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Port Elizabeth - Getting far from the madding crowd is my idea of a good holiday, and so it was with delight that my partner and I trekked off to the only five-star establishment in the Eastern Cape.
A trek it was, as the more then eight-hour drive from Durban was taxing but Prana Lodge, in Chintsa Bay in the Eastern Cape, was definitely worth the journey. I later learnt that flying is the preferred choice of travel to the lodge from KwaZulu-Natal, as it is a 45-minute flight from Durban and leaves you more time to enjoy the trip.
The lodge, which is 25km from East London, is a family business owned by Gail and Tim Davidson. The Davidsons have had the 17-acre property in their family for more than 20 years and used it as a holiday home until they decided to build a lodge a few years ago. The lodge’s name, Prana, means life force and it offers a “relax, rewind and recharge” experience – and its isolated setting, combining the delights of the beach and the beauty of the bush, makes it apt for this.
The venue has a cosy, intimate feel with touches of the East but still rooted in the Wild Coast. It’s a perfect destination for a romantic weekend away. While we were there, a young couple announced their engagement at supper.
The suites come with all the trappings you would expect of a five-star establishment, but also have nice touches including fresh flower displays, Persian carpets, an outdoor shower and a plunge pool.
The lodge also boasts its own restaurant with resident chef Jaycee Ferreira creating sumptuous daily lunch and dinner menus. His gourmet food is simple but yummy, and is served in an elegant dining room complete with waiters, soft music and candlelight. All his meals were lovely, but the supper on the night before I left topped it all – chicken breasts stuffed with truffles and mushrooms. Just thinking about it makes my mouth water.
The lodge also has a Thai Spa and Wellness Centre, run by qualified Thai massage therapists, and includes a herbal steam room and sauna, a pilates and yoga meditation room and an outside jacuzzi.
The spa treatment was top class, and is definitely recommended if you book a stay at the lodge. It is closely supervised by Gail, a former nurse and wellness coach who turned to wellness treatments after she had severe health problems. Gail also holds yoga classes and does life coaching for guests.
The spa also offers day specials.
While none of the suites has sea views, the lodge has a lovely wooden walkway that leads to a deck and direct access to the beach.
It was quite a thrill to set my eyes upon an empty, pristine beach with panoramic views.
Most impressive about the lodge is its excellent service. For a five-star rating you would expect good staff, but I was bowled over by the resort’s butlers and catering crew. We were waited on hand and foot throughout our two-night stay by the lodge’s head butler and restaurant staff.
When I commented on the first-rate service to the Davidsons’ daughter, Meghan van den Berg, who handles the estate’s marketing and operations, she revealed that some of the staff had worked as labourers when the lodge was being built and were then taken on and trained by the butler academy. Their gratitude for being given an opportunity clearly comes through in their work and adds to the lodge’s appeal.
Prana Lodge is recommended for travellers who have a penchant for the good life. Visit: www.pranalodge.co.za - The Mercury