New entrepreneur Christian Halm decided to open up his business, 180 Lounger, in the city because there is nowhere else in the world that has what Cape Town has to offer, he said.
Christian also recently moved to Cape Town after a 17-year long career of travelling and eventually settled to pursue his dream of starting his own venture.
Christian was born and raised in France, and did his Master’s degree in management and marketing strategy.
He spent most of his life abroad as he worked in the commercial department of a large airline company.
“I spent a lot of time travelling due to my work. I also had the opportunity to move to many parts of the world, including South America, Europe and then to East Africa.”
His job as a commercial director for southern Africa eventually took him to Johannesburg.
“The airline company was growing and they needed managers this side to run things.”
Christian said one day he flew to Cape Town, as he usually did and his flight was unexpectedly cancelled.
“I had already checked out of my hotel and I was with my rental car, looking for a place I could work and chill till the next flight, a place not as noisy as a bar or restaurant, but there was nowhere for me to go. I eventually flew back and while I was doing my day job, this idea bothered me and I decided to just implement it. I realised then that there was a niche, and I started doing my homework and putting together a business plan. I’ve always dreamt of starting my own venture, but I wasn’t sure what it was yet until this time. I told myself it was now or never.”
Christian’s idea was to open a lounge, a business and leisure venue, aimed both at travellers looking for a place in which to spend a few hours in between meetings or flights, or for locals to use to meet up or hold events to conduct business or just meet up with friends. He decided on the name 180 Lounger.
“It’s about looking at life in peripheral vision. If you look at life from just one angle, you won’t see anything else and you will miss opportunities life throws at you.”
Christian believes finding the space at the Terraces in Bree Street was meant to be.
“I was searching for premises to start my business when I found one on a rooftop in the city centre. I flew down to have a look and I couldn’t believe it – the view was a 180 degree view of the city. The space was an empty shell, but I saw the potential in it and I was sold.
The ‘8’ in the name is also important, said Christian, as it represents an hourglass and time.
“When you look at the world today, everything seems to revolve around time. And I wanted to create an experience to maximise time.”
He then moved to Cape Town to renovate the space, which now has an inside lounging area, a small meeting room, a coffee bar and a space for travellers to lock away their belongings, shower facilities, and an outdoor area where visitors have a view of the V&A Waterfront, the foreshore, Bo-Kaap and Lion’s Head.
“I’ve had a great welcome from South Africa for this venture. We already had enquiries before the opening. In July we had a soft launch to cater for some of these events, and by September, we had officially opened.”
Christian had left his day job to run 180 Lounger, and now lives in Milnerton. He said being in the heart of the CBD is good for business. “We are near most hotels and the V&A Waterfront as well as the Cape Town International Convention Centre, so we are easy to find for travellers.”
He said the diversity of the city also speaks to the concept. “It’s about what this country and this city offers. You cannot compete with the scenery of the city – no other city has what Cape Town can offer.”
And, he said, the lounge also caters for locals. “We have what we call the Rooftop Chill in line with First Thursdays – but we do it every Thursday. There are many businesses around the city and sometimes people would rather spend their time chilling or working in a space that isn’t the office, or avoid traffic, or just come and socialise once a week.”
He said 180 Lounger was not a bar, hotel, or restaurant. “We are a lounge. There are so many places people can experience a city dinner, so we don’t want to be an eatery. We want a space where people can experience the city when they don’t really have the time to.”