GREAT FAMILY DESTINATION: Relax and shake off the city at the luxury Crawford’s Beach Lodge

BY CANDRA NEILSON - AUGUST 8, 2014

Very few places produce superlatives – and surpass them, like the Wild Coast with its dramatic coastline and beautiful, unspoiled landscapes. If ever your family deserved one unforgettable getaway in their lifetime, you will certainly not go wrong with a trip to this wild paradise.

Situated in this nirvana and neatly set around the contours of the Cintsa coastal dunes - just 42km from the East London CBD, is Crawford’s Beach Lodge – a perfect start to your Wild Coast adventure.

While simplistic and basic facilities can be expected in this area, especially along the coastline, during my recent retreat, I found that no effort had been spared in making Crawford’s Beach Lodge as luxurious, comfortable and serene as possible.

For your memorable family stays, Crawford’s has 30 luxury suites which consist of double and twin bedrooms, all spacious, en-suite and each with their own private entrances and balconies from where you can witness all the happenings around the lodge or the beach. Most of the suites offer spectacular views of the Indian Ocean which is just a few metres away.

The suites are fully-equipped with king or queen-sized beds to refresh tired travellers, a bar fridge, DSTV, coffee and tea making facilities and either air conditioning or fans as well as fully-equipped kitchenettes. Each luxury suite has an en-suite bathroom and comes with a safe for your valuables. At Crawford’s, you may will be forgiven for thinking you have arrived home.

Despite arriving somewhat late in the evening, my fiancé and myself had made it just in time for dinner - and what a dinner it was to be. Our starter was of flavoursome crumbed mushrooms and this was followed by a substantial buffet that included an assortment of dishes including salads, mushroom soup, home-made breads, beef curry, roast potatoes, butternut, steamed mixed vegies, rice, roast beef, chicken wings and gravy.

After our meal, we had a hard time finding space for dessert. On offer was chocolate cheesecake with a peanut butter base, apple cake with a caramel sauce as well as a pavlova and home-made vanilla ice cream. Sated, we decided to call it a night and headed for our suite for a good night’s rest in a comfortable king-size bed with crisp percale linen.

The following morning, we woke up refreshed and ready for the day. On opening the curtains, I was greeted by one of the most picturesque views that I have ever encountered on a vacation. I paused for a moment and took in the sight of tropical Khamanga palms swaying in the fresh morning sea-breeze while waves from the blue ocean beyond broke on the beach as an orange sunrise pierced the horizon – it felt like we had woken up on vacation in the Caribbean.

Much like our dinner the previous evening, our breakfast was fit for a king. Various cereals, yoghurts, freshly-baked breads, French toast, bacon, eggs, pancakes and fresh fruits, just to mention a few of the options.

Breakfast finished, and since it was a hot and beautiful, windless day, we packed our gear and went down to the beach to play some beach ball. Walking down the stairs leading onto the sand, I noticed a fully-equipped children’s play area with jungle gyms, swings and trampolines, making Crawford’s just as perfect for those travelling with kids.

Tired, we headed back to the Lodge. By now the ocean water was warm and looked inviting but we just could not resist splashing into one of Crawford’s large swimming pools which is conveniently situated in front of the Lodge’s restaurant. The morning almost over, we returned to our suite for a mid-afternoon doze.

Sometime later, we headed to their elevated restaurant for lunch. I expected it to be the usual toasted sandwiches and juice but was pleasantly surprised to find salads, seafood - including fresh, fried or grilled hake and calamari, as well as delicious chunky fries, peas and pancakes on offer.

Our lunch over and drinks in hand, we decided to bask on the restaurant’s outside deck which overlooks the ocean and the swimming pool. Drinks finished, we left the restaurant and with cooler temperatures, took a leisurely walk along the beautiful shoreline and enjoyed its unspoilt surroundings.

This is just one option of activities offered at Crawford’s which include de-stressing at their brand new spa, Senses; lawn bowls; tennis; pool; a games room for kids; family beach cricket; as well as others that they can arrange for you including quad-biking; canoeing; rock and deep sea fishing; abseiling; horse riding; surfing; day hiking and safaris at surrounding game reserves.

Lost in the magnificence of this area, we only returned to our suite at dusk. After a quick shower, we joined other holidaymakers for dinner.

Saturday evenings is seafood night and the selections on offer included prawns, fish, calamari, hake and Thai prawn curry. This was accompanied by a soup starter and freshly-baked breads, beef kebabs, roast beef, roast veggies, rice, roast potatoes, gravy and salad.

Again, there were several dessert options available. I would advise you to take small bites and small helpings if you wish to try everything from starter to dessert!

After breakfast and a quick walk on the beach, the following day, our stay in paradise came to a sad end. It was indeed a getaway that I will always remember.

If you are a family, a romantic couple or honeymooners wanting to experience the magic of the Wild Coast at Crawford’s Beach Lodge, contact 043 738 5000 or visit www.crawfordsbeachlodge.co.za