When I sit down for my early morning coffee at the North Star Micro Hotel, my body slowed down to zero, the best noises I hear are happy people rhyming to the sound of the Ocean.
It feels like home. There is no place like home but staying over at a place which makes you feel at home is almost home. I have traveled for business and leisure purposes for years. Arriving at another Hotel that lights up the night and ticks all the boxes, but as I step into my room, it feels like another empty shell designed to turn numbers. The hotel business wors on a formula. Be friendly, attention to detail, focus on cleanliness, the staff works in the background, and moves through the corridors to upkeep the standard like ghosts. Do every chore with vigor but out of sight. It is a corporate machine with each employee doing their part to keep the gears moving up and down smoothly.
When you book into a place to stay away from home, I always opt to go big or go home. You are sure to find a price deal. There are various places in Umhlanga offering the Hotel experience. Your booking will include breakfast, the bar will serve drinks out of lockdown, and the staff will be friendly and available to assist you. Attending to the basics is expected. Booking into an establishment offering thoughtful detail with a homely feeling is rare. Choose an experience instead of an overnight booking.
Do your homework. The North Coast is rife with Hotels and places to stay. Many of these hotels have existed for years and boost well-deserved awards matched with a spectacular view. The Oyster Box needs no introduction to the frequent traveler to Umhlanga. The red color and the Lighthouse pop a picture of a luxurious weekend into your mind. The beach and the promenade are a step away from the pool overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. The white tiles on the balcony invite gin cocktails and club sandwiches with a good read, there is something glamorous about people watching and the feeling of the ocean air swirling into a glass of English gin, it feels like modern post-colonial ocean glamour. There are many people and guests, if you are like me, I opt for a place offering more privacy.
Umhlanga offers a lot. The Oyster Box is a must for an afternoon drink. The promenade is buzzing with people at sunrise and sunset enjoying the humid Atlantic ocean air. Coffee shops grind, and brew from first light, Ice cream is available for breakfast. You can step into the mangrove forest with your coffee in hand once you reach the end of the promenade boardwalk. Birdlife and wild animals might appear in your view, looking into the tropical forest. The Bird Park, Aquarium, and Botanical gardens offer educational and colorful day trips. The beach is calm and peaceful for walks in the warm water. The supermarkets stock luxury items. A large selection from exotic spices, boutique wines when available to buy, and local condiments from the area. At The North Star Micro Hotel, hook the bait for a drone fishing session. Be ready for a fight, fish and ocean predators are fierce. The catch will be released if it is not an edible fish.
If all this activity is too overwhelming, settle onto a daybed next to the pool and let the North Star Hotel team take care of you. The weather is warming up, a dip in the pool will be fresh, the jacuzzi bubbled up to relax in. Enjoy breakfast under the palm tree, sip Ice coffees until lunch served by the outside kitchen counter overlooking the beach. Have a picnic on the grass setup to your needs dozing off under the umbrella. Take an afternoon stroll on the beach into the lazy August waves. The Belvedere bar is open for drinks at sunset. Alcohol-free colorful cocktail options.
At sunset, the waves darken, the fire in the fire pit lights up. Settle in on the tropical colored cushions staring into the flames and let the balmy coastal night romance you. The chef is preparing curry for dinner. It was a busy day at The North Star Hotel. I retreat to my room, the palm leaves move with the cargo ships, lighting up the horizon. In the morning, the sun will rise as the gold sun streaks race to get into my room.
Business and leisure travel is evolving, continuous development of new places, and offers. Personalized attention is essential, a spacious environment for social distancing to allow people to feel safe and secure dealing with COVID. Creative activities for the adventurous and luxury options to reset. The COVID era will challenge the existence of malls and large Hotels, people crave, back to basics. We long for old-world charm of walking to your corner store to buy fresh bread, milk, and maybe a chocolate pastry. Hop on a bicycle to drop in for a drink at the bar around the corner, keep the car parked. Greet your neighbor already sitting on the balcony who shared the same idea. Will we be able to move towards a life more traveled with less clutter and more quality time? The ultimate luxury. The North Star Hotel offers this experience on the beachfront catering to treat your luxurious tastes overlooking the tranquil Umhlanga Rocks beach.