The Oyster Box
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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