Traveling in the Southern Hemisphere in winter leaves very little promise of swimmingly good weather; however Umhlanga during July was beautiful with highs reaching 27 degrees Celsius. Perfectly paired to this impeccable weather is an equally impressive hotel - The Oyster Box.
Our flight arrived and we were warmly greeted by a chauffeur, where he escorted us to a vehicle in waiting, complete with waters, snacks and a cellphone charger. I felt as if I had arrived at the Four Seasons Hotel in Hong Kong.
Fifteen minutes later, we arrived at the Oyster Box Hotel where the General Manager (Wayne), the Head of Reservations and the Executive chef were waiting to greet us personally. They were flanked by a number of women in Zulu song, welcoming us to this fine establishment. Our check-in was flawless. No long registration queues nor waiting to fill in documents nor patiently having to wait as someone fiddles on the computer. No. As I walked up to the registration desk, I was greeted by name (after a 2 year absence from the hotel) and my forms were waiting. Filled in. All I needed to do was sign on the bottom line. Every member of staff greeted me by name as if they had received a tweet announcing my arrival.
About two years since my last visit and the overall experience of the hotel still wowed me. I remember thinking that the last time around was spectacular but I’m pleased to say, if anything, if possible, this time it was even better.
From the quirky reception and public areas, through to the gorgeously appointed bedrooms, all is memorable, luxurious and leaves you wanting more.
The new British royal recently introduced to the world was recognized and celebrated by the hotel with a framed photograph of the three royals, Union Jack flanking the table, and macarons with baby booties for guests to enjoy. This is just a small taste of treats around every corner at this hotel.
The Pool area is sheer luxury: Comfortable loungers in the signature red and white stripe, mirroring the iconic lighthouse on the rocks in front of the hotel; Complimentary waters; sunblocks; books; and snacks. Hell, i reckon if they could they would even adjust the weather for you. Yup. Service is that good.
The hotel is set not only on a beautiful beach location, but also a wonderfully natural location, where on many occasions we say dolphins in the sea, and monkeys scattering around the grounds
The bedroom: we had a luxury sea facing room. The rooms are legacy (the property dates back to the 1800‘s) and not massive, but certainly large enough for 2 persons. A small balcony with two chairs and a table, and a view unmatched anywhere on that coastline. Bedding is superb, finishes are great, and one always feels special after receiving a personalized handwritten welcome-back note from the GM. Additionally we were spoilt by the GM by him having sent us gifts of peak caps and sarongs.
From the in-room DVD player (with an enormous selection of DVD’s) to the sanitized (and plastic sealed) remotes for the TV and DVD player, me being the OCD hygiene freak, loved it.
Details, like the blue LED light in bathrooms (to see at night without turning on the lights. to the amenities in bathrooms - i was a happy holidayer. One thing had changed since the last visit: L’Occitane in the bathrooms has been replaced with B|Africa line of amenities. Whilst disappointed at first, i loved them by the end of my trip and nicked the remainder to bring home: i only do that if i love the amenities....
Not only were the adults treated well. Kids are given fishing nets and a welcome backpacks on arrival. Although there is an excellent kids club - which we utilized to satisfaction on our last visit, this time round the kids were happy at the beach and pool.
Food at this hotel is excellent, and it takes a major culinary draw to get me away from the hotel. In four days i left the hotel only once, to the excellent Ile Maurice, about a 2 minute walk from the hotel. Patagonian Seabass, and Fillet flambéed in cognac were some of the excellent treats on offer. That being said, the hotel boasts a number of excellent bars and restaurants. The lunch time and dinner time buffet curry is sensational, leading me to eat far more than i should. Breakfasts are memorable, with sparkling wine and oysters to mention some of the highlights. There really is no need to leave the hotel grounds though. Service at the restaurants is excellent, and it no wonder HRH Princess Charlene of Monaco honeymooned here.
The hotel has its own in house movie theatre with approximately i 24 uber comfortable seats. Movies are shown roughly every two hours, taking into account times for child-appropriate and age restricted movies. Should you be the only ones in the movie theatre, The staff are more than happy for you to screen any choice of movie from their vast collection. Alongside the theatre is a trolley of edible delights, and upon starting the movie, staff arrive with freshly made popcorn and take drinks orders. My Bloody Mary was sublime.
The Spa at the hotel is a real treat - The B|Africa range is used and the therapists are great. Facilities are incredible in this 3-story building which houses a unique hamman, which i believe is unique in the country.
So, with all that being said, i keep wondering why it took me 2 years to go back to this sensational property. I dont know the answer, but i can tell you that i will be back there before this year is up. Cannot wait.
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