BACKGROUND: Due to its high occupancy, the Southern Sun Maputo added a new wing with 111 rooms and three additional conferencing and meeting venues to its existing hotel at the end of last year. The existing hotel underwent an extensive refurbishment at the same time.
WHERE IS IT? The hotel prides itself for being the only hotel in Maputo to be situated on the beachfront. It is centrally located to the city centre and is only seven kilometres or a 15-minute drive from Maputo International Airport.
ROOM FACILITIES: Upon my arrival, before even checking in, I had to see the infinity swimming pool I’d heard so much about: it overlooks the beach and is shaded by palm trees. Once satisfied that the views onto the calm bay truly are second to none, I made my way to my sea-facing room. Hint: ask for one when making your reservation. My room had everything I’d expect from a 4-star establishment, with adequate natural light from the sliding door that leads out onto the balcony. As Maputo is within a malaria area, each room has sheer curtains that allow the cool sea breeze in, but keep the mosquitoes out. The hotel amenities also include insect repellent lotion, should you have forgotten yours. The upper half of the wall that divides the room from the bathroom is fitted with whitewashed wooden shutters that slide open. The work desk was located in the corner between the bed and the sliding door, with ample power sockets for two- and three-point plugs as well as a USB portal. The safe was large enough to fit my rather large laptop and the complimentary wi-fi connection (500mb per day) was fast and reliable. The flat-screen TV offered a DStv bouquet of channels, but I preferred to spend my free time downstairs.
RESTAURANTS & BARS: Wind down, either before or after dinner, at the immaculately decorated lounge or adjoining bar. Evolve Restaurant caters for every palate, whether you savour their speciality Mozambican seafood feast – I can highly recommend the succulent lemon and herb crayfish – the buffet dinner or a pizza from the wood-burning oven. If you enjoy more than one meal here you’ll notice that the restaurant’s decor changes according to the time of day. Those wanting to make the most of the hotel’s tranquil setting can order food and drinks from the à la carte menu, which will be served on the wooden deck beneath the parasols. This is also the best place to enjoy the free Sunday lunchtime jazz performance, which is also open to the public. The breakfast buffet consists of a selection of fruit and cereals, cold platters as well as an English-style breakfast, topped off with pastries and desserts. Nothing is overlooked – there’s even an industrial orange squeezer and ice-cream machine.
BUSINESS & MEETING FACILITIES: There’s a fully-equipped business centre should you prefer not to work in your room. The six conference rooms and meeting venues can accommodate between 18 and 160 individuals. These can also be booked for banquets and cocktail events. The hotel also offers teambuilding excursions on the beach.
LEISURE FACILITIES: The fitness centre has running, rowing and cycling machines and free weights. Alternatively take a walk along the beach to the stone pier with its concrete pathway, which also happens to be the best place to photograph the hotel. The beach in front of the hotel is cleaned and levelled each morning. Here you may encounter a few pedlars selling artworks, traditional cloths and souvenirs, however the discreetly placed security guards ensure that they never enter the hotel premises. There is a hair and beauty salon, and a spa would have complemented it well. The travel desk was most helpful in organising two walking tours of the city for me and the hotel shuttle, which collects and drops off guests at the airport on arrangement, willingly drove me to meet with my tour guide.
VERDICT: This is the ideal hotel choice for any bleisure traveller, as business and leisure seamlessly merge at this 4-star, beachfront hotel.