Saturday, March 27, 2010

Back in Zulu land the Hippo Hideaway is the Ideal family getaway

An utterly relaxing, stylishly comfortable award-winning self-catering resort that's nestled in nature - and a retreat for "visiting hippos"... that's the Hippo Hideaway. Just a two-hour drive from Durban, the resort is situated on the banks of the St Lucia Estuary, with a gateway to the greater St Lucia Wetland Park, Hluhluwe-Umfolozi Game Reserve and Elephant Coast beaches.

It was a finalist in the AA Travel Guides and American Express Accommodation Awards for 2009. The cottages are arranged around a sparkling pool and large braai area with sets of tables, chairs and umbrellas for your convenience. From families with children as young as two, to couples on honeymoon, to people in their late 70s, everyone found something to do, whether it was taking a swim, relaxing near the pool, having a braai, playing on the swings or sharing some quality time with friends and family.

A friendly Shonah Hart showed us to our cottage, which to our delight was air-conditioned and fitted with all the necessities, decorated in an ethnic theme. The resort management definitely went the extra mile to make guests feel at home with a well-stocked hospitality basket filled with coffee, tea and other confectionery.

The kitchen was fully equipped with cutlery, braai dishes, crockery, pots, pans and cooking implements, as well as a fridge, stove and microwave oven. A handy laundry service is also available for guests.

We were also quite surprised to find that cleaning staff visit the place daily to clean up and even wash dishes, something that is not common at most self-catering resorts. The cottages had a gate and stairway leading to the park below. I found out that this was the hippos' regular hangout from speaking to security guard Veli Ndlovu, who told me: "The hippos come often and walk along the grass. They're really nice creatures and the guests are always so excited to see them come here."

We were spoilt for choice at the number of activities on offer, including turtle tours, boat cruises, whale watching, various forms of fishing, among other activities.

A friendly skipper talked us through the two-hour boat trip around Lake St Lucia and I was thrilled to see a wide variety of birds and other wildlife. The highlight was seeing the crocodiles lying on the river banks with their mouths wide open, as well as - of course - hippos.

Guests making their way out of the boat afterwards were entertained by Zulu dancers.

The resort's units consist of two sleepers (one bedroom) and four sleepers (two bedrooms), single and double bed arrangements and a honeymoon suite. Spending a holiday at this award-winning resort takes self-catering accommodation to a whole new level

Hippo's web site http://www.hippohideaway.co.za/about.html