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The Oyster Box

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The Oyster Box – is one of Africa’s most distinguished hotels. With an abundance of colonial charm, it stands majestically on Umhlanga’s prestigious beachfront, with lush landscaped gardens and direct beach access. The hotel is conveniently situated in relation to the Natal Midlands and the Drakensberg Mountains, as well as game parks and historic battlefields.

The hotel boasts 86 luxurious rooms and suites and a magnificent Presidential Suite, each individually created to blend colonial charm with modern convenience. Renowned for its generous hospitality, attentive service and exceptional cuisine, The Oyster Box offers a variety of superb restaurants and cocktail bars for fine dining or more casual occasions.

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Durbanite recently had the opportunity to experience the ‘Indulge Yourself’ package at the luxurious Oyster Box hotel. This is ideal for Durbanites as well as non-Durbanites who just want to get away from it all, without having to travel far.

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We met with Joanne Hayes from Tumbleweed Communications, who handles the PR for the Oyster Box. She told us some fascinating stories that’s not widely known. One of them being about the legacy of The Oyster Box.

A large part of the legacy is that it’s been around for as long as anybody can remember. The original cottage called ‘The Oyster Lodge’ was built on the grounds in 1863. It was originally used as a navigational beacon.

In 1952, the cottage and overgrown grounds were sold to local residents Ken O’Connor and Kay O’Connor (Hill), his sister. They started a tea garden, which became a restaurant and then The Oyster Box Hotel, in March 1954, on the site next to the iconic lighthouse.  In 2006 the property came up for sale. The then owner, Wayne Reed, particularly wanted the Oyster Box to pass on to a family who would continue the hospitality, traditions and values for which the hotel had become famous.

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Having re-opened on 1 October 2009, The Oyster Box of today buzzes with a renewed energy and vitality. In all the ways that reflect and celebrate the legend of The Oyster Box, the experience of the ‘new’ Oyster Box is one that holds the grand hotel’s history, heritage, heart and ‘home’ in perfect balance.

Another incredible aspect I loved about the Oyster Box is that they’re pet-friendly. Being an avid animal lover, I was immediately drawn to the fact that The Oyster Box allows you to bring your pooches along for the experience. The inclusion of special pet menus, linen and sleeping baskets, guarantee that your furry friends enjoy the same luxury!

Wayne Coetzer, General Manager of The Oyster Box says: “As one of South Africa’s most distinguished hotels we have to consider the various needs of our guests; what better way than to include their beloved pets. It’s easy to see why our hotel is a leader in the industry and the first choice among discerning holidaymakers.”

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While on the topic of animals, you may or may not have heard of Skabenga, the resident cat who has been living at the Oyster Box for 13 years. It all started when he wandered onto the property as a stray, was fed tasty (expensive) titbits (prawns and seafood) by guests and…well…the rest is history… he never left…except briefly…during the building operations, when he was cared for by a cat-lover over the two year renovation period.

Skabenga remains a favourite with all our guests and the General Manager regularly receives letters from previous guests, asking after him … there is even a book about him and he has his own Facebook page!

The great thing about the Oyster Box is that it caters for anyone and everyone. From family holidays, weddings, celebrations and high-days, it really is a place where you feel most at home.

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For families, there’s a great range of activities for kids to do. Children of 12 years and under, receive a Backpack filled with a selection of essential holiday items such as fishing nets, beachballs and colouring-books. In addition, each child is given a wrist-band which entitles them to a host of complimentary goodies during their stay, including a soft-drink, toffee-apple, milk-shake, ice-cream and candy-floss.

Subject to room category and availability, children under 12 stay free and children between the ages of four and 12 years, have access to the supervised Holiday Club during their stay. The children’s Playroom offers a range of games, activities and facilities, including use of the X-Box, Play Station, DVD’s and a selection of board games.

Other vacation activities include story-telling, face painting, art and craft activities, pizza-making and movie screenings. Special programmes are offered during peak periods such as school holidays, Easter, Christmas and New Year. And the fun doesn’t end there… a special child-friendly turn-down is placed on each pillow at bed-time. Oh…and there’s milk and biscuits, as well as complimentary popcorn, sweets and soft drinks and access to the extensive DVD library for in-room viewing or the 24-seater, in-house movie theatre. Children-focused menus are available in all our restaurants and on the breakfast buffet. (Don’t worry adults, you can also enjoy the in-house movie theatre!)

One of the highlights of our stay at the Oyster Box was that we got to experience the Curry Buffet. Set in the casual, Mediterranean-inspired Ocean Terrace, with gorgeous views across the Indian Ocean, the impressive curry selection, of at least 11 curries daily, includes meat, fish and vegetarian options. Using delicate blends of spices and fresh herbs, each curry is a masterpiece in itself.

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From the delicate flavours of the Singapore Fish Curry, using the freshest fish of the day, to the spicy, hot Lamb Vindaloo and smooth-textured Butter Chicken. Vegetarian options delight as Bean and Botie sit side-by- side with, Vegetable Korma and Sugar-Bean Curry. The city’s famous Chicken and Prawn Curry and the Oyster Box’s signature Traditional Durban Lamb Curry remain firm favourites.

Accompanied by fresh, homemade condiments including lime and vegetable pickle, Chutney’s, Raitas, Sambals and freshly baked Naan breads, Papadums and Roti, the Curry Buffet, compels diners to return time and again. Two Tandoori ovens guarantee authentic, freshly prepared Tandoori chicken, also available on the Buffet.

The Curry Buffet is R320 per person and is available for both lunch and dinner.

The High Tea is legendary… the table laden with sumptuous treats, from freshly baked scones, pastries, quiches and cakes, to finger sandwiches and savouries, is a visual (and taste) spectacle. Inspired by the hotels original, colonial architecture with chandeliers purchased from the Savoy Hotel in London, High Tea at The Oyster Box is a lengthy, leisurely affair. Live piano music provides the perfect backdrop and adds a personal element to the beautiful Palm Court, softening the atmosphere and putting guests at ease.  The menu changes regularly to suit seasonal availability and specialities. All pastries and baked goods are prepared on the property by executive pastry chef, Joanita Venter and her dedicated team.

The Evening Indulgence in The Palm Court, makes for a perfect post-dinner or late afternoon treat. From 18h00 to 21h00 for only R95, stop by the tranquil Palm Court and make your selection from an assortment of mouthwatering pastries, freshly baked scones with jam and cream and exquisite cakes, served with your choice of tea or coffee. For a more intimate dining experience, the Chef’s Table in the wine cellar is ideal for private dinners, corporate functions and unique celebrations, for up to 10 guests. Bespoke menus created for every occasion and an exclusive venue make for an experience that promises to be truly memorable.

The legendary Grill Room is the gem of The Oyster Box. The menu is an inspired combination of enduringly popular dishes created by Bea Tollman, president and founder of the Red Carnation Hotel Collection, the restaurant’s Signature Dishes and new dishes from around the world.

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The stylish Oyster Bar is an essential pre-dinner or sun-downer stop where you can enjoy chilled Champagne and freshly harvested oysters from the hotel’s own oyster beds and our Signature cocktail the Umhlanga Schling; or light snack meals in a sophisticated environment.

With its long marble bar a focal point, The Oyster Bar is a popular meeting place with patrons for live music and cocktails. The Oyster, Salmon & Sushi Bar, takes the venue to new heights. From Monday to Friday 12noon to 20h00, a tantalizing selection of Sushi, fresh Oysters, home-cured Salmon, inspired Asian Tacos, Asian Prawn Cocktail and delicious Prawns and Crayfish is on offer. Items from the a la carte Seafood Menu can be ordered individually on request…. accompanied by a glass of delicious ‘Bubbly or a cocktail.

Click here to read more about your next stay at The Oyster Box.

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About Red Carnation Hotels
Red Carnation Hotels is an award-winning collection of five and four star family-run boutique hotels in London, Dorset, Guernsey, Geneva, Florida and South Africa. Each property has its own individual character and unique location that reflects the local environment, culture and cuisine. They all share the qualities that win Red Carnation so many prestigious awards – splendid luxury, generous hospitality, inventive and traditional cuisine, private art collections, passionate service and loyal staff committed to creating richly rewarding experiences for all their guests. For more information about these award-winning hotels and the rest of the Red Carnation Collection, please go to www.redcarnationhotels.com

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Accomodation

REVIEW: Hilton Hotel Umhlanga Arch

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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.

Address:
1 Ncondo Place, Umhlanga Ridge Umhlanga

Durban, 4320, South Africa

+27-031-0070775

 

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Accomodation

REVIEW: Enticing Emdoneni Lodge Escape, Cat Tour & River Cruise!

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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.

Emdoneni Lodge Bedroom and Bathroom

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!

Emdoneni Lodge Food

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!

Emdoneni Lodge Lounge

Emdoneni Lodge Pool and Bonfire

Emdoneni Lodge Garden Jungle Gym

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.

Emdoneni Rooms from outside and resident cats

Emdoneni rooms from outside and resident cats

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.

Zululand Cat Conservation Project

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.

Heritage Tours & Safaris

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!

Email info@emdonenilodge.com or whatsapp them on +27(0) 82 7133 686 for more information and visit them on Instagram for latest photos and news.

REVIEW: Enticing Emdoneni Lodge Escape, Cat Tour & River Cruise!
Location
9.7
Service
9.6
Food
9
Ambiance
9.1
Value
8.9
9.3
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Accomodation

REVIEW: Lidiko Lodge, St Lucia

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9.9

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.

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“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!”


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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:
www.lidikolodge.co.za

REVIEW: Lidiko Lodge, St Lucia
Location
10
Service
9.9
Food
9.8
Ambiance
9.7
Value
10
9.9
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