More Wayne, More Rain
I thought everything that had to be said about Wayne Coetzer’s prowess as a hotelier had been said, but this week the GM at The Oyster Box surpassed himself, even by his own lofty standards. Before I elaborate, let me put it into context.
February and March commemorate a number of events in the annual lives of the Goss family. Brother Pat and daughter Bronwyn have birthdays four days apart, and Bronwyn’s coincides with St Patrick’s Day. My late Dad made a saintly ritual of the latter with his friends of similar extract in Kokstad on his way to The Springs, the old family farm in the nether regions of East Griqualand. Needless to say, they did it in good Irish style, so that the road from the Balmoral Pub to the Cedarville Flats always seemed that much longer on the 17th March.
The 5th February 2015 marked the 195th year since Michael Goss, the first of our Irish ancestors to embark from Cork under Captain Butler, landed at Saldanha Bay on the West Coast. And finally, in what was concealed from me till we arrived in Durban, Cheryl and I remembered 38 years of marriage to the mellifous sounds of Michael Bublé. Our nuptials were celebrated in the erstwhile paradise of Port St Johns in 1977, when Jimmy Carter became the 39th president of the United States, and the world was introduced to the PET, the first all-in-one computer. A 3.4 billion year old single cell fossil was found in Africa in 1977, Rupert Murdoch bought The New York Post, and Harrison Ford starred in that year’s movie hit, “Star Wars”. At 88, Charlie Chaplin passed on, and Elvis Presley was found dead at Graceland. Those were the “ground-shakers” of 1977; how benign!
We all know that the senior generations have a habit of harking back to the “good old days”, and that all things considered, they weren’t quite as good as we’d like to believe. But against the shadow of an enduring global economic meltdown and the ongoing strife across most of Asia and the Middle East, none of us would mind being taken back to the day we were married. That’s what Wayne Coetzer did for us on Tuesday.
The Oyster Box has no “marginal” suites, so wherever you are, you’re in sublime comfort, and while the “Kay Hill” isn’t the “Presidential”, there’s very little separating them. The Aussies make a great fuss about their lighthouses from a tourist perspective, and on any given day, there are queues waiting to visit them. Sumptuously appointed and supremely located on the garden floor, “No.9” has its own private lighthouse perched at the foot of the front garden, and an uninterrupted gaze across the transparent warmth of the Indian Ocean. While the designer’s hand is impeccably obvious, across the lounge, a decorative table is dedicated to our anniversary.
A spectacular plaque of amaThungulu leaves bearing a “38” engraving in the hotel’s signature Red Carnations, is backdropped with a 38-year-old photograph of a lovely bride and a blonde-mopped groom, flanked by two young boys and an infant lass whose ornaments these days adorn the jewelry cases of The Oyster Box: Kirsten Goss was the flower girl. Perched on the oceanside of “38”, emblazoned “1977” is a CD recalling “Lay Back In The Arms of Someone”, “Where is the Love” and, echoing my insecurities, “Baby Don’t Change Your Mind”.
We’re informed by the desk there’s no rush getting to Moses Mabhida: the to’ing and fro’ing is taken care of. And some care they’ve taken: a Rolls Royce from those “good old days,” immaculate despite the 350,000 miles on the clock, arrives promptly at 7pm at the porte cochere. For a Zulu farmer whose daily trek to work is courtesy of an aging Corsa bakkie, this takes a bit of getting used to: the only thing the two conveyances have in common is age, which is something of a comfort to me too. Brian our debonair driver, pops the champers and ploughs us through a watery torrent to the doors of the stadium. Beats the public parking, I have to say.
Yes, the rain tanked through the concert, but it detracted not an iota from a mesmeric performance from one of the world’s great artists. Durban has earned its dubious reputation of muted response to international artists, but you couldn’t fault the Durbanites this Tuesday. Inspired no doubt by their adulation, “MB” demonstrates his solidarity with his 15,000 rain-soaked worshippers; for the final half hour, he dances and sings and drenches himself with the rest of us. The French bubbles on ice in the Kay Hill around midnight, makes this one of those that’ll go with us to the grave.
Editor’s note: On Thursday last, Cheryl and I were honoured by Cape Legends to attend the launch of their inter-hotel cooking competition, contested by a roll call of the nation’s famous hospitality brands. The compadres counted luminaries of the food, wine and hospitality trades, Annet Kessler, in the shape of her life and author of a veritable library on these topics; Paul Hoffman, whose name has penetrated the deepest reaches of Zululand despite his residence on the other side of the Hottentots Holland, and Chris De Klerk a doyen among Cape Wine Masters, together with and a good sprinkling of the city’s “who’s who”. The brief was to do the best we could to ignite the enthusiasm and the energies of the combatants, and for that we were drowned with kindness at the city’s other “Grand Dame”, The Beverley Hills. It’s a matter of pride to us that The Beverley Hills and The Oyster Box are members with Phinda Private Game Reserve, Fordoun Hotel and Spa, Rocktail Beach Camp, Ardmore Ceramics and Rob Caskie, of the Land Of Legends, a collection of KZN icons Hartford House co-founded some 18 years ago. That Michael Bublé chose The Beverley Hills for his Durban sojourn tells you everything you need to know about the commandments Sol Kerzner prescribed for this shrine some 50 years ago, and which John De Canha, Lorna Gourley and the “The Bev” team have polished ever since. Whatever else might be happening in other parts of the land, take it from me, (without a hint of bias of course!) it’s all happening here in KZN.