Durban - Hotels all too often lose the hospitality they're supposed to espouse.
The economy is too tough for independent hotels to be, in most respects, anything more than B&Bs on steroids, while the hotel chains are often faceless and bland copies of each other.
Deep in the Drakensberg, though, there’s a hotel that seems to buck the trend. The Drakensberg Sun is a part of the Tsogo Sun group, but retains an individuality that may remind you of the Kellerman’s Resort immortalised in the film Dirty Dancing.
The mountains - the Drakensberg and the Catskills - are similar, but it’s more the incredible emphasis on family activities.
Most people would be content just to sit back and look at the views, particularly from the loungers arranged around the sparkling pool, with the imposing snow-capped Cathkin Peak standing sentinel. If you have kids, you can pack them off to the games room for video games, sand art or candle dipping, or down to the dam to canoe or row boats.
The little ones have an adventure gym, the older ones can play beach volleyball, adventure golf or even a spot of bowls. If you're into fishing, there's trout, or you can try your hand at archery, go for a horse ride or even book a canopy tour of the nearby Blue Grotto forest.
Perhaps the real reason, though, is that the hotel grounds are the jump-off point for no fewer than six hikes into the central Drakensberg. And when you emerge, tired but exhilarated, there are spa masseuses ready to rub out the aches and pains.
Whatever the reason, the Drakensberg Sun has a bit of everything for everyone. It’s four and half hours from Joburg and two and half from Durban, it has timeshare chalets and flats, as well as 78 en suite rooms ranging from standard to presidential.
It’s popular for conferences and with families and couples just wanting to get away from it all.
The food is varied and tasty - and there’s plenty of it. Breakfasts are solid buffets, over the weekends you may design your own burgers at lunch, and at night there are the roasts to choose from while log fires blaze in the background in the stone-hewn, vaulted restaurant.
It’s all presented in an old world ambience where the waiters get to know you by name, the barman in the Grotto alongside knows your favourite tipple and the manager drops by for a chat at the end of the day.
When you eventually check out, the question isn’t whether you enjoyed your stay, but when you intend coming back. And that says it all.