Ezul­wini, cen­tral and con­ve­nient UK blog­ger

Sunday Observer - - FEATURES -

The Swazi­land Tourism Au­thor­ity (STA) is al­ways hum­bled when it comes across great re­views of var­i­ous es­tab­lish­ments. Vivi­enne Dovi of Melanin Travel (a UK travel writer) shared her sec­ond blog with the STA on her stay at the ma­jes­tic Ezul­wini val­ley.

In this post, she rec­om­mends this place to thou­sands of her read­ers. She writes:

“If you only plan to stay in Swazi­land for a day or two, the area you stay in will prove to be cru­cial. Yes, the coun­try is small so no ac­tiv­ity will be too far from your base, but you will save your­self time and money in choos­ing the right lo­ca­tion. For me, there is only one area I would stay in, and that is Ezul­wini. Lo­cated in north­west Swazi­land, the Ezul­wini Val­ley is the coun­try’s tourism hub. There are a num­ber of rea­sons why you should stay in the Val­ley of Heaven (yes, Ezul­wini lit­er­ally means heaven). Firstly, Ezul­wini is close to other ar­eas. Mba­bane, the cap­i­tal city, is only a 20 minute drive from Ezul­wini. Con­se­quently, at­trac­tions like Sibebe Rock and events like the an­nual Reed Dance will only be a short dis­tance away. If you plan to take pub­lic trans­port to Mozam­bique, you’re 30 min­utes away from Manzini, where the lo­cal buses de­part from.

Sec­ondly, at­trac­tions are abun­dant. Ezul­wini is filled with bars, restau­rants and casi­nos, as well as The Gables Shop­ping Cen­tre, which has a cin­ema, banks and su­per­mar­kets.

If that’s not enough, a hot springs is not too far from The Gables, and a lo­cal craft mar­ket is only down the road. You’ll likely find ev­ery­thing you need in Ezul­wini, but the area ron­ment.

Tours of­ten be­gin and end in Ezul­wini. Usu­ally, tours will only pick you up from your ho­tel if you stay in Ezul­wini. If you de­cide to stay else­where, you will need to find a taxi or pub­lic trans­port to get to a pick up point. I was ad­vised by Swazi Trails to stay in Ezul­wini for this ex­act rea­son, main­tains a tran­quil envi- which saved me a lot of money as they took me three tours. The area is im­prov­ing.

The Swazi gov­ern­ment un­der­stands how spe­cial Ezul­wini is and is spend­ing money to de­velop the area. At the time of writ­ing, an up­scale con­fer­ence cen­tre and a 5* ho­tel were be­ing built. I be­lieve that the area will vastly im­prove within the next

10 years – not that Ezul­wini needs im­prove­ment.

Ezul­wini is an easy drop-off point if trav­el­ling from South Africa. Shut­tle c om­pa­nies of f e r ser­vices f r om Jo­han­nes­burg to Swazi­land and vice versa. Both stop and pick up at The Gables Shop­ping Cen­tre, in the heart of Ezul­wini. There­fore, it makes sense to find ac­com­mo­da­tion in the vicin­ity. Some of the best ac­com­mo­da­tion is lo­cated in Ezul­wini. I wanted to stay in a ho­tel and so two pop­u­lar ho­tels, Royal Swazi Spa and Happy Val­ley Ho­tel & Casino, kindly hosted me dur­ing my stay in Ezul­wini. I’ll go into de­tail be­low. How­ever, if you are look­ing to stay in a hos­tel, Le­gends Back­pack­ers Lodge is a good op­tion.

Al­though Royal Swazi is a four star ho­tel, you’ll re­ceive a five star stay. Lo­cated a few min­utes away from The Gables Shop­ping Cen­tre, Royal Swazi Spa of­fers three restau­rants, a spa and a casino. The word “royal” is not used lightly, as this Swazi ho­tel has been the choice of stay for heads of states and the Swazi King him­self, Mswati III. The ser­vice of staff is what you would ex­pect from those who cater to roy­alty, and I was kindly taken around the premises to be­come fully ac­quainted with the fa­cil­i­ties. I stayed in the stan­dard king room, which had a com­fort­able bed, air con­di­tion­ing and a bal­cony over­look­ing the grand swim­ming pool and dis­tant moun­tains.

The break­fast buf­fet was ex­ten­sive, with dif­fer­ent sta­tions of­fer­ing madeto-or­der eggs, waf­fles, and cold break­fast op­tions. In the evening, you can choose be­tween three restau­rants that pro­vide a buf­fet style or à la carte. Be pre­pared to spot a mon­key or two as you walk through the grounds to Royal Swazi’s renowned 18-hole golf course.

And for the vain ones those who want an In­sta­grammable pic­ture; the ho­tel has an out­door event space out­side that is set up like a tra­di­tional re­ally Swazi set­ting! Last but not least, a lux­ury spa with a va­ri­ety of ser­vices is lo­cated at the back of the ho­tel to tend to your needs.

I also stayed at the Happy Val­ley Ho­tel & Casino. With spa­cious rooms, stel­lar ser­vice and a lively casino, the four star ho­tel is lo­cated in the heart of Ezul­wini Val­ley. I stayed in the ju­nior suite, which had an ex­tended lounge area, an en-suite bath­room with a sep­a­rate bath and shower, and air con­di­tion­ing. A bal­cony is also part of the room to look over the pool on sunny days.

With two restau­rants, a pizze­ria, and a cafe, food op­tions do not run short. Happy Val­ley’s break­fast is pre­sented in a buf­fet fash­ion with a range of hot and cold dishes avail­able. And if you feel like some­thing dif­fer­ent, you can cross the road and check out The Gables Shop­ping Cen­tre, which is sit­u­ated op­po­site the ho­tel. Lo­ca­tion is def­i­nitely Happy Val­ley’s strong point. The casino is an at­trac­tion in it­self, which re­mains vi­brant and en­er­getic in the evening, but does not en­croach into the peace­ful room ar­eas. The staff were very friendly dur­ing my stay and were prompt to re­spond to my queries.

They also quickly be­came my fash­ion team, as the house­keep­ing staff down to the re­cep­tion­ists in the lobby would con­firm my out­fit choices as I left the ho­tel. It’s the small things that usu­ally add to my ex­pe­ri­ence, and this was one of them.

Both ho­tels are equally great. Royal Swazi Spa stands un­par­al­leled for its scenery and lux­ury ser­vice, mean­while Happy Val­ley’s lo­ca­tion and friendly staff can­not be beaten. Let me know which one you’d stay in!

Spe­cial thanks to Royal Swazi Spa and Happy Val­ley Ho­tel & Casino for col­lab­o­rat­ing with Melanin Travel and host­ing us dur­ing our stay. Thank you to Swazi Tours for spon­sor­ing Melanin Travel’s tours in Swazi­land. All views are our own – we’ll al­ways keep it real!”

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