Durban. Picture: iStock
December is around the corner and those of us fortunate enough to have accumulated annual leave days are already planning our holiday destinations, flights and accommodation – and planning is everything, right?
But even if you haven’t yet planned your local getaway, there’s no need to fret because Durban, in spite of often being overshadowed by the more popular destinations of Johannesburg and Cape Town, is really making waves with its subtropical climate and warm Indian Ocean waters.
This laid-back east coast town is so much more than just beautiful beaches, super friendly people and awesome all-year-round weather. Durban, or eThekwini as it’s known by the locals, is like the Miami of South Africa.
Stretching all the way along its spectacular Golden Mile promenade, from North Beach to South Beach, there’s no shortage of accommodation to suit every budget.
Durban promenade. Picture: Shutterstock
Among these options is the Tsogo Sun’s ever-popular Southern Sun Elangeni & Maharani hotels, which are also great spots to languish with oversized cocktails and a smorgasbord of delicious snack platters while taking in the sea breeze and ocean views.
Hotel general manager Wayne Smith told The Citizen: “Southern Sun Elangeni & Maharani hotels has for many years featured prominently on Durban’s Golden Mile, often referred to as Durban’s brightest star.”
Needless to say, Tsogo Sun has been hard at work preparing to be part of the city’s most important and attractive tourism asset, the recently extended and upgraded promenade. In fact, the hotel group has been at it for almost six years.
It’s been a long yet worthwhile upgrade that saw the final phase of the promenade open to the public this past weekend – making it the longest uninterrupted waterfront promenade on the entire continent.
Southern Sun Elangeni & Maharani. Picture: Supplied
“The [hotel] refurbishment project, six years ago, was a direct response to the substantial investment into the revival of the Durban beachfront promenade by the eThekwini Municipality, which saw the destination being upgraded and we are proud to have been a part of it,” said Smith.
But why would you want to stay at the Elangeni or Maharani hotels?
In addition to being situated almost slap-bang in the middle of the now 8km-long promenade, the modern hotels are within walking distance of the amusement park, famed uShaka Marine World and aquarium, the architecturally breathtaking Moses Mabhida Stadium and Tsogo Sun’s recently remodelled Suncoast hotel, gaming and entertainment venue.
Smith says the hotel and entertainment group is proud to be part of the city’s growing and internationally recognised tourism status, and has been hard at work making a meaningful contribution.
Standard room. Picture: Supplied
His sentiments are echoed by Phillip Sithole, the eThekwini Municipality’s deputy city manager for economic development and planning, who recently told Moneyweb that he believes the promenade will become recognised internationally, together with the likes of Copacabana in Rio and Bondi Beach in Australia.
“[The promenade] is a major investment by the municipality into Durban’s most important tourism asset. It is a catalytic project aimed at taking the beachfront to another level and unlocking investment both into the broader beachfront and especially in the Point Waterfront,” Sithole said.
Since before 2010, when South Africa was nominated to host its first-ever soccer world cup even, Durban’s beachfront has attracted major private sector investment, with Tsogo Sun alone injecting more than R1.8 billion into the area.
And one need only book in to the hotels or simply pop in for a day visit at any one of their long list of eateries and pool decks to understand exactly why the hotels have become the place to be seen over your holiday.
Maharani Tower rooftop pool. Picture: Supplied
From the modern and stylish Grill Jichana to the sun-drenched Panorama Bar & Pool Deck, old favourites such as the Lingela Restaurant or the Ocean Breeze Restaurant, or Vigour & Verve with its all-day dining experience and the bespoke SKY bar on the 31st floor – there’s little reason to venture outside of the Southern Sun Elangeni & Maharani hotel once you enter.
“Guests are always looking for unique experiences and the Southern Sun Elangeni & Maharani hotel complex caters for a variety of needs,” said Smith.
The city has over the years also become the destination of choice for scores of people from Johannesburg craving the warm splash of the Indian Ocean and the all-round affordability of the KwaZulu-Natal coast.
However, Shaun Pozyn, the head of marketing for Comair, says while the seven or so hours’ drive from Gauteng is quite picturesque in parts, the seasonal road carnage is seeing more people opt for the comfort and convenience of flying – prompting airlines like kulula and British Airways to increase their flights and routes.
Panorama Bar and Pool Deck. Picture: Supplied
“We have 51 flights per week between kulula.com and British Airways [operated by Comair] from Johannesburg to Durban, and 52 flights per week between the two carriers on the return leg from Durban back to Johannesburg,” said Pozyn.
He said that as the first low-cost airline in South Africa, kulula had been the pioneer when it came to making flying easy and affordable since day one, while at the same time staying true to their quirky brand personality for which they were most renowned.
“We enable South Africans and guests from abroad to experience the true heartbeat of our beautiful country and this starts as soon as they make their booking with us at Comair.”
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