Durban - Berg, birds, more birds and beauty, Orion Mont Aux Sources Hotel has all of that in spades.
I was with a keen birder who planned to go on a birding hike but found he didn’t need to as so many species flittered and soared around the sprawling grounds.
Just lazy if you ask me, but he was thrilled to spot the dark-capped yellow warbler, ground woodpecker, arrow-marked babbler, while African harrier hawks and black shouldered kites glided high overhead.
The grounds at Mont Aux Sources are lovely, the views way more so and the staff friendly.
The daily buffet breakfasts and dinners in the Gigaba Restaurant are typical country fare - sometimes a bit hit-and-miss, but what they get right they get very right. Although one of the signature dishes is the chef’s special beef curry, the chicken choices, the malva pudding and lemon meringue pie were very, very good indeed.
It’s cosy and casual (a big plus for me) with two distinct seating areas. The main dining area is close to the buffet service centre and the second is cosy with its own beautiful log fireplace.
You can also take meals - a la carte lunches, for example - on the outside dining terrace which sits in front of the Thukela bar and lounge. The terrace must be one of the most popular spots, offering open air and covered seating with stunning views of the Drakensberg and Amphitheatre.
The recently renovated lobby lounge and adjacent bar - both with views - are spacious and inviting. With a large fireplace and books on the shelves it’s probably the place to be in winter.
Accommodation is varied. The standard rooms, with heaters and fans and French doors on to an outside area are, well, standard - although I like the fact that they are all on ground level and you can stroll out. Be sure to try for an Amphitheatre-facing room.
The revamped, air conditioned deluxe suites are much swisher - all with fabulous views. The upstairs units have balconies and downstairs have patios.
The chalets dotted about the immaculate grounds are the pick of the lot and come in different grades, ideal for families with two bedrooms, two bathrooms, a fully equipped kitchen, lounge and indoor and outdoor dining with built-in braais. The free and very efficient wi-fi doesn’t extend that far, but they do have DStv. They have been refurbished and are well designed and well kitted-out.
Mont Aux Sources Hotel is over the fence from Rugged Glen reserve, where you can enjoy great trout fishing, horse rides for adults and littl’uns and several hiking trails - some of which head over to the main Royal Natal National Park - or you could drive to Royal Natal and hike from there.
There are plenty of other attractions nearby, but the immaculate property has plenty on hand, including some challenging MTB routes, 18-hole putt-putt course, tennis court, squash court and courts for basketball or netball.
The old bowling green is now a mini soccer field and the swimming pool is a couple of metres shy of 20 if you feel the need to do some laps. Fringed by lawn and tall trees, it has a thatch covered pool bar area, benches and sun loungers.
There’s also a games hall with pool, table tennis, foosball etc, for when you’re too sunburned or the weather is foul - both of which can happen in one day in the mountains.
Whether it’s a family jol, a romantic weekend, wedding, conference or team-building, I’d be most surprised if you don’t come away relaxed after a visit.
* Call 086 148 8867 or visit www.montauxsources.co.za