FEEL GOOD | Durban hotel lights up the beachfront, sending message of hope and love

The Elangeni hotel on Durban's beachfront sends message of love and hope during the lockdown. (Facebook)
The Elangeni hotel on Durban's beachfront sends message of love and hope during the lockdown. (Facebook)

It took four hours, the use of 153 rooms on 15 floors of Southern Sun's Elangeni hotel and 23 floors of the Maharani hotel, to light up the Durban beachfront in the shape of a heart during the Covid-19 national lockdown.

The inspiration for the move came from The Westin in Cape Town, that has heart-shaped lights on the hotel building, according to Wayne Smith, the Southern Sun Elangeni and Maharani general manager who co-ordinated the project.

"I immediately became inspired to put a Southern Sun Elangeni and Maharani spin on the warm gesture. With our combined 734 rooms between Elangeni and Maharani, I thought we could certainly do the biggest display ever."

He said a large amount of planning went into making the heart shaped message possible.

"We started off with mapping it all out on an Excel spreadsheet to make sure the [blocks] making up the shapes and letters were evenly spread out and legible. The final result was executed by a team of three staff members, myself, duty manager Shaylin Manda and security manager Ashton du Preez."

Temporarily closed

He said although the hotel was temporarily closed for the lockdown, "I still go into work every day to check on the property and keep everything ticking".

"I have tried to keep the team engaged and involved in the hotel although they are not there and to keep the passion and spirits high."

Smith added: "With everyone missing the joy of work and, more importantly, the interaction with our treasured guests, this was a way to say loud and proud that we are here, ready and waiting to welcome our guests back to the hotel."

The hotels were built more than 47 years ago and have enjoyed their share of tourists that flood the Durban beachfront every holiday.

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