KwaZulu-Natal, Hotel Izulu

By Fiona McIntosh

ImageIf you’re diving on Durban North or fancy a stopover on the way to Sordies, pull offthe highway at Ballito and head for Hotel Izulu.

The five-star Relais & Chateaux boutique hotel is only half an hour from the centre of Durbs and is an oasis in the hubbub of the ugly development that has scarred this section of the coast. It is a small, intimate hotel set in lush, semi-tropical gardens only a short distance from the beach. Eighteen suites are offered in the five Bali-style villas - each spacious and fresh, with large bathrooms that offer enormous baths, powerful showers and, of course, bathrobes and slippers. Each suite also offers all the modern conveniences to enjoy during your stay. Free wi-ficonnectivity is an added bonus that separates this hotel from many others. There is also an outdoor Jacuzzi linked to each villa.

The hotel has a warm and cozy atmosphere and the staff are friendly and attentive without being intrusive. From the moment you drive up the driveway, you’re subtly treated like royalty. There are big sofas to lounge on, a stylish bar and a huge pool around which guests can enjoy breakfast, lunch or sundowners. And if you’re in the mood to spoil yourself, head over to the hotel’s Impilo spa – winner of the prestigious Clarins Paris Gold Salon of the Year award in 2006. You can enjoy a hot rock massage, relax with a reflexology treatment or treat your partner to a couple’s special – I say no more!

Even if the hotel didn’t have any of the things mentioned above, there is still one that would bring me back every time! GiGi’s restaurant is simply amazing and offers fine dining in an intimate and beautiful setting. We started our meal off with salmon trout tartar and the excellent tandoori prawns and Vichysoisse. That was followed by a delicate fish of the day and one of their signature dishes, the red duck curry with lemon basmati rice. After enjoying the chocolate sundae dessert (a mouth-watering creation of chocolate brownie, ice cream, mousse and a dark chocolate and chilli crème brule), we realised we simply couldn’t skip breakfast to go diving.

ImageAs I sat by the pool the next morning, enjoying a strong cappuccino and poached eggs with mushrooms, bacon, wilted spinach and Hollandaise sauce, I knew I’d made an excellent choice.

Umhlanga could wait for another day.

For more information on the Hotel Izulu, contact them on 032 946 3444, visit their website www.hotelizulu.com or send an email to www.relaischateaux.com/sa.

Author: Fiona McIntosh