It is a sunny Sunday afternoon in Los Angeles, and Kirk Lazarus has just rounded out a beach volleyball session with a bowl of spaghetti vongole cooked by his personal chef. This exemplifies the laid-back lifestyle the South African-born, Sydney-raised entrepreneur espouses, and the open-minded approach he takes to everything he creates - no matter if it is a resort retreat or organic ice cream.
After all, this is a man who "likes to walk barefoot a lot" and who cycles to work in Venice Beach at the new headquarters for his companies, Molori Private Retreats and Molori Design. The word "molori" means "to dream" in Tswana, a southern African dialect, and "dream" is a word that peppers any conversation with Lazarus.
"I'd like to create a dream-like life," he says of his approach to creating the private and exclusive resorts that launched his career as a hotelier.
Lazarus is now the proud owner of a safari lodge within Madikwe Game Reserve in South Africa, plus resorts in Clifton and Cape Town, and Port Douglas in Australia, plus a superyacht called Told U So. Once upon a time, however, he was in the energy business. He was "one of the first guys at Glencore", he says of working with Glencore Xstrata, a multinational company trading and mining natural resources.
"I used to have to do a lot of entertaining, and I decided that the private residences I rented didn't fulfil the needs of my guests," he says. "I wanted to fill what I saw as a gap in the market."
So Lazarus created utterly private boutique retreats with only a few luxuriously appointed suites, enabling guests to receive personal service 24/7. Butlers are on hand to meet the needs of their charges, whether it is for helicopter services, Cuban cigars, horse riding on the beach in Cape Town, or jungle surfing in Australia's Daintree Rainforest.
And that is just the tip of the iceberg: dedicated staff at each Molori Retreat are able and willing to tailor any activity to suit guests' tastes. No wonder dignitaries and celebrities - including Kate Moss and John Travolta - have flocked to each of Lazarus' properties.
While services are a core part of the Molori philosophy, design is just as important. Lazarus is, as he puts it, "personally involved in every detail, right down to the knives and forks". Each of his retreats is different: Missoni Home fabrics, animal skins and a treasure trove of objects sit beside Dedon daybeds and Chesterfield sofas, and yet everything works together.
Lazarus is not a trained designer, and despite - or perhaps because of - this, his layering of different finishes and styles is fresh, bold and at times beautifully eclectic. Whatever it is, it's not cookie-cutter - this term has no place in Lazarus' vocabulary. "I was never a rule boy," he says. "I don't have a signature style. It's just whatever is the flavour of the day for me."
Next, he turned to the world of real estate, building "everything from one-bedroom to 10-bedroom properties", he says. "We are very turnkey-focused. We can do the planning, the zoning … we can even find the land." He has also worked on turnkey superyacht and aircraft projects, the latter of which range from Falcon jets to Bell helicopters. For these projects, Molori handles the interior remodelling and the exterior paint on occasion.
Whether it's a boat, a plane or an apartment, each Molori property is thoughtfully designed. "It's very important to be practical," says Lazarus, who puts fridges in every bedroom, ice machines on every floor and, in coastal estates, will incorporate deep sinks specially designed to hold seafood. "We do sinks 35 to 40cm deep by one-metre long, so we can put fresh lobster in them. It's residential resort style."
Soon to bring this unique holiday aesthetic to homes is a series of high-end apartments in Los Angeles. With these spaces, Lazarus aims to "bring the outside to the inside", he says. "We do a lot of green development, and I use geothermal energy wherever possible."
He is also working on the Molori boutique in Abbot Kinney, Los Angeles, which will offer everything from bedding - the result of a joint venture with Frette - towels in collaboration with Missoni, and tableware including chopsticks.
Then there's his organic ice cream brand: "It's 100 per cent organic, starting from the eggs and the way they are farmed," he says. Lazarus is set to open a store in Los Angeles this month, with the first location in Asia to follow later this year in Hong Kong.
For Lazarus, Asia is a key part of the equation over the next few years. "I speak Russian fluently, plus Italian, German, Flemish, Dutch, reasonable Spanish, and Mandarin is next."
It's all part of his plan to build a high-rise residential development somewhere in China. "I'm not in a hurry, I'm just looking at choosing the right partner and making sure we have the same mentality," he says.
Lazarus is clearly only just getting started: soon, the Molori empire will extend from hotels to ice cream and skyscrapers - the latter being one of the few things Lazarus hasn't yet designed. "I'd like to design a residential development that's all duplexes or triplexes," he says. No doubt it won't be long before he makes this dream a reality.
Kirk Lazarus sees an opportunity to create a luxury design brand offering bespoke spaces and products.
Molori Safari Lodge comes into being at Madikwe Game Reserve, in South Africa.
Molori Great Barrier Reef is established in Australia.
Lazarus establishes Molori Design, which goes on to work on turnkey residences, yachts and aircraft.
Molori Design works on its first turnkey apartments.
The birth of Told U So, Molori Private Retreats' superluxe superyacht.
Establishment of the fourth Molori retreat in the exclusive Clifton suburb, in Cape Town, South Africa.
Molori Design works on its first turnkey yacht project.
This year will see the launch of Molori Design in the United States, with a retail space in Los Angeles that will encompass clothing and home and lifestyle design, and a set of turnkey houses in LA. Molori Design seeks business partners in China for residential projects.
In June, Beach House Creamery, Lazarus' new, 100 per cent organic ice cream and ice lolly brand, will launch in LA. It will come to Hong Kong later this year.