One-on-Hely is a B&B perched at the crest of, and at the entrance to, Mthunzini village on the KwaZulu-Natal North coast. Beautifully appointed four-star accommodation, One-on-Hely offers wonderful views of the burgeoning indigenous foliage and coastal forest.
Owner Ann Walters has a hands-on approach that has paid dividends. This is more luxury boutique hotel than B&B. There are six spacious, elegant suites with huge balconies on the upper floor. They have all the comforts, including complimentary wi-fi.
There are plenty of nice touches, too, such as scrummy homemade biscuits, complimentary chocolates, filter coffee, fresh milk in the fridge – even an old fashioned alarm clock.
They also have the nicest pillows I’ve had the privilege of laying my head on, very efficient airconditioners – a must in summer – and the furnishings, fixtures and linen on the superb extra length beds (yay!) are all top notch.
Downstairs there is a comfortable TV lounge adjacent to the dining room and an excellent selection of books should you need something to read. There is also an honesty bar – handy should you feel a need for an after-hours “pick-me-up”.
Ann has marshalled not only her resources but her troops well. Service is excellent and she leads by example. I am not the only guest, but she has gone out of her way to assist – even collecting pizzas for folk who wanted to eat in. Nothing seems to be too much trouble and her special thoughtfulness was appreciated.
Being a B&B you will need to top up at some stage after a delicious breakfast, or after the bikkies and chocs are gone. The Fat Cat is one of several places in strolling distance to grab a bite from. It’s relaxed and convivial with an extensive menu. You could also try Zanj or the Clay Oven, while Pappanui and Twigs serve excellent teas (Ann gave me a lift).
In fact there isn’t anywhere in Mthunzini that isn’t relaxed.
Mthunzini derives from emthunzini, meaning “a place in the shade”, referring to the milkwood trees near the Mlalazi River where meetings would take place with White Zulu Chief, John Dunn. Slow meetings no doubt.
Mthunzini was declared a conservancy in 1995, though fracking poses a threat to the unspoilt coastline. We saw whales from the dunes atop the beach, zebra in the village and my partner enjoyed birdwatching in the Umlalazi Nature Reserve.
Mthunzini also has one of the few declared natural monuments in South Africa – the Raphia Palms – where you may spot the rare Palm Nut Vulture which nest at the top of the trees. We made do with Hornbills, loving the natural cathedral formed by these impressive palms.
There are forest trails aplenty, barge trips on the meandering river, good fishing, tennis, squash or a challenging nine-hole par 71 golf course at the Mthunzini Country Club. The quaint Saturday morning market is stocked with excellent produce
You can also explore further like we did. Eshowe and the Ongoye Forest are a scenic drive away, as is Shakaland, while the Hluhluwe/iMfolozi Game Reserve, St Lucia and iSimangaliso Wetland Park are about an hour’s drive.
l One-on-Hely is a benchmarked member of the Portfolio Collection. - Sunday Tribune