Diagnosed with advanced lymphoma cancer, Claude Venter was given six months to live by medical specialists.
Six years later, he looked relaxed and happy as he recounted his experience and explained how his decision to seek an alternative remedy saved his life — and changed his life and those of his partners, Grant Horak and Paulo da Rosa.
Venter probably thought I had ADD as I kept looking left and right at the whales and dolphins - lots of them - cavorting in the ocean beyond the deck at Nakai Beach Homestay. Nakai means “on the beach” in Polynesian and the gorgeous boutique retreat that the three are rightfully proud of is perched high above Trafalgar Beach on KZN’s lower South Coast.
What a view. What a stunningly situated property. What a turnaround for all three. This team of highly successful interior designers and landscapers are really walking the talk.
Their search for a purified environment to aid Venter’s recovery led them to this special part of KZN, where the clean air is oxygen and ozone rich.
The water, both drinking and general usage, is purified. The food is nearly all organic - and delicious. There are two kitchens, one for vegans, so vegetarians, pescatarians and carnivores will be equally delighted.
As it happened an ex-chef friend commandeered the kitchen for dinner, so hardworking Horak, the driving force behind Nakai - and chief cook and bottle washer - was excused boots.
Nor did I taste his cooked breakfast in the sun-filled Gauguin Café and Juice Bar, since I opted for a delicious cacao and superfood smoothie, yoghurt and berries.
Nakai Beach is a genuine homestay. The partners and Horak’s mum Lorraine live there, along with dogs Maui, Kona and Milo, so it’s their home, a showpiece for their design skills and a five-star retreat in one package. It is a restorative and rejuvenating space in which to heal, relax and bliss out.
The bedrooms are sublime and individually themed. Bold colours, clean lines, beautiful fabrics, finishes and the OCD touches that being a good designer requires.
Da Rosa is proudly afflicted, and even the kitchen drawers are a testament to this and to care-filled design.
I was in the vibrant Amazon-themed room and found myself lulled to sleep by the surf below quite unexpectedly soon after I arrived - and for many, total relaxation is the reason to visit.
You can opt to do as little as possible, lazing by the infinity pool, soaking up the sun, the views, the tranquillity, though most opt for Da Rosa’s yoga sessions on the deck or in the new yoga studio, complete with underfloor heating.
Da Rosa has dedicated his life to the path, and enjoys all disciplines. He offers classes and different retreats, hosts guest teachers of other disciplines and is always on hand.
Steps off the deck take you down through the stretch of coastal forest reserve to the pristine beach.
Trafalgar is a marine reserve and - unusual for the South Coast - the beaches are long, straight and flat, with black rocks and shallow pools galore. If you traipse to the main Blue Flag beach there are life guards and shark nets. The surf is often great and snorkeling too, with 90-million-year-old fossil beds not far from shore.
There are fossils on land too and the beach below Nakai has been in the news a fair bit as it is (then isn’t, then is) a naturist beach. It’s safe to say that if you take your kit off nobody will bother - and in any case you will probably have the beach to yourself.
Venter’s cancer and recovery completely changed his outlook. “I was all about the six pack, the look,” he chuckled.
That’s not to say he won’t notice a six pack, but he’s at ease, at peace - and that peace and pleasure in life is what guests take away when they reluctantly depart this gem.
* Call 039 3130141 or 082 4142269 and visit nakai.co.za or https://www.facebook.com/nakaibeachhomestay.