East Coast city Durban may not yet have the cache of the West Coast’s Cape Town, but the emergence of upscale suburb Umhlanga has the promise of becoming Durban’s answer to Camps Bay, drawing tourists in to dive for the culinary and cultural pearls and local finds that make it as worthwhile a destination. Fittingly, the 86-room Oyster Box Hotel is one of its shining gems. It enjoys a fabled 65-year history as a gathering place for the area’s elite, and further benefits from the efforts of Stanley and Bea Tollman. The owners of Red Carnation Hotels, including Tandega Game Reserve, near Cape Town, purchased the property from its previous owners in 2007 and organized a team to revitalize the interiors, update the hotel’s nuts and bolts and lovingly display original objects acquired abroad by Kay Hill, who co-owned the property in the 1950s with her brother, Ken O’Connor.
The Oyster Box, which celebrates the 10th anniversary since re-opening this September, opens up to reveal a bounty of delights: a 24-seat movie theater, also available for kids’ birthday parties and corporate mixers; The Ocean Terrace and its curry buffet showcasing KwaZulu-Natal’s convergence of Indian and African food traditions; a magnificent multilevel spa; free-standing villas for guests seeking optimum luxury and privacy; opulent breakfasts and gatherings in Palm Court; and top-tier dining in The Grill Room.
New additions include a second floor with banqueting space; conference, business, meeting facilities; and a gallery of canvases adding contemporary South African artists to the existing collection. The property is also dog-friendly and has a resident cat, Skabenga, who hangs out at the eclectic hotel boutique when not entertaining guests.
The Oyster Box Hotel
2 Lighthouse Road
Umhlanga Rocks, Umhlanga
KwaZulu-Natal, 4320 South Africa
tel 27 31 514 5000
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