Trendy versus chilled

2015-09-17 06:00

A FEW weeks ago I spent a Friday evening in Umhlanga Rocks and their impressive central boulevard was teeming with after-work socialisers at a number of trendy bars and restaurants. The place was really buzzing.

Part of that vibe has to do with the reality that many corporate head and regional offices have located to Umhlanga Ridge and there is a large high net worth resident population - so after work, where better to mingle and parade than the CBD of Umhlanga. Furthermore, with the abundance of fashionable hotels in the vicinity, tourists add to the volumes of people who oozed in and out of the competently managed venues. The indoor and al fresco look and feel had an almost French Riviera atmosphere.

The healthy looking gym-conditioned patrons were mostly attired in the latest branded outfits, designer watches and sunglasses - the purchase of which one would need to mortgage a house. This was glam Friday, the place to be and Umhlanga was relishing in the sound of cash tills ticking over with consistency.

Being an inquisitive fellow, I started asking people about this vibrant city-chic scenario and their response was that the area was safe, convenient to get to, has a welcoming ambience, there is choice in the quality of hospitality- and they did not have to drive long distances (drink and drive factor) to get home. I asked them that if they were a potential tourist would they holiday there. Their responses were mostly in the negative because an urban vibe dominated so when they subsequently take a proper break, they seek to relax and chill with family and friends in a more evident natural environment.

A lot said they regularly go to the South Coast. Their reasons being that our beaches are much better than the North Coast, one can feel leisurely in an understated way and collectively there is a much wider element of choice for things to do whilst on holiday. A few have their holiday homes here and at every chance they are here de-stressing and getting away from hectic metro life.

Now here is the rub - most of these folk are successful professionals who can afford many pairs of sunglasses yet one of their pluses about our destination is that when they get home, their wallets are not drained to the point that beloved Johnnie or Thandi has to leave their expensive private school for one or other less costly option.

Okay, we may not be the St Tropez of South Africa, but in many respects urban-based South Africans prefer it that way - they really wish to relax and savour our beautiful basket­ of leisure and outdoor options

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