I recently tried my hand at gambling and lost every cent. I only gambled R100, but I don’t think I’ll ever try that again. I’m a bit of a sore loser.
So why have I become a gambler? In my bid to find the best mini vacations in the country, I took a trip with my travel partners to Emerald Casino and resort in the Vaal, which is about 40 minutes out of Joburg.
I was expecting the usual cheesy casino décor, the whole place decorated to look like a European venue, with ceilings painted mimicking the sky, walls with no windows or clocks and the air-con set just a tad too high.
Emerald was a pleasant surprise. The casino is a large part of the resort but not all of it and if you aren’t a gambler, it’s not like you won’t have anything to do. It’s a family resort, so if you book with your little ones and would like to catch a romantic dinner with your partner, the hotel offers an in-house baby sitter, who will watch and even put them to bed.
What really appealed to me about the resort was the accommodation options. You book according to your budget. There’s the option of booking into the main hotel or the Serengeti style bush lodges which are located in the pine forest on the resort property.
It’s a bit of a distance from the hotel but it offers guests a different experience by placing you inside a more natural setting, all self-catering. The beauty of these lodges is they are still luxurious, some with a jacuzzi.
The third option is the chalets, the ideal place for group bookings. They accommodate four to six people. The options for the type of chalet you feel would suit you and your guests are vast, from one bedroom to bigger chalets.
Then there’s the one type of accommodation that I never understood – caravans. Caravanning was never a big part of any black girl’s childhood, so I just never got into it. But for those who would prefer the camping experience, there’s ample space for caravans, with pitch points for all necessary accessories.
Aside from the impressive accommodation options, there’s just loads to keep a group busy at Emerald. We played a bit of putt-putt, which I’m even worse at than gambling. There’s also the Aquadome, which is a swimming adventure park, but I’m not the swimming type, so I didn’t bother.
The best part was left for the last day of the weekend – going to the Animal World wildlife park which is also located on the property. You can book a game drive or walk around and have a look at all the wildlife in a more zoo-like setting.
I managed to watch the lions being fed and contemplated how South Africans have all of a sudden come to love our lions, maybe due to the recent passing of the “Shamba the lion”.
I will return to Emerald, maybe this time book into that bush lodge with the jacuzzi. Now I know I don’t have to drive all the way to the Kruger National Park.