With its long shoreline and pristine beaches, the South African province of KwaZulu-Natal is a favorite destination amongst locals and holidaymakers because of its temperate climate. Veering north, I find myself at Sala Beach House, an exquisite boutique hotel nestled between the two lively coastal towns of Salt Rock and Ballito.
The sound of waves crashing onto the rugged Thompson’s Bay coastline forms the symphony to a stay at the magnificent Sala Beach House. Opening the curtains of my Pool View Room on my first full day at Sala Beach House, I pad barefoot onto the wooden floor to take in the views.
To my right, the palm trees are softly swaying in the wind and to my left, the surface of the pool looks smooth as silk. The Indian Ocean is just a few feet away and the avalanche of white foamy tipped water is crashing dramatically onto the sandy beach. Tempted to get up and sit out on my private deck, I decide to rather linger in my snug and comfortable bed, starting my day at leisure. With Sala’s no schedule approach to a stay in this glorious part of South Africa’s beloved seaside province, guests are free to go with the flow, pun intended.
My room is beautifully decorated in shades of white, cream, light beige, yellow and green, with wooden furnishings blending in perfectly with the color palette, forming a cocoon-like feeling. The en-suite bathroom comes with double vanities, oblong mirrors, and a calming rain shower. Completing the picture are the ethically sourced Terres D’Afrique bath and shower products, ensuring a fragrant start or conclusion to your day.
Having arrived at Sala Beach House the previous day, my first introduction to the healing powers of staying here comprises of a one-hour Swedish deep tissue massage at Sala Beach Spa. Spa therapist Thandiwe goes to work on de-knotting my shoulders and after my 60-minute full-body treatment using the soothing Terres D’Afrique products, I feel completely relaxed.
Stepping out of the spa, soft rain is falling as I make my way to the main area. It is time for pre-dinner drinks and canapés around the firepit, but the weather is not playing along. Instead, the fireplace inside the lounge area will do just as nicely. After socializing with fellow guests Nicky, Tim, Pippa, and Heather, we head to dinner in the dining room, where we feast on Springbok carpaccio, Tomato tartlet with chimichurri sauce, Lemon encrusted chicken, Pork belly, and Lemon posset.
After a good night’s sleep, the options are to either kickstart the day with yoga on the pool deck or have a languish breakfast overlooking the ocean. The aroma of freshly brewed coffee draws me to the outside deck, where the tables have been set with stylish grey crockery and starched white napkins. Indulging in the ‘most important meal of the day’, the menu consists of a variety of healthy choices, as well as the all-time favorites, such as an English breakfast or scrumptious Eggs benedict.
Days at Sala Beach House are spent at your own pace, but the beauty of the coastline is a big drawcard. Thompson’s Bay is a prime Blue Flag beach, with swimming in the warmer waters of the Indian Ocean an all-round pleasant experience. Tidal Tao hosts marine walks along the rocky outcrops, with qualified marine guide Ethan taking the lead. He points out a Natal Rock Crab and a colorful damselfish known as Sergeant Major.
When the Rutherfoord family saw the site for sale where Sala Beach House is now taking pride in place, they jumped at the chance to put in an offer. “We had been looking for a seaside property for a while,” Craig Rutherfoord tells me. “Properties like these don’t come onto the market very often, especially one in a prime location with direct beach access and in such a convenient location. The land consists of four different plots; we created a sizeable property with space and incredible ocean views.”
Rebuilding and expanding the entire home, Sala Beach House has a total of 7 rooms and an exclusive 3-bedroomed villa. “We also put a lot of effort into the courtyard,” Craig says. “When you build on the ocean, you tend to want to only focus on the front, facing the ocean, but when the wind comes up, you need a sheltered, comfortable area. We can close the glass sliding doors and move into the courtyard. The space is surrounded by lush tropical vegetation and has its own swimming pool. It’s a great place for those who want afternoon sun and a beautiful area for dining in the evening.”
With spectacular interiors, featuring clean lines and uncluttered spaces, the property was conceptualized in 2020, with the creation of a hotel that offered guests a sanctuary to be calm, reflect, relax, and most importantly, breathe. “We wanted to be authentic too and reflect what a KZN North Coast beach house will be by drawing on local inspiration from the many cultures in our area, from French Mauritian to African, European, and Indian,” Craig continues.
“The interiors reflect this with soft lines and tonal layering of neutrals. Whites, greens, clay reds. Natural materials, raw real wood, rope. My husband, Gert, and I sourced all the interiors. Close friends of ours, Boyd Ferguson and Athol McLaggan were a massive help in finalizing the layouts to create amazingly special spaces where people could cocoon or celebrate.”
**Views expressed are the author’s own.
How to Get There: CemAir is a fully equipped carrier offering flights between 16 destinations within South Africa and Africa. With daily direct flights between Cape Town International Airport and King Shaka International Airport, passengers are flown in the comfortable Bombardier CRJ-900. To book visit www.flycemair.co.za