- While many remain reluctant to travel far and wide for leisure, some South Africans are taking advantage of local staycations at hotels and Airbnb’s in lieu of full holiday getaways. Some even solo.
- This has created the perfect environment for the local tourism and hospitality scene to elevate their offerings.
- And because every woman deserves a solo staycation, Afika Jadezweni takes us inside the new Radisson Hotel & Convention Centre, O.R. Tambo.
Tucked away from city life - located in an exclusive private location in Bredell - the new Radisson hotel in Johannesburg provides a peaceful stay with the convenience of the O.R. Tambo International Airport just a 10-minute drive away.
Now, as someone who comes from a small town, studied and worked in a city where everything further than Sea Point is considered "faaar", studied at an even smaller town with just one main road, I found the drive to this hotel intensely far (as I often do the drive to the airport).
However, once you settle in and change into a comfortable pair of shoes, the thought of your busy overcommitted city life becomes just as remote. The distance even comes with a sense of anonymity; for once, you know for sure you won't bump into anyone you know.
Conversely, this is also ideal for Joburg holidaymakers who aren't too keen on spending too much on travel costs.
But why go solo?
Well, because I think every woman deserves to take a night away from their life every once in a while. More importantly, a night to do so frivolously.
The global health crisis we're barely living through is putting a lot of strain on us mentally and physically (work from home ergonomics are proving to be strenuous).
Single women are navigating their pandemic professional and personal world alone with no one to tend to their beck and call should they ever test positive for Covid. On the other hand, women with partners and children are still carrying the mental load at home in addition to managing their colleagues remotely.
So while self-care requires a meaningful dedication to calling yourself in beyond sipping wine while watching Netflix, you're allowed to take a light-hearted approach to it once in a while.
Additionally, I've watched several episodes of series where women have packed a light bag, called their mom to take care of the kids (or told their husbands they're away for work), and booked themselves into a hotel to just... sleep and watch satellite TV. A valid depiction.
In the same breath, I don't think we should glamourise the narrative of building lives we'll eventually feel we need to runway from, though. So as I enter my 30s, I'd rather get into a habit of doing this while I'm still single. And what better time to start than my birthday month?
Coincidentally, this week I also stumbled upon a Vogue article titled; The Underrated Pleasures of Going Out Into the World — Alone. Obviously, it grabbed my attention.
As a serial lone adventurer, I felt that the writer and I had one or five things in common.
In this piece, the writer details how being vaccinated (oh, the not-so-subtle flex) has not only reignited a spark to socialise again, but it also comes with the "the prospect of rediscovering my relationship with myself, a bond I used to nurture with regular solo dates to restaurants, galleries, bookstores, and other favorite spots across New York City — and that I’ve been forced to neglect almost entirely over the past year."
Because writers generally maneuverer the cracks of the world with a shared sense of sensitivity, she goes on to write an even more relatable paragraph;
"A year on from the start of the pandemic, my friends are still everything to me and I’ve realised I don’t need big crowds or movie theaters to feel bare-minimum okay; I just need the comfort of them making fun of me while we split a bottle of wine. Still, I’m not my best self - as a friend, as a writer, or just as my own life companion - if I don’t spend a significant amount of time out in the world by myself..."
Of course, the optics of dining and booking in solo looked odd to some of the hotel staff, who aren't aware of the social balance myself and this Vogue writer are constantly striving towards. Moreover, to the strangers who don't know that the night/morning before, I was in the good company of friends too.
Here's the thing about seeing a woman dining, staycationing, or gallery gazing alone; don't ask her why.
Don't ask where her boyfriend is or if she has friends. It's not only invasive, but it also perpetuates the harmful archaic notion that women can't be autonomous, financially independent, securely social members of society.
And were someone to ask a woman who is - in fact - lonely, it would be a trigger for her in a moment where she's probably trying to find pockets of joy.
As someone who very often dines and catches documentaries at The Bioscope alone back in the city, this is one aspect of my solo staycation that irked me just a tad. From a few pitiful, quizzical stares to the man who asked if he can join me for a swim, it was a reminder that perhaps society isn't quite yet at the place where single women will never not be considered an anomaly in need of rescuing.
There was plenty more aspects of my night away from adulting that I truly enjoyed.
I mean, for a full 24 hours, I didn't have to prepare my own food, thanks to the all-day-dining restaurant, The Avenue.
Image supplied by Radisson Hotel
I didn't make my bed, clean up the lounge before bed, drive myself (I used Uber for a full "luxury" experience), or check emails.
And after dinner I did indeed watch some superficial, easy-to-watch content on TV; Love Island SA. There is only one entertainment channel, after all - the rest are news and sports. I guess hotels don't expect anyone to actually watch TV during their stay.
Image supplied by Radisson Hotel
Image: Writer's own
Not to mention the fact that after swimming and basking in the sun by the poolside for a whole afternoon, I was treated to a full body massage (a hot stone-turned- aromatherapy massage because I couldn't handle the heat) at the hotel's pop-up Amani Spa Centre.
This is now the largest freestanding spa of its kind in Johannesburg - featuring a Salt Room and four private treatment areas.
Images: Writer's own
Radisson expressed that it "inspires the art of being in the moment. Committed to building meaningful relationships with guests, we have a Yes I Can! service attitude to ensure satisfaction of every guest."
This I have to agree with. There was no request I made that didn't land comfortably on my lap. Finally, princess treatment that I haven't given myself!
My one grievance, however, is that the restaurant doesn't offer mimosas or bubbly by the glass.
This might have something to do with the fact that the hospitality sector at large - not just the Radisson Group - generally doesn't curate experiences for solo patrons (I go back to the TV channel situation again) and that's something that needs to be accommodated for in the future.
But alas, I still say; every once in a while, take a night off from your life and do something frivolous… safely.
About the amenities
See included video for a tour of my suite.
Radisson Hotel Group announced the debut of its fourth brand in South Africa, the upscale Radisson, with the opening of Radisson Hotel & Convention Centre, Johannesburg, O.R. Tambo. "This further strengthens the group’s presence in one of its key African markets and brings the South African portfolio to 16 hotels in operation and under development," the group said.
The property offers an array of exclusive facilities and services to satisfy the needs of both leisure and business guests alike and is situated close to a range of activities and attractions. Guests can visit the nearby shopping malls, enjoy local coffee shops and restaurants or head for a round of golf at the Kempton Park Golf Course.
Further promoting the balance of health and relaxation, the hotel emphasises wellness with a state-of-the-art fitness centre, two outdoor heated pools and the Amani Spa.
This upscale, full-service hotel features 248 contemporary, spacious, and stylish hotel rooms with all the home comforts. Natural colours and furnishings blend to create balanced energy and enhance long-lasting, memorable experiences.
Additional information and images supplied by Radisson Hotels
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