BY BILLY SUTER
DRIVE at night over Durban’s Tollgate Bridge, a short way along Peter Mokaba Ridge Road, towards the Musgrave area, and you will come across a sight my young grandson once likened to a spaceship touching down.
It’s Coastlands Musgrave Hotel and Conference Centre, a building lit up like a firecracker, with countless pink and white lights amid lots of glistening, silver railings on large, curved balconies.
With my grandson’s comment in mind, I had a quiet smile when my partner and I drove into the parking area there recently, the plan being to spend the night in the four-star, 101-bedroom hotel after checking out the popular seafood buffet that the hotel’s ground-floor restaurant serves from 6pm every Friday and Saturday.
I’d heard a lot about the seafood buffet, which is very popular I was told, and after a quick and friendly check-in at the large reception desk, we hit the 315 Restaurant, as it is called, the name reflecting the hotel’s address number in Peter Mokaba Ridge Road (formerly Ridge Road).
The restaurant, where hotel guests also enjoy a very good breakfast, is elegant in white and black, although I found the lilac-glow accent lighting a little too much for my liking. A white baby grand piano stands in one corner of the room and it is a pity there was nobody at it when we were in.
It’s a very spacious restaurant, comprising both table seating and seating in alcoves, and the weekend seafood buffet, while not the best in town, is good value and enjoyable.
Priced at R275 for adults and R160 for under-12s, it disappointed me at first, when I realised there was no salmon anywhere – the platter of red to which I made a beeline was simply a spread of sliced tomatoes. Bummer.
The small glass of seafood cocktail starter was also a letdown, with a mix of hake and shrimp I was told… but I couldn’t quite pinpoint the tastes. Also, the lettuce in the glass seemed a little tired, to say the least.
Not a good start, but I perked up considerably after some good pasta salad, a sampling of smoked poached mussels in garlic and herb vinegrette, and an enjoyable piece of pickled fish, followed by a truly excellent Oriental Fish Cake. The small fishcakes were so very good I had two.
My smile was firmly back when I caught the hot section of foods, where in spite of a heavy emphasis on curries – a choice of crab, green Thai chicken and prawn, and even a (very yummy) lamb the night we were in – the selection was more than satisfactory.
My partner settled for a steady flow of freshly grilled prawns and calamari, as did most patrons around me, and all these meals were cooked to order and the plates brought to the tables. The prawns were plump and plentiful and my partner was won over.
I sampled all the curries and found them all tasty. I also had my pick of hake, creamy garlic mussels, prawns or calamari for mains. Also on offer the night we were in was a tempting seafood paella and a beef-strip casserole.
Puds were varied, plentiful and prettily displayed but I didn’t think much of the dry, strawberry-choc Swiss Roll, nor the rather stiff and globby chocolate mousse. I seemed to be in the minority with the mousse, however, as my partner lapped it up and others at a nearby table also seemed very happy with it. I stuck to assorted fruit slices.
Worth noting, by the way, that a similar buffet spread will be on the menu for a special Mother’s Day Lunch buffet on Sunday, May 13, for which bookings must be made by May 10. The cost is R315 for adults and R175 for under-12s. Call (031) 271 8200 to book.
After supper it was up to our deluxe room for some telly and an early night. Sadly, rain prevented us enjoying the large balcony at its best. It offers impressive views over the Berea, Indian Ocean and harbour areas, and it must be hugely satisfying to sip sundowners there on a clear evening.
The bed and pillows were most comfy, the rooms modern and neat, and the views excellent. Ensure you opt for a deluxe room if you book in there, as the standard rooms offer inland views.
The owner of the hotel, Saantha Naidu of the SN Group, was quick to identify Musgrave Ridge as the perfect area to build upmarket residential apartments. He demolished the house in which he stayed with a view to building a number of residential apartments that would have offered spectacular views.
However, during the construction phase in 2007, the plans were revised, the building re-zoned and a hotel was built instead, opening in November of that year.
The bedrooms are equipped with king-sized beds, flat-screen TVs, laptop safes, individually controlled air-conditioning, and tea- and coffee-making facilities. Wi-fi is also provided.
A large variety of breakfast dishes are available in the 315 Restaurant (including hot but yummy chilli bites and a noodle dish the day we were there), and a spacious lounge nearby is available for coffee and cake during the day.
The hotel is close to shopping centres, while the Durban International Convention Centre and the Moses Mabhida stadium are only a few kilometres away. Also, the hotel has easy access to the N3 highway that leads to central Durban and Pietermaritzburg.
One can sip on a cocktail in the hotel lounge or terrace, be pampered at the Fleur-de-Lis spa, or relax at the ring-shaped pool next to the spa.
Safe and secure parking is available, both undercover and in large, open-air parking bays.
“A number of small, medium and large conference and event venues is available and our experienced banqueting team will assist you in planning your next conference, function or wedding,” says a spokesman.
“Coastlands Hotels and Resorts is KwaZulu-Natal’s leading innovative hospitality company that prides itself with four-star and three-star hotels, restaurants and conference venues,” he adds.
The group was founded in 1993 when a number of entrepreneurs, including investor and chief executive officer of the SN Group, Saantha Naidu, acquired a holiday apartment building on Durban’s Golden Mile.
Three years after the opening of Coastlands Musgrave in 2007, another four-star Coastlands Hotel, in Umhlanga, opened. This was followed by luxury apartments in Umdloti and the Zimbali golf and lifestyle estate.
In 2015, Coastlands Hotels and Resorts added Durban’s iconic Royal Hotel to its portfolio and is hard at work to resorts this grand “old lady” to its former glory.
THINGS TO KNOW……………..
Address: 315 Peter Mokaka REidge, Musgrave, Durban
Phone: (031) 271 8200