Our family of four was recently invited to spend 2 nights, dinner, bed and breakfast included at the Gooderson Natal Spa Hot Springs Resort located just outside of Paulpietersburg, Kwa-Zulu Natal.
Off we set, myself, my husband Barry and two kids, Reese (4 years old) and Ethan (18 months old). We were driving from Ballito, so the drive took us about three and a half hours through the rolling hills of Zululand. We packed lunch for the drive because there was nowhere to stop along the way for food or drinks. I think we passed one very small garage on the way, so filling up before you leave is probably a good idea! – The scenery on the way to Natal Spa is gorgeous though. Lots of goats and cows for the kids to look for along the way, too!
We arrived a little after 2pm as per check-in instructions. To be honest I wasn’t really sure what to expect, but the staff were incredibly helpful and enthusiastic right from the security guard at the gate to the reception staff and the waitrons. Nothing was too much to ask and everything was done with a smile!
We were offered help with our luggage which we gladly accepted and were shown to our family room. I was pleasantly surprised! I had expected a single open plan room (as I was told when I phoned beforehand) but instead we had two separate rooms with an interleading door and one bathroom to share.
The rooms were very spacious, clean and comfy! Ours had a queen sized bed with TV, DSTV, mini fridge, and tea and coffee facilities.
The kid’s room had two single beds, a TV and a cupboard. The view from the kid’s room was lovely, overlooking the main pool, bar area and smaller water slides. The bathroom had a bath only (no shower) but I actually prefer that for young kids. The hotel is showing its age and could do with some upgrades (which I was told are in the budget for this year) but in general it is cozy and comfortable.
The kids couldn’t wait to get onto the slides so we changed into our costumes and headed down to the pool. I stopped along the way to order some toasted sandwiches from the restaurant and took them down to the pool to eat. There’s a little kiosk shop that sells chips and cool drinks and a bar where drinks were ordered from to go with lunch. There’s a lot to keep the kids busy down at the pool area. What with trampolines, mini golf, jungle gyms, and lots of open space to just run around. There’s a really big super tube for bigger kids and adults which I was told is also due for upgrade this year and then the hot spring pools that are the main attraction for the resort. These are just lovely to laze around in and have added health benefits as well.
The resort has something for everyone with a wide range of activities on offer such as horse-riding, quad-biking, mountain biking, paintball, obstacle course, archery, fishing, wellness spa, table tennis, squash, pool, volleyball, and bird walks.
The next morning we unfortunately woke up to a very rainy day! Heading down to breakfast, we were a bit apprehensive about the food but we had no reason to be because the breakfast buffet was wonderful! There was loads on offer for a yummy breakfast. I can’t remember everything but some of the things included fresh fruit, yoghurt, cereal, tea, coffee, juice, bacon, sausage, eggs made to order right in front of you.
Disappointed with the rainy day, I headed to reception to ask them for advice on what to do with the kids to keep them busy and was told that they have organised activities from 10am – 3pm. Excellent! I was starting to think we would have to binge watch movies in our room all day. Reese and Barry headed down to the boulders bar at the pool for a Minute to Win It game! They met Sam who organized all the activities for the kids. He was fantastic with the kids and kept them entertained through all of the activities with her enthusiasm and bubbly personality!
The next activity was a movie from 11am – 1pm so instead of that, we decided to head into Paulpietersburg to get some goodies from the shops. Well… it’s a very small town with not much going on. It seems like the largest attraction in the area is the resort itself. We drove around trying to find a restaurant to have some lunch and couldn’t find anything suitable so stopped at the Spar on the way for some sweets and supplies for the next day. We eventually headed back to the resort where we ordered lunch from The Bistro restaurant. The menu was simple but the food was fresh and tasty.
The staff were really wonderful and the chef was happy to make my prego roll without prego sauce. The rest of the afternoon was taken up with arts, crafts and movies.
Sunday morning, we woke up to an overcast but NOT rainy day! Awesome! We scheduled some archery and went to go and have a look at the new foal that had been born 7 days before. Unfortunately we didn’t have time to try out any of the other activities. After another yummy breakfast, we headed off to our archery lesson. The instructor was very knowledgable and helpful. All of us had a go land lots of fun was had by all!
A surprise awaited us on our drive home in the form of a huge beautiful chameleon which we almost drove over while it was crossing the road! Luckily my hubby was able to avoid it and we stopped to show the kids who were over the moon at seeing one in real life!!
All in all we had a fun trip. I feel like we didn’t really get to experience everything that the resort had to offer because of the bad weather, but what we did experience was lovely! I would definitely recommend this as a family destination.
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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