone with a hotel he built at the age of 29 in the quiet fishing village of Umhlanga, near Durban, in 1964, against advice that he was spending too much on something that would never fly because the place was too isolated. He gave his crooked smile, spent even more and with his soon to be trademark swagger called it the Beverly Hills. It became SA's first five-star hotel.

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