Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Where Did All That Salt Come From?

My latest policy has been that it doesn’t matter what or where the Conference Hotel is located, I will book in there whenever I go away on business. This is a result of many hours of frustration trying to find my way to various locations.

Take this morning for instance – armed with a map, excellent directions and a “Garmin” I still managed to get lost for over an hour in a 1km radius from the Hyatt Hotel in Joburg. I have to thank the Parking Attendant for not going into panic mode as I sat there sobbing in his car park..

As a result, tonight it’s the Radisson Blu Hotel in Sandton. First glance is this is a block of concrete, set in the middle of a constant building site and further confused by the fact the reception is on the 13th Floor. It’s a bit too angular for my liking and being a closet si-fi addict, the warped mirrors, metal spheres and strange egg like objects outside the lifts, resemble props from a scene from the “V” series and I half expected them to crack open and goodness knows what to come out. I do realise the architectural fashonista’s will be shouting me down as an ignorant know-nothing from up North as I am sure this style is the height of “now”, but it’s not really my thing. Redeeming qualities were however their outstanding pillows which are a completely different size and the fact my television greeted me by name (I am not telling stories)

With the afternoon to spare and still in search of the ultimate experience, I headed for the Amani Spa in the hotel, for an Indian Head Massage. What a treat. Rozelle my beauty therapist was built like a sylph with the strength of a body builder – a total chill (so I thought). After my treatment she took me for a tour of the Spa and there is where I found The Salt Room. Now this is the ultimate restoration – mind and body. It is the first Salt Room in Africa (being a European concept) and the idea behind it is that as the room gently heats, it purifies the air and is wonderful for respiratory ailments, colds and flu, ear ache just to name a few – but more importantly has extreme relaxation properties. Well I wasn’t leaving without trying it and I have say, with thick white salt on the floor like sea sand and ionized salt walls with rows of purple lighting, you have to be forgiven for feeling like you had arrived in a mystical cavern far from home – well that was the whimsical thought I had before I fell asleep...

So it just goes to show, first impressions aren’t always right and the best surprises are often the ones that aren’t immediately obvious!

Radisson Blu Hotel, Sandton, Johannesburg - http://www.radissonblu.com/
Amani African Spas - http://www.amanispas.co.za/

Monday, October 4, 2010

When Luxury is a Luxury

I can’t help getting a little irritated these days by all the endless claims that everyone seems to make to be the “Most Luxurious” of everything and anything. What pity that this wonderfully expressive word has been bandied about with such carelessness that it now simply means something that is better than “nice, lovely or amazing”. What happened to the thrill of walking in somewhere and just standing there in jaw dropping awe and feeling the Luxury sweep right over you?

Actually, I think the right word here is “feeling” and once we have moved away from silk finishes and gilt taps, the new Luxury has got to be whatever you feel it to be and in most cases, it’s totally personal.

Take me for instance – I am constantly surrounded by people (most of whom I adore, some I enjoy and others I could do with less of). My days are spent like so many other people, dealing with people at home, in my office and the 50 beautiful girls at the school where I also teach Travel and Tourism. The phones, the conversations, emails, broadband, skype – even our parrot can talk. When I get a change to be “away” on my own, it is a total experience and one I really want to savour. I have to admit though that I want to do the savouring in beautiful surroundings, with all the trimmings and just the right music in the background and my ultimate Luxury would have to be that someone else had gone to the trouble of providing all that for me..

Right now as I write this article, I have Joshua waiting on me hand and foot – here’s a Cosmopolitan, good choice of dessert and what sort of tea would you like, we have quite a selection. No I have not died and gone to heaven, rather I am in the lap of Luxury and feeling it all the way. I am staying at the totally stunning Marion on Nichol which is like a tiny oasis in the middle of a raging city – Johannesburg. Nestled near Sandton, this 24 roomed Boutique Hotel of Distinction can really carry the description. It’s not the beautiful decor or the polished staff (all Hotel brochures wax lyrically about those), it’s all about the total feeling of pleasure that washes over you as you walk through the door and carries on right the way through to your “never-get-off-this-bed-out-of-this-bath, down to feeling completely pampered and cherished without even trying – now that, as far as I am concerned is total Luxury!!

And so I sit, the cool night air taking the edge off the city, orchids gently scenting the air, tasting every mouthful of my Apple and Pomegranate Tart served with Honey-Bush Ice Cream and Pomegranate Fluid Gel accompanied by Cinnamon Anglaise and a pot of white tea on the table, I realise that moments like this are very special and need to be appreciated for what they are –a complete privilege. Sincere compliments to the management and staff at the Marion for getting it so right..

The Marion on Nichol,
Crn Stirling & Hamilton Road, Hurlington, Johannesburg.
+011 783 7816 or 011 783 7239.