On Wednesday the 25th of November, we left on a quick trip to Gooderson Leisure Drakensberg Gardens Golf and Spa Resort.
The resort is situated in the Southern Drakensberg, on an 860 hectare World Heritage site, and boasting the most beautiful scenery (in my opinion) that KwaZulu Natal has to offer. There are 5 different restaurants, 4 different bars, it is the only 18-hole golf course in the Southern Drakensberg, as well as offering a vast array of activities and entertainment so that you WILL find something exciting to do or see.
After a light lunch in the the Bistro Terrace Cafe, I rushed to book an appointment at the Wellness Centre. Gooderson Leisure Resorts make use of the Cellu-Beauty Spas – I was desperate for a massage. After some discussion with the therapist, I decided to go for the Roman Royalty Swedish Massage – an hour long, full body massage using a combination of Swedish, deep-tissue and pressure point massage to ensure you leave relaxed and serene. I like a deep massage, and can’t stand it when I have someone ineffectually massaging my stiff muscles with no pressure whatsoever. This massage didn’t disappoint, and I left the spa in a state so relaxed, I felt like I was walking on a cloud. I hopped straight into one of the warm jacuzzis in the centre, and continued to unwind. Possibly the best way to de-stress and just give yourself a pick-me-up before the mad rush of work at year-end. As well as the spa and two jacuzzis, the Wellness Centre also boasts a sauna, a plunge pool, a fully-equipped gym, two steam rooms and a 24 jet heated hydrotherapy pool.
I’d had such a relaxing afternoon that I expected to pass out in the huge (and very comfy) bed in my hotel room, but I couldn’t possibly… I had more eating to do! We all met for a quick drink in the Buck and Trout bar, before heading into the Eagle’s Roost restaurant – a family style restaurant with a buffet-style dinner. I stuffed myself silly on some salads, the best roast beef and Yorkshire pudding I’ve ever had, and finished off with lemon meringue pie and tiramisu. After this huge feast it was inevitable that it was now bedtime and I slept like a baby.
Breakfast was also at the Eagle’s Roost – another buffet with everything from pain-Au-chocolat, to fresh fruit and yoghurt, to warm oats, and a full English fry up. A good cup of coffee and some fresh orange juice complimented this perfectly, seeing as we had a jam-packed day of adventuring around the resort to get through.
I watched the braver souls try out the resort’s zip-line in their new adventure park (not quite up and running as yet, but it will be very soon), taking photos of the hilarious facial expressions of those coming to the end of their ride, and I tried my hand at archery, determined to sink at least one arrow into the target. I felt like Robin Hood as I handled the bow, and after MANY attempts, I got a couple of arrows in! We also had a quick walk around the hotel area, and saw the bowls lawns, the adventure golf course and the animal farm (my personal favourite spot). There are currently two baby lambs and a baby goat at the resort’s animal farm, so I of course had to snuggle one (or all three), and considered attempting a stealthy exit with the baby goat in particular.
Lunch was at the Glen Gary Country Club on the golf course this time, and was a delicious whole cooked Drakensberg trout with lemon and garlic butter, and chips, and was followed by a waffle with ice cream and syrup. Both courses were absolutely delicious and perfectly cooked.
I also went on an out ride on horseback through the beautiful resort and cantering across the open stretches along the river was such a treat. The guide can take anyone from beginners to advanced riders, and the horses are in beautiful condition – not something you always see at resorts.
Dinner was a braai that was set up for us on the patio of the Buck and Trout bar, with fruity cocktails and all the fixings of pap and sous, mielies, salad, garlic bread and delicious braaied meat. We also visited the other bar in the main building, the Wildcat Sports bar, with pool tables, darts and karaoke.
The resort is in the process of building a wedding venue with the most beautiful pathway lined with white roses. Even though it was still being finished when we visited, you can tell that it’s going to really be something special when the landscaping and other finishing touches are completed.
Other than the restaurants and bars that we tried out, the Drakensberg Gardens also has the Bergview Restaurant (a la carte menu), the Vine Knot restaurant (Italian) and the Glen Gary Country Club Bar. There is no way you’ll get bored of eating at the same restaurant, and having sundowners at the same bar.
Accommodation at the resort also comes in many different forms. Hotel rooms where you can pay a bed and breakfast rate – Standard Room R875 pp per night, Superior Room R995 pp per night, and the Honeymoon Suite R2190 per couple per night. There are also self catering chalets that sleep either 4 or 6 people, and they have a few areas with timeshares as well.
Above and beyond the activities that I saw, you can also hike, mountain bike, play golf, tennis, squash, adventure golf or bowls, or even just lounge by the pool in the sunshine. The resort also has a weekly entertainment schedule, with activities for the kids, as well as bar games in the evening for adults.
The Gooderson Leisure Drakensberg Gardens Golf and Spa Resort truly is a home away from home, with delicious food, exciting things to do and see, and a relaxed atmosphere where you can truly unwind and enjoy quality family time. I just wish that I’d had longer to try out more of the activities – but there’s always next time!
REVIEW: Hilton Hotel Umhlanga Arch
Hilton Garden Inn is the first of its kind in South Africa, situated at the new Umhlanga Arch, welcoming both local and international guests. Durbanite recently experienced first hand what they have to offer.
From the moment you walk in, you experience a relaxed environment, making you feel right at home. The Hilton Garden Inn Umhlanga Arch is a technologically advanced hotel, allowing guests to check in, select and unlock your room, as well as access the guest lift, easily from your mobile phone. The hotel boasts a fitness centre, outdoor swimming pool with a great view of the upcoming developments in the area as well as the stunning sea Durban has to offer, as well as a laundry room and currency exchange for international guests.
The staff at the Hilton Garden Inn Umhlanga Arch are friendly and extremely helpful and have adopted a “Brightheartered Hospitality” approach.
“It was amazing, the staff remember your name, they learn more about why you are visiting and really go out of their way to make your experience a memorable one.” Commented Bianca Hauser, Durbanite contributor.
There are 203 rooms kitted out with coffee and tea brewers, a flat screen HDTV, a hairdryer, iron and ironing board (perfect for out of town guests), along with a mini refrigerator. Hilton Garden Inn Umhlanga Arch ensure to adhere to Covid-19 safety regulations by cleaning rooms before check in as well as after check out. They are currently participating in the Hilton CleanStay Program with Lysol Protection to deliver an even cleaner and safer experience for guests.
“I really felt comfortable during these times, as once staff clean a room, they have the Hilton CleanStay Room Seal that indicates to us that a room has not been accessed since it was cleaned and disinfected.”
The hotel ensures sufficient spacing in the dining hall and hand sanitizers can be found throughout the hotel. Guests are encouraged to use disposable gloves provided when dishing up salad for the meals and the Chefs are responsible for dishing up dinner, limiting exposure.
Together & Co aims to bring people together, “one meal, coffee and conversation at a time”. Those who are not guests at the hotel are also welcome to dine at the restaurant or have a drink at the bar. Hilton Garden Inn Umhlanga Arch also boasts a 24-hour self-service retail space, “The Shop”, which offers snacks, locally sourced food and beverages as well as essential personal items, should guests need anything.
To book your stay, visit their website.
Durban, 4320, South Africa
REVIEW: Enticing Emdoneni Lodge Escape, Cat Tour & River Cruise!
If you are looking for a local getaway but not sure where to go, a 2h40 hr drive from Durban central is all it takes to transport you from the hustle and bustle of city life into nature at its best. We want to tell you about a little gem called Emdoneni Lodge in Hluhluwe as well as our experiences of the incredible Cat Tour and River Cruise in St. Lucia – to view cats, crocs and hippo – so be sure to read (or scroll) through to the end for all the information you need to book your next trip!
(Editors note: The Emdoneni Lodge is a short 25 min drive to the Hluhluwe Imfolozi Park Memorial Gate entrance. If you are keen to try your luck at spotting the Big 5, this is a great days activity for the whole family!)
Catching some Zzz’s <<Accommodation>>
Our room at Emdoneni was comfortable and intimate – with air conditioning. The décor was modern and simple with fresh crisp linen – just the way I like it! The en-suite bathroom was spacious and tidy, with a walk-in shower worth mention. The only thing we missed (for a beat) was a TV but we must admit we did appreciate the opportunity to break away from our day to day life.
DinDins & Breakie <<Food>>
3 course meals were prepared for us nightly. The starters on both nights were worth writing home about, the tomato and mushroom soups were especially hearty and delicious. Main course was your choice between two proteins and a vegetarian option – the Dorado and Beef Curry get a special mention here. Dessert pleased the palate – tasty and decadent – the perfect way to end a day of good eating and adventure.
Breakfast was offered as buffet with your usual cereals, yogurt, fruits, tea and coffee available. The hot breakfast options prepared to order. Bacon and eggs done to your liking with various options but we would recommend the Emdoneni Tower Omelette if you are undecided!
Editors note: We could write about the food in much more, lengthy detail but instead will leave you with some photos below and allow you to let your eyes do the judging!
Round About <<Common Areas>>
If you do decide to book at Emdoneni Lodge especially with the family or friends we can assure you the kids will be well entertained from sunrise to sunset; leaving you with time to sit back and relax. The games area has a ton of well, games as well as a pool table and a small jungle gym for the little ones.
We can imagine hours would be spent lazing by or swimming in the pool. The lush green gardens are perfect for a game of catches or hide-and-go-seek.
The comfy lounging areas overlook the gardens are the perfect spot to unwind and sip on an ice cold one from the bar. Come 6pm, it’s time to take a seat under the African stars alongside the bonfire. Open a bottle of red and chat about your days adventures!
Self-Love <<The Emdoneni Spa>>
While holidaying at Emdoneni, you will naturally be taking time to unwind. We couldn’t think of a better way than to book yourself (and your partner) for a morning of self-love and pampering. Various treatments are available at the Emdoneni Spa, click here to find out more.
Sadly we didn’t have enough time to indulge but this is definitely on our ‘To Do’ when we visit again.
Meow <<Zululand Cat Conservation Project>>
This gem on the north coast is a must see for both young and old and is open to general public – not just those staying at Emdoneni Lodge.
We thoroughly enjoyed our experience and can safely say that it was the highlight of our trip!
The aim of this incredible project is to create a wildlife awareness and education centre which focuses on conservation and the sustainability of the cats which they home. The cats have come to the project, orphaned or injured and in need of care and rehabilitation.
We were lucky enough to go on a Cat Tour where we got up close and personal (but not too personal) with these majestic creatures. Along with our informative tour guide we had the opportunity to stand a few (safe) meters away from Caracal, Serval, Cheetah and the less intimidating but cutest, African Wildcat!
If you are a cat lover, you may want to consider their ‘Adopt a Cat’ initiative. It is a fantastic way to support the project either for yourself, or in the name of your nature-loving, cat-loving friends. To read up more, click here.
I’m on a Boat! <<Heritage Tours & Safaris>>
Keen to see some Hippo in their natural habitat? We would highly recommend booking a river cruise of the St Lucia Estuary though Heritage Tours & Safari!
Dennis was our tour guide; his knowledge of the Estuary and all its creatures (big and small) was extensive. Unlike some of other cruise operators on the Estuary this boat takes up to 15 people – which I preferred – it is perfect for a group of friends or family or if you just prefer a more intimate, quiet setting for your cruise.
We were lucky enough to spot some incredible bird life on the water’s edge, a one-horned Water Buck, some mean looking crocs soaking rays on the river bank and of course, the Hippo going about their daily Hippo business.
Did you know that the Hippo is the 3rd largest land mammals, after elephants and the white rhino?
It truly was incredible to be so close to these enormous mammals, but of course observing from a safe distance – I was thankful I was on a boat and not in the water with them!
For more information you can visit their website by clicking here.
That’s a Wrap <<The End>>
We thoroughly enjoyed our weekend getaway. Our only complaint is that we should have booked in for a 3rd night – there is just so much to see and do nearby that it is impossible to fit everything we wanted to do in.
A special thank you to Nondumiso Myeni for our warm welcome and making us feel right at home.
Slindile Ngema, thank you for your fantastic service and compliments to Chef Sindi Masinga for some delicious, hearty meals.
We cannot wait to come back!
REVIEW: Lidiko Lodge, St Lucia
Lidiko Lodge is a 4 STAR lodge situated in St Lucia, surrounded by the Greater St Lucia Wetland Park (“iSimangaliso Wetland Park”), an UNESCO World Heritage Site.
With 16 garden lodges available, Lidiko Lodge is the ultimate getaway for families and couples alike.
An interesting fact about this place is that the main building of the lodge is one of the first buildings that was erected in St Lucia. Oozing an Old World Zululand charm with its thatch built structure.
The lodge has a reception area, guest lounge, a library as well as a dining deck where we ate breakfast each morning.
Lidiko Lodge is a tropical oasis. I felt as if I was on a remote island, away from the craziness of today’s world. It was absolutely perfect and oh so relaxing.
“Upon arrival, we were graciously greeted by the owners and shown to our beautiful room for the next two nights.
All the rooms are garden rooms, en-suite, fully air conditioned and spacious with a private patio and entrance. The rooms are fitted with either single or King size base set beds. Each room has a TV, chairs, bar fridge, hair dryer, a safe and complimentary tea & coffee.
In view of the fact that Lidiko Lodge is within 5 minutes’ walking distance of all the restaurants in the village, dinner is only done by prior arrangement. We had a quick dinner in the village before heading off for a much well deserved good night’s sleep.
Feeling refreshed, we headed to the dining deck where our table had been perfectly decorated with flowers from the garden and two divine fruit cups placed for us to enjoy. We ordered our customised hot breakfast while we had the chance to meet Lyzette, one of the friendly owners of Lidiko Lodge.
We made use of the day to visit iSimangaliso Wetland Park, which was only about a 5 minute drive away. A must visit if you’re ever in St Lucia!
Note: Be sure to pack your own drinks/food as there isn’t much available inside the park.
After an incredible day out spotting animals, relaxing on beaches and taking every 4×4 loop in the park, we headed back to Lidiko Lodge. We grabbed some drinks from their fully stocked honesty bar and drove down to Sunset Jetty to watch the sunset. (You could walk this distance as we didn’t realise how close it was to Lidiko!)
Dinner was enjoyed at one of St Lucia’s many restaurants on offer and again, we headed back for another good night’s rest.
Sunday was our last breakfast at the incredible Lidiko Lodge. With heavy hearts, we were sad to be packing up to head back to our home in Durban.
Lidiko Lodge truly felt like our home away from home and we will definitely be back!”
Lidiko Lodge is currently running a special where you can get 20% off your stay if you book directly with them.
To book your stay:
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