Swanky sex club gets neighbours steamed

Alleged illegal activities and possible by-law contraventions by the Epicure Club, at 4 Little Lion’s Head Road in the upmarket Rhodes Estate, are being investigated by the City.

There has been a slew of complaints about the goings-on at a swanky suburban sex club in Hout Bay’s upmarket Rhodes Estate, according to the City.

Alleged illegal activities and possible by-law contraventions by the Epicure Club are being investigated, according to mayoral committee member for spatial planning and environment Eddie Andrews.

Epicure’s website describes it as an “adult entertainment club” that “combines the best elements of a sexy hotel, a discreet adult club, a massage spa, a gentlemen’s club, a sex club and a swinger club”. The website stresses that it is not a brothel, a strip club or a revue bar.

Membership is R3000 a month for individuals and R5000 for couples.

The property at 4 Little Lion’s Head Road is zoned single residential zone 1 (SR1) for conventional housing and therefore is not allowed to operate such a business, according to the City.

Should it be found that an illegal business was being run from the property, a notice in terms of the Municipal Planning By-Law would be served on the owners to cease the activity, Mr Andrews said.

According to company records, Andreas-Oliver Trost is listed as the sole director of the Epicure Club and the private company was registered in October of 2020.

When the Sentinel called Mr Trost, he refused to answer questions and said he would wait to see what was written and then might consult his lawyer.

The Sentinel sent questions to an email address listed on the club’s Facebook page, and in response, we received an unsigned statement that said: “The property was purpose-built as a boutique hotel and has been in operation since 2008. In 2019, the target demographic changed from families to adults. The Epicure Club is the first sex-positive hotel in Cape Town and, to our knowledge, the first in South Africa. Nudity is allowed and guests may have consensual sex. In the alternative lifestyle, the location is considered a safe space for like-minded people. As consent is involved, none of the activities are illegal or can be prosecuted.”

In 2021, the property was investigated by the City for allegedly operating a brothel, according to Mr Andrews. The business had ceased to operate in September 2021 as a result of Hout Bay police intervention, and the City’s case file had been closed, he said.

Hout Bay station commander Lieutenant Colonel Jerome Syster said officers had made a couple of visits to the property, but nothing illegal had been found.

Ward councillor Rob Quintas said the business had, at one point, ceased operations and advertising following a series of visits and checks by the police and other authorities, but now it had resurfaced along with complaints from residents who felt it did not suit the tone of the suburb.

“Allegations of prostitution, drugs and other vice are taken seriously, and although the City is unable to investigate criminal allegations, we will act on any by-law contravention allegations as appropriate,” said Mr Quintas.

Epicure say they had a noise complaint in February 2021. “The police were requested to come here under a false pretence. They searched the property, did not find anything and left without the result desired by the neighbour(s).”

Epicure add that they had also been issued a fine for smoking in an unauthorised space but had successfully contested it in the Wynberg Magistrate’s Court.

“Nobody here has been charged or prosecuted with any crime. The business has not been shut down,” said Epicure.

Residents would only speak to us on condition of anonymity saying they had been intimidated by armed “heavies”.

One resident said he believed the club had been tipped off before a police visit because officers had arrived to find “only 20 bottles of alcohol in the house and four guys having a fish braai”.

A couple who live nearby complained that the club held sex-themed parties that drew many people and disturbed the peace with “loud music” and “raucous activities” lasting into the early hours.

“While Epicure professes to avoid the sale of alcohol by including it in the club’s entrance charge, the volume of alcohol (consumed) would, in and of itself, be a contravention of the liquor laws. Appeals by residents to the owner have been rebuffed, and many have felt that they were intimidated from making further complaints,” said the couple.

They added that the club posted armed guards at its entrance.

Responding to these allegations, Epicure said, “We are not the only residence in Cape Town with armed guards, and it is not illegal to employ armed guards. South Africa is one of the most dangerous countries in the world. As we have recently seen with the German tourist, Cape Town and Hout Bay are no exception. If more people could afford armed guards, more people would have them.”

The club says it has neighbours who do not approve of the lifestyle it promotes or its “LGBQ-friendly and open-minded way of life“, and it adds, ”We intend to continue living our lifestyle.“

Glowing reviews are posted on Epicure’s Facebook page.

“It’s good to be back! Cape Town’s Epicure Club is still at the top of my ranks, giving the most intense sensual massage! Exhilarating is an understatement…, much love,” says Katia Krejcir.

Ana Claudia Costa writes, “Loving the vibe and the reception we got. Definitely will return. Please thank all the people that helped us have an unforgettable night.”

Natasha Olivier says, “Stunning place to meet new people and very welcoming crowd.”