BACKGROUND: The hotel is a Three Cities property, but is managed and marketed by African Hotels & Adventures. This, after AHA became the second-largest tourism hotel and lodge management company in Southern Africa when Tourvest/AHA bought Three Cities Management Company in May 2014. Since then several other properties have come under the AHA portfolio, which now numbers around 40 hotels and lodges.
WHERE IS IT? The Royal Palm is situated in the heart of Umhlanga, on KwaZulu-Natal’s north coast, and just 20 kilometres from King Shaka International Airport. The hotel is not positioned for a sea view, which may be an important requirement for some. Gateway Shopping Centre is just a quick walk across the road offering a large range of dining and shopping options. The beach is also merely a five-minute drive away, and the beachfront offers a good selection of restaurants and shops.
ROOM FACILITIES: The hotel has 94 apartments, including 14 penthouses, 60 junior suites and 10 studio apartments. I stayed in a studio apartment which offered two bedrooms, two bathrooms, a lounge, kitchen and dining room area. The apartment was extremely spacious with a balcony and outside table. For those who travel quite regularly throughout the year and enjoy flying their families in for an extended vacation, these rooms are ideal. The kitchen included a basin, fridge, tea and coffee station and all required cutlery. Room service is available until 22h00. In keeping with the ‘spacious’ theme, both bedrooms offered lots of closet space and both the shower and bath sizes were substantial. There was a safe in the main bedroom which I could lock my valuables in when popping down to breakfast. I forgot to pack a two-pin adaptor, but housekeeping was happy to bring one to my suite, so that I could charge my phone. There were accessible plug points throughout the apartment which was convenient. Although there was no work desk in the suite, the dining area was a pleasant place to work. There was also 200MB of free wi-fi a day that was fairly speedy, so checking my emails was straightforward.
RESTAURANTS AND BARS: Dish specialises in fusion bistro cuisine. I only had the opportunity to eat breakfast there and was impressed. It offers a large buffet including cheese with pastries, jams and crackers, fruit, yoghurt, a variety of cereal, and then, of course, hot options including bacon, mushrooms, grilled tomato, a variety of sausages, hash browns and eggs. The buffet only offers scrambled eggs, but you do also have the option to order yours poached or fried, or even a freshly-prepared omelette. There was also a variety of fruit juice, teas and coffee. The restaurant has a stylish bar and outside area, allowing for a drink before your evening outings in Umhlanga.
BUSINESS AND MEETING FACILITIES: The hotel offers conference facilities with a range of packages all suited to team building, corporate launches and boardroom meetings, whilst use of their penthouse suites is an option for more intimate private parties. There are 14 of these suites and the use of them for business depends on their availability at the time – great options for breakfast or lunch meetings. There is one conference venue that seats 80 people banquet style and 100 people cinema style, and bookings include the use of audio visual equipment.
LEISURE FACILITIES: There is an on-site spa, Spa D’ Sulis, offering a variety of treatments, and the hotel has arranged complimentary access to the Virgin Active Gym at the Gateway Shopping Centre for its guests. The hotel does not have a pool, but is situated close to the popular Umhlanga village, which has a variety of restaurants and night life venues. Gateway is a quick walk across the road and offers a range of activities for the more adventurous individual, such as rock climbing, skating and even surfing.
VERDICT: Conveniently located, if you’re doing business in Umhlanga, with a modern look and feel, lots of space and friendly staff. A solid choice for business travellers who might fancy an apartment over a traditional hotel room.
A: 06 Palm Boulevard, NewTown Centre, Umhlanga Ridge
T: +27 31 581 8000