Oyster Box Hotel lovingly restored to its former glory

2009-10-24 00:00

AS a boy, Wayne Coetzee spent many seaside holidays at the regal Oyster Box Hotel. Today, he manages the hotel, which has undergone extensive renovation to restore the hotel to its former glory.

Since its grand opening in 1974, the Oyster Box has stood on the Umhlanga shoreline and was a place where families spent their summer holidays, lapping up the warm weather.

Today, guests can experience the same grandeur but with more comforts.

For Coetzee, the general manager of the Oyster Box, the hotel holds many childhood memories and is especially close to his heart as he also met his wife Tania there.

Coetzee was born at Grey’s Hospital in 1972.

After matriculating from Howick High School, where he admits that he was the only head boy who had ever been caned, Coetzee started work at the Champagne Castle in the Drakensberg where he was placed in charge of the entertainment.

“The owners taught me the basics of housekeeping. I was also given the horse rides for three months. That’s when my love affair with hotels began. The rest is history,” he said.

Coetzee was closely involved in the two-year renovation of the famous hotel and says it still has the feel it had when he used to visit as child.

The Tollman family, who own the hotel, went to great lengths to preserve the original character of the hotel. Many of the original artwork, tiles and antiques have been restored to their original glory.

“It feels like we never closed, almost like we were on an extended working holiday. The place has been restored, but we have managed to retain the same look and feel it used to have,” he said.

Many original guests have returned to stay at the hotel, which was famous for its prawn cocktails.

“They love the hotel and some have even booked holidays for next year. Prawn cocktail days are definitely back,” he said.

Besides the fabulous décor, sumptuous food and attention to detail, Coetzee said the hotel is pet-friendly and could accommodate small-breed dogs.

“The Tollmans are obsessed with their dogs. We decided to allow pets in as they give the place a homely feel. I know that a lot of guests are going to love this,” he said.

 

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