Hotel check: Radisson Blu Port Elizabeth

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What ’s it like ?

In a province that seems to own the term provincial, Port Elizabeth’s first five star hotel, is very smart and impressive. For a city known more for inept and self-serving politicians, the fact that a top brand five star hotel has taken up residence on the beach, is good news. I tend to shun large hotels, if I have the choice, and with 173 rooms this isn’t small – but it doesn’t feel like it. The finishings are excellent; contemporary and modern with their own touch, which isn’t easy to achieve in today’s increasingly competitive hotel world. Most of the upper rooms have a view of the ocean.

Where is it ?

Corner of Marine Dve and 9th Ave, just off Summerstrand beach (three mins across the grass). Conservatively speaking, 15 minutes from the city centre and about the same to the airport. This is a small city.

Room facilities

When I first stayed there I arrived in the evening and departed at 5am. But in the bedroom alone, I saw enough to know that I wanted to check it out properly. The ceiling-to-floor windows, dark woods, splashes of red and bathroom half open to the bedroom are distinguishing features, but it’s the décor elements scattered around the room that catch the eye. Bowls, lamps and taps…all just a little stylish and functional at the same time. A large desk to work at, TV with the right satellite channels (news, sport and movies are most in demand for business travellers), internet access and clever reading lights…it seems nothing is lacking. Although, with my internet access not really happening, I switched over to my 3G. And for some reason, the funky curtain blind didn’t cover the entire window – as a result the wind rattling the window and the light from outside, meant my night could’ve been better.

Restaurants and bars

Tabú Bar & Lounge. Described as chic urban cocktail, the impressive bar separates the restaurant from the lounge, which leads onto the wooden pool deck. Comfortable and business-like, there’s a large TV for catching up on whatever you’re following, or you can look out towards the ocean. Filini. With a kitchen run by the former sous chef from Hyde Park’s ‘The Saxon’, this Italian-inspired restaurant produces dishes like char-grilled asparagus with boiled egg and Panteleria capers for starters. Seriously good food here, which surely has rocked the socks off those Port Elizabeth diners willing to look beyond beer and barbeque. PS – ask the waiter to go lightly on the sauces, they can be a bit heavy, which can make you forget what you’re eating.

Leisure and fitness

If I were a politician’s wife I would be making a beeline to the Camelot spa, which offers ‘new generation therapies’, steam rooms and a flotation pool. I was a bit disappointed by The Space Gym, mainly because it has only one stationery bicycle and tread-mill. The focus here seems to be on the five Power- Plate machines, which essentially offer a concentrated work-out. As long as you know how to use them – five clients needing instruction at the same time could strain the instructor. Then again, there’s an 8km boardwalk for running along the beach across the road from the hotel, which is preferable anyway.

Meeting and business facilities

With good-looking but functional design being a central theme to the Radisson Blu, it’s not surprising that the hotel scores highly here, catering for business and social functions, meetings, product launches, cocktail functions and weddings. An entire floor of 633sqm is dedicated to meetings and events, while there are eight multifunctional event rooms, backed by specialist conference and events staff – rather than the waiter who’s got a bit of time on his hands. Free high-speed broadband wireless Internet is available in the event rooms. The rooms are naturally lit and air-conditioned.

Verdict

A long time in coming to Port Elizabeth, this is a beautifully appointed, well-thought out  business hotel. Just opened, given its brand reputation and thoroughly enthusiastic staff I trust that this will be the first of a number of top hotels that see value in becoming part of the city’s regeneration.

Contact

Telephone: +27 (0) 41 509 5000, radissonblu.com/hotelportelizabeth

Angus Begg