“Top dollar art-of-living and top name artworks at this unique Indian Ocean hideaway”
The 4 guest suites are big and airy sleeping spaces with maximum aesthetic appeal; they are born of Guido's love for contemporary interiors. All white walls and light screed floors provide a neutral canvas for eye-catching photographs, paintings and sculptures with a predominance of Guido's own creations. The suites slickly marry glass, stainless steel and wooden decking, whilst tables, sofas and armchairs are mostly modern design classics.
As you'd imagine, the visual focus is the sea: high French windows with silvered Venetian blinds, coupled with a big sweep of private terrace, ensure that you really get to commune with the ocean.
And what's inside your room is just as spoiling: a full quotient of bedroom hardware: including flatscreen TVs and DVD players, WiFi, hot and cold air-conditioning, underfloor heating, a minibar, a telephone and a sound system. As well as comfy-and-funky sofas, each suite has twin loungers and a dining table and chairs; just ask if you'd prefer to have any meal served in the intimacy of your suite. Beds are kingsize, linen is top of the range, and silk bedrunners and bright cushions add a twist of colour.
The suites are named after different animals in the local KwaZulu dialect. Our first choice would be Umkhomo which, appropriately for a room of this size, means whale; it measures a massive 170 sq.m., with a huge sitting-cum-dining area and a massive sun deck from which a staircase leads straight down to the drop-rim pool.
Next in line comes Ufudu (meaning turtle): another huge sleeping space with a really romantic vibe, secreted away amongst thick stands of frangipani and palms. It's one level down from the dining area.
Inyoni (bird) and Inkawu (monkey) are smaller rooms but decorated with just as much jazz and snazz, and each is blessed with an ocean-facing terrace. Inyoni is a symphony of blue, with a funky sky-coloured sofa and daybed. Inkawu is decorated in greens and has a huge painting by Guido of mermaids and fish; the feel is ethereal, the views are stunning.
Bathrooms aren't enormous, but are similarly luxurious and design-conscious, with more original artworks, swish taps and plenty of monogrammed creams, shampoo and gel. You'll also find a big pile of fluffy white towels, as well as bathrobes and slippers. Don't expect a bathtub but rather a high-power shower: Ufudu's was designed so that your ablutions are accompanied by an ocean view.
If you really want privacy, head a few hundred metres down the street to The Artist's Retreat, a heady hideaway for honeymooners or 2 (friendly) couples travelling together. You get your own Jacuzzi, a drop-rim pool and masses of living space in a kind of oriental-boudoir style (the cherry red dining area is a real wow), plus the ever-present prospect of the sea. It comes with its own staff, though you can also choose to self-cater in its state-of-the-art kitchen.
Days at Sea's restaurant is at the heart of this diminutive hotel, and opens to the public at lunch and dinner time.
The mood is that of a chilled diner-by-the-sea: Philippe Starck bucket chairs flank square white tables, strains of opera alternate with Ibiza sounds and those of the ocean, a high wall beside the bar serves as a screen for videos and slide shows of Africa, whilst young, black-aproned waiting staff slip between the tables. For a large part of the year, sliding glass doors are pulled aside to let in the ocean breeze, whilst in cooler weather the doors are pulled to and overhead gas heaters are lit. And any of your meals can be served on your suite's terrace should you fancy a more intimate event; you can even have your table set up on the beach if prearranged.
Guido describes the food as con-fusion cuisine - an eclectic mix of East and West which takes what's fresh and local as its first point of reference. An extra treat comes in the form one of the best wine cellars in KwaZulu: a fabulous selection of South African listings and the novelty of a big range of rieslings from Germany.
The 4-course supper produced for us was superb. A light bruschetta of mozzarella served with cherry tomatoes and a confit of pesto was followed by beef carpaccio served with parmesan and drizzled in virgin olive oil. Our main course was a delicious fillet of grilled cuta (a KwaZulu fish) bought fresh from the slab in the local market, served with a chickpea and black olive Provençale salad. A dessert of meringue served with a banana and butterscotch whipped cream sauce was just as scrummy. We weren't really aware of much confusion, but rather a sure hand with a Mediterranean touch.
At lunch you get to choose between something from 'The Small Menu' and a couple of specials which will be chalked up in the dining room. Again, the slant is towards the Mediterranean: baguettes with thinly sliced Parma ham, a Caprese salad, ravioli with sage and butter, or perhaps a fresh seafood salad depending on what's available at the local market.
It felt great to get away from the standard buffet formula at breakfast. Served at your table, the presentation is as manicured as that of dinner: a plate of tropical fruits, another of cheeses and cold cuts, muesli and yoghurt, a basket of freshly baked bread and croissants - and then the cooked breakfast of your choice accompanied by the best espresso coffee and freshly squeezed fruit juices.