Posts tagged "family"

Give reality the slip at the Wild Coast 

The more things have changed the more they have stayed the same since the days when it was one of ‘Sun King’ Sol Kerzner’s original palaces of relaxation and fun in the nominally independent Bantustans of apartheid era South Africa.

The resort – set on 750 hectares of natural bush on the Indian Ocean Coast, where the sun always seems to shine – continues to offer a haven from the chill and the rest of reality outside.

You can see forever: The bright blue pool seems to be surrounded by ocean

In this wonderfully warm and friendly world, real life and the flood of news about corruption and capture seem very far away indeed.

One doesn’t want to spend too much time in complete denial of reality, but a little break from it all surely does wonders for mind, body and soul.

For a high-speed re-set I recommend a quick visit to the casino, which always helps to shift me into a different gear entirely. Watching ordinary looking people bet thousands of rand on a single spin of the roulette wheel always has me aghast, setting a kaleidoscope of judgment, envy and thrill spinning in my head.

For a minute you might, as I did, imagine yourself in a faraway imagined place or on the silver screen with Woody Harrelson and Demi Moore playing with a lot more than their entertainment allowance, as they did in that racy and hedonistic tale, Indecent Proposal.

A few lucky spins stretched my own entertainment allowance and kept me amused for a couple of hours. I didn’t mind at all, though, when that came to an end since much fun was to be had outside under beautiful clear winter skies.

Better than cocktails: Foot massages by the pool

A more wholesome but equally heady and fantastical way to forget your cares is a horseback ride on the beach.

This highlight of so many bucket-lists lived up to the dream for me as the sweaty beast I was riding headed calmly for the shoreline and splashed through the foamy waves for most of the ride. I was reduced to the gulping, giggling teenage girl I had never been as I took in deep breaths of fresh sea air and pure thrill.

Even in midwinter a large bright blue pool, which seems to be surrounded by ocean, was always alive with children and the odd adult splashing around.

Less daring adults reclined on loungers around the pool sipping cocktails, reading books, admiring 180 degree seaviews and having foot massages.

Slippery slopes: The Wild Waves water park

An award-winning golf course, multiple beauty and wellness spas, Segway tours and the Wild Waves water park are just some of the other options at the resort, which is much more about family fun than its reputation might suggest.

Once known as a haven of gambling and the risqué entertainment that fell under the banner of “immorality” in the era of extravaganzas, these days you are more likely to see birdwatchers than topless dancers.

At another point in time when South Africa seems to be a corrupt and captured place, the Wild Coast Sun offers a break from it all with loads of sunshine and good times.

Give reality the slip at this resort less than 2 hours drive from Durban, where everything seems a few degrees warmer and happier even on a midwinters’ day in 2017.

Sun City: not so naughty, twice as nice

Government ministers, business people and representatives from the media joined a host of entertainers including fire throwers, stilt walkers, dancers and a scattering of Miss South Africas, past and probably future, at Sun City this week to celebrate the resort’s relaunch after a R1 billion makeover.

The jewel in Sun International’s crown, which opened (as a much smaller version of itself) in the then nominally independent bantustan, Bophuthatswana, in December 1979, has shocked, awed and delighted a steady stream of international and local guests as it has hosted, fed, pampered and amused them.

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Things had started to look a bit outdated over the years. Not so any more!

The oasis in the desert in the North West Province had grown a little shabby since the early years, when it was a place where the young and old stole off to indulge in all sorts of naughtiness, including watching topless showgirls and pornographic movies, and trying their luck at gambling.

All of this “scandalous” behaviour was not allowed in the apartheid-era Republic of South Africa, which was morally corrupt in much more meaningful ways.

The overhaul goes beyond giving the “pleasure palace” a facelift, however.

Wednesday night’s launch introduced guests to the “new Sun City”, which hopes to widen its appeal further with a lot of effort directed at expanding its share of the growing conventions business in South Africa as well as attracting families and the millennial generation.

The five-year, R1-billion refurbishment looks to position Sun City more firmly as a business destination with dramatically upgraded and improved conference facilities.

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Constantly reinventing itself: The Sun Park events space can be remade to different needs in hours

High tech, state of the art facilities at the resort include the Sun Parks centre, perhaps best described as Meccano or Lego-style build your own event venue space.

Sun City is really upping its conference game with this facility that can be built into into any style of venue in just a few hours.

Similar parks are being built at Sun International properties around South Africa.

With the Sun Parks centre as well as many state-of-the art auditoriums and meeting spaces in the Sun Centre, Sun City hopes to entice big and small conferences and events.

Rob Collins, Sun International’s chief operating officer, explained that the variety and flexibility of the spaces meant there were few limits, whether it be a folk music festival that is planned, a million dollar golf tournament, extreme sports events or wild game auctions, to mention but a few.

It’s not child’s play, but Collins also chose a playful metaphor, using a teddy bear, when explaining the concept.

To give an example of the modern idea of simple but detailed customization, which underpins the Sun Parks concept, Collins said: “When you wanted a teddy bear you used to buy one; now you build one.”

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Lots of fun for the whole family

Many of the other facilities included in the new upgrade are designed to appeal to whole family, including new rides in the Valley of Waves, action-packed watersports at Waterworld, mini golf, racing go-karts and a Lego room, a climbing room and an X-Box room.

Teenagers and other adrenalin junkies will likely enjoy Adrenalin Extreme, the new adventure hub.

The entertainment centre, which was built at a cost of R30 million and inaugurated by ‘Ole Blue Eyes’ himself – Frank Sinatra, in July 1981, has been given an overhaul too, and now includes a variety of family experiences, including a South African Hall of Fame honouring South Africa’s outstanding sportspeople and performing artists.

The museum-like exhibition here is complemented by interactive exhibits with virtual reality spaces allowing visitors, for example, to race against South Africa’s great runners or improve their golf swing.

The original hotel has been rebranded Soho hotel and repositioned as the resort’s ‘Always On’ party zone. It includes an exclusive new dance venue, Encore, where the globally popular South African DJ Black Coffee helped to light up the dance floor on Wednesday night, getting the attention of at least some of those elusive millennials.

Also at Soho, the Sun City Casino, which was the first in South Africa to introduce million rand jackpots, and the Prive Salon have been revamped.

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An oasis in the desert in the North-West Province

Rooms in the various hotels have been redecorated, and restaurants and bars have been spruced up, many of them rebranded to keep with modern tastes, times and technology.

Michael Farr, Sun International’s general manager for brand and communications, said: “We have put this investment into making the resort even more attractive to families, gamblers, convention visitors and a host of new niche tourists, such as adrenalin-seekers, eco-tourists and millennials.

“We are confident that with this massive refurb and upgrade, Sun City will not only retain its status as South Africa’s favourite leisure destination, but will also recapture its place as the premier convention venue in the country.”
– African News Agency (ANA)