Durban can now add another accolade to its string of travel and leisure successes. Earlier this year, the city made it onto the prestigious New York Times’ 52 Places to Visit in 2015 List, an annual list that names the world’s top destinations.
The announcement came close on the heels of the Endless Horizons Boutique Hotel in Umhlanga Rocks Drive winning the coveted award for the Best Luxury Boutique Hotel in the World, in the ‘country’ category at the World Luxury Hotel Awards held in Cape Town in December.
The World Luxury Hotel Awards, held annually, acknowledges the best hotels from around the world, and Endless Horizons managed to scoop the esteemed honour from thousands of hopefuls.
“It’s like the Oscars of the hotel industry”, says Endless Horizon’s Operations Manager, Ilze Henderson.
“And the event itself is very swish with a proper red carpet and the whole nine yards. A hotel in Limpopo won the award last year, and they’re on a five star golf estate / game reserve, so the competition is strong.”
While the nominations for the awards can come from the establishments themselves, Endless Horizons was nominated for theirs by one of their guests and voted for by the public, so it made the win all the better.
“This was great because it was a true reflection of what we’re all about because we didn’t prompt anyone to vote; it came from them.” Henderson says.
“The nomination actually caught us by surprise because the hotel is eight years old and it’s the first time we had been nominated for something like this, so we obviously jumped at the opportunity. You can nominate yourself, and your staff is allowed to vote, but we only found that out after the fact, so all our votes came from our guests and people that have experienced the hotel.”
The Endless Horizons Boutique Hotel is privately owned, and with twelve rooms, is intimate enough for detail and personal attention. In fact, the staff pride themselves on their impeccable service delivery, and believe that it’s this very attribute that sets them apart from others in the industry.
Boasting an impressive onsite restaurant and conference and functions facilities, the hotel is situated quite close to the King Shaka International Airport and the Umhlanga Business District, which is a huge draw card for the business traveller, which makes up a fair whack of the company’s bookings. This coupled with the fact that the Durban CBD is only a twenty-minute drive away, means that leisure guests book on weekends and holidays, so the place is always busy. There’s a small intimate gym, king-size beds in each room, mini bars, en-suite bathrooms and all the amenities that a five star guest expects. Then there are the fantastic views of the azure Indian Ocean. Called the Endless Horizons because, well, the horizon is endless, the sparkling blue pool on the deck seems to merge with the mighty blue ocean, making the vista one of the most remarkable in Durban.
Guests usually take breakfast, lunch or dinner on the deck to take advantage of these breathtaking views, which are outstandingly calming, and ultimately lends well to an enjoyable dining experience.
The forty seater restaurant is opened to the public for all three meals, but the hotel also caters for private functions. And the conference facility can cater for up to seventy people banquet-style, but also services smaller groups.
Having just launched a new menu, which was designed by the head chef, Belinda Kistan, one of the highlights has got to be the high tea that’s held regularly.
“We have a very Mediterranean menu so it’s very contemporary, but we also have some classic elements to the menu as well.” Henderson says.
“The new menu is very seasonal so everything is fresh. There some classic dishes like the Lamb Shank, which is cooked the traditional French way and our smoked pork belly is incredibly popular. There really is something for everyone.”
Everything about the Endless Horizons Boutique Hotel screams five star and this is probably why they’ve fiercely maintained their grading all these years, while many establishments seem to downgrade.
“We are graded by the tourism grading council of South Africa, so we have an official grading and there are specific criteria that you have to meet in order to get this grading.” Henderson explains.
“There’s an assessor that comes out to the hotel once a year and has a checklist that he ticks off during the inspection and they make sure that we meet the standard. So it’s not just about giving out the grading; it’s also about maintaining it and making sure that the hotel is actually meeting the standard.”
And with the way things are currently moving at the hotel, there’s no doubt that they will. Henderson says they would like to remain the best boutique hotel in the world and in fact they’ve already been nominated to defend their title in 2015, as it’s an annual award. Apart from placing Durban on the hospitality map through this win, Endless Horizons also holds the great bragging rights for years to come.
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