Tuesday, 27 October 2015

Oysterbox Hotel, Umhlanga

Oceans of kindness and spaciousness

With summer arriving in full force in South Africa, I have a hankering to go down to the sea again – not as some distant blue blob on the horizon – I want to be right up against the sea, the sight, sound and smell of the surf hitting me as I wake and look up from my bed. And I know exactly where to find this along KwaZulu-Natal’s spectacular coastline – the Oysterbox Hotel, one of South Africa’s premier beachfront hotels.

Indeed, this beachfront cabana is the perfect place from which to appreciate the ocean. The double doors face full out onto the sea, and my cabana is right near the pathway leading down into the vast swimming beach. However, I plan to hardly leave my suite in order to fully experience this place, with its elegant plantation-style white shutters, cool, cream floors, a colonial-style paddle fan and airconditioning. There is a grand four-poster bed from which to appreciate the sounds of the sea and the thread count of the bed linen reaches new highs from which I suspect there is no return. I am temporarily distracted from the view by a careful search for the label on the linen, without mussing up the sleek bed. The deep bath in the marbled bathroom provides another temptation away from the view, as does the integrated lighting, such that even when you open the cupboards, recessed, soft downlights come on.

The hotel has multiple dining options which also make the most of the prime waterfront location. Timeless architecture of royalty, cool tiled floors connect the vast indoor and outdoor spaces and one feels like a princess of a bygone era wafting through the interesting spaces of the hotel.

Indeed the hotel has withstood the toughest test of time and I find here a kind of solemn elegance to the regal architecture and d├ęcor. There is no pandering to the latest trends of bling or brash and the hotel stands dignified, confident in its superior location, superb luxury, unruffled history and inimitable class.

Accommodation experience:
There are many reasons to stay at the Oysterbox Hotel – great access to the beautiful Umhlanga beach, Durban city and surrounds, plentiful hotel facilities to satisfy every whim, including a world class spa, and every luxury imaginable. My choice is perhaps more unusual – I wish for a quiet retreat as close as possible to the ocean, such that it may do its work on my psyche. My ‘meditation cave’ is rather more luxurious than the traditional hermitage, though there be plenty of white, dark and light inside. The privacy of the suite impresses me and I enjoy a private, low hedge-walled garden in which to escape from the world. Yet there will be no ascetic False Self boosting here and I fall upon the gifted pink macaroons, finally understanding what the fuss is all about as they simultaneously melt and explode with flavour in my mouth. My complimentary Umhlanga Schling cocktail is already telling me I am lovely and belong. I have a luxurious bath, don a red silk and toweling gown and sit up in the high bed to gaze upon the sea and wait.

It is dusk and the light turns blue, at first pale and haunting, deepening into a Prussian blue, purple then black. The lights are on in a ship far out on the horizon and I send out good thoughts to them from my position of great privilege and comfort, as I send out good thoughts to my friends who are struggling and also lost at sea, unable to have this type of luxurious respite which I am currently enjoying.

The sea is rough tonight and crashes into my room just as I had hoped, the bass notes reverberating in the headboard. I need the freshness of this ocean to buffet my mind and I am reminded of Jeff Foster’s sense of self and emotions joining into the vastness of a spacious ocean self.

There is a cleansing and calming which happens when we dare to take the time out in solitude and silence to reconnect with nature and ourselves in the present. Contemplative psychologist James Finley encourages us to “Become the kind of person who is not a stranger to reflecting in a quiet and open way on the infrastructure of our heart and relationships.” And somehow the solid elegance of this hotel, along with the delightful treats and luxuries make this a compassionate and beautiful place from which to do so right up against the ocean of kindness and spaciousness itself.

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