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  • Writer's pictureMandisa Magwaxaza

The Mount Nelson, A Belmond Hotel: A Reminder to Thank Yourself and Celebrate Life!

When you get an opportunity to celebrate life, do it. Too many of us have lost loved ones to take the adage “life is too short” for granted. However, in the same breath, I also attest that life is long, and we need to create many opportunities to make it beautiful and exciting.

I’m not big on birthdays, Christmas, Easter, New Year’s Eve, Day of Reconciliation, none of it. You’ll see me raise a fist on Youth Day, but that’s about as celebratory as my spirit gets. I love the origin stories of all these special occasions, but I’m just not invested in the hype, and I suck at planning surprises and shopping for gifts. However, 2022 has turned a new leaf for this gal. I shocked myself. I guess surviving a pandemic will do that to a person.

A few months after I met my significant other, we started what has become a tradition of going away over New Year’s. His equal desire to get away from the hype of NYE parties and the mass exodus to Gqeberha beaches on the 1st of the year confirmed he was the one. After two years of lockdown jam-packed with life-changing experiences, we decided to go big for New Year’s Eve and the Mr’s birthday a couple of days later.

We accidentally drove into the back entrance of the Mount Nelson Hotel when we arrived for our 1-night stay. The pink façade brought back memories of the first time I came to Cape Town and came to this same hotel as a job seeker. That first adventure was a week-long stay on friend’s sofas and spare bedrooms in the Southern Suburbs of Cape Town, going to various appointments at the best 5-star hotels in the city because I had decided to pursue a career in luxury hospitality. I booked my first-ever flight and landed in Cape Town on a November afternoon that was just as balmy as our check-in day on the 3rd of January 2022, a memorable birthday for my significant other.

Driving into the shade of the porte cochere was a relief, and the smiles that greeted us confirmed we were welcome. Every person that gave us their attention from that moment until we left the next day was earnest in their hospitality. Ububele. That’s the only word worthy of the kindness we received. Ububele is an isiXhosa word derived from the isiXhosa word for breast, a sanctified and revered source of nourishment and comfort. Ububele is a feminine word that describes the deep care you get when someone recognises your needs and elects to fulfil them. A beautiful example of ububele is seen every Festive Season when Xhosa communities celebrate new initiates. When a young Xhosa man returns from initiation school, the women in the community gather in support of his mother and present her with bottles of brandy, whiskey and gin necessary to keep the festivities going at the celebration. We call these bottles amabele – gifts also named similarly to ububele and symbolic of the women’s shared duty of care.

We were genuinely cared for at The Mount Nelson. Busi and the team at reception sang ‘Happy Birthday’ for the Birthday Chap before escorting us to the restaurant verandah with glasses of bubbly to kick off our celebratory stay. The wait was pleasant. Overlooking the perfect grass, happy people walking about, and families connecting over good-looking dishes of food. Our room was everything I expected it to be; crisp linens, Charlotte Rhys signature scented air, and every thoughtful amenity I know of from years of site inspections and creating content for five-star hotels. The pictures did the room justice. The charm of the pool view room came out after sunset when we could see the beam of life shooting into the sky from the V&A Waterfront.

When the sun hit the water and the palm trees just right in the early morning, the balcony became the best place to take Instagram-worthy photos. We spent our afternoon enjoying a decadent picnic under the trees. Mount Nelson is an old estate with mature trees and lots of flowers, it was utterly unwinding to spend all afternoon in The Mount Nelson’s garden grazing through a picnic for two that could easily feed our little family. We were so full that we had to cancel our dinner reservations and opted for a late-night snack from in-room dining. As a busy mom of two, it was a welcomed change to not have to think of anything. Every detail in the room anticipated my needs, and anything else that was not in the suite was a phone call away. This is what I love about luxury hospitality, and the reason I will save up money to spend at least 1 night in a place like The Mount Nelson. Staying in a luxury hotel is self-care, it is a way to thank yourself for showing up every day to do what you have to in order to keep life ticking for your family. I wish more South Africans would experience it.

Check out the South African residents special that is valid until August 2022, and if you’re planning on being in the city but staying somewhere else – do yourself a favour and spend an afternoon in the garden of The Mount Nelson enjoying a picnic. Garden picnics are R395 per adult, R250 per child. You can book a picnic by the swimming pool for R595 per adult and R450 per child and you will also receive a pool lounger, swimming towels and access to the main swimming pool of The Mount Nelson.

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