Monday, 30 May 2011

Cathedral Peak Hotel – The Good, the Bad and the Ugly! April 2011

The uKhahlamba Drakensberg Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is spectacularly scenic and none more so than the Northern Drakensberg’s Cathedral Peak / Didima Valley region. At the foot of Cathedral Peak, which towers some 3005m above sea level, is one of two local accommodation options, the privately-owned 4-star Cathedral Peak Hotel.

The resort is advertised as upmarket and in places that’s true but as a whole it falls woefully short. It’s cinderalla’s older sister in make-up masquerading as her younger sibling. It’s soft and saggy and the shoe doesn’t fit.

First impressions are poor. The entrance road is dangerously pot-holed and in a general state of disrepair. Seemingly abandoned bits of iron, old concrete and wire are not entirely hidden by the ouhout trees near the entrance on the right. The ‘bridge’ over the river en route to the clubhouse reveals a heap of torn green & white sand bags. Nearing the hotel’s reception the senses are assaulted by the smell of raw sewerage. Dilapidated signs near the day-visitors’ parking reserve the hotel facilities for residents only. Resident guests pay extra for covered parking. Even though the staff are generally efficient and the security personnel especially so, the gardens are sadly unkempt and in need of weeding. The hotel’s written history displayed in the entrance hall is spoilt by syntax error and poor spelling. A trip to the stables necessitates a walk through the back-end of the hotel which exposes guests to very ordinary staff quarters.

On the positive side the golf course is surprisingly good. The greens are slow but immaculate. The fairways are better if not as good as those of any country course anywhere.

Included in the daily rate are all meals and the food is generally of a high standard if not lacking a little in variety and imagination. Children are catered for both in the kitchen and the playroom. Daily activities are well advertised and varied. The hotel’s interior furnishing is adequately functional. Guest rooms and suites are classically luxurious but not overtly stylish.

A minimum stay of four nights is imposed in peak times. Even so, the hotel provides for a socially vibrant environment where guests are entertained ad nauseum. If you enjoy a good game of golf in the majestic silence of the Drakensberg with its awe-inspiring peaks and valleys then stay at the nearby Didima and buy a day-visitor’s pass to the hotel’s golf course. It’s the Drakensberg at its best.

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