Prana Lodge Private Beach Estate and Spa is located just north of East London in an area known as Chintsa. This luxury boutique hotel, in its well secluded forest setting, exceeded all our expectations… right from the start.
We proceeded down a leafy path to a secluded doorway that opened into our tastefully decorated ‘Citrine Suite’ – complete with fresh flowers, original South African artwork, beautiful Persian carpets (even the loo has one), a king-size bed and an equally ‘king-size’ bathroom, with a private outdoor shower. And that’s before we’d even stepped out into our private garden with its very own splash pool.
Not wanting to waste any time we headed out to explore the extensive grounds – owner Gill Davidson, we were told, has green fingers as well as a passion for indigenous vegetation. The trees and coastal forest are alive with bird sounds, a couple of Cape white-eyes dart about in a scrubby tree and an olive thrush scratches around in the undergrowth.
Before long the raised wooden path opens out onto a raised platform with spectacular views of the deserted beach and, aptly named, wild coast ocean… this long 21km stretch of pristine coastline popular for an early morning and late afternoon stroll.
Then there is the spa, and as one would expect in a place so filled with natural splendour, the Prana Lodge Wellness Spa features holistic treatments dedicated to restoring balance and energy through the use of authentic, natural and indigenous treatments. Our couples’ treatment started with our feet being pampered with an aromatherapy massage, followed by wonderfully relaxing full body massage. The fragrance of lemongrass and peppermint – all from their herb garden, naturally, is as therapeutic as the firm hands of the therapists massaging away the stress.
Dining is an almost full time job here at Prana, where exquisitely plated and fabulously fresh cuisine of mouth-watering proportions, greet you at every opportunity. The portions are light, Executive Chef Jaycee tells us, “and we’re big on health”, he says. They are also big on growing their own produce, sourcing seasonally and locally.
Our meals were served indoors, beside a roaring log fire; on the verandah, overlooking a rim-flow pool shimmering in the evening light, and on the raised wooden deck overlooking the beach – where Vuyo, our waiter, ceremoniously revealed a ‘designer’ breakfast, while the white frothed waves of the Indian Ocean crashed rhythmically to the shore.
There is another very special thing about Prana Lodge. Their commitment to employing locally where possible, of up-skilling and promoting from within – Nicholas, the new chef, started in the scullery three years ago; the head waiter, Botha, was a brick-layer when the lodge was built and Vuyo, our waiter who started out as a labourer. I loved the confidence and pride displayed by those working at Prana, for me it is a sure indication that all is well… nothing better than getting up in the morning, happy to go to work!
And nothing like sitting under a moonlit sky sipping a G&T, knowing that your beach destination delivers in many more ways than just fabulous five star hospitality.