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Signing up for bulk discount coupons is like gambling: during one round, you lose miserably; but in the next, you score big time. I know. I’ve had Groupon facials that were mere lotion dabs on the cheeks, and Daddy’s Deals massages that left me in need of a good knead. I’ve eaten sushi that might have been paper, and once had a platter of something that cost more with the discount than it did on the menu.
So when we headed to Paternoster recently, a Daddy’s Deal coupon for the five-star Abalone House tucked in my handbag, I prayed we would hit the jackpot. Being stuck in a restaurant for an hour with suspect sushi is one thing; being trapped for a rainy weekend in an unsavoury establishment is another.
However, as soon as we pulled in, I knew we had scored. And even though we were there on a coupon, we were treated like winners from the start.
There are many things that set Abalone House apart from other so-called boutique hotels. First is the genuine attention each guest receives: the amiable and polite front-of-house man Francois gave us a tour of the entire hotel. When was the last time that happened?
We took in the opulent, rich décor (Liberace meets David Livingstone meets antiques dealer); the bar crammed with knick-knacks and artworks; the Orchid Room, with its huge windows offering views of the ocean and a tumbling indigenous garden stalked by a large, black cat; the courtyard, with its sliver of pool and wooden decking; the plush conference room; the upstairs decks, all facing Paternoster’s tranquil bay; and, finally, our room, into which we dived – only surfacing the next day for breakfast.
The weather was foul. Rain streamed down, the wind grew icy fingers and the sky was overwashed-underpants grey. But we happily lolled under the exotic eyes of one of the dozens of huge Tretchikoff prints that dominate the hotel’s décor. We snoozed under puffy linen, made coffee in the pod-machine, bathed by candlelight and quietly read books, snug and happy to be on this winning streak.
Breakfast the next morning was sublime. Executive chef Darren Stewart is well-known for his modern twist on classic dishes, and because we’d skipped dinner the previous night – not because we’re coupon cheapskates but because we’d stuffed ourselves at lunchtime at the fabulous Gaaitjie restaurant just down the road – we were more than happy to sample Stewart’s wares.
Breakfast offered everything anyone could possibly want: fresh fruit, stewed fruit, home-made cereals, continental meats and cheeses, home-made breads (including a dark chocolate one), freshly pressed juices (including cucumber), pastries – not to mention all the cooked options. We ate like Sol Kerzners. For once, we were coupon kings.
On our way out, sadly packed up and heading home in the drizzle, Francois handed us a pack containing two bottles of water and two Fizz Pops.
“For the road,” he smiled. “Drive safely.”
With attention like that, we’ll gladly cash in all our chips and pay full price to return to this lavish nest of care and comfort. - Sunday Tribune