“How was school today?” asks dad. “I learned things and we played with toys. Dad, are we going to the beach?” and later “I’m not hungry, but are we going to the beach?”
It’s the verse of a three-year-old’s national anthem when, after a long dry desert of lockdown Gauteng sameness, a week’s anticipation is just too much. And the few extra grey hairs dad got as a courtesy of life’s most important question: “Are we going to the beach?”
It was the tail end of every sentence, the beginning of a few and the last words before lights out. When the Friday of departure finally came, mom and dad were up at 4am with every intention of hitting the road before sunrise.
Three hours later, last-minute packing and right and readying the troops, the awesome foursome was finally on the road – everyone spaced and placed in the “brown car”, a Ford Everest Sport being put through the family drill on a road trip.
A three-year-old, a one-year-old, a mom and a dad and a load of bags. A weekend away used to comprise two overnight bags. Add juniors and it closely resembles the great trek.
I don’t know how my parents ever did it. No YouTube, no Netflix on the go, no Apple music. Just TDK tapes that stretch everyone’s hot and bothered patience.
Our 2021 drive started off with “Are we going to the beach?” and an explanation of how “far, far away” it is. As the traffic started thickening, we all settled into great audiobooks for kids. The classics. Jack and the Beanstalk, Cinderella, Rumpelstiltskin and The Three Little Pigs.
It’s incredible how much a child absorbs from their environment. Landscapes soaked up in conversation, interspersed with the usual “whys” and now standard “are we going to the beach?”
Outside Harrismith, the landmark mini-table mountain grabs attention. The clouds. Van Reenen’s “high up in the sky with the brown car” views and the stunning scenery of the Midlands.
But it’s the inevitable rush when the ocean is visible from the N2 on the way to the south coast that creates memories for life. “It’s the ocean, mom, dad. The ocean! Are we going to the beach?” Hello Scottburgh, never been here before, but I am sure you’ll never be forgotten.
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The “brown car” is barely set to park when security sidles up to the driver’s window. My first thought, I’m going to have to move the car and mission to some designated spot after a drive littered with roadworks and truck-hogs could ignite any annoyance with a blowtorch.
Instead, the guard welcomed crazy family Kaiser to the Blue Marlin Hotel, asked if we were checking in, clicked his fingers and a giant, family sized luggage transportation device appeared as if sent by the angels of fatigue.
We were off to a good start here, and it got only better. Checking in was easy, friendly and within 20 minutes of arriving, mom and dad, still in winter garb, and family Kaiser were spread out on the Scottburgh Beach. It was windy, overcast and only Vaalies who haven’t been to the sea in an eternity would brave this.
We were, are, will likely always be and nobody batted an eyelid when my non-Vuitton tracksuit pants ended up around my ankles as three-year-old Cuba insisted we dart around the surf non-stop.
Sixteen-month-old Jett dove into creation’s playground and snacked on some south coast beach sand. It was a great start to an awesome flash-bang break. The Blue Marlin Hotel in Scottburgh is one of the remaining bastions of a dying breed. It’s got loads of old-worlde charm, modernised into a three-star ensemble of smiles and value for money.
It almost feels as if Goldilocks would be at home here. Nothing’s too soft, too hard or too much of anything. It’s just right. It’s homely but professional, it’s tidy and not glam. It’s just the kind of place where anyone can settle in, and families dig in for a lekker time. And it is all about family. The mini-golf, the indoor and outdoor play area and the trampoline. Just enough for fun, and it’s well maintained.
Meals are served in what still feels like a 1970s mess hall, a typical hotel restaurant. And while the selection isn’t huge and it’s all presented in stapled Xerox wonder, who needs more?
The pricing is extremely reasonable, whether it’s from the bar or the kitchen. And while there’s no prettiness to your plate, I’d much rather save a R50 on a meal when funning with the fam.
The chips are chunky, the lasagna enough to share between two, the toasted sandwiches don’t need a cheese magnifier to spot a filling and the bunnychow, while very mild, was delicious. Keep the dainty food for the north coast, give me the flip flops of the south any day.
The KwaZulu-Natal south coast is where it’s at for real value, real family and where anyone can tune out of the nihilism of Instagram’s glitterati.
The rooms are tidy, clean, look like they have been recently refurnished and there is a cartoon channel on the telly. The beds are comfortable. A family room with an interleading door is a must, though. Especially when two kids need some extra roaming space before bed or, for that matter, when toy cars need a double-barrel highway instead of dad’s shoe accidentally amputating a tyre.
But the one thing that trumps every other aspect of the Blue Marlin Hotel is its people-charm. That’s something that endears itself to anyone. There’s not a miserable face about. Just a can-do helpfulness that you’d expect from a five-star resort.
The Blue Marlin is about family that cater to what we really all want when families head out to play. A good time. No judgment. Just a damn fine time.
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